One ESPN NBA analyst picks Warriors to beat Clippers in West finals

One ESPN NBA analyst picks Warriors to beat Clippers in West finals

If you're a Warriors fan and don't love NBA analyst Kirk Goldsberry, that's about to change.

On Tuesday morning, ESPN released predictions for the 2019-20 season, and Mr. Goldsberry is the only staffer picking the Warriors to advance to the NBA Finals.

The former VP of strategic research for the San Antonio Spurs has Golden State defeating the LA Clippers in the Western Conference finals.

So, Goldsberry must have the Warriors winning the title, right? Wrong. He picked the Milwaukee Bucks to bring home the hardware.

At the very least, Goldsberry had to have picked Steph Curry to win MVP, or Draymond to be Defensive Player of the Year, or Steve Kerr as Coach of the Year, right?

Nope, nope and nope again.

[RELATEDMagic explains why Jordan says Steph not Hall of Famer yet]

Goldsberry chose Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo as MVP, Utah's Rudy Gobert as DPOY and Miami's Erik Spolestra as the top coach.

Quick tangent: If you haven't read Goldsberry's book "Sprawlball," go get yourself a copy. It's fantastic.

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LeBron James says Warriors not weird without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson

LeBron James says Warriors not weird without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson

Over the last five years, LeBron James has grown accustomed to battling the Warriors at the height of their powers.

James and the Cleveland Cavaliers dueled the Dubs in four consecutive NBA Finals, both with and without Kevin Durant. There were, of course, a few important constants in each of those Finals battles with James, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all sharing the floor.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Last season, James' first with the Lakers, he missed the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. While the Lakers recharged over the offseason with the acquisition of Anthony Davis, the Warriors went the other way. Decimated by injuries and the exodus of key players like Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, the Warriors find themselves gutting out a transition year with both Curry (broken hand) and Thompson (torn ACL) expected to miss most of, if not the entire season.

As such, Wednesday night's battle between James' Lakers and the Warriors minus Curry and Thompson felt weird to all those watching. But it didn't feel weird to James.

"Not when you're in it, you know," James said after the Lakers' 120-94 win at Staples Center, via ESPN. "Not when you're in it. I think when I'm watching them, you know, when I'm at home and we're on off nights and I'm watching them -- then it becomes weird then just seeing Klay in a suit and, you know, not seeing Steph out there. But not when you're playing. I played them in the Finals without Kyrie and Kevin. So no." 

Was that last part wasn't necessary? We get it, the 2015 Cavs were a few stars short of a full deck and the outcome could have been different had everyone been healthy. It happens, let's move on.

[RELATED: Warriors' defense goes missing again in loss vs. Lakers]

Despite what James said, playing a Warriors team that is not even a shell of its former self had to feel weird after spending four years at each other's throats.

James and the Lakers no doubt are glad to see the Warriors removed from the Western Conference's crowded puzzle this season, leaving one less formidable opponent in their path to a title.

But Curry and Thompson will be back, and the Warriors will get off the mat soon enough.

Klay Thompson had priceless reaction to JaVale McGee's dunk during interview

Klay Thompson had priceless reaction to JaVale McGee's dunk during interview

For most of this season, if not all, Klay Thompson's highlights will be off the court.

As the Warriors star shooting guard recovers from a torn ACL, his big moments will come in the form of being left hanging by teammates, Japanese spa Instagrams and sideline interview moments.

Such was the case Wednesday during the Warriors' 120-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. With the Dubs trailing by 21 midway through the fourth quarter, Thompson chatted with ESPN. Shortly into the interview, Thompson's old Warriors teammate and current Lakers center JaVale McGee threw down a dunk to swell the lead to 23, and Klay's reaction says it all.

The Warriors miss Thompson on both ends of the floor this season. While his silky shooting stroke would give them another dynamic offensive weapon, it's his defense that would give the Dubs an immeasurable boost. 

Without Thompson, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors' defense has plummeted from one of the best units in the NBA to one of the league's worst. Wednesday night's loss was a prime example as LeBron James and the Lakers got whatever they wanted from the jump, feasting on the Warriors' shoddy defense.

[RELATED: Warriors' defense again goes missing in loss vs. Lakers]

Until he and Steph Curry can return to the court, Thompson will have just gave to grit his teeth and watch his young teammates go through some severe NBA growing pains.