Despite the addition of another All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins, the Golden State Warriors have had a dramatic drop in their championship chances, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index projections.
The Warriors dropped from a rousing 58 percent chance to walk away with the Larry O’Brien trophy last season to only 40 percent — a drastic decline, despite keeping all of their core players.
ESPN’s criteria is based partly on Las Vegas odds for win totals and Golden State had fallen short of the projected 63 wins after winning only 59 games due to the myriad of injuries at the end of the season.
In addition, the Warriors came dangerously close to elimination in a seven-game Western Conference Finals series against the Houston Rockets, which ultimately made them look “excellent, but mortal.”
“To be clear, the Warriors are a superb basketball team. In fact, in the 11 years of preseason BPI ratings, Golden State has the fifth-highest rating going into the season, behind only the 2017-18 Warriors, 2011-12 Heat, 2011-12 Thunder and 2010-11 Heat. We just think a tad less of the Warriors relative to 12 months ago.”
Part of the Warriors’ astounding championship-or-bust 58 percent probability heading into 2017-18 was the absolute destruction of opponents during Kevin Durant’s first season with the team, as they railed off 15 straight wins before losing out on a potential sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers before completing the job at home to put a wrap on a 16-1 postseason.
That dominance made Golden State a massive favorite to repeat, but given that they have proven challenged by the Rockets and face the incertitude of Cousins’ injury, they no longer are that heavy of a favorite.
But don’t mistake this slide as weakness — the Warriors’ shot at winning the NBA Finals is still 40 percent — that’s the third-highest chance among preseason teams to win the title over the last 10 years.