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50 NBA Predictions, Revisited (Part 1)
Posted By Joel Brigham On June 24, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Now that the Miami HEAT have finally gone ahead and did what everybody knew they would do (but hoped they wouldn’t), it’s time to officially pour through the 50 predictions that I made at the beginning of the season and berate myself for all the crazy things I thought would happen way back in the fall of 2012.
Please remember that I assembled these predictions shortly after Media Day in the fall, so a lot of the things we know now (Andrew Bynum is irreparably broken; the Los Angeles Lakers are horrible; Derrick Rose rehabs way more slowly than everybody else), we didn’t know then.
But I like coming back to these and holding myself accountable, and it’s enjoyable to poke fun at myself knowing that many of these predictions couldn’t have possibly been predicted accurately. That’s why I make tough predictions rather than predictions like, “LeBron James will be pretty good this year.” The ones I get right, I want to really get right. The ones I get wrong, I want to laugh at how I could’ve ever believed that.
In any event, here are how my NBA preseason predictions panned out this year. The first 25 come today, and the second 25 will run tomorrow. Enjoy, and please feel free to jibe me a little in the comment section or on Twitter:
1. LeBron James will win the MVP award, averaging eight rebounds (for the first time in his career) in the process.
RIGHT: Of course he won MVP, but the eight rebounds thing was a stretch. Thankfully, that’s exactly what he ended up with.
2. Kevin Durant will lead the league in scoring, besting the second-place scorer by at least 1.5 points per game.
WRONG: Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title for the first time this year, averaging 28.7 points.
3. Steve Nash will take back the assists crown this year, edging out Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
WRONG: Like, way wrong. Nash averaged only 6.7 assists, his lowest output since 1999-00. That put him at 15th in the league, just behind Ty Lawson and Stephen Curry and just ahead of Brandon Jennings. Rondo, Paul, and Williams were all in the top five.
4. Derrick Rose will return in March and play in at least fifteen regular season games.
WRONG: There are plenty of people who think he could have, but despite his ability to get ready physically, Rose just couldn’t quite get over some of his mental hurdles in time for the playoffs.
5. JaVale McGee will average over 2.5 blocks per game.
WRONG: McGee averaged a pretty incredible 2.0 blocks per game playing only a shade over 18 minutes per night (good enough for eighth in the league), so if I were going with per-36-minutes stats, I would’ve been right. But I wasn’t, and I wasn’t.
6. Andrew Bynum will play in fewer than 62 games this season.
RIGHT: “Zero” is considerably less than 62. Remember that this prediction was made before the news came out that he’d miss significant time. Still, this was about as correct as a prediction can get.
7. After losing out on the accolade last year because of injuries and bad PR, Dwight Howard will win his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award in five years.
WRONG: Marc Gasol won this year, but that didn’t stop Howard from making himself look bad in “gracious” defeat.
8. Scott Skiles isn’t going to make it through the year as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
RIGHT: Remember Scott Skiles? Considering he was already a lame duck in the 2011-12 season, nobody was shocked when he was fired back in January.
9. Glen Davis will lead the Orlando Magic in scoring this season.
WRONG: Maybe if Davis had actually played this season, things could’ve been different. Instead, Tobias Harris was the team’s top scorer with 17.3 points over the 27 appearances he made with the team after the trade deadline. If you’d rather look at the top-scoring Magic player over the course of the entire season, it’d be Arron Afflalo, who averaged 16.5 points. Davis, in 34 games, averaged 15.1 points.
10. Phoenix’s Goran Dragic will keep up the statistical pace he managed as a starter in Houston—at least 18 points, eight assists and three rebounds.
WRONG: Dragic averaged 14.7 points, 7.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds, which aren’t bad numbers, but they aren’t quite as hot as they were in Houston last season.
11. James Harden will see an uptick in points per game as Houston’s featured player, but his shooting percentages—both FG% and 3PT%—will decline.
RIGHT: Harden averaged a career-high 25.9 points, but saw his field goal percentage drop from 49.1 percent last season to 43.8 percent this season, while his three-point percentage dropped from 39 percent to 36.8 percent.
12. Stephen Curry will not play more than 50 games this year due to those nagging ankle injuries, further infuriating his fantasy owners.
WRONG: He played in enough games to break the single-season record for three-pointers made, which was a constant reminder as to how stupid I was for not drafting him this year for my fantasy team.
13. Even missing a big chunk of the season, Kevin Love has three or more 20-point/20-rebound games in him this year.
WRONG: He “only” had one in 18 games. Had he been able to play 40-50 games, though, I’m confident I would’ve been right on this one.
14. Lou Williams and Anthony Morrow will combine for more points than Joe Johnson did last year as an Atlanta Hawk.
RIGHT: Morrow didn’t even last all season with Atlanta, but he averaged 5.2 points in the 22 games he was actually there. That, added to the 14.1 points Williams averaged in the first half of the season before bowing out to injury, equates to 19.3 points. In 2011-12, Johnson averaged 18.8 points for the Hawks. Technically, I’m right here, even though it’s a hard one to prove definitively since these two players didn’t stick with the team all season.
15. Kenneth Faried will average a double-double this year for the Denver Nuggets.
WRONG: But so close. Faried finished the season averaging 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds.
16. The Charlotte Bobcats will have the worst record in the NBA again this season.
WRONG: They just had to go and win their last three games of the season, didn’t they? For the first 79 games, it looked like I was going to be right.
17. But they’ll at least double their winning percentage from a year ago.
RIGHT: In the lockout-shortened season, they were a dismal .106, but this season they finished at .256. That’s still awful, but it’s a significant improvement.
18. The Chicago Bulls, even without Derrick Rose, will still finish in the top three in the league for points allowed.
RIGHT: Chicago finished the year third in opponents’ points per game at 92.9.
19. The New York Knicks will lead the league in team turnovers.
WRONG: Guess which team finished the season with the fewest turnovers in the NBA? The Knicks. The Houston Rockets were the worst at 15.8 turnovers per game.
20. The Brooklyn Nets will finish the season with at least seven more wins than the New York Knicks.
WRONG: The Knicks finished with five more wins than the Nets. Apparently I severely underestimated New York this year. I distinctly recall not being a believer before the season started.
21. The Memphis Grizzlies will have a lower winning percentage this year than they did last year.
WRONG: Memphis went from .621 in the lockout-shortened season to .683 this season.
22. The Oklahoma City Thunder will also have a lower winning percentage this year than they did last year.
WRONG: This is getting embarrassing. The Thunder went from .712 to .732 and were the top seed in the Western Conference this year.
23. The Minnesota Timberwolves will not make the playoffs because of how hard it is for a team to dig themselves out of an early-season hole. By the time Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio get back, it will be too late.
RIGHT: Losing Love for the season was awful, and Brandon Roy’s early demise didn’t help anything, either.
24. The Miami HEAT, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics will win their divisions.
RIGHT: Sort of. I’ll take two out of three on this one. Miami and Indy handled their business, but New York won the Atlantic.
25. The San Antonio Spurs, not the L.A. Lakers, will finish with the best regular-season record in the Western Conference.
WRONG: I was right that San Antonio would finish with a better record than L.A., but so did half of the conference. Oklahoma City was the top Western Conference team this year.
And that’s it for today. Check back tomorrow for part two, where we’ll take the final tally of how many I got right versus how many I got wrong. Spoiler alert: I did much, much worse than last year.
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