50 Predictions for the 2011-2012 NBA Season
I’ll admit—this is usually done before the season starts, not one week into official regular season action. But with so short a preseason, and so little time to digest all the free agent signings and trades, there just hasn’t been an appropriate amount of time to wrap my head around the way I felt the season was going to go.
Every team has played at least two or three games at this point, though, and there’s more than enough information to start making some educated guesses about the year to come. Now, with all my excuses out in the open, let’s have a look at 50 predictions for the 2011-2012 NBA season:
1. The Denver Nuggets, who led the league in team scoring last year, will do so again in 2011-2012.
2. The Chicago Bulls, who finished in the top two in the league in points allowed and opponents’ field goal percentage, will finish in the top two for both categories again this season.
3. The Minnesota Timberwolves will lead the league in team rebounds per game.
4. The Golden State Warriors will see an increase in winning percentage by at least 10% this year, bumping them up to at least .540 this season.
5. The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the worst record in the NBA.
6. As far as the Western Conference is concerned, no team will fare as poorly as the Utah Jazz.
Statistics & Individual Predictions
7. Kevin Durant will lead the league in scoring with over 30 ppg, despite the fact that last year nobody even got over 28 ppg in the regular season.
8. LeBron James’s scoring average will see an increase over last season’s 26.7 ppg, which had been his lowest since his rookie year.
9. Steve Nash’s assists per game will drop to a single-digit number for only the second time since the 2003-2004 season.
10. Derrick Rose, who averaged a career-high 7.7 apg last season, will see his assist numbers go up this season.
11. Kobe Bryant will have a game this year where he scores 60 or more points, which will be the sixth time in his career he’ll have done that.
12. Marcus Thornton will finish the year in the top 20 scorers in the league.
13. Kevin Love, who posted a career-high 15.2 rpg last season, will do even better than that number this season.
14. Jamal Crawford will average single-digit points per game for the first time since 2002.
15. The same will be true for Richard Hamilton, though it will be the first single-digit scoring season for him since his rookie season in 1999-2000.
16. Rajon Rondo will average a career-high in points per game this year, but that also means his assist numbers will drop a little from last year.
17. Without Yao Ming in the mix, the Western Conference center to be voted the starter in this year’s All-Star game will be Tim Duncan, assuming he’s listed as a center. If he’s not, Marc Gasol will be the starter.
18. Dwight Howard will, at some point, be traded during this season. The Magic would love to keep him, but eventually the fear that he’ll leave for nothing will prompt a trade.
19. Deron Williams, meanwhile, will remain a Net for the entire season, with or without a trade for Howard.
20. The media will make a lot about how the Oklahoma City Thunder should trade Russell Westbrook, but he’ll remain with his current team through the end of this season.
21. Josh Smith will become a popular trade rumor as the season goes on, but the Hawks won’t trade him, either.
22. The Cavaliers will trade one or more of Antawn Jamison, Ramon Sessions, or Anthony Parker at some point this season.
23. Try as they might, the Detroit Pistons will not be able to make any major moves before the trade deadline.
24. It’s not technically a trade, but there will be more hype for Wilson Chandler when the Chinese season ends in March than for any other free agent at that time. He will prove to be an important piece of some playoff contender’s postseason run.
25. Kyrie Irving will average more assists per game than John Wall.
26. Enes Kanter will lead all rookies in rebounding.
27. Kemba Walker will lead all rookies in scoring.
28. Brandon Knight also will have an excellent rookie season, and will end up a member of the All-Rookie first team.
29. Jimmer Fredette’s rookie campaign will widely be considered a disappointment.
30. Ricky Rubio will be largely underwhelming from a statistical standpoint, but will quickly develop into one of the most entertaining players to watch in the entire league.
31. Both MarShon Brooks and Norris Cole are going to be very good NBA players despite having been selected in the mid-to-late-twenties.
32. By the end of the year, Josh Selby will generally be considered the best second-rounder of the class.
33. International draft picks Jonas Valanciunas and Nikola Mirotic are going to have huge years overseas, inspiring quite a bit of optimism from Raptors and Bulls fans, respectively.
34. Of the eight teams that made the Eastern Conference playoffs last year, only the Philadelphia 76ers fill fail to make it back in.
35. In their place, it will be the Milwaukee Bucks sneaking back into the playoff picture.
36. The New Orleans Hornets will still be a playoff team, even without Chris Paul.
37. The Indiana Pacers will have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
38. The Dallas Mavericks will not have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
39. The L.A. Clippers will have an excellent year, but they will not end up in the Western Conference Finals. The coaching simply isn’t there.
40. The L.A. Lakers will not get to the Western Conference championship series, either.
41. The Chicago Bulls will get back to the Eastern Conference championship again, but once again they’ll be outmatched by the Miami HEAT.
42. LeBron James will finally win his first championship, as the Miami HEAT will be the winners of this year’s NBA Finals.
Awards and Miscellaneous
43. LeBron James will be named the league MVP.
44. Kemba Walker will be named Rookie of the Year.
45. Dwight Howard will win his fourth consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award.
46. George Karl will be named Coach of the Year.
47. James Harden will be named the Sixth Man of the Year.
48. When it comes time for the NBA Finals, the TV ratings will break the record-setting ratings from the 2011 Finals.
49. The Chicago Bulls will lead the league in attendance again this year.
50. Just for fun, because there’s no logical way to predict this—the Toronto Raptors will win the draft lottery.
And those are my fifty predictions for the 2011-2012 season. Do you have any predictions of your own to add to this list, or are there any on my list that you blatantly disagree with? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Here’s hoping this shortened season lives up to the great one we had last year!