Monday, June 24, 2013

NBA 2012-13 Preseason Predictions Revisited

This is the time of year when I look back at my predictions and think of how very wrong I was on many things and "I called it!" on many others. The game always surprises me. Without further ado, here is the list of my predicted team records and actual records starting where I went...

The Most Wrong.

TEAM                    Predicted wins           Actual Wins            Variation
Houston Rockets -           27                              45                         +18
Minnesota TWolves -      45                              31                          -14
Boston Celtics -               53                              41                          -12
Phoenix Suns -                35                              25                          -10
Los Angeles Lakers -      54                              45                           -9
Denver Nuggets -            48                              57                           +9
Memphis Grizzlies -        47                              56                          +9
G-State Warriors -           38                              47                           +9
Los Angeles Clippers -    48                              56                          +8
Toronto Raptors -            42                              34                           -8 

At the time of this prediction the Rockets hadn't acquired James Harden yet and the roster seemed to be overwrought with random characters, an overpaid Lin, and no real identity. Somehow, they moneyballed themselves into a legit playoff contender with Harden in tow and were the surprise of the season.

Injuries to Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo derailed teams that were on the edge already, while Phoenix underwhelmed considerably. The Lakers were THE story all season long and fell short of predictions which isn't too crazy when you see how much the Nugs, Griz, Warriors and Clippers exceeded expectations. And the Raptors? sigh...

Medium Predictions.

TEAM                    Predicted wins           Actual Wins            Variation
New York Knicks -          47                              54                         +7
Philadelphia 76ers -         40                              34                         -6
Cleveland Cavaliers -      30                              24                         -6
Brooklyn Nets -               44                              49                         +5
San Antonio Spurs -        53                              58                         +5
Washington Wizards -     33                              29                         -4
Detroit Pistons -              33                              29                         -4
Milwaukee Bucks -         35                              38                         +3
New Orleans Hornets -    24                              27                         +3

The Knicks won more games than expected even though some of their vets spent the season on crutches, as the Nets heated up the rivalry. The Sixers were a tough pick with the unknown health of Andrew Bynum but came out worse for the distraction. Strangely, I picked the Wizards and Pistons to have identical records and it came true! And the Spurs winning 50-some games could have been predicted by a monkey.

Well Predicted, sir.

TEAM                    Predicted wins           Actual Wins            Variation
OKC Thunder -                62                              60                          -2
Utah Jazz -                       45                              43                         -2
Dallas Mavericks -           43                              41                         -2 
Portland Trailblazers -     35                              33                         -2
Charlotte Bobcats -          19                              21                         +2 
Orlando Magic -              18                              20                         +2
Miami Heat -                   65                              66                         +1 
Indiana Pacers -               50                              49                         -1
Atlanta Hawks -              43                              44                         +1 
Sacramento Kings -         29                              28                         -1
Chicago Bulls -                45                              45                         0

When a team comes within two total wins of my preseason prediction, I know I did pretty well. For all the unknowns and ups and downs, I either got really lucky with these or I really know my basketball. Sometimes you need both.

The Thunder traded away Harden and still won 60 games, though it hurt them in the playoffs when they lost Russ and KD had to do it all. But all of that is fairly predictable. Mavs, Jazz, and Blazers missed the playoffs in the tight West as expected. I figured the Magic would win one fewer game than Charlotte for the title of worst team in the league and got that one right! Miami winning mid-60s games was a given, but the Pacers were an underrated team I had pegged as a 50-win squad that didn't show people until the playoffs. The Hawks and Kings were painfully predictable, while the Bulls were probably the biggest pre-season wildcard and I nailed it exactly...

 (prediction in italics, actual in bold)
MVP - LeBron James, LeBron James
Finals MVP - LeBron James (Heat over Lakers in Six), LeBron James (Heat > Spurs 7)
Yeah, I called LeBron having another great year and wrapping up another MVP/title, but who wouldn't have? It was the safe bet (other than the Lakers in the Finals...)

Scoring Champ - Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony
Probably the only guy that could even possibly challenge LeBron for MVP for the next five years, unless they drunkenly give it to Chris Paul, KD was just .littlebit away from taking his fourth consecutive scoring title. Should that have earned Melo one MVP vote? Probs not.

DPOY - Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol
 Some scratched their heads at the selection of Gasol, but he's such a smart team defender and reads plays so well he helped Memphis develop into an elite defensive team without being an incredible rebounder or shotblocker. It's not always about stats and appearances, plus the Dwightmare never seems to end...

Rookie - Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard
Davis played pretty well when he played but wasn't always in the best of health. It was hard for him to get going when he was constantly dinged up, and even if healthy it would have still been Damian Lillard. He made a rookie-record 185 threes and was voted ROY unanimously for only the fourth time in NBA history.

Sixth Man - Jason Terry, JR Smith
As part of the failed retooling in Boston this year I expected Terry, tattoo and all, to make a huge contribution to the last-chance Celts. But he played poorly and wasn't even in the race which came down to Jamal Crawford and JR Smith, none of which I'd want to trust my team with.
Most Improved - East, Jeff Green/ West, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
When Granger went out it became Paul George's team and he stepped up in a big way that I didn't foresee. Sure Jeff Green showed flashes and seems poised to inherit the Celtics, and Kawhi Leonard can post 19 points, 16 rebounds in a Finals game 7 while giving LeBron fits on defense, but they only started to show this late in the season. I might keep these picks for next year.

Bust Potential - East, Andrew Bynum/ West, Jeremy Lin, Andrew Bynum
I know it's sometimes not okay to pick on the injured guy or call him a bust, but with Bynum it became a circus. It drove Doug Collins out of the coaching business, and tanked a team that gave up Iguodala to get it done. Plus there was the bowling scandal and the ridiculous hair.

Coach - Frank Vogel, George Karl
Vogel's genius wasn't realized until he almost toppled the Heat with the underdog Pacers. Menawhile Karl gets they COY award and promptly gets fired. Coaches in the NBA have such a short lifespan that Spo will be second only to Pop if Doc is indeed leaving for LA. Spo hasn't been coaching for that long...

Highlight OTY - Blake Griffin dunk, DeAndre Jordan dunk
The Ray Allen three to save the Heat's season in Finals Game 6 was the play of the year, but in terms of sheer highlight it was the other half of Lob City that supplied the jam. DeAndre Jordan's dunk on Brandon Knight had power, height and posterization, plus it was off a lob. Sorry Blake, you'll have to do better next year.
All-NBA First Team - Paul, Rondo, James, Durant, Howard 
/ Paul, Bryant, James, Durant, Duncan
All-NBA Second Team - Westbrook, Bryant, Anthony, Griffin, Love 
/ Parker, Westbrook, Anthony, Griffin, Marc
All-NBA Third Team - Parker, Williams, Wade, Bosh, Pau 
/ Harden, Wade, Lee, George, Howard
 The Rondo injury opened up a spot on the first team that Kobe was hero enough to take, while Duncan had a renaissance year that I didn't see coming and made first team as well. Howard's terrible year still netted him a third team selection. Marc Gasol was a surprising addition to the list but he played well enough for it, while Lee's election is questionable. Griffin is overrated on the second team but takes the spot that may have belonged to KLove. Harden deserved more than third team, but not over the other guards on this list.
All-Rookie - Lillard, Beal, Kidd-Gilchrist, Davis, Valanciunas 
/ Lillard, Beal, Barnes, Waiters, Davis
Lillard and Beal anded up where they belonged and Davis earned this spot as well. Big V had a terrific rookie year in Toronto but missed some time with injury and will develop more in the coming years. MKG was decent but Barnes provided a real punch for the playoff-Warriors and Waiters at his best looked like a young DWade.

Seeya Next Season!

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