NBA Regular Season Review

Now that the NBA regular season is complete, we’re going to look back at how my predictions panned out. Not only the accuracy of the predictions, but also how we got here. This is only the regular season and playoff predictions. I’ll do a separate post for my award’s predictions.
 
Eastern Conference
 
Atlantic Division
 
Boston Celtics
Prediction: Over 55.5
Record: 55-27 Miss
 
Brad Stevens has proven that he can take lesser talent to the greatest possible ceiling. Not only has he done it with the Boston Celtics, but also in college at Butler. The only reason Boston missed its mark this season is because of the Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving injuries. They lost, by far, their two best players, one for the entire season, and still almost won 56 games. It’s incredible.
 
Toronto Raptors
Prediction: Under 48.5
Record: 59-23 Miss
 
Dwane Casey deserves a ton of credit for the Raptors this year. Casey took a group that we were all starting to get bored of and energized the team. He is not my coach of the year, because how hard is it to acknowledge where the league is going (spacing, 3’s) and adjust your offense toward that? But I digress. And the bench is a big reason why. Fred Van Vleet is the biggest surprise, but the Raps own the deepest bench in the league. Combine that with Casey pushing the right buttons at the right time, and you have the #1 seed Raptors. Now they have to prove it in the playoffs.
 
Philadelphia Sixers
Prediction: Under 41.5
Record: 52-30 Miss
 
Joel Embiid stayed healthy, it’s pretty plain and simple. Given his injury history, there wasn’t any reason to believe he would play close to a full season. 63 games later, Embiid is a superstar and the Sixers could be ready for a run, not only in this playoffs, but for years to come. Ben Simmons has also been one of the best rookies we’ve seen in awhile.
 
New York Knicks
Prediction: Over 30.5
Record: 29-53 Miss
 
Hornacek is out, and the Knicks continue to run the mediocrity treadmill. They hit the over if Porzingis stays healthy, but he didn’t, and they didn’t. Meh.
 
Brooklyn Nets
Prediction: Over 27.5
Record: 28-54 Hit
 
This is both a credit to coach Kenny Atkinson and a knock on the level of talent in Brooklyn. Brooklyn hasn’t had it’s own first round pick since 2013, so they’ve been trying hard to win games. The talent is so depleted, they won 28 games. Atkinson is their coach of the future, and maximizing given talent is going to be his expertise.
 
Central Division
 
Cleveland Cavaliers
Prediction: Over 53.5
Record: 50-32 Miss
 
Lebron had way more to deal with this season than anyone could have expected. Ty Lue took time off to take care of his mental space, Kevin Love missed time with injuries and Isaiah Thomas was a circus on his own. Oh, and the roster was completely overhauled at the trade deadline. Lebron is the best to ever do it, but at 33 years old, he can only carry so much.
 
Milwaukee Bucks
Prediction: Over 47.5
Record: 44-38 Miss
 
In my awards predictions, I expected Giannis Antetokounmpo to make the leap this year into superstardom. And while he hit that next level, the rest of the Bucks didn’t follow. Jabari Parker missed a lot of the year again, and second year Malcolm Brogdan didn’t elevate much from his Rookie of the Year campaign. The Bucks next coach needs to come in prepared to help this team leap into the next level. Otherwise, Giannis may start looking for a new home.
 
Detroit Pistons
Prediction: Under 38.5
Record: 39-43 Miss
 
Stan Van Gundy is a great coach. He is not a great coach/president of basketball operations. He has more than likely worked his way out of the second role, and may lose his job as coach as well. Detroit has some pieces, but they need pieces that work together. Having the parts to a Volkswagen and trying to build an Audi doesn’t work.
 
Indiana Pacers
Prediction: Over 31.5
Record: 48-34 Hit
 
I definitely thought the Pacers would be better than 31.5 wins. But I still had them finishing 4th in the Central division. This iteration of the Pacers is far beyond what most people thought the ceiling would be. Victor Oladipo has been reborn in Indiana and if Myles Turner takes another step forward, the Pacers could be a problem for awhile.
 
Chicago Bulls
Prediction: Under 22
Record: 27-55 Miss
 
Lauri Markkanen is one of my biggest misses. I didn’t believe in him at all. Not only was he one of the best rookies this season, but Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis looked good. Hell, even Kris Dunn seems to have figured some things out. Things are looking up for Chicago.
 
Southeast Division
 
Washington Wizards
Prediction: Over 48
Record: 43-39 Miss
 
Only when there is a track record of injuries (see the Sixers prediction) do I factor in injuries. So while John Wall missing the majority of the season may be the reason, the Wizards have still be a disappointment this season. There were many games along the way that they had no business losing, yet here we are. This is will be an interesting franchise to watch going forward.
 
Charlotte Hornets
Prediction: Over 42.5
Record: 36-46 Miss
 
I plain missed this one. There was reason to be hopeful about this Hornets team. Kemba Walker has been fantastic all season, but combinations of injuries and a general lack of talent helped the outcome. Also, Malik Monk was one of my favorite players in the draft, but has been disappointing. He’ll figure things out, but this season wasn’t that time. Kemba seems to love Charlotte, but Michael Jordan needs to do more to show some love back.
 
Miami Heat
Prediction: Over 43.5
Record: 44-38 Hit
 
Everything I said about Brad Stevens can be copy and pasted for Erik Spoelstra. He’s a great coach and gets the most out of the talent given to him.
 
Orlando Magic
Prediction: Under 33.5
Record: 25-57 Hit
 
I, like most people, saw the opening stretch for Orlando and didn’t understand. Beating the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies in the first eight games of the season is impressive. Once the glow faded and the shooting percentage dropped, the Magic were stuck being the Magic. Frank Vogel is looking for another job, and Orlando stays on that same treadmill of mediocrity as New York. Until next season!
 
Atlanta Hawks
Prediction: Under 25.5
Record: 24-58 Hit
 
Atlanta is on the rebuild track, and with a base of young talent already there, they set up well for a few years from now. They’ll take this years top pick and start to build something nice.
 
 
Western Conference
 
Northwest Divison
 
Oklahoma City Thunder
Prediction: Over 50.5
Record: 48-34 Miss
 
I blame Billy Donovan. Carmelo Anthony should have been on the bench, or at least playing less than 30 minutes a game, for awhile now. Donovan either doesn’t have the chops to bench a Hall of Famer, or there’s some serious internal issues. Either way, unless the Thunder do one of those two things, they won’t hit their ceiling in the playoffs. And even that may not take them far.
 
Denver Nuggets
Prediction: Over 45.5
Record: 46-36 Hit
 
Oh Denver. You waited way too long to give a shit. I like the young core they have there, but Jokic needs to work on his defense if the Nuggets are going to make any sort of leap forward. Mike Malone should get another year, but his seat is going to be very hot.
 
Minnesota Timberwolves
Prediction: Under 48.5
Record: 47-35 Hit
 
I’ll say it now; Minnesota is going to get smacked in the playoffs. Tibs runs those guys into the ground and they aren’t going to have the stamina to keep up with Houston. Houston was set up to beat anyone they played, but Minnesota will go down in 4 or 5.
 
Utah Jazz
Prediction: Over 41
Record: 48-34 Hit
 
Donovan Mitchell is definitely a top 2 Rookie of the Year candidate. He and Ricky Rubio carried the Jazz through the Rudy Gobert injury, and with Gobert back, the Jazz are the Western Conference team nobody wants. The Western Conference playoffs, from top to bottom, is going to be a lot of fun to watch.
 
Portland Trailblazers
Prediction: Under 42.5
Record: 49-33 Miss
 
Swing and a miss. The Raptors and Trailblazers are very parallel teams, and that includes their ability to outplay my expectations. Similar cast coming back to make another run at it, with a key new contributor coming off the bench (Van Vleet, Zach Collins). I love Damian Lillard, and Portland, so I’m very happy to be wrong here.
 
Pacific Division
 
Golden State Warriors
Prediction: Over 67.5
Record: 58-24 Miss
 
The biggest takeaway from this season has been the effect many runs to the Finals has on a team. We’ve seen it with every team that makes 3 Finals in a row. The year following the third run, the team falls apart. The only player that seems to be immune to the toll it takes is Lebron James, but he’s 33 and not getting younger. The Warriors are more vulnerable than ever.
 
Los Angeles Clippers
Prediction: Over 43.5
Record: 42-40 Miss
 
Blake Griffin might have bumped the Clippers over the 43.5 mark, but I prefer the Boban, DJ and Tobias Harris pregame dance off. I have never liked Doc, Austin or the Clippers in general. But dammit if Boban didn’t soften my heart.
 
Los Angeles Lakers
Prediction: Over 33.5
Record: 35-47 Hit
 
The Baby Lakers still have a lot of room to grow. This offseason will be critical for what direction this franchise takes going forward, so it’s hard to project. If they choose to keep building around young talent, I like the Lonzo Ball-Brandon Ingram base. Kyle Kuzma will be a great contributor off the bench and Julius Randle could still be on the cusp. With an expected late first round pick this year, the Lakers need to hit on it or in free agency.
 
Sacramento Kings
Prediction: Over 27.5
Record: 27-55 Miss
 
I had high expectations for De’Aaron Fox, and I still do. He played behind a very unhappy George Hill for most of the season, and still needs to work on his game. I still have faith his drive to be great is going to fix a lot of his gaps. Plus, those city jerseys are flames. The Kings are looking up (kind of).
 
Phoenix Suns
Prediction: Under 29
Record: 21-61 Hit
 
Not too much patting on the back here. The Suns are awful, with no end in sight.
 
Southwest Division
 
Houston Rockets
Prediction: Over 55.5
Record: 65-17 Hit
 
The Rockets have been every bit the team as advertised and they are operating a historic offense. But…. Until James Harden and Chris Paul can bring a team to the Finals, there will be a cloud over their heads. Paul has at least performed well in high pressure situations, but the Rockets will need both it’s superstars to elevate in the playoffs.
 
San Antonio Spurs
Prediction: Under 54.5
Record: 47-35 Hit
 
Even with Kawhi, the Spurs were going to take a dip this season. Without him, they took a full-on slide. By only the grace of Popovich, they still have the 4 seed, but missed on 50 wins for the first time in the Popovich era, save the shortened 1998-99 season. They won 74% of their games that season.
 
Memphis Grizzlies
Prediction: Under 37.5
Record: 22-60 Hit
 
Grind City came to a grinding halt. ANYWAY, it’s time to reset the deck in Memphis, and with likely a top 3 pick in a loaded draft on the way, they should be set.
 
New Orleans Pelicans
Prediction: Under 39.5
Record: 48-34 Miss
 
Anthony Davis stayed healthy, DeMarcus Cousins didn’t, and then AD turned into Clark Kent. If you ever had a doubt Davis is a top 5 player in the league, this season fixed that for you. He dragged a very “first-run-of-Lebron’s-Cavaliers-esque” team to the playoffs, even after Cousins’ injury. Jrue Holiday has also been great this season.
 
Dallas Mavericks
Prediction: Under 35.5
Record: 24-58 Hit
 
Dirk deserves better. Between Nerlens Noel’s new found love of hot dogs, the Mark Cuban issues with his front office, and Wesley Matthews injury, it’s been a long season. Hey, at least they have Dennis Smith Jr.
 
Eastern Conference Playoffs Predictions 
Missed all seeds
 
Boston Celtics – Hit Playoffs
Cleveland Cavaliers – Hit Playoffs
Washington Wizards – Hit Playoffs
Milwaukee Bucks – Hit Playoffs
Toronto Raptors – Hit Playoffs
Charlotte Hornets – Miss Playoffs
Miami Heat – Hit Playoffs
Philadelphia Sixers – Hit Playoffs
 
Western Conference Playoffs Predictions
 
Missed all seeds
 
Golden State Warriors – Hit Playoffs
Houston Rockets – Hit Playoffs
Oklahoma City Thunder – Hit Playoffs
San Antonio Spurs – Hit Playoffs
Los Angeles Clippers – Miss Playoffs
Denver Nuggets – Miss Playoffs
Minnesota Timberwolves – Hit Playoffs
Utah Jazz – Hit Playoffs

2017-18 Rookie of the Year Preview

Last seasons rookie class took a big hit with Ben Simmons missing the entire season and Joel Embiid getting hurt about halfway through the season. It was definitely one of the least exciting Rookie of the Year votes in recent memory, but this season is going to be much different. I mean, when Malcolm Brogdon (who I love) wins the award and Buddy Hield finishes fourth, after basically not existing in New Orleans until the All-Star break, behind Joel Embiid, who literally missed half of the season, it’s a bad year. But we move forward. The top 5 this year is a great class and should make this a great race as long as everyone stays healthy.

1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia Sixers

Last seasons expected winner of the award is expected to be back with a force this season, and he’s got some talent around him. Embiid proved what he could be last season in his limited time, and if he stays healthy, will help Simmons and fellow rookie Markelle Fultz bring the Sixers back to prominence. I will go ahead and say, Fultz isn’t on the list. If anyone wins it from the Sixers, I believe it will be Simmons, and I think there’s a chance that if both perform well, they’ll split some votes anyway. Either way, it’s clear the Sixers were smart to Trust the Process.

2. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas Mavericks

A lot of the ROY award is attributed to who gets opportunities. Simmons and Fultz are going to start, and the same can be said about most of the players on the list. Smith Jr. is in that category. Yogi Ferrel was a fun experiment, but DSJ is the future and if he can embrace coach Rick Carlisle’s system, he could become a force quickly in the league. He has better talent around him than they do in Philadelphia and if he plays his cards right, he could be going on stage to receive the award in June.

3. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers

The last starter that I believe has a real chance at winning the award, Ball displayed his potential in Summer League. I would expect to see similar stat lines in the season (low scoring triple doubles and double doubles) and if the Baby Lakers make a bit of a jump, expect to Lonzo in the conversation at the very least.

4. Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets

Monk is not a starter this year, and barring injury, which isn’t unlikely given Michael Kidd-Gilcrest’s history, won’t crack the starting lineup. However, he is a dangerous offensive player and could earn a lot of minutes coming off the bench. If he can light people up on the second unit and work his way into 20-ish minutes a night, Monk could jump into the conversation.

5. Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns

The way I see it, there’s a slim chance Jackson wins the award. But it’s a chance. He’ll have to come in playing lockdown defense on the perimeter, stabilizing the Suns defensive efforts. In addition, he’s going to have to be an aggressive scorer in an offense surrounded by talented scorers and prove that he has put in the work in the offseason on that end. He doesn’t necessarily need to be draining three’s and knocking down mid range jumpers, but he does have to show glimpses of at least becoming, one day, a version of DeMar DeRozen. But it is a long shot to be sure.

Charlotte Hornets 2017-18 Offseason and Preview

Offseason Signings

Signed: Michael Carter-Williams

Received in Trade: Dwight Howard

Drafted: Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon

Offseason Losses

Free Agents: Brian Roberts, Ramon Sessions, Christian Wood

Traded: Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee

Projected Starting Lineup

  1. Kemba Walker
  2. Nicolas Batum
  3. Michael Kidd-Gilcrest
  4. Marvin Williams
  5. Dwight Howard

Updated: 8/20/17