One of the easiest things in the world to do as a sports journalist is to make a prediction about something, because almost nobody ever holds us accountable for those predictions. We’re all pretty smart people when it comes to this stuff, and we do know what we’re talking about, but the nature of sports is that they are unpredictable and surprising. If they weren’t, fantasy sports would be nowhere near the billion-dollar industry that they are.
For years now, I have held myself accountable on some of the predictions that I make. I have done that through an annual “50 NBA Predictions” article and a subsequent follow-up piece in May or June to take stock of how I did.
It’s gut-wrenching, frankly, but it’s also a lot of fun. So much so, in fact, that I was able to talk some of my Basketball Insiders colleagues into sprinkling in some predictions of their own this year. That means I can give them as much grief for being wrong as I give myself. Good times all around.
All that said, it’s time to get to this year’s 50 NBA Predictions, and as always feel free to add your own in the comments section or hit me up via Twitter. I’ll keep track of some of them and add them to the follow-up in the spring. There’s no reason readers shouldn’t put themselves out there publicly, too, right?
Here we go:
1. James Harden is going to lead the league in scoring with over 31 PPG.
2. Hassan Whiteside is going to lead the league in blocks with over 3.8 BPG.
3. Jonas Valanciunas will finish among the top rebounders in the league.
4. But Andre Drummond will once again lead the league in rebounds, this time with over 15 RPG.
5. Last year’s assist king Rajon Rondo (11.7 APG) will see his average drop under 10 per game.
6. Kevin Durant will score fewer than 25 PPG for the first time since his rookie season.
7. Karl-Anthony Towns will make his first All-Star team.
8. Zach LaVine will win the Dunk Contest for the third consecutive year.
9. Derrick Rose will play in fewer than 60 games.
10. The Golden State Warriors will win fewer than 70 games.
11. As a team, the Boston Celtics will lead the league in rebounds.
12. The Utah Jazz will average over 101 PPG.
13. The Houston Rockets will attempt more three-pointers per game than the Golden State Warriors.
14. For the second consecutive year, the Phoenix Suns will lead the league in turnovers.
15. The San Antonio Spurs will lead the league in defensive efficiency.
16. The Chicago Bulls will finish among the top six in team assists.
17. Ben Simmons will not play a single game for the Philadelphia 76ers this season.
18. Buddy Hield will lead all rookies in three-pointers made.
19. Kris Dunn will not play as many minutes as Ricky Rubio in Minnesota.
20. Thon Maker will show flashes, but won’t make much of an impact in his rookie season, failing to haul in 5 PPG or 5 RPG.
21. Brandon Ingram will score well, but won’t lead all rookies in scoring.
22. The Toronto Raptors will not have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
23. The Charlotte Hornets, meanwhile, will be a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.
24. The Indiana Pacers will play in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
25. The Dallas Mavericks will not make the playoffs.
26. The Atlanta Hawks will also miss the playoffs.
27. This year’s Finals will be a rematch of last year’s Finals between the Golden State Warriors and defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
28. Yes, the Golden State Warriors will win the championship.
29. Joel Embiid will win Rookie of the Year.
30. Russell Westbrook will be named the MVP.
31. Zach Randolph will be named Sixth Man of the Year.
32. Kawhi Leonard will be the Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in a row.
33. Brad Stevens will be the Coach of the Year.
34. Kenneth Faried will be shopped, but ultimately will remain a Denver Nugget for the entire season yet again.
35. The 76ers will move either Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel this season.
36. Brandon Knight will be unhappy and underutilized in Phoenix, but despite that he will not be traded this season.
37. This is the year that Sacramento finally trades Rudy Gay. It’s happening.
38. This is not the year that Sacramento finally trades DeMarcus Cousins, however. Players that good are too important to let walk.
39. The Orlando Magic will trade one of their frontcourt players before the deadline.
40. The Chicago Bulls will lead the league attendance.
41. The Brooklyn Nets will win the draft lottery.
42. There will be a new collective bargaining agreement in place before the end of the season.
43. Oliver Maroney: James Harden will be MVP.
44. Ben Dowsett: The Memphis Grizzlies will miss the playoffs.
45. Jonathan Concool: The Minnesota Timberwolves will make the playoffs.
46. Jesse Blancarte: Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson will play at least 70 regular season games.
47. Jabari Davis: The Minnesota Timberwolves will win more games than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
48. Alex Kennedy: Russell Westbrook will record 25 triple-doubles this season.
49. Cody Taylor: The Miami HEAT will finish about .500 and make the playoffs.
50. Lang Greene: Dwight Howard will be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
That’s it! Let us know what you think of our predictions, and make sure you check back in the spring to see how well (or how poorly) we did!
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.