NBA PM: 50 Predictions Revisited

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Once upon a time, long, long ago, before Basketball Insiders even existed, I wrote 50 predictions for the 2013-14 NBA season with high hope that this would be the year that I’d get an overwhelming majority of them correct. Usually I score somewhere in the 25-30 range, mostly because I try to make the predictions challenging enough where they aren’t just layups to pad my stats, but this year was pretty remarkable.

Just not in a good way.

My only consolation is that I’m one of the only analysts in the business who makes this many preseason predictions and then actually revisits them at the end of the season to see how well I did. All of these were made a couple days before the preseason started, so try and put yourself back that far and remember how you thought the year would go. My guess is you probably would’ve done just as bad as me this season.

Okay, so maybe not as bad as me, but yours wouldn’t have been pretty either. In any event, here are my 50 predictions revisited. Shield your eyes, and don’t let your children view the horror:

Individual Predictions

1. Kevin Durant will reclaim the scoring title this year, but will average fewer than 30 PPG.

WRONG: Durant did lead the league in scoring, but he did so averaging a massive 32 PPG. Half point for the scoring title because things are about to get pretty ugly in this article.

2. Durant will also lead the league in turnovers.

WRONG: John Wall led the league with 295 turnovers. Durant finished third with 285.

3. DeMarcus Cousins will average a career-high in rebounds per game (over 11 RPG) and finish in the top five in the league in that category.

RIGHT: Cousins averaged a career-high 11.7 RPG this season, the fifth-best average in the league.

4. JaVale McGee will lead the league in blocks per game.

WRONG: McGee only played in five games this year, but his 1.4 BPG during that time would’ve placed him 16th among his contemporaries.

5. Ricky Rubio will lead the league in steals per game.

WRONG: Rubio finished second in the league with 2.32 SPG, a scant .16 behind league-leader Chris Paul.

6. LeBron James will win his fifth MVP trophy in six years, while leading the league in both PER and win shares.

WRONG: James finished second in PER, win shares and MVP voting (thanks a lot, Kevin Durant).

7. Stephen Curry will be fantastic when he’s on the floor, but he will play fewer than 60 games this season.

WRONG: Curry had a breakout season and played in 78 games. But wait, it gets worse…

8. Andrew Bynum, meanwhile, will play more than 60 games in his first year with Cleveland.

WRONG: Anybody else just throw up in their mouth a little bit?

9. Andre Drummond will increase his scoring and rebounding by at least 25% this season.

RIGHT: Drummond went from 7.9 PPG and 7.6 RPG his rookie season to 13.5 PPG and 13.2 RPG during his sophomore campaign.

10. Despite all the All-Star talent, nobody on the Brooklyn Nets will average 18 PPG or higher.

RIGHT: While Brook Lopez averaged 20.7 PPG, he only played in 17 games, so he doesn’t qualify. Otherwise, Joe Johnson led the team with 15.8 PPG this season.

11. O.J. Mayo will finish in the top 10 in the league in points per game.

WRONG: It seemed like a good idea at the time. With 11.7 PPG, Mayo finished the season right around 105th in the league in points per game.

12. Jimmy Butler will be named the Most Improved Player.

WRONG: Butler had a good year, but not Goran Dragic good.

13. Roy Hibbert will be named the Defensive Player of the Year.

WRONG: If the season would have ended at the All-Star break, I would’ve nailed this one, but Hibbert completely fell apart the last third of the year, just like the rest of the Pacers.

14. Two or fewer players on this year’s All-Star teams will make it in as first-timers.

WRONG: I was thinking Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis, and I was right. I was wrong, however, about Damian Lillard, John Wall, Paul Millsap and DeMar DeRozan.

15. Stephen Curry will be one of them.

RIGHT: Like I said, I was thinking Stephen Curry.

Team Predictions

16. The Chicago Bulls will have the best regular season record in the league.

WRONG: This came at a time when I thought Derrick Rose would be playing a full season. The way Tom Thibodeau treats the regular season, this was a reasonable prediction at the time. Rose’s injury killed this one, though.

17. The Philadelphia 76ers will have the worst regular season record.

WRONG: Not that they didn’t try. Milwaukee’s bad season was a tough one to top.

18. The New York Knicks, who won 54 games last season, will win no more than 46 games in 2013-14.

RIGHT: I didn’t think they’d drop to 37 wins, but needless to say I was correct in expecting some sort of significant drop-off for New York.

19. The Charlotte Bobcats will win at least eight more games than they did a year ago.

RIGHT: The Bobcats were lottery-bound a year ago, winning only 21 games, and they more than doubled that in 2013-14, winning 43 and making the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

20. Denver’s winning percentage will drop .150 or more points this year.

RIGHT: Denver was another team to experience a precipitous drop this season, sliding from .695 in 2012-13 to .439 this past season. That’s a .256 fall. Yikes.

21. The Miami HEAT will once again boast the best home record in the NBA.

WRONG: They didn’t even have the best home record in the Eastern Conference.

22. The Houston Rockets will lead the league in team points per game.

RIGHT: Easily, with 112 PPG. The Clippers came in second at “only” 108.8 PPG.

23. The Indiana Pacers will once again lead the league in team rebounds.

WRONG: Actually, the Rockets led the league in this category this year, as well, with 49.2 boards per game. Indiana finished 13th with 39.5 RPG.

24. The L.A. Clippers will lead the league in three-pointers made per game.

WRONG: L.A. finished in the top four, but the Atlanta Hawks led the league with an impressive 11.3 three-pointers per game. Didn’t see that one coming, Kyle Korver and all.

25. The Denver Nuggets will lead the league in team turnovers.

WRONG: This one went to the Golden State Warriors, who couldn’t have possibly been as explosive as they were this past season without making quite a few mistakes; 17.3 mistakes per game, actually.

Playoff Predictions

26. The Memphis Grizzlies will not have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

RIGHT: The Grizzlies entered this year’s playoffs as a seven-seed, despite a strong finish to the season. The Western Conference was a tough place to live this year.

27. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, both of whom missed the Eastern Conference playoffs last year, will both make the postseason this year.

WRONG: Half a point for Toronto, and to be fair, Cleveland was very disappointing.

28. The Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, despite preseason rumblings that they would both be playoff teams, will miss out.

WRONG: Another half a point for Detroit, but the Wizards were a lot better than I apparently thought they were going to be.

29. The L.A. Lakers will make the playoffs, but will not enter them with a seed higher than seven.

WRONG: Again, this was made before I knew Kobe Bryant would be down for the count. I had assumed he’d will the Lakers into the postseason, all on his own. He couldn’t even will himself onto the court for more than a handful of games, unfortunately.

30. New Orleans will also make the playoffs in their first season as the Pelicans.

WRONG: I repeat—the Western Conference was a tough place to live this year.

31. The L.A. Clippers will be the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

WRONG: They fell about five games short of that, but San Antonio had an epic season from start to finish. Not much you can do in a year like that, and let’s face it, even though they’re never the sexy preseason pick, they almost always end up proving everybody wrong.

32. The Miami HEAT will not make it back to the NBA Finals this year.

WRONG: Because it’s always smart to bet against LeBron James.

33. Nor will the San Antonio Spurs.

WRONG: Sigh.

34. The Chicago Bulls will win the NBA championship. Not a homer pick. Totally objective. Scout’s honor.

WRONG: This is bordering on absurd at this point.

Rookie Predictions

35. Victor Oladipo will win Rookie of the Year.

WRONG: Reasonable guess, but the best he could was finish second in voting behind Michael Carter-Williams, who I honestly did not think would be as good as he was.

36. Anthony Bennett will be in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting lineup by the end of the season.

WRONG: I’m not even sure what the point is of finishing the article at this point.

37. Michael Carter-Williams will lead the league in turnovers.

WRONG: He finished tied for fifth, behind Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, James Harden and John Wall.

38. Alex Len will make the All-Rookie First Team.

WRONG: Alex who?

39. Cody Zeller will lead all rookies in rebounds.

WRONG: Zeller finished third in this category, behind Carter-Williams and Kelly Olynyk.

Transaction Predictions

40. Rajon Rondo, very likely the subject of more trade rumors than any other player, will not be moved from the Boston Celtics this year. He’ll finish the year in Beantown.

RIGHT: For now, he’s still a Boston Celtic, not that it helped them much last year to get him back.

41. The Chicago Bulls also will not trade Luol Deng at any point this season.

WRONG: I never thought they’d do it, but they most assuredly did, and they really weren’t too much worse off because of it. Remember, though, I predicted this back when I thought Rose would play the full season. Didn’t think they’d make a cap cut if they thought there was a shot at winning a championship.

42. The Denver Nuggets will at some point make a relatively splashy trade involving at least Andre Miller and perhaps more players.

RIGHT: I didn’t predict things going so far south for Miller in Denver, but by season’s end he was a Washington Wizard.

43. The Houston Rockets will at some point trade Omer Asik.

WRONG: They should have, but they did not. They still should, honestly, and still may.

44. While it’s likely true that the Indiana Pacers will explore trading Danny Granger, they will not be able to find a capable suitor and will keep him through the season and just take the cap space his expiring contract will create at season’s end.

WRONG: They’ll still ended up with the cap space, but only because the trade they made with Philly was for restricted free agents that they have no intention of re-signing.

45. Orlando will trade Jameer Nelson, the oldest player on a rebuilding team, before the end of the season.

WRONG: They certainly tried, but ultimately couldn’t find the value they were seeking for him.

46. The Phoenix Suns will trade center Marcin Gortat before the deadline, as well.

RIGHT: They traded him before the season even started, and I’ve got to admit that when this one went down, I thought I was going to go 50-for-50 this year. That optimism has been completely shattered in the many months since.

Miscellaneous Predictions

47. The Philadelphia 76ers will have a ton of ping pong balls in this spring’s lottery, but they will not earn the top overall selection.

RIGHT: They did have a ton of ping pong balls, but Cleveland ultimately won the lottery, surprising everybody.

48. The Utah Jazz will be awarded the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. Welcome to Utah, Andrew Wiggins!

WRONG: One of these years I’m going to guess the lottery winner correctly, and we’re all going to throw a big party. No big party this summer, though. Certainly no big party for the Utah Jazz, who, let’s face it, would be taking Jabari Parker over Wiggins if they actually did have the No. 1 pick.

49. The Charlotte Hornets will use teal in their new color scheme.

RIGHT: Of course they’re using teal in their new color scheme!

50. And for my layup prediction, which I make every year: the Chicago Bulls will lead the league in attendance.

RIGHT: This was cheating because the Bulls always lead the league in attendance, but as it turns out, I really needed the extra point.

So what’s the damage? Including half points, I ended up getting 16.5 right out of 50 this year, easily my worst total in the seven years I’ve been writing this column.

Revisiting these predictions isn’t about seeing how right I was, though; it’s more about returning back to the beginning of the season and seeing how differently we all thought things would pan out. Time has shown that a lot of my preseason rumblings were wrong, but what else is new? The unpredictability of sports is what makes them fun.

The good news is that I haven’t been so shattered as to avoid doing this again next season. I’ll be back in October, doing the whole thing all over again.