At the beginning of the season I wrote previews for every team in the NBA and then took the bold step of attempting to predict their regular season record. At the time, all my arguments seemed flawless. Sure, there were a few unknown factors - I was unsure if the Wizards could gel with the return of Gilbert Arenas to push themselves into the top four in the East, I didn't know who would remain from the Bobcats roster to lead them to one of the worst records in the NBA, and I wasn't sure when Blake Griffin would return to lead the Clippers into the playoffs. OK, so I didn't know a whole heck of a lot. Some of my predictions were horribly off, while others prove how much of a genius I am.
76ers - "This team could really excel if Elton Brand can produce. If not, they will hover around .500 all season." I have no idea what I was thinking there. Iguodala is still a star and Dalembert can be a force in the middle but they have one of the least talented rosters in the league. Elton Brand could not produce and the brief addition of Allen Iverson didn't exactly turn the franchise around.
Pacers - "Once Mike Dunleavy returns they will turn into a playoff contender. They just have to hope they aren't too far out of it by that point to recover. If Roy Hibbert can play like he has in the preseason, this team could be dangerous." I thought Mike Dunleavy would turn this team around? Hibbert at times played well but was never consistent and Granger battled through some injuries. The biggest problem though, was as the point guard position. That's something they will need to address in the draft.
Bucks - "Who besides Michael Redd is going to score for the Bucks? On most nights every single one of their players will be worse than their opponent at the same position. At least Brandon Jennings will be fun to watch - whether he's crashing and burning or making highlights, he's going to be entertaining." If someone would've told me Michael Redd would play in just 18 games this season and tear his ACL again I'd have put this team as the worst in the league. They might be the biggest surprise in the NBA. Bogut turned into a star and the acquisition of John Salmons helped ease the blow of the loss of Redd.
Wizards - "The Wizards will undoubtedly be the most improved team over last year. This team has too many question marks though, and not all of those are going to work in their favor. Maybe Arenas isn't what he used to be, or Jamison is out longer than expected, or their younger players don't improve from last season." I blame the media for this one. I was wary to pick the Wizards to do so well but everyone thought they would turn it around and be one of the top four teams in the East. I let their influence sway me and placed them higher than I originally thought. Though, who would've seen the whole Gilbert Arenas mess happening?
Grizzlies - "The only way the Grizzlies win is if they're playing with two basketballs on the court. How are Mayo, Iverson, Gay, and Randolph going to get enough shots to stay happy? Those four players cannot be on the floor at the same time. Something needs to change." This was a popular opinion among experts and not many expected the Grizzlies' turnaround this year. They faltered down the stretch but finished with 40 wins. Iverson was shipped off early and Zach Randolph was an All-Star. They had firepower from the outside in Gay and Mayo and a strong inside presence with Randolph and an emerging Marc Gasol. Those four are about as strong as any four on one team in the NBA.
Knicks - "D'Antoni can't wait until 2010. He's just hoping Danilo Gallinari can prove worthy of his high draft pick last year and he can lure a big free agent or two to the Big Apple." I predicted 32 wins for the Knicks and they finished with 29. Some thought they'd drastically improve over last year but they just didn't have the talent to do it. Now the real season starts for the Knicks in the free agency market.
Nuggets - "Losing Linas Kleiza and Dhantay Jones will hurt more than most think. Everything went right for them last year and something is bound to go wrong this year. They will take a small step back this season." Those losses did hurt but it's probably more the loss of Kenyon Martin and possibly George Karl that have really hurt them. Either way, things did go wrong for them this year and they did fall a bit.
Timberwolves - "My hopes were high for the Wolves just a month ago. Then Kevin Love broke his hand and Al Jefferson has had some nagging injuries. Kurt Rambis is in for a tough year." Although my win total was way too high for these guys (27 wins vs. the reality of 15), that description pretty much nailed it. Definitely a tough year.
Warriors - "It's a shame this team is in such disarray because they actually have some talent. That talent though, doesn't protect the paint and might not get along with each other. Stephen Jackson gets his wish and is traded to a contender midway through the season." Injuries decimated their already weak frontcourt. Their frontcourt was outscored by 11 points per game and their guards did most of the damage. Jackson did get traded but not quite to a contender in the Bobcats. It was a mess though and the only bright spot was Stephen Curry. But they do have a young nucleus to build around and their future is looking brighter.
Rockets - "They lost Ron Artest and are without Yao Ming for the season. That's a lot of fire power to make up for. Trevor Ariza is a great role player but he can't step in as a top scoring threat on any team. If McGrady is healthy this team could sneak into the playoffs but how likely is that?" I also wrote that you never know with these Rockets because they always seem to exceed expectations. I predicted 37 wins and they won 42. It's quite an accomplishment with their roster. Ariza couldn't step in as a top scoring threat and the Rockets realized that and acquired Kevin Martin. Ariza was then able to take a step back and with the pressure off shoot a much higher percentage.
In the East I predicted five of eight playoffs teams
and in the West I got seven of the eight. I'd say this is about on par
with most NBA experts.
In the West, the injury to Chris Paul ended any hopes the Hornets had and while I thought the Thunder would improve, I didn't think it would be that dramatic.In the East, the Heat were better than I thought, Larry Brown worked his magic on the Bobcats (acquiring Stephen Jackson was huge), and the Bucks exceeded everyone's expectations.