A Look Back: Reviewing Preseason NBA Predictions
Before the season began, the NBA was overflowing with excitement after one of the most hectic off-seasons the league has ever experienced. Between the Kevin Durant Saga, the mystery of Joel Embiid, the New York “Super Team,” and many more headlines stirring up excitement, it was difficult to determine what the future would bring. After creating numerous articles previously discussing my predictions for the season, I will admit I was not perfect. However, I was not too far off on many things, so now lets take a look at where I was right and where I was wrong.
Where I was Right
MVP Candidates: With the departures of Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard from the Thunder and Rockets respectively, I saw an opportunity for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to take control of their teams and play a style of basketball that would elevate each of their games. So far, exactly that has happened. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double (!), and James Harden is leading the league in assists after fluently switching to the point guard position. The Rockets are currently the hottest team in the league, and the Thunder are still a very dangerous team almost solely because of these two MVP candidates.
MVP Candidate No More: The addition of Kevin Durant by the Warriors in the offseason struck fear into every other team in the league. Many saw them as an unstoppable force by adding a former MVP to a team with the two time defending MVP. This addition, however, inevitably lowered Stephen Curry’s usage. I predicted that Curry would no longer be a threat to win MVP with this signing, and so far he is not in many conversations for the award. His numbers are down in almost every single major category, which most notably includes his scoring, efficiency, and assists.
The Rise of Towns: After a phenomenal rookie season, I thought Towns had the ability to take command of the Timberwolves and prove to be an All-Star talent. The voting for the All-Star game has not been finalized yet, but so far Towns has been more than deserving of a nomination. Averaging 22 points and 12 rebounds per game, Towns has become one of the most dominant big men in the league.
Where I was Wrong
The New York “Super Team” Knicks: Before the season, I completely bought into the hype around the Knicks. They acquired Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and Porzingis was primed for an even more impressive sophomore campaign, but so far the Knicks have been nothing short of a mess. Derrick Rose is inexplicably missing games, Joakim Noah has been very disappointing, and the Knicks have currently lost nine out of their last eleven games.
The New Look Pacers: The Pacers are another team that made a lot of noise in free agency. I was a huge fan of the moves they made, and thought that they could be as good as the two seed in the East. So far, however, they are struggling to maintain a playoff spot, and Paul George has been unimpressive after many thought he had a chance to be an MVP candidate in the offseason. Since last season, his scoring has gone down, but his efficiency has risen. Perhaps if the Pacers want to solidify themselves as a playoff threat George needs to take control of the offense.
Unexpected Buzz in Buzz City: After losing Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson in the offseason without replacing them with nearly as talented of players, I thought the Hornets would be back in the lottery for sure. That was before Kemba Walker took his game to yet another level, leading this team to a .500 record thus far while clinging to the eight seed in the East. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s return has been huge to this team’s success, as their defense has elevated greatly from last season.