Bold Predictions Update
Before the season began, I wrote a Bold Prediction article outlining 5 Bold Predictions and 5 (Not So) Bold Predictions. With the All-Star break in New Orleans this weekend, I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit that article and point out how dumb I am.
(Not so) Bold Predictions
1. Kevin Durant will win both the scoring title and MVP this season.
Well whattya know, maybe I’m not so dumb after all. Durant is averaging 31.5 points per game this season, and sports a healthy 4.2 point per game lead over Carmelo Anthony for the scoring title. Durant is also the favorite to win the MVP award, barring something drastic. There seems to be some sentiment that Durant has exploded this season, but I don’t get that. He has improved, namely his passing, but Durant has been the second best player in the world for about three years now. Also, can we please stop with the “Durant is better than LeBron” talk? Yeah he’s scoring in bunches, but you have to win games in June to knock off The King, not January.
2. The Knicks will not win a playoff series.
Obviously we won’t know this till the playoffs happen but the Knicks are currently two and a half games out of the 8th spot in the Leastern Conference. That 8th place team? The Charlotte Bobcats. Let me repeat that. The CHARLOTTE BOBCATS. But yeah, please keep trying to convince Carmelo Anthony is a superstar.
3. Stephen Curry will solidify himself as the best shooter the league has ever seen.
While Curry has had a “down” year as far as 3-point percentage (his 41.5% would be a career worst) his degree of difficulty on those shots is incredible. I have never seen a player more capable of making 30-foot, on-one-leg, defender-in-his-face, off-the-dribble, three-pointers in my life. I stand by this statement wholeheartedly. Also, that 41.5% is higher than Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Larry Bird’s career averages.
4. The team with the worst record will not land the first overall draft pick.
The Milwaukee Bucks seem to have figured out this whole tanking thing and have won a league-low 9 games. The next fewest are 15 wins from the 76ers. I believe it could be a blessing in disguise for Milwaukee however, because if they are not first, they will not be suckered into taking Joel Embiid. Not that Embiid will be awful, but I do not think he will be worthy of the first overall pick. I get that 7-footers who actually have skills are incredibly rare, but I just believe anyone who passes on Jabrari Parker (if he comes out) will be making a huge mistake.
5. The Miami Heat will win their third consecutive championship and LeBron James will stay in Miami.
The Heat have coasted through the first part of the season and find themselves second in the Least with a 37-14 record (they were 36-14 at last season’s All-Star break). Miami’s talents are nearly impossible to gauge by their regular seasons, as they seem to have another level of play, especially on defense, once the postseason begins. That said, the Pacers are a much improved team this season as Paul George has blossomed into a full-blown superstar and Lance Stephenson has transformed from unreliable head-case to awesome-to-watch-and-terrifying-in-transition-head-case. Miami will not beat this team in the playoffs without a healthy Dwayne Wade, and I’m just not sure Wade will ever be fully healthy again.
Side note: Although I have not seen it written anywhere or even talked about, if the Heat do manage to win a third consecutive title, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wade retire. His knees are giving him genuine problems, and with a new wife, two young sons, and his reputation as one of the greatest two-guards to ever play safe, it might make sense not to harm his body any more.
1. The Detroit Pistons will win more games than the New York Knicks.
The Pistons (22-30) currently have two more wins than New York (20-32). However, I almost consider this one a loss because of how wrong I was about Detroit. I thought before the year they would have spacing issues with the Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith trio, none of whom are competent outside shooters, but even I underestimated the black holes that are Smith and Brandon Jennings. Smith shoots just 42% and Jennings throws up bricks on a regular basis, shooting just 38%. Despite their poor shooting, both take more than 15 shots a game. Not exactly a recipe for success. This team will not have a chance unless they jettison either Smith, which will be almost impossible with his contract, or Monroe, who is more likely to be traded as he will be a restricted free agent after this season. The only positive for the Pistons has been the faster-than-expected rise of Andre Drummond. The second year player out of UConn has averaged 13.1 points along with a robust 13.0 rebounds. He’s still extremely raw on both sides of the ball, which shows how ridiculous his upside is.
2. Kevin Love will get serious MVP consideration.
This one looked good early on as Love came out guns blazing. However, he has cooled off as the season has gone on and the Timberwolves haven’t won enough to keep him in the MVP conversation. However, he is still averaging 25.8 points (fourth in the league) and 13.2 rebounds (second in the league) so he has still had a tremendous season. He is also third in the NBA in PER this season, after only Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
3. DeMarcus Cousins will become a top-15 player in the NBA.
“Boogie” as he is known has certainly picked up his game this season. He’s still a negative on the defensive end, as his effort ebbs and flows, but he is an absolute force on offense. Cousins is impossible to guard with just one player when he gets on the block and he is a much improved passer as well. While he is still not the vocal leader the Kings would like him to be, Cousins is averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and more than a block and a steal per game, all career-highs. Those numbers place him sixth in the NBA in PER, making a strong case that he should be considered a top-15 player.
4. James Harden will win an NBA title before Kevin Durant does.
I’m going to go ahead and say I missed on this one. Durant looks poised to return to the finals this season, and once Westbrook returns the Thunder will be even more dangerous. The Rockets are currently third in the Western Conference, but Harden has somewhat disappointed me this season. Offensively, he has averaged about 24 points per game, but his is an absolute sieve on defense. I don’t think the Rockets have much of a chance against top teams in the playoffs if their best player can’t play any defense.
5. The Los Angeles Lakers will have a better record without Kobe Bryant than with him this season.
Another close one, as I said the Lakers would scrap their way to .500 without Bryant and then they started the season 10-9 before Bryant returned. However, the injuries piled up quickly. The Lakers went just 2-4 in the games Bryant played and then saw him injure his knee. Since then, the Lakers have also lost Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks for extended periods of time. They now sit at 18-35 and are at the bottom of the Western conference.