Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Revisionist History, Part I

Back in October, I wrote predictions for the upcoming NBA season--rankings for each conference, the playoff picture, what the strong or weak points of a team were. And the great thing about hammering down your predictions on record is that you look like a toolbag five months later.

Actually, it could have gone much worse. For instance, here were my playoff predictions for each conference, compared to the real seeding:

My West
1. Phoenix Suns
2. Dallas Mavericks
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Denver Nuggets
5. L.A. Lakers
6. L.A. Clippers
7. Houston Rockets
8. New Orleans Hornets

The Real Deal
1. Dallas Mavericks
2. Phoenix Suns
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Utah Jazz
5. Houston Rockets
6. Denver Nuggets
7. L.A. Lakers
8. Golden State Warriors

(This would be much more visually appealing if I could put the two conferences side-by-side, but Blogger can be accurately characterized as a bank robbery.)

My East
1. Chicago Bulls
2. Miami Heat
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Boston Celtics (chili)
5. Washington Wizards
6. Detroit Pistons
7. New Jersey Nets
8. Orlando Magic

The Real Deal
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Toronto Raptors
4. Miami Heat
5. Chicago Bulls
6. New Jersey Nets
7. Washington Wizards
8. Orlando Magic

Thirteen out of sixteen teams isn't bad, especially when one of the playoff teams was last in the league last year and two of the picks were kind of sentimental. Looking back on reasoning though, I lucked out on some stuff. (No, this entire post wasn't just for back-patting purposes.

Southwest Division

5. Memphis- "With Pau Gasol out until at least January with a broken foot, this is going to get ugly. Besides losing their leading scorer and presence on the boards, the Grizz now have no interior defense. Memphis will be digging out of quite a hole by the time he gets back."
Without Gasol, the Grizzlies suffered from a lack of leadership, and they were distracted by trade rumors when he actually was playing. Sadly, there's not really a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if they land Greg Oden with the number one pick, it will take a while to rebuild. And God help them if they get Durant, who will be roughly the seventh lanky, spidery forward on their roster.
4. New Orleans-
"Sure, we're paying too much for Peja, but don't we have to? Which pro basketball player, let alone anyone else, wants to move to New Orleans right now?"
Whether or not we had to, we did. He played a total of thirteen games before being the crown jewel of the Hornets' injury showcase. Barring contract clauses I don't know about, that gives him $830, 769 a game. I hope he enjoyed his whirlpools. I think we're headed in the right direction, but then again CP3 had a screw inserted into his foot today.
3. Houston Rockets-
"their bench had moxie"
Chuck Hayes, anybody?
"Make no mistake, Shane Battier will be an all-star this season."
This might have been wishful thinking since he's my third favorite Duke player of all-time (Hill, Ferry), but he was a perfect addition to the team. His perimeter defense shored up a glaring weakness, (You mean that's not what Rafer Alston's for?) and I watched him hit clutch three after clutch three.
2. Dallas Mavericks- They're pretty good.
1. San Antonio Spurs- "we'll get a ton of shots of Eva Longoria in the stands"

Maybe you should spend more time on not launching a film career.


5. Portland Trailblazers- "Everyone is in love with Brandon Roy, and he is the Real Deal."
The team's never on TV, but from what I've seen, Roy has all the skills to have a long, productive spot in the NBA. He seems to deserve Rookie-of-the-Year honors, even though that may not amount to much this year, since I expect some late picks to have better careers in the long run. I was right about his team sucking, but my explanation was too incoherent to analyze here.
4. Seattle Supersonics
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
"Let me go on record by saying that Garnett will look excellent in a Knicks uniform."
How can he still be in Minnesota? Part of me applauds him for having such a positive attitude and being stolidly loyal to the Minnesota fans, but this is pathetic. Ask for a trade. Not only could you win a championship before you're done, you could not live in Minnesota.
2. Utah Jazz-
"They're in a division in which it's easy to rack up wins; they have a coach the players respect; they can actually rebound too."
I'm proud of this pick. They spread the floor well, and every player knows his role in the offense. Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin will probably win the Most Improved Player Award, but Deron Williams has been a revelation. I never expected this kind of prototypical pointguard play from him.
1. Denver Nuggets- My reasons are irrelevant now. The Nuggets got Allen Iverson and made the right adjustments to accomodate him. Bottom line, that's why they're playing well right now.

I guess it's better than pulling your hair out.


5. Golden State Warriors- "Contrary to many reports, Don Nelson will not make this team a playoff contender."
Turns out Baron Davis was just over-thinking stuff. I guess I under-rated Nellie and smallball. Plus, they made some important moves at mid-season.
4. Sacramento Kings
3. L.A. Clippers-
"If Shaun Livingston stops turning his ankles incorrectly, he should only fortify that strong frontcourt and add to the excitement."
Yeah, poor guy's probably never going to play again.
2. L.A. Lakers-
"With Kobe, you don't need much else."
First off, I would give Kobe the MVP, and that opinion might warrant its own column because it has to do with the way I quantify greatness. But I also believe that other players have stepped it up this season. Luke Walton's shot selection and ball-handling has been better, and I love the contributions of Jordan Farmar. He always seems to know where to be on the court.
1. Phoenix Suns- Leandro Barbosa won the most dubious award in sports today, and there was never any doubt he would. He's probably the fastest guy in the league, and he's one of the biggest reasons they're in the position they are. Couple that with Amare coming back full steam, and I still think they have a chance to go all the way; that is, if Dallas doesn't get way more rest than them.

Dunleavy, looking a bit like Glass Joe here, is one of my least favorite players from Duke, right below Alaa Abdelnaby and Stan Brunson. Thank you, Ira Newbie.

Tomorrow: the East.

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