Remember at the beginning of the NBA season, when I wrote an article tracking the boldest predictions made by some notable basketball prognosticators for the year to come? Probably not, but I sure haven’t forgotten, and with the conference finals finally underway, every one of the predictions mentioned in that article has officially either come true or proven a bust. Unlike some people, we here at TBJ still believe very strongly in accountability, and that those who do not have the past obnoxiously rubbed in their faces are doomed to repeat it, so let’s check back in to see how all of our hoops soothsayers fared with some of their more jaw-dropping (jaw-opening, anyway) predictions.
Sports Illustrated (print only): Knicks in conference finals
So close, SI. This was the longest holdout of the unlikely prognostications I tracked this year, and damned if it didn’t look like a pretty good bet to cash in up until Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis. Whoever the professional guesser was behind those Sports Illustrated predictions was probably as excited as I was when Iman Shumpert made those three treys in the third quarter on Saturday night, and as infuriated when Kenyon Martin was whistled for that foul with a minute left to ice the game for Indiana. Bummer.
Basketball Prospectus (Via ESPN the Magazine): Atlanta Hawks second, Knicks third, Pacers eighth in East / Nuggets first, Timberwolves third, Spurs fifth in West
Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope and nope, though partial credit to BP/ESPN for at least predicting a resurgent Knicks and a regular-season-dominant Nuggets, even if the exact placing was off. The Hawks, Pacers and Spurs predictions look just as nutty at season’s end as they seemed at season’s beginning, though it’s hard to give them too much crap for the Wolves guess, given how catastrophic their season was on the injury front. If they’d even been 50 percent healthier, it seems like they could have at least made a push for home court. Kudos to the BP dudes (and/or their computer readouts) for going big on some of these, in any event.
Zach Lowe of Grantland (26 Bold Predictions): Memphis is done, Nikola Pekovic will be a borderline-household name, Phoenix will be league’s most disappointing team
I guess we can give Zach one for three on this one. Despite their poor showing in Game 1 on Sunday, I’d say Memphis has more than put to rest any premature rumors of their demise. And Nikola Pekovic, while having a very solid year, wasn’t really even mentioned for All-Star contention, and probably didn’t make his name known to too many more casual fans than were already familiar with the Montonegrin Madman. But whether or not Phoenix actually was the league’s most disappointing team — again, it depends on if you had any expectations at all for them in the first place — there’s no doubt that they were pretty damn bad, finishing last in the West, so it’d probably be petty to get too particular on this one.
Since Grantland’s No. 1 hoops guy made a whole bunch more of these, and all were at least slightly interesting, let’s do a quick run down of a handful of ones he hit on impressively, and some more that haven’t held up so well:
1. Lousy market for expiring contracts
2. Omer Asik and Andrei Kirilenko living up to their deals
3. Kevin Durant joining the 50-40-90 club
4. Orlando trading JJ Redick, Thunder shopping Eric Maynor
5. Earl Clark getting minutes for the Lakers
6. Andris Biedrins making more than one foul shot (4-13!!)
Juuuust a bit outside:
1. Thunder re-signing James Harden with less-than-max deal before Oct. 31
2. Gerald Green, one of the season’s feel-good stories
3. Bobcats becoming League Pass darlings
4. Jonas Jerebko, Detroit’s best small forward
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