NBA Midseason Predictions
by Drew Mangione - 02/20/2007
I've got a buddy named B.T., whose NBA prognostication has been uncanny this year. Name me one other guy who had Utah on pace for 55 wins and Toronto leading its division, heading toward 45 wins. He even said the Nets would be sub .500 and the Knicks, behind a much improved Eddie Curry, would be on pace for 36 wins at this point. Uncanny.
And if you believe Biff Tannen exists outside of the movies, I've got some magic beans and a flux capacitor to sell you.
Here on Doc's Sports I made preseason predictions on just about everything: the over/under on every team, the MVP and some player props. I could point out my successes and ignore what I got wrong. After all, I took the over on Utah and Portland, then took the under on both the Bulls and the Spurs. All four are on pace to make me look like a genius.
Still I had the Clippers and Nets headed toward 50-win seasons and said the Wizards would be under .500 and the Knicks would be in the Greg Oden sweepstakes. So call me what you will: a genius, a moron, or just another pundit with an opinion. Here's a rundown of what I said and what's on track, along with some mid-season revisions.
Kobe Bryant, G, Los Angeles Lakers: I am the leader of the East Coast Anti-Kobe Bryant League, but I'm a man willing to give credit where credit is due. When he had Shaq to lean on, he was a selfish player, focused on his image and carrying himself with a sense of entitlement that has some of us still believing that girl in Colorado. However, he has shown us team play this year, not just chattered on about it.Others: Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki are both having phenomenal years. Carlos Boozer is beginning to look like a true heir to Karl Malone in Utah and LeBron James, is still in the running. Of course, this award can be won in the home stretch, making Dwayne Wade a possibility still.
My preseason pick: LeBron, followed by Wade and Nowitski.
Rookie of the Year
Brandon Roy, G, Portland Trailblazers: He leads all rookies in minutes (33.4), scoring (15.4) and assists (3.4), and his team is one of the league's surprises. He's missed a few games, but finishing the season strong should lock up the award. Along with Jarrett Jack, he has nicely complimented the low-post play of Zack Randolph. This team is just a player away from playoff contention.
Others: Adam Morrison is second among rookies in scoring (12.7), while No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani is third among rookies in scoring (10.6) and his teammate Jorge Garbajosa ranks second in rebounds (5.2) and seventh in scoring (8.6). Warrior Kelenna Azubuike has, in 19 games, posted solid scoring (10.3) and 3 pt. percentage (.520) numbers as an un-drafted guard from the D-League.
My preseason pick: Roy, followed by Morrison and Bargnani.
Atlantic: I had said the Nets and Toronto seemed in position to run away. The only hope for New Jersey is if Lawrence Frank is fired and the team goes on a run like the one when Frank took over a few years back. Might Bill Cartwright set this ship back on course and overtake the Raptors?
Central: I picked the Cavs at the start of the year and I'm sticking with them. This team is still gelling and I think they'll be able to take the Pistons before the season's end.
Southeast: With Shaq healthy, the Heat - my preseason pick - is the best team, but I think they'll have a hard time catching up to the Wizards.
Northwest: I picked the Nuggets and with Iverson, this team has a shot to make noise in the playoffs. However, I also projected the Jazz to exceed the over/under number of 39. The emergence of Deron Williams and that front line may prove too great an obstacle for George Karl's team.
Southwest: I had the Mavs winning, with the Spurs under 56 wins and Houston well over 45.5. All is on track now in this division, which boasts some of the best low post play around.
Pacific: Picking Phoenix in this division was like predicting winter would come this year. Sure it looked unlikely at first, but before long, the suspense had faded.
Awards I didn't pick in the preseason
Most Improved Player: I'd give it to Knicks C Eddie Curry, but the award will probably go to Kings Guard Kevin Martin. Monta Ellis, Andre Iguodala and Caron Butler have also shown significant improvement.
Sixth Man: If I had a vote, it would be Mavs G/F Jerry Stackhouse, but again, the award will likely go to someone else: Suns G Leandro Barbosa.
Defensive Player of the Year: I was down on the Pacers this year, but a key trade and a commitment to defense from Jermaine O'Neal has lifted this squad. Nuggets C Marcus Camby also deserves the award, though the usual suspects of Kings F Ron Artest and Bulls C Ben Wallace will probably get the lazy votes.
Coach of the Year: Houston's Jeff Van Gundy had a shot at this when he entered the season with a healthy team, but now that the injury bug has hit and winning has continued, he's my front-runner. Sam Mitchell has done a great job in Toronto.