Yeah, it’s actually a little past the midway point of the season. Before the season I did two prediction articles. There are about eight total predictions in both articles (two are basically the same so seven really) so I figured I’d revisit them together in one article. A few of them relate to the end of season and playoffs but more accurate predictions about them can be made now so we can still talk about them.
I’m going to split the predictions into sections named: ‘BANG ON’, ‘I WAS WRONG BUT I’M STILL A SOLID GUY’, and ‘DRAWS’. You can basically get what each section means from the incredibly clever titles. Let’s start with ‘DRAWS’ because they’re the most boring.
There’s really only one draw, and it’s a cop-out on my part. I predicted that the 76ers would earn a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference but get upset in the first round. Basically I predicted that they were the ultimate pretenders in this year’s EC playoff race. Midway through the season, I appear to have been both right and wrong. Right now, the 76ers are 25-16 and sixth in the East. While there is still a lot of season left, it has undeniably been a disappointing start for a team that many analysts (or should I say ‘analysts’) picked to be in the Finals this year. Basically, I predicted that this team would show their true colors come playoff time. As it turned out, it didn’t take that long.
Ben Simmons has turned into one of the ten best defenders in the NBA (I’m not a Simmons believer to be honest, but his defensive transformation has been awesome) but he has added almost nothing to his offensive game. Joel Embiid has seemingly taken a step back, or has been stagnant at the very least. Tobias Harris has had a very solid season but has done nothing close to earning the max contract he got in the off-season. Josh Richardson has exploded for some games and disappeared for others. Basically, the team has the flaws we thought.
While they’re good defensively they have no one that can create their own shot or create shots for others. A number of players on the team can shoot the ball decently, but there isn’t a single sniper on the team. Until a trade of one of their cornerstones happens (D-Lo, Eric Paschall, and the Warriors’ first for Ben Simmons anyone?), this iteration of the Sixers has reached their peak.
I WAS WRONG BUT I’M STILL A SOLID GUY
Listen. No one’s right 100% of the time. In fact, many of us are wrong more times than we are right. I may or may not fall into the latter. But I’m still a pretty solid dude, and I can hold onto that. In my two prediction pieces I got two predictions badly wrong and one prediction kinda wrong.
The kinda wrong one is that I predicted Dejounte Murray would be a breakout star this year. While he’s averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals, and field goal percentage, he hasn’t been lighting the world on fire. He still doesn’t get full-on starter minutes. His three-point shot is in the toilet. Pop favors Derrick White over him. Murray is taking the necessary steps and improving his game, but it is more marginal than I thought. I could have put this in the ‘DRAWS’ section but I was pretty confident he was gonna explode this year, and so I take the L.
Golden State makes the Western Conference Finals. That’s a real thing I predicted. Basically banking on the veterans on the team stepping up and the D-Lo-Curry combo being unstoppable. It’s been bad. They’ve only won nine games. NINE. They’re not making the playoffs, let alone winning two series. Did I expect Steph to play in only four games so far? No, but they were playing like garbage even when he was out there. I was all the way wrong on this one. The good news (for them) is they should have a tasty pick that they can use to package with Russell in return for a legit star. Chess, not checkers people.
I also predicted that the Pacers wouldn’t make the playoffs. I still stand by the reasons I predicted it. They still don’t have any depth in the frontcourt, Sabonis and Turner still don’t REALLY work together, and the team struggled out the gate without the veterans that kept the ship afloat last season. They started 0-3 and it was for all the reasons I listed. Then, the team gelled on the fly. Doug McDermott is their number one big off the bench, and it’s working. He’s shooting the f*cking lights out. They’ve staggered Turner’s and Sabonis’ minutes, giving them both ample time at center. The Brogdon-Sabonis pick-and-roll has been one of the most unstoppable plays in the league this season. They are 25-15 and fifth in the conference. I underestimated their coaching staff and the personnel on their bench. And they still get Oladipo back at some point. Good for them. Bad for me. Still a solid guy though.
Hispanic Shams alert! Yes, I got some predictions right thus far in the campaign. Three of them were spot on, one of them was on the other end of the Dejounte Murray prediction. We’ll start with that one so I can gush about myself at the end of this article.
I predicted Terry Rozier would break out this season. Not necessarily that he would outperform his massive contract, or even match it, but that this would be him breaking out. I’m gonna give this one to me. I deserve it. Devonte’ Graham has been the true breakout on this team and he’s been better than Rozier. Fine. Here’s why I think Rozier’s breakout deserves merit (and more-so than the Dejounte prediction). Rozier has tacked on nearly seven points to his career-high ppg while almost doubling his career-high in shots per game, all while improving his field goal percentage by almost 30 points. He is shooting 39% from three, another career-high while attempting 2.8 more threes than he ever has before (6.8 total). He’s also hit career highs in assists per game, steals per game and the highest OBPM of his career. The defensive side still needs some work but it is clear the Rozier is legit and is breaking out. Point one for the Gu boy.
BAM! Adebayo. This wasn’t an unpopular pick for breakout stars but I was dangerously accurate on this one. I said he would average something around 16 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, and 1.5 steals and blocks each. So far, he is averaging 15.8 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game, 1.3 steals per game, and 1.2 blocks per game. I mean, come on. I’m not doing anymore explaining, this is absolutely a win for me.
I predicted two other players would break out but not become stars this season. Two guys that have been pretty awful so far in their respective careers and are looking to find footing in the NBA. I predicted that while they wouldn’t become stars this season, they would impress and start looking like legitimate NBA players for the first time. The two players I predicted for that section were Markelle Fultz and Frank Ntilikina. Both have done just that this season. Frank hasn’t done a ton this season as far as box scores but his two-point percentage is above 40% for the first time. His free throw percentage is at 86.8%, by far the best of his career. His three-point shot isn’t great at 32.6%, but its the best of his career. He’s shooting 38% on wide-open threes, so there’s hope yet for his shot. His OBPM is still negative but it is the highest of his career, same with his DBPM. So yeah, Frank still isn’t much beyond a rotational player in this league. And yet, it appears he is at least a legit rotation piece for the first time. The future could still be bright for the young French guard.
Markelle, on the other hand, is beginning to flourish in Orlando. He’s averaging 11.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 1.3 spg. All career highs. His three-point shot is still broken but has broken 50% on his two-point percentage for the first time. He’s seemingly re-found his confidence, dunking all over opponents this season. He’s also got the best BPM of his career. He won’t be in any All-Star conversations, or even the MIP race, and he shouldn’t be just yet. But he’s showing flashes of why he was the #1 overall pick two seasons ago. And the Magic got him for nothing. Seemingly a perfect marriage. And another win for me baby.
I’ll be busy taking victory laps on my wins while ignoring my losses for the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading.