Biggest Surprises, Disappointments in the NBA

Posted: 03/01/2013 by levcohen in Basketball

It’s now March, which means A) March Madness (some posts on that coming up)
B) the NBA season is starting to wind down
C) MLB spring training is in full swing
D) NFL draft is coming up
E) NHL is reaching the midpoint of the season (at least in this lockout-shortened season)

March is a great sports month, and we’ll start it off with a list of good surprises and disappointments in the NBA this season.

To help myself, I used John Hollinger’s projected season ending record (it is updated every night), to go along with each team’s record.

Surprises:
Atlanta Hawks.
Record: 33-23. Hollinger season ending prediction: 48-34. My preseason prediction: 43-39
When I did my preseason predictions, I said this about the Hawks: I like the Hawks. They lost Joe Johnson, but they added a ton of quality but unspectacular pieces. Down low, few can compete with a Josh Smith-Al Horford combo. All the talk about the end of the Hawks playoff “run” is overrated. I’ve been right about all that, but I even I didn’t see them making a run at 50 wins, which they look to be doing. The Hawks are on a nice run, and they are now in 4th in the East. They are just two games out of the #2 seed. What’s more, they lead the 9th place team by 11 games. I’d say they are making the playoffs.

Los Angeles Clippers.Record: 42-18. Hollinger season ending prediction: 57-25. My preseason prediction: 50-32
I was definitely wrong about the Clippers. I said: it is okay to doubt the Clippers poor front office. It is unclear what their plan is. They added some veteran (old) players, but didn’t really improve their team. However, Paul and Griffin should be enough for 50 wins. The players they added this season have in fact been a huge part of the Clippers success. Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes are the second and fourth leading scorers on the Clips, and they lead the best bench in the NBA. You can only imagine that their experience will help in the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors.
Record: 33-25. Hollinger: 46-36. My preseason prediction: 41-41
After a blazing start, the Warriors have cooled down recently, but still hold the 6 seed in the West. Here is what I said about them pre-season: The Warriors are so talented. But they are also so injury prone. Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry are already hurt. With those guys out, this team doesn’t have much. If the two stars stay healthy, this team could sneak into the playoffs. Bogut has, in fact, missed most of the season with various injuries. He has not helped the team. Curry, on the other hand, has stayed healthy throughout the season and is asserting himself as a superstar. His latest fireworks came in the form of his 54 point game at MSG. In that game, he was one three away from tying an NBA record (he had 11), and the team still lost. Still, he had the fourth 50 point game at MSG. The first three? Jordan, Kobe, LeBron. Pretty good company. Oh, and David Lee has also broken out this year.

Other surprises: Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls

Disappointments:Los Angeles Lakers.
Record: 29-30. Hollinger: 41-41. My preseason: 57-25
Where else could I have started? The Lakers are the definition of a disappointment. Right now, they are out of the playoffs. I thought they would win the #2 seed in the West, and many people thought they’d be the #1. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because they are on ESPN every night.

Minnesota Timberwolves.
Record: 20-35. Hollinger: 31-51. My preseason: 42-40
Even with the knowledge that Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio were hurt to start the season, I still thought the T-Wolves would finish over .500. They looked on their way to doing that, but then Love broke his hand again. Since then, things have been going downhill.

Dallas Mavericks.
Record: 25-32. Hollinger: 37-45. My preseason: 44-38.
Here’s what I said about Dallas: The Mavericks are the final playoff team in the West, just sneaking into the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki is out for a few weeks, so the Mavericks will start out badly, but they’ll come back in the second half of the season and sneak into the playoffs. The problem is that Dirk missed more than just a few weeks. He missed the first 27 games of the season, basically half of what’s been played so far. Then there was an adjustment period- the Mavs lost eight of their first nine games with Dirk back, running their record to 13-23. Since then, they have been 12-9. Really what set them back is Dirk’s injury.

Philadelphia 76ers.Record: 22-34. Hollinger: 31-51. My preseason: 44-38
What a disaster. The 76ers, losers of seven straight, now have a 1.1% chance of making the playoffs. With that said, as a Sixers fan I can’t really complain. I knew what we could be getting into with the Bynum trade and yet I still commended it. The worst case scenario has happened, and they will get a high lottery pick.

Other disappointments: Utah Jazz

 

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