I hadn't looked back at my NBA predictions for the year since I did them, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did better than expected. Of the ten predictions, most of them are roughly on the money and some of them are dead on. Of course, my 1-through-15 list of all teams in each conference was... spotty at best. My major problem seemed to be an overabundnace of faith in my Boston Celtics, which is I guess undertstandable though not really excusable.
I said that the Celtics would suffer through a slew of injuries and "inner turmoil" (right), but still end up with the Easter Conference's best record (whoops). Likewise, I felt that the Spurs' depth and experience would lead them to the top seed in the Western Conference (didn't work out that well, either). However, I correctly saw that preseason playoff buzz for the Clippers and Wizards was pie-in-the-sky nonsense, and now the teams are a combined 51-106.
I also felt that the Thunder and the Rockets were both severly underrated and would be in playoff contention (they're currently the 8th and 9th seeds in the West). I also felt that the Warriors (24-54) might be a sleeper pick, but I don't feel terrible about that (that one felt a lot like picking a 12 over 5 in the first round of March Madness - you feel great if they win and demand high-fives from passers-by, and if they lose you shrug it off. I've shrugged off my Warriors love).
My sleepers for players who would have unexpectedly big years were King's eighth-man Jason Thompson (averaging 12.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg, and just became a starter), Allen Iverson (well, he did make the All-Star team), Baron Davis (had an average year for him), Carmelo Anthony (upped his game in every category, including 4 full ppg higher, making him 3rd in scoring in the NBA this year), Andrea Bargnani (also made huge leaps in every category), and Michael Beasley (showed slight improvement, nothing dramatic).
I also predicted big years for anyone on the Thunder under 25 (Kevin Durant (30 ppg, 7.5 rpg, might win scoring title and an MVP candidate), Russell Westbrook (16 ppg, 5 rpg, 8 apg, and had numerous "where did this guy come from?" articles written), Jeff Green (averaged 15 ppg and 6 rpg, continues to be excellent role player for Thunder), Serge Ibaka (came out of nowhere to average over 5 rpg), and James Harden (10 pgg, slightly disappointing rookie year, but fitting into the team nicely), and for anyone on the Rockets not name Yao or T-Mac (Aaron Brooks (averaging 20 ppg and 5 apg, can now be considered a legitimate All-Star-quality point guard), Trevor Ariza (became solid starting SF, averaging 15 ppg and 5 rbg, appears to be fantastic value for the contract he was signed to), Chase Buddinger (9 ppg, a steal in the mid-2nd round last year), Kyle Lowry (improvement in all categories), plus the addition of Kevin Martin (22 ppg, upped his scoring and shooting percentages as soon as he arrived in Houston)).
I'm counting most of those as wins, Beasley and Davis as a wash, and Iverson as my only failure. Doing well!
Plus, I had the following players - all of whom were predicted to have significant regression in their games - holding steady in their production: Ray Allen (maintained his career-high FG% but dropped slightly in both 3-pt FG% and scoring) Dwayne Wade (dropped slightly in most categories), Steve Nash (at age 36, actually improved his numbers), Jason Kidd (age 37 and also improved his numbers), and Nate Robinson (couldn't get playing time under Mike D'Antoni, traded to Celtics to provide offense off the bench rather than start).
So, we'll count Robinson and Wade as a failures, Allen as a slight failure, and Nash and Kidd as wins. Meh.
Lastly, based on the fact that I felt he wouldn't be able to return at full strength from his knee injury and that all this talk of it being a "one-man draft" was stuff and nonsense, I predicted that someone other than Blake Griffin would win the Rookie of the Year Award, which - since he ended up missing the entire season with the injury - should probably be a lock.
That was fun! I'm encouraged to do a run of baseball predictions sometime this weekend and to hope for similar success.