Last year I wrote an article before the 2018/2019 season.
I made a bold prediction for every team in the NBA.
Let’s see how it aged.
Bold prediction – Trae Young makes All-Rookie First Team, and the Hawks become the best team outside of the playoff 8.
Accuracy – 75%
I was hopefully optimistic about the young core the Atlanta Hawks pitched for last season. Trae Young was arguably the most polarising prospect in the draft, but he exceeded most people’s expectations, coming second in most writer’s Rookie of the Year votes. He made the All-Rookie First Team with ease, going off in the last third of the season offensively. The Hawks weren’t the best team outside of the playoff 8, but they did put in an admirable effort to gain the 12th position.
Bold Prediction – The Celtics sweep the east, with relative ease, and take Golden State to 7.
Accuracy – 5%
This did not age well. My hopes for the Boston Celtics were lofty heading into last season, but I feel like it was mostly justified. You had healthy Gordon Hayward returning, healthy Kyrie returning and a second year Jayson Tatum. They were trending upwards, but regression was the theme this year in Boston. Kyrie proved he couldn’t lead a team, Gordon Hayward wasn’t near the player he was in Utah and Tatum didn’t develop as quickly as most thought. They didn’t even win the East. Yikes.
Bold Prediction – The Brooklyn Nets make the playoffs.
Accuracy – 100%
One for the win column. It may not appear that bold, but the Nets were playoff deprived before heading into last season. Spencer Dinwiddie was arguably there best player, not DeAngelo Russell or Caris Levert. What we saw from the Nets last year paved the way for the signing of KD/Kyrie this year. They showed a winning mentality that saw them make the playoffs and bring the 76ers to 6 games. I felt the East was very open last year, and I liked their depth. Next season the expectations will raise even higher.
Bold Prediction – Kemba Walker leaves mid-season
Accuracy – 50%
The Hornets debacle was quite clear, but one thing stood in the way – Kemba Walker’s loyalty. Walker was determined to resign with the Hornets this offseason but a max-contract would have brought them above the luxury tax. Poor GM’ing and overblown contracts led a relatively average roster to being one of the more expensive in the league, and the Hornets had to pay the price. I thought Walker would have a strong start to the season, which he did, and the Hornets would cash in on his value. They did the same, only months later.
Bold Prediction – A star will emerge from the Bulls, but it won’t be named Jabari Parker or Zach LaVine.
Accuracy – 30%
Injuries may have stood between me and this prediction. Markkanen only managed to play 52 games last season. If he was healthy, maybe the narrative would have been clearer. But I’m far from given up on Lauri Markkanen. LaVine had a breakout season in a Bulls uniform, so he was very much the most notable player on the team. The overall outlook of the team last year wasn’t pretty. But Lauri continued to be a solid wing player, shooting well and still growing. This may be clearer next year.
Bold Prediction – Sorry Cleveland, but it’s time to say goodbye to playoff basketball..
Accuracy – 100%
This may have been the most non-hipster hot take last year. NBA fans know what happens when LeBron James leaves a team. When he’s with you, he’s with you. When he leaves you, he leaves a path of destruction. Cleveland had every other piece of a former Championship competing team, so in a depleted East you’d imagine they’d come close to making it. But as is the case with a lot of teams, injuries got the better of Cleveland with starman Kevin Love out for most games. They missed by more than most predicted.
Bold Prediction – Luka Doncic is Rookie of the Year, but it’s not enough for Dallas to return to the playoffs.
Accuracy – 100%
Coming in to the 2018/2019 season, Doncic looked like the most complete player. Playing with Real Madrid in Europe, Doncic was named Euroleague MVP as he guided his team to finals victory. Many NBA scouts overlook the skill level of the Euroleague for the more favoured college system, but Doncic proved otherwise. As I believed, Dallas didn’t have the tools to guide the young star towards the playoffs. It was very much a send off season for long time franchise piece Dirk Nowitzki. Next year is a different year though, as they traded for Kristaps Porzingis to form a Big 2 to build around for years to come.
Bold Prediction – Nikola Jokic proves he’s not worth a max contract
Accuracy – 2%
Just a disclaimer, there are some stinkers in this. This could be one of the worst of them. I’m trying to remember my logic here. Jokic was given a max contract last year, off the back of an improved season, but one that showed holes. Denver weren’t a playoff team that year, either. Fast forward a year and a really shows what can happen when players develop and the right coaching decisions are made. Denver held the #1 spot in the West for most of the season, and Jokic proved he’s a Top 15 player in the league. Ouch.
Bold Prediction – Blake Griffin averages his highest PPG ratio to date.
Accuracy – 100%
By a hair. 2018/2019 was the first full season we saw Blake Griffin in a Pistons uniform. My logic here was without a Chris Paul or DeAndre Jordan, Griffin was free to move in a new offensive system that would likely see him as the focal point. His 24.5 PPG average was his highest since 2013/2014. It wasn’t just a case of Blake scoring more points. He’s adapted his game to the modern system to spacing the floor more. Despite an injury late in the season, he managed to stay relatively healthy, and was given an All-Star place for his troubles.
Golden State Warriors
Bold Prediction – …The Warriors don’t win a third NBA Championship? Heck, I don’t know.
Accuracy – 99%
I’m taking one percent off this prediction in memory of not fully believing in these words a year ago. Just remember – around this time last year the Warriors added DeMarcus Cousins, and most people around the league lost it. They were adding another All-Star to a team of 4? It seemed too good to be true, and low and behold, it was. Injuries played a huge factor in their playoff run. Cousins didn’t return to his prime self, KD bowed out in the West semis and Klay got injured when it mattered most in the finals. Kawhi Leonard didn’t help the situation much, either.