NBA: 50 Bold Predictions

    
October 27th, 2008

By: Joel Brigham 

 

Last year I wrote this same column and it was far and away the most commented upon piece I've ever written for HOOPSWORLD. That, of course, means it was a rousing success (even though I got a whole bunch of my predictions wrong), so I'm doing it again hoping to improve upon last year's record.
 
The following are 50 predictions for the upcoming NBA season. The comments and opinions expressed in this article are mine and mine alone, but that means you get to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below. Enjoy the read for what it is, and I look forward to hearing from everyone.
 
This could also be good fodder for my chat this Thursday at 5:00pm Eastern. Okay, enough self-promotion; onto the predictions…
 
Statistics and Individual Achievements
 
  1. Kobe Bryant, after averaging fewer than 30 points per game last season for the first time since 2004-2005, will fail to meet the 30 ppg game mark again this season.
  2. At the same time, he will average a career-high in assists (his previous high is 6.0 apg in that same '04-'05 campaign).
  3. LeBron James will once again lead the league in scoring, but will see a rise in ppg by at least 1.0 points. Last year he averaged exactly 30.0 ppg.
  4. James's rebounds and assists per game both will be in the 8's (they were 7.9 and 7.2 last year, respectively).
  5. That also means that LeBron will be this year's MVP. The Cavs might not have as much team success as other candidates, but his stats will be just too good to ignore.
  6. Deron Williams is an All-Star this year as long as he stays healthy.
  7. When both Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Bosh are healthy the Raptors are going to be very good, but O'Neal will end up missing at least 20 games due to injury this season.
  8. Bosh, on the other hand, will be much healthier, playing 75+ games.
  9. So will the oft-injured Dwayne Wade. He'll go 75+ as well.
  10. Kevin Martin of the Sacramento Kings will finish the season among the league's top five in points per game.
  11. Just like last year, Chris Paul will lead the league in assists.
  12. Deron Williams will jump Steve Nash for second place in that same category.
  13. Also just like last year, Dwight Howard will lead the league in rebounds, but his average will jump up to at least 15.5 rebounds a game (compared to 14.2 per game last season).
  14. Jerry Sloan will be Coach of the Year. The Jazz are always fantastic and he never wins. Maybe this year.
Team Play
 
  1. The New Orleans Hornets will finish the season with the best record in the NBA.
  2. That best record will be right around 60 wins (I'll give myself 2 games either way).
  3. Sacramento, Oklahoma City, and Charlotte will battle all season for the league's worst record, but ultimately it will be the Bobcats that win the league's fewest games.
  4. The Eastern Conference will win more games in inter-conference play against the Western Conference this season than they did last year.
  5. The Denver Nuggets will lead the league in team scoring.
  6. The Toronto Raptors, who last year were 28th in the league in team rebounds, will be in the top ten of that same category this season.
  7. The New York Knicks will win over 30 games this year (compared to 23 wins last season).
Trades
 
  1. Shawn Marion will finish the season on the Miami HEAT. He's not going to be traded.
  2. Lamar Odom isn't going anywhere, either.
  3. The Chicago Bulls will make at least one trade to cash in some of their smaller pieces for something bigger. If they can't make a big one happen, they'll still make at least one smaller trade to appease the fans.
  4. Jamaal Tinsley will get bought out before he gets traded. Indiana just won't be able to find a taker for him.
  5. The Golden State Warriors will go through the entire season without trading for another reputable point guard. They'll choose instead to just wait on Monta Ellis to get healthy and punished and maybe let Stephen Jackson run the point in the meantime.
  6. Sacramento's Brad Miller will be moved right around the trade deadline in exchange for expiring deals and/or draft picks.
  7. As much as the Knicks would love to trade Zach Randolph, nobody's going to want to eat his contract. As a result, he'll still be on the roster by year's end.
Rookies
 
  1. Derrick Rose, despite being the most exciting player on Chicago's roster, will be among the league leaders in turnovers per game, somewhere between 3.5 and 4 a night.
  2. The rookie that will score the most points in a single game this season is O.J. Mayo.
  3. But Michael Beasley will lead all rookies in scoring.
  4. Kevin Love, by most measurable benchmarks, will be considered a disappointment after his rookie season.
  5. Brook Lopez, by most measurable benchmarks, will be much better than most people think.
  6. Danilo Gallinari is going to look more and more like a bad pick as the season progresses. My best guess is he'll float somewhere in between injury and mediocrity.
  7. Marreese Speights and J.J. Hickson will put up numbers similar to Luis Scola and Carl Landry did last year in Houston.
  8. Chris Douglas-Roberts is the best the second round has to offer. He'll be as solid as a second rounder comes this year.
  9. Greg Oden will be in the top five in the league for blocks per game.
  10. Derrick Rose will be the Rookie of the Year (I'm only giving myself one homer prediction this year instead of the six or seven I threw up last preseason).
  11. The rest of the All-Rookie Team will be Oden, Beasley, Mayo, and Hickson.
The Postseason
 
  1. Top four teams in the East: Orlando, Philly, Boston, and Detroit.
  2. They'll be up against the bottom four playoff seeds: Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, and Indiana.
  3. Top four teams in the West: New Orleans, L.A. Lakers, Utah, and Houston.
  4. Up against the bottom four seeds: San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, and Portland
  5. That means the Dallas Mavericks and Miami HEAT will miss the playoffs.
  6. The NBA Finals will be between the Boston Celtics and the New Orleans Hornets.
  7. Boston will win their second straight title.
  8. On a whim here—the Sacramento Kings win the first overall pick in the NBA draft.
  9. The San Antonio Spurs won't make it out of the first round in June of 2009.
  10. But the Houston Rockets will for the first time in Tracy McGrady's career.
  11. No teams with a sub-.500 record will make the playoffs (two did last year—Philadelphia and Atlanta).
Let the angry comments commence! Last year I scored just over a 50%, but was pretty close on a lot of the ones I missed. This time around I'm shooting for 75% correct. One year older, one year smarter. At least, that's the way it should work, even though Lindsey Lohan is living proof that this is not always the case.
 
I can't wait for another great year of NBA basketball, especially considering how wide open the league is this year. The tide is changing from some of the older elite Western Conference teams towards a whole bunch of burgeoning success stories. That means fantastic basketball for the next several months. Get comfy, folks. The season's almost upon us.