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I'm Not Psychic, But My Predictions Are Good (Year II)

Posted on October 26, 2010 at 10:00 PM

It’s been a year since I’ve published my first article, “I’m Not Pshycic, But My Predictions are Good,” I want to thank everyone for reading my articles. I encourage you to keep reading my articles and commenting.

 

Last year, I made three predictions; Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a breakout player. I nailed two of them and was partly right on the other. I predicted that Lebron would win the MVP award and that Rajon Rondo would be an all-star, become the leader of the Celtics, and lead them to the Finals. My third prediction last year was that Johnny Flynn would win Rookie of the Year. This was outrageously incorrect, but I did say that Hasheem Tabheet and Blake Griffin (the top two draft picks) would not win it, and that a point guard would, which did happen. Knowing that information, I suggest you keep reading, because this article may come in handy if you plan on going to Vegas soon.

 

My pick for Rookie of the Year is John Wall who was the #1 overall draft pick of the Washington Wizards, from Kentucky University. I said it last year, and I’ll say it again this year. Point guards win this trophy a lot. Of the past 17 Rookie of the Year winners, seven have been point guards, and only five have been big men. The only players seriously contending with Wall for the hardware are Evan Turner of the 76ers, Blake Griffin of the Clippers (who qualifies since he was injured all of last season), and Demarcus Cousins of the Kings, all forwards or centers.

 

When Wall comes into D.C. at the start of the season, the reigns will be in his hands from the first practice onward. He will have nice veterans to round out his supporting cast such as Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard, not to take leadership away from Wall, but to give him help if he needs it. Wall has all the skills in place to be a great point guard in the NBA. In just pure sprinting speed, Wall is faster than NBA all-stars Chris Paul and Deron Williams. John’s vertical leap is 39 inches, higher than former dunk contest champion Kobe Bryant. This rookie is also 6’4, significantly taller than the average NBA point guard. The only thing not looking good for John Wall is that Washington’s last #1 overall pick in 2001, was one of the most ineffective #1 draft picks ever. Have you seen Kwame Brown in an NBA headline in the past five years? I didn’t think so. But anyway, John Wall is bound to succeed. He also was the named Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NBA Summer League by leading the Summer League in both points and assists.

 

My pick for MVP is Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I predict that he will score 37 points per game this year. His stats have improved dramatically each year of his career, he’s only 21 years old, and he scored 30.1 points per game last year. He’s also had in-game practice over the summer at the FIBA World Championships where he obliterated the competition. (Read more about Durant in my World Championships article).

 

 Another thing that helps a good player become an MVP is when his team drastically improves due to his stellar play. The Thunder finished 50-32 last year in a strong Western Conference, had a starting line-up with the average age of 21, and four recent top-five draft picks. They will certainly improve from last year and move up in the standings since their whole starting line-up will be more experienced and western power-houses like the Suns, Spurs, Jazz, and Nuggets all will deteriorate. (Phoenix lost Amare Stoudemire, the Spurs are getting old, the Jazz lost Carlos Boozer, and the Nuggets have a contract issue with Carmelo Anthony). In a poll of ESPN.COM writers, the majority picked Durant to win the MVP, but one guy picked Greg Oden. Yeah, your eyes aren’t dysfunctional; Greg (“I can’t put one foot onto the court without blowing my knees out for the season”) Oden. Anyway, that guy is crazy; Durant is the obvious favorite to take home the award.

 

My pick for the NBA champions is not the Miami Heat. They will break the ’96 Bulls' record for the most wins in a season in NBA history, because I think in terms of talent, those two teams are just about equal, maybe even a slight edge to Miami. The Bulls’ superstars in 1996 were Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The Heat have three stars in Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Michael Jordan is obviously better than Lebron James, but Wade is certainly as good, if not better than Pippen, and Bosh is also as good, if not better than former Chicago big man, Dennis Rodman. Speaking of Dennis Rodman, along with being a part of the 72-win season, he also hold records for most hair colors sported in a career with eleven, and the most times kicking a cameraman in the groin with one.

 

The two point guards are Mario Chalmers for the current Heat and Ron Harper for the record-breaking Bulls, also comparable. However Chalmers is in his prime while Harper was on a major decline at that point in his career. In terms of a knock-down shooter, the Bulls had Steve Kerr, one of the great three-point shooters, but the Heat also have a decent shooter in Mike Miller. The one area where the Bulls might have the Heat is a sixth man. Chicago that year had the Sixth Man of the Year, Tony Kukoc. However, the Heat have no other fire-power off the bench other than Eddie House. Having said that, the bottom line is, this year’s Miami Heat have almost the exact same level of ability as the team who holds the record they are chasing.

 

When the panelists of ESPN’s sports talk show “Around the Horn” were asked whether it was more likely for the Heat to win 57 games or 72 games, three out of the four said 57. I was shocked by this response! Lebron James won 66 games (closer to 72 than 57) in 2008/2009 with this supporting cast:

 

- Mo Williams (18 points per game) playing the role of Dwayne Wade (27 points per game)

- Anderson Varejao (7 rebounds per game) playing the role of Chris Bosh (11 rebounds per game)

- Daniel Gibson (career 1.4 threes per game) playing the role of Mike Miller (career 1.8 threes per game)

 

It’s hardly even worth me taking the time to lay it out that way, since it is so obvious how much better Lebron’s new team is than his old one. It is outrageous to think that Lebron’s new team will win fewer games than his old team.

 

There are only two things that could potentially get in the Heat’s way in their plan to break the record.

 

First, they might get so far ahead of the Eastern Conference that they will tank the end of the season (not try). I don’t predict this happening because the Orlando Magic mean business after Dwight Howard working out with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer and learning many variations of the Dream Shake from The Dream himself. Since this Miami team has no bench, if they decide to sit Lebron, Wade, and Bosh (and let’s say Mario Chalmers as well) for the final few games, we end up with a starting lineup of Eddie House, James Jones, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Joel Anthony, and we could have a competition between that lineup and the lineup the Cavaliers will be stuck with for all 82 games as the worst starting five in NBA history.

 

Secondly, and the big issue, they might face injuries. Dwyane Wade and Lebron James both suffered minor hamstring injuries during the preseason. They were minor, but what if in the regular season, there is a major injury? The Miami Heat have a chance of winning a title, but the "My Hammy" Heat don't. 


Mostly, this team is inexperienced, and this is why they will not be this years' NBA champions. The Heat have not played together long enough, and besides Dwyane Wade in 2006, this Big 3 has a terrible playoff track record.  But you know a big 3 that does? Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. They will be this years' NBA champions. They have way too much depth at every position, especially the center position, which will be so important, because the Miami Heat have no height or depth, and the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, beat them last year only by out-rebounding them in the Finals. 


I think the Oklahoma City Thunder will square off against the Celtics, but with the oldest line-up in the NBA, I think the Celtics will knock off Kevin Durant and the Thunder and win it all. Since I don't predict the scores of potential games that would happen eight months from now, I'll leave my season predictions at that.


 

 

Comment below if you disagree with any of my predictions.

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12 Comments

Reply Mike
5:26 PM on December 26, 2010 
Excellent analysis as always, Lev! Now I know that's I'm a few months late with this response, but I'll do my best to not slant my views in favor of what has occurred in the NBA over the last two months.

I like your pick of MVP with Kevin Durant. Not only is he an outstanding shooter and an efficient offensive player, but his actions off the court (as your other article highlights) really goes a long way. One thing that I totally disagree with that Durant will get to 37 ppg, and not just because he currently sits at 28.1 ppg. An increase of 7 ppg is a very large jump for anyone, but especially for a guy already averaging 30 ppg. As one player begins to dominate the offense, he will draw more double and triple teams, and he will be forced to give the ball up to open teammates. I don't see Durant increasing his attempts per game by 20% without there being a shift in the way teams defend him.

With the Heat, it looks like you underestimated the time it took for the Big 3 to understand their new roles. Their poor start through about 20 games means they definitely will not match or come close to the Bulls record 72 wins in a season. But the way they are playing lately shows that they are a team to be reckoned with.

How about the Spurs so far this season? For a team that is "getting old," they have picked up the tempo and are playing their best offensive basketball in years. It seems like the Spurs dynasty has reinvested itself with mostly the same group of players.

What are your thoughts on Orlando's major trades? I'd be interested to hear how you think it will change the team's dynamic.

Keep up the great analysis!
Reply Ariel
5:40 PM on November 30, 2010 
And I predict that you will be right!
Reply Lev to Sacha
10:19 PM on November 29, 2010 
The Thunder pick was certainly going out on a limb, but the Celtics not as talented as the Hawks? Let's compare the players:

- Rajon Rondo better than Mike Bibby
- Joe Johnson better than Ray Allen
- Paul Pierce better than Marvin WIlliams
- Kevin Garnett better than Josh Smith
- Al Horford better than Shaq

That's a 3-2 advantage to the Celtics, but if you look at the benches...

Jermaine O'Neal, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins are all reliable rebounders and solid big men along with Nate Robinson. They are better than Jamal Crawford, Maurice Evans, and Zaza Pachulia.

Also, the Celtics have a great history with this exact unit in the playoffs (two finals losses, one conference finals loss). The Hawks have a terrible history with this unit in the playoffs (swept in second round twice, loss in first round once TO THE CELTICS!).

You can't tell me the Hawks will beat the Celtics in a playoff series, Just this past month, the Hawks got obliterated by the Celtics by 23 at home.
Reply Sacha
10:38 PM on November 28, 2010 
The Celtics are not going to be NBA champs this season. They're not even going to make the Eastern Conference Finals. That is going to be between the Magic and the (call me an idiot) Hawks. They are the two most talented teams in the Eastern Conference. As for the Thunder being Western Conference champs, I'm going to disagree. I love the Thunder, but as long as Kobe, Pau, and Phil Jackson are together, they are the beasts of the West. What do you think of the Spurs? I think that with Tiago Splitter, George Hill and James Anderson, their big three will be rested and healthy for the playoffs. They could be a black horse in the West.
Reply Larry
11:10 PM on November 24, 2010 
i agree with those 2 up there lol although i feel as 37 points is a bit exaggerated for his average ppg also.
Reply Mike Hyland
11:39 PM on November 6, 2010 
Lev,
Great job with the blog, I especially enjoyed the Rodman's groin kicking record.

Having said that, I do not believe that the Heat will get close to 72 (this year). One of the factors that many experts have mentioned but also seem to downplay is that literally none of these guys have played together with the roles they now possess.
When the Bulls won 72, it was the year after Jordan's return (45 wins that year), they had something to prove as a team (as the heat do) but individuals on that team did not have to prove they could mesh with fellow stars and come into their own roles. As you have probably heard before "every player is a role player" and every player on that Bulls team had a role, MJ's was to win the scoring title, Pippen would shut down opposing swingmen and score when needed, Rodman's was to outwork every big man in the league and lead the league in rebounding, etc. Fortunately, I have been able to watch the Heat for 6 games and thus far it is clear that Bosh, Wade, Lebron and the remainder of the team do not know their roles.

Furthermore, I agree with Mr. Wilson's, Rodman/Bosh comparison. I do not see Bosh doing the dirty work that Rodman not only did but seemed to enjoy.

Also, want to ask What about the Lakers? I think you would agree that if the Lakers continue to dominate with Kobe Bryant playing 32 minutes a game they will soon become the overwhelming favorite to repeat. Pau Gasol looks like he would shot %50 from the field blind-folded right now. Shannon Brown is continuing to develop into a solid NBA player and the acquisition of Steve Blake was huge in closing the huge gap between Derek Fisher and the rest of the league's pgs.
Reply Lev to Mr. Wilson
5:09 PM on November 3, 2010 
Very extensive response!

I think you are right that it was unfair of me to compare those two teams, but I still believe that the Heat will win 72 games. The league is slightly less balanced now, so there are about 30-40 games in the season which are complete freebies. I'll make a bet.
Reply Mr. Wilson
3:22 PM on November 2, 2010 
this post jumped the shark when you claimed that miami is as good as the old school bulls: EACH OF THE THREE PLAYERS ON THAT BULLS TEAM IS SUPERIOR TO EACH PLAYER ON THE HEAT. this is pretty much expected from the younger generation, as you dont have a thorough understanding of the players of the past.

jordan james. goes without saying. jordan took over games and was just more intense and skilled on BOTH ENDS OF THE FLOOR than lebron.

at this point, i wouldnt say that dwayne wade is better than scottie pippen. pippen was just so much more than jordan's sidekick. as good as you seem to think wade is on offense, pippen was that much better on defense. widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in nba history, pippen could lock down opposing players... when paired with mike's defensive skills made a formidble tandem on that end of the court. not only that, as a bull he averaged around 20 points a game while michael was averaging 30. so far we are seeing wade and lebron at 20 and 20. i think you are getting sucked in too much by wade's "flash'iness. he is a great player, but he is not yet an all time great. pippen is an all time great. you refer to the fact that miami has 3 stars while the bulls had 2... thats how much better pippen and jordan were than wade and james. they only needed each other to win, and proved it by winning 2 sets of 3peats (which shouldve been 8 in a row but for baseball) with slightly different casts.

i also disagree that bosh is better than rodman. this is the easiest mistake to make. bosh was the focal point of his team's offense, and he was on a bad team. any player can make an impact on a team like that. shareef abdur rahim averaged 23 points a game and was once the 5th youngest player to 10k points. doesnt mean he was better than reggie miller. nor is bosh better than rodman. out of that position, you are looking largely for rebounds and defensive presence. rodman was among the best defensive players ever (2 time defensive player of the year) and among the best rebounders of all time (and THE BEST REBOUNDER of the last 40 years). rodman, at just 6' 6", got the most rebounds per minute of anyone who has played the game. the man worked harder. he studied his craft. do you think bosh will defend and rebound the way rodman did? do you think that the extra points bosh would score over rodman is worth losing those rebounds? i dont think so. rodman ends the opponents possession, or gives jordan and pippen an extra chance to score. he remains one of the most underrated players by casual/ younger fans, and its mainly cause he is a weirdo (and because his shoes had a zipper).

id just like to throw in that steve kerr has proven himself on the playoffs (for both the bulls and spurs). he was one of those clutch three point shooters, and you can say mike miller is as talented a shooter, but you cannot say he will perform as well in the big moments, because we just dont know that yet. also, bulls had phil jackson.

ill go on record as saying i do not think the heat will win 72 games, and if they do, its a testament to the weakness of the nba, not the talent of the heat.
Looks good! Except that the Heat will not break the Bulls 72 win record. They just don't have anyone with the drive to win like Mike had. As Steve Kerr (a member of the 96 bulls) put it, there are a lot of tough games, and to win 72 is verrry difficult. Kerr added that there were 5-6 games that they would have lost had MJ not "decided" that they were going to win.

There are too many good teams out there as the Celts proved on opening night, and LBJ just doesn't have that winning drive -- the killer instinct -- that MJ had.
Reply Lev to Shoshana
12:02 PM on October 30, 2010 
Well, that would be a close match-up.

I think that having playoff experience is slightly overrated, but it is a different atmosphere, and having played in the playoffs before helps a team a lot.

The Boston Celtics' players combined have played in 881 playoff games. The Oklahoma City Thunder's players combined have played in only 135 playoff games.
Reply Shoshana
6:07 PM on October 29, 2010 
I don't disagree, but I do question the Celtics beating the Thunder....