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NBA Halfway Predictions Review

Justin Cheuk: When HK Meets UK

The NBA season only seemed to have started a few weeks ago. However in fact we have already hit the halfway mark for the regular season and with the All-Star Weekend and the trade deadline just weeks to go, it is time to look back at some of the predictions I have made earlier in the year, and see how close (or wild) they turned out to be…

A VERY NEW Lakers, indeed

1. James Harden to remain a Thunder
This has already failed months ago. In fact, on the day after I have posted that original prediction, the Thunder shocked the league by dealing Harden to Houston, in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and draft picks.

From then on, there has been the discussion whether the Thunder GM Sam Presti had made the correct move or not, in terms of the timing to trade Harden, and the assets the Thunder have received in return. Personally, I feel like that’s the best possible deal on the table, and this could go down as one of those rare deals that benefits both franchises.

All in all, as a Thunder fan I am pretty happy about the trade, considering the circumstances. Unfortunately, this trade did nothing to help my predictions though… in fact, If I had known about the trade beforehand, there are at least two other predictions that I would not make…

On track or not? No

2. Jeremy Lin to average 17ppg and 6apg
This is one of those predictions that I wouldn’t have made. When I made the predictions back in October, I have expected Lin to be ‘the undisputed star of the lineup where he will be plenty of opportunities to have the ball and run his offense’. Well, with Harden that just didn’t happen. It’s understandable that the Rockets would have Harden as their first option, but there goes Lin’s opportunities to play as beastly as he possibly could.

His current stats as of 29th Jan 2013 are 12.0ppg and 6.2apg, which really isn’t too bad, now that he only has about half the time with the ball compared to his Knicks days. In the one game that he played without Harden and returned to be the primary option, he matched his career high of 38 points, as well as adding 7 assists. THAT’s linsanity.

Lin is unlikely to get to 17ppg, but at least it’s not because he can’t.

On track or not? No

3. Steve Novak to win the 3-point contest
Steve Novak is shooting 44.3% on threes at the moment, which is good for third in the league. However, he has seen his playing time cut quite a bit this year and his 81 makes only rank 24th.

But I still think he is one of the best set-shooters we have in the planet. Therefore, as long as he makes it into the 3-point contest, I will still put my money on him to win it.

On track or not? (No idea yet)

4. Ricky Rubio to have 10+ assists
I predicted a resurgence of the Timberwolves, but it seems like the closest thing we have to that are surgeries. Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and even Kevin Love, you name it. Rubio is still dishing out those pretty dimes that people expect, but he himself has recently returned from injury, and really there isn’t that many people for him to pass to.

He’s currently on 5.2 assists per game. 10 is pretty much impossible. There’s still plenty of chances for him to accomplish to though. Think about it, he can’t shoot nor drive, yet still delivered so many fancy passes. If one day he’s got a reliable jumper, there would simply be more opportunities for him to showcase his signature skill.

On track or not? No

5. Speolstra to be Coach of the Year

Yeah, they are gonna decide how good Speolstra is.

The Heat has a 29-13 record which leads the Eastern Conference. Although there are a couple of teams in the West with a better record, when you have the tandem of James and Wade (sorry, Bosh) you can pretty much have push your own regular season record up should they see fit. Speolstra is, afterall, one of the only four active coaches with an NBA championship so there’s still a good chance of him becoming the Coach of the Year.

But then again, the Warriors (which we shall discuss later) is surprisingly strong so Mark Jackson perhaps has a better shout.

I hope, at least. When’s the last time the Coach of the Year won the title?

On track or not? Yes

6. Pacers to finish second in the East
At the moment, Indiana is tied for fourth in the East with Brooklyn,  two and a half games behind the runner-up New York. Paul George has certainly taken over the team as the number-one scoring option, and they are still one of the best teams in the league despite Roy Hibbert’s continuous shooting funk thanks to their defense.

I must admit I didn’t see New York coming. (Looking at the prediction I have made, you probably ain’t surprised) However, despite I am a shooter myself, I feel like defense is still a more valuable trait to stock up victories than 3-point shooting. Also, it is worth to note that Danny Granger hasn’t even played a game yet this season. For a team that desperately needs more shooting, his presence can only help.

On track or not? Yes

7. Neither the Thunder or the Lakers win the Western Conference
I have at least got one thing right. The Lakers would not win the Western Conference. However, I think it’s safe to say nobody expected them (perhaps) not even make the playoffs?

The Thunder is currently one and a half games behind the Spurs (not counting the Memphis game tonight/now), whereas the Clippers is another game behind. The Thunder has a slightly more difficult schedule still to play compared to the other two teams, and unless the Spurs rest all their stars every other game again, they should finish top.

I have regretted making this predictions though. Getting the top seed meant not having to play the second and third placed team in the second round. That’s most likely the Spurs and the Clippers. Admittedly I am a bit weary about this two teams…

On track or not? Yes

8. Warriors and Raptors make playoffs

Finally a star for Toronto or just another DeRozan?

Let’s talk about the Raptors first. This is another prediction I wouldn’t have made had I known about the James Harden trade. The Thunder is due to receive a lottery pick from the raptors, so I would much prefer them missing them playoffs.

And it definitely seemed to move towards that direction, maybe until this week. The Raptors are six and a half games behind the eighth seed (Celtics). Yet there might be a twist in Rudy Gay. Recently traded to Toronto, he might make the Raptors a stronger team, definitely in the future.

As for Golden State, that has worked out spectacularly, even without Andrew Bogut for most of the time.  Barring a major injury, the Warriors will qualify the playoff comfortably.

On track or not? Yes/No

9. Bobcats to finish with the worst record, but better than last year
They are better than last year. It took them 12 games to equal the win totals of their previous season, going 7-5 in the process. But after that… there hasn’t been much good news. Their record now is a league-worst 11-34. The only other team with only 11 wins- Washington- just have John Wall back from injury. So the prospect continues to be quite grim in Charlotte.

On track or not? Yes

10. Thunder NBA Champions
The Thunder has the best offense, second-best record and two of the best scorers in the league. As I am writing this the second-unit is having fun against Memphis. So although the Heat is still a huge rock between them and the title, yeah definitely on track.  As a fan, I believe.

On track or not? Yes

So that gives a 5.5-3.5 advantage for my predictions as of now, with the one about the All-Star Weekend still inconclusive. That’s pretty good for now, I think?

But I have at least got one thing right. The Lakers would not win the Western Conference. XD

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