Monday, December 7, 2015

Gauging Predictions at the Quarter Mark

We're, roughly speaking, now through a quarter of this year's NBA season, which means we probably have just enough data to start looking at things like they mean something.  There's a long way to go still, but let's take a look at some of the predictions made before this season and how they look now.

WinsPredictedWin Pct.PaceError
Golden State6418218
San Antonio560.8106610
LA Clippers550.5545-10
Oklahoma City530.649-4
New Orleans470.2521-26
New York280.4763911
LA Lakers260.1512-14

I'm not going to go through these team-by-team, but a few big misses on each side could use a little bit of attention.  Easy one first: the Warriors aren't actually going to go 82-0.  Even if they go 70-12, I still come in around 6 games off.  On the downside, New Orleans is on pace to come in 26 wins below the 47 I projected for them.  Yeah, they've had some injury issues, but I don't think many people saw them having the league's worst defense.  Add in some offensive regression, and they might as well re-shuffle the deck and see if they can pair a top five pick with Anthony Davis.  A playoff berth isn't happening.  The Rockets have had a more dramatic backslide, but with the Western Conference taking a step back this year, they can have new life if they perk up on defense.

As far as teams exceeding my expectations are concerned, see: Conference, Eastern.  Some of that pack is bound to fall off in the next few weeks, but it's your best guess and mine as to who will fall enough.  It's almost safer to just predict that Washington and Milwaukee will claw their way back towards .500 and muddy the picture even further.

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All-NBA Teams

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team
GSteph CurryGRussell WestbrookGJohn Wall
GJames HardenGChris PaulGKlay Thompson
FLeBron JamesFKevin DurantFJimmy Butler
FAnthony DavisFLaMarcus AldridgeFBlake Griffin
CDeMarcus CousinsCMarc GasolCDeAndre Jordan

Not really a whole lot of bold predictions on that list, but looking back, there is one glaring omission.  How did I not find a way to squeeze Kawhi Leonard on to one of the three teams?  At this point, Leonard is a top five MVP candidate, and close to a lock for an All-NBA First Team selection.  He's been that good at both ends of the floor.  On the flip side of that, he's probably not going to shoot 50% from three for the whole season.  Either way, not at least cramming him somewhere on to the third team was a mistake.  Same goes for Paul George.  If there were All Quarter-Season Teams, I would compose mine as follows:

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team
Steph CurryGKyle LowryGDamian Lillard
Russell WestbrookGJames HardenGJimmy Butler
Kawhi LeonardFKevin DurantFDerrick Favors
Paul GeorgeFLeBron JamesFBlake Griffin
Anthony DavisCAndre DrummondCDeMarcus Cousins

There are some really tough choices there.  Pushing LeBron to the second team in favor of George is tough, and James and Durant only both fall on the second team because I slotted Davis at C.  Force me to put a traditional C on the first team, and one of LeBron James or Kevin Durant (or George/Leonard if you don't value defense as much as I do) falls onto the third team.  Leaving Chris Paul off in favor of Damian Lillard: also tough.

Anthony Davis
LeBron James
Steph Curry
Kevin Durant
James Harden

Davis hasn't taken the next step on a team that's been decimated by injuries, and it's going to take a substantial change in the tide for Curry to not repeat as the league MVP.  Not even worth discussing at this point.

Rookie of the Year
Jahlil Okafor
D'Angelo Russell
Karl-Anthony Towns

My biggest mistake here was putting Kristaps Porzingis all the way down at 8th.  While Karl-Anthony Towns is probably the leader at this point, Kristaps is a somewhat close second.  Jahlil Okafor has played solid basketball, and put up good numbers in the process, but he hasn't had the overall impact that Towns and Porzingis have had on current fringe playoff contenders.

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