Charles revisits his NBA predictions to see just how accurate he was
Written by Charles Odugbesan
The NBA playoffs are drawing near as all 30 teams play out the final sequence of regular season games. And this year’s race for the post season has more than delivered its fair share of thrills and spills. From Gordon Hayward’s tragic opening night injury to perhaps LeBron James’ best season ever, Kawhi Leonard’s disappearance off the face of the earth to a Golden State Warriors team currently without any of its’ 4 All-Stars, this has certainly been one of the more exciting seasons in recent years. Before the season started I gave my predictions on the standout players and teams for this 2017/2018 season. So let’s review!!
Eastern Conference 1st Seed
Prediction: Boston Celtics
Currently: 1. Raptors. 2 Celtics. 3. Cavaliers :
Despite losing their starting 2 guard Gordon Hayward in the first game of the 2017/2018 season, Kyrie and the gang have spent most of the year atop the Eastern Conference with players like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum coming to the fore. But lengthy injuries to some key players including Irving (who now faces a race against time to regain his fitness for the Celtics’ playoff run), has seen Boston surrender the number one seed to a Toronto Raptors team with great strength in depth and led by All-Stars Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers are lurking in the third spot.
Western Conference 1st Seed
Prediction: Golden State Warriors
Currently: 1. Rockets. 2. Warriors. 3. Trail Blazers
The Houston Rockets have been irresistible this year behind the duo of James Harden and Chris Paul and a supporting cast who have recorded some ridiculous 3 point shooting statistics. The firepower in Texas has seemingly proven too much for the 2nd placed Warriors in the regular season, however, questions over the playoff credentials of the Rockets back court remain to be answered. The Portland Trailblazers have taken advantage of the shortcomings of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs to and have put together a 2018 record that sees them in currently seeded 3rd.
Prediction: Kevin Durant
Currently: 1. James Harden. 2. LeBron James. 3. Anthony Davis
James Harden has picked up where he left off last season and has somehow gotten better. He leads the league in three pointers, as does his team in attempts and makes, and is averaging over 30 points per game irrespective of the arriving premier point guard Chris Paul. LeBron James, off the back of statistically two of his best offensive months ever has clicked into another gear despite being aged 33 and is in close attendance to Harden. You wouldn’t bet against him carrying this form through to the post season. Anthony Davis may not win the Scoring title this year but nevertheless he is having an incredible season with the Pelicans especially since losing DeMarcus Cousins to injury back in early February.
Prediction: Kyrie Irving
Currently: 1. James Harden. 2. LeBron James. 3. Anthony Davis
Similar to the league’s leading scorers, the MVP race is currently being led by the same three players, although it looks as though James Harden has closed this case. Kyrie’s knee injury and the Celtics losing their number one seed to the Raptors count against him amidst impressive early form. LeBron’s 2018 form means he has played himself into the conversation and after losing Boogie after the All-Star break, Anthony Davis has been in absolute video game mode since! However Harden’s consistency throughout the year seems to have edged it for him.
Rookie of the Year
Prediction: Ben Simmons
Currently: 1. Ben Simmons. 2. Donovan Mitchell. 3. Jayson Tatum
The only successful prediction I made! 7 foot point guard Ben Simmons has been fantastic for the Philadelphia 76ers with many experts likening his game to a certain 23 in Cleveland. Over in the Western Conference, Donovan Mitchell has been a shining star for the Utah Jazz and he currently has them in a playoff position. Jayson Tatum’s solid first half of the season still puts him in contention for the award also.
Sixth Man of the Year
Prediction: Marcus Smart
Currently: 1. Lou Williams. 2. Eric Gordon. 3. Fred VanVleet
With Marcus Smart, the Celtics were the number one seed and the best defensive team in the NBA. Without him (another star with a lengthy injury layoff) neither of these statements hold true. Instead we look to professional scorer Lou Williams (Clippers), 3 point juggernaut Eric Gordon (Rockets) and the impactful Fred VanVleet (Raptors) for the potential sixth man of the year. For me Lou Williams is in position for the crown however, his team’s potential to miss out on a playoff spot (Clippers are 10th placed in the West) may count against him.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks
Currently: 1. Trail Blazers. 2. Raptors. 3. 76ers
For me the surprise package in the NBA this season has been the Portland TrailBlazers. In a Western Conference, stacked with immense talent and high competition, Portland have played their way into the 3rd spot ahead of usual suspects such as the Spurs and the Thunder. And with an elite back court of Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum, they are a team that many would do well to avoid. In the East, the Raptors (1st) and the 76ers (4th) also deserve high praise.
Team that will disappoint
Prediction: Minnesota Timberwolves
Currently: 1. Clippers. 2. Timberwolves. 3. Spurs
I predicted that although the Minnesota Timberwolves boast an array of talent, they would struggle to gel and become the force in the Western Conference that they are on paper. However they are still in a playoff position and await the return of their best player Jimmy Butler (yet another injured star). But the Clippers are the biggest disappointment of the for me. Yes they did lose Chris Paul and Blake Griffin but they were replaced with capable players. In any case, they have gone from being last years 4th seed in the West to 10th, 2 games back from a playoff position with 9 games remaining. And the 3rd team to disappoint are the San Antonio Spurs. Yes there has been major controversy over the absence of Kawhi Leonard this season, but in the bigger picture, this may well be the first season in which we see the demise of the Spurs dynasty that has been a force in the NBA going back to the early 2000’s.
So that’s it for my regular season review as the teams enter the final few games, I’ll be back in July for a post season review!