If I could predict the future, my life would be significantly better and my NBA predictions would all be right. Before the season started I made a few guesses about what would happen throughout the league this year and honestly I couldn't have been wronger. That being said, I'm now going to wallow in self-pity about my misleading picks and revisit what I thought was going to go down.
Prediction: The Lakers are going to get off to a hotter start than expected.
Result: I wasn't super far off, but they started pretty cold. LA came out of the gate at 2-5 and there were a lot of uncertainties surrounding their spacing, three-point shooting, and defense, but the signing of Tyson Chandler and increased cohesion has put a lot of these worries to rest. The Lakers now sit at 10-7, good for 7th in the West, and are a mere 1.5 games back for the top seed. So far, this was my only remotely close prediction. It was kind of expected that the Lakers would be a bit up-and-down to start the year, but it's good to see them playing at a much higher, competitive level.
They even have a better record than the Celtics, but more on that later. I covered the Lakers earlier in the week, so be sure to check out a more in-depth analysis on LeBron and the Showtime 3.0 boys.
Prediction: Carmelo Anthony is going to be a good fit on the Rockets.
Result: Tough look. I was so off about this; Melo played only ten games with the Rockets before they decided that they'd seen enough. Houston got off to a horrible start, dropping five of their first six games. They've begun bouncing back, though, and they now stand at 9-7 and are back in the top-eight teams in the West. Part of the reason for their newfound success is James Harden's return from a week-long absence stemming from a pulled hammy at the beginning of the year, but parting ways with Melo has also surely helped. Through his ten appearances for the team, Melo only started twice, quite a big change for a player who started every game of his career before this season. I said that "...if Melo can become a spot up catch-and-shoot killer from three, he's going to thrive. If he can get the Rockets 13-15 points a night at a 35% clip from the arc, the Melo experiment in Houston is going to be a success." (It keeps getting worse.) He averaged 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and half an assist on horrific shooting splits of 40.5/32.8/68.2 and seemed to suck the life out of Houston whenever he was on the floor. Melo has become a Twitter meme the last few years and it feels like people are forgetting just how dangerous he was throughout just about his entire career. The may Melo was able to create his own offense and dominate anyone from midrange was incredible to watch, especially during his tenure with the Denver Nuggets.
There hasn't been much traction in regards to a new team for Melo since the Rockets decided they'd be going separate ways and it seems like this may be the end of the road for Melo. He's an all-time great and I hope he can find a team he fits in well with, but it's just going to be a waiting game at this point. #StayMe7o
Prediction: The Bulls will sneak into the playoffs in a weak East.
Result: Just never ask me for gambling advice because you're going to lose money. The Bulls suck again, but a lot of it is due to injury. I was lucky enough to go to Bulls/Suns the other night in Chicago and half the team was sitting on the bench hurt and dressed in suits. Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, and Denzel Valentine are all hurt right now so the Bulls are missing a decent chunk of their young core of the future. They're 5-13 (12th in the East) and the playoffs are becoming more of a wet dream than reality. Zach LaVine is having an All Star-caliber season (25.5/5.2/4.1) while keeping the Bulls a fun team to watch, and Wendell Carter Jr. is showing why he was worthy of the seventh pick in this summer's draft (11.4/7.3/2.3 and 1.8 blocks). Jabari Parker had quite the attitude problem at the beginning of the season but it seems like he's finally starting to catch a rhythm. He looked to be in great shape at the game Wednesday and he's putting up around 15 points and 7 boards a night on 45% shooting. Despite the atrocious defense, Jabari is helping the Bulls offense stay afloat and I guess that's fine for the rest of what seems to be a lost year.
(Coolio was the halftime show at the game. I was stunned when I looked up at the jumbotron and saw his name next to "Halftime Performer". The thought of seeing "Gangsta's Paradise" performed live never once slipped into my mind but I guess I can cross it off my bucket list.)
Prediction: The Boston Celtics will be crowned champions.
Result: The jury is still out on this, but I'm much less confident about this pick. This Celtics team was primed to dominate the East and face off against Golden State in the Finals but it's not looking like either team is going to push their seasons into June. The Celtics are the 8th seed in the East right now with a 9-9 record. Kyrie Irving is having a great year (22.4/4.9/6.4) but just about everyone else is slacking, especially on offense. After his breakout performance in the playoffs last year, Jayson Tatum is still trying to put it all together but is still playing solid basketball for the Celtics. He was fairly cold to start the year, but his shooting averages are starting to improve as he's averaging 16.1 points a night on 42.6/39.5/83.0 splits. Tatum needs to convert on more two-point shots to boost his nightly averages and provide more efficient offense, but it's encouraging to see his long-range shots falling. Once he can break start playing super consistently, Tatum is going to be a monster; he just needs some time, he's only 20. Speaking of consistency, Gordon Hayward needs to find some before he gets benched or shipped out of town. Coming back after missing a full year due to a gruesome ankle injury can't be easy for anyone, but Hayward's under a lot more scrutiny due to his $128 million contract. Through 17 games he's averaging only 10.3 points on 39.2% shooting (28.4% from three) while doing the Celtics no favors. There's a lot of basketball left to be played so hopefully Hayward can find his footing (pun intended) and help bring a title back to Boston.
I honestly don't know who my championship pick is now. I still think the Celtics are going to figure it out and start winning a lot more games, but this season has been so crazy that it's hard to choose one team and stick with it. New choice: the Milwaukee Bucks. Why not.