Crazy Predictions For the Upcoming NBA Tip Off
Quibbl Sports asks if you know more about the NBA than the experts
As the new NBA season approaches each October, I look forward to a few things: the Vegas Over/Unders, measuring the offseason retreat of LeBron’s hairline, figuring out which team ended up with Andrew Bogut (sorry, Lakers fans!) and reading Zach Lowe’s annual “crazy predictions” preseason article. For the past eight years, the data-minded ESPN writer has forecasted a handful of longshot statistics and outcomes for the upcoming NBA season. Melodramatic reality TV questions surrounding big names in a mid-season trades are mixed with stat-nerd predictions on the 76ers turnover margin. It’s a great primer before the season tips off this week and can be found here.
Lowe’s road to NBA Stat Nerd Celebrity is a unique one. He was a school teacher and a local crime reporter before he got his first gig with ESPN. A crazy ride for sure, he’s the Skip 2 My Lou/Rafer Alston, rags-to-riches story of NBA writers, but none of that matters if his predictions don’t add up. Is he always right? Not quite. He had LeBron winning the MVP Award last season; he finished fourth. He had the Miami Heat tanking for a lottery pick, but they did literally the opposite, won 30 of their last 41 games and still missed the playoffs.
But Lowe isn’t always wrong either. Last year, he was prophetic in the Utah Jazz’s run to 51 wins and in Houston’s dynamism from behind the 3-point line. More importantly, though, he showed how he’s earned the reputation of having the media’s best pulse on NBA boardrooms: accurately predicting that the Players Association and the owners would extend their Collective Bargaining Agreement in December, avoiding a lockout.
This year, Quibbl Sports gives our take on some of Lowe’s predictions and asks you to do the same:
The Golden State Warriors will win at least 70 games
Lowe says that Golden State has too much talent on their roster not to win 70 games. They’ve made nice additions to their bench with guards Nick Young and Omri Casspi and won’t have to deal with Kevin Durant’s transition into a new offense. We know that Steve Kerr is going to be judicious with resting his starters, and that Steph, KD, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green shouldn’t play more than 70 games, but that roster is a juggernaut from top to bottom – even if Nick Young never goes “Swaggy P” again. Quibbl Sports agrees with Lowe: the Warriors win at least 70 games.
Kawhi Leonard will win NBA MVP
The ESPN Senior Writer also says that San Antonio small forward Kawhi Leonard will be this year’s MVP. It’s a fair guess assuming that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will share the ball (and stats) more this season now that they have legitimate co-stars in Chris Paul and Paul George. Lowe also dismisses LeBron James’s chances at hoisting the Maurice Podoloff Trophy because he hasn’t played much defense until the playoffs the past few years. First, I had no idea the MVP Trophy had such an unfortunate name. Second, Lowe forgets that LeBron will be in his most intense “FU mode” since his inaugural season in Miami, thanks to Kyrie Irving’s less-than-graceful exit in August. Kawhi is great, but in the West, he faces a battle every night. Also, LeBron knows he is chasing ghosts: Michael Jordan won five MVP trophies. “The King” only has four, and at age 32, his time is running out. Quibbl Sports predicts LeBron James as this season’s MVP.
The Jazz, Pelicans and Grizzlies all miss the Western Conference playoffs
Lowe goes out on a limb and predicts all eight playoff teams from the Western Conference. In order, he has Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, Denver, Minnesota, Portland and the Clippers. These are the Vegas favorites – with Utah, New Orleans and Memphis left on the outside – likely with better rosters than half of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. We’re not ready to give up on the Anthony Davis/DeAndre Cousins experiment in New Orleans. And are we sure that losing Gordon Hayward means the Jazz are going to lose 10-12 more games? Quibbl Sports thinks Lowe misses the mark on this one.
Charlotte, Miami and Philadelphia make the playoffs in the East
Lowe also projects the Eastern conference playoff teams: Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Miami and the fresh-faced 76ers. We love the idea of Joel Embiid staying healthy enough to guide the Sixers and the city of Philly back into the playoffs. Of course, that’ll mean a trip to Cleveland or Boston for a first round mollywhopping, but such is life for that fanbase. The only other questionable addition was the Miami Heat. They desperately lack outside shooting, but they’re still more talented than the only noticeable exclusion from the list: the Detroit Pistons. Stan van Gundy begins his fourth season in Detroit trying to recreate his Orlando magic, but he’s not going to pull a young Dwight Howard out of a hat anytime soon. We’ll take Lowe’s word for it on this one.
Have any other NBA opinions you want to turn into predictions as the season tips off? Leave a comment below!
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