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2018 NBA predictions and prognostication

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All these predictions are correct.

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Welcome to another season of the NBA. At last, the greatest show on Earth returns to the air waves. This is a big season for the National Basketball Association with a lot of changes on the horizon. For instance: the King is now royalty on the NBA’s crown jewel, the Los Angeles Lakers; Boston’s elite defense and extreme depth are back to the future with legendary Celtics teams from the past; Dwyane “Flash” Wade and Dirk Nowitzki are on their retirement tours; the Warriors are hoping to become truly historic by winning their fourth NBA Finals in five years (the Celtics won 11 of 13 from 1957-69, and the Minneapolis Lakers won 5 of 6 from 1949-54; the Bulls’ two three peats were separated by two seasons, and neither the Celtics [3 Titles] nor the Lakers [5 Titles] of the 1980s won four of five); and will Minnesota trade Carmelo Anthony, I mean Jimmy Butler, to the Knicks, I mean the Heat, for a haul of players &/or picks that will hamstring Miami for years to come?

There are also plenty of questions heading into the season: How many threes will be attempted this season? Wsup with the new foul rules? Will any team win 60 games this year? (One team did last year, the Houston Rockets; two teams in 2016-17; two in 2015-16, including the 73 win Warriors; two in 2014-15; one in 2013-14; two in 2012-13; and, screw the owners for the lockout/shortened season in 2011-12 for ruining numbers.) Can Dwight Howard salvage his reputation? Can Carmelo? Will we forget Kristaps Porzingis? Will any of the guards in the New York City area be worth a hot damn? Will Toronto finally write their name in the sky? Will Kawhi have the last, bizarre laugh? Will Pop and the Spurs perform one more basketball miracle and win 50 games?

Time to start finding out some answers. Here are some predictions for the new season:

  1. Taj Gibson remains a top 50 fantasy basketball player. I have no evidence that Tom Thibodeau has stopped taking his crazy pills, so why would he stop playing Ancient Taj and his vets into the goddamn ground? Volume, minutes, water - these are the pillars of sand upon which Ancient Taj raises his impossible fantasy mansion to the stars.
  2. Enes Kanter also remains a top 50 fantasy basketball player. I’m not sure what the deal is with fantasy players and Kanter. He’s young, he’s definitely the starter, he returned you wonderful value last year (top 50 player, sub-80% ownership, ADP in the 90s, so post-7th round), and there’s no reason to think he won’t do likewise this year since the Knicks only made small/cheap/young adjustments to their roster. In many ways, without Kristaps, the Knicks belong to Kanter (unless you think Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., run the team, which, fair and Go Blue).
  3. No one ever hears from Grayson Allen again.
  4. Neither of the teams that Jimmy Butler may play for (Minnesota, or Miami sans whoever gets traded for Jimmy Buckets) will make the playoffs. The West is too deep if Jimmy stays, and Miami will be too thin if they have to trade real players for Butler.
  5. The Spurs make the playoffs, as do the Lakers.
  6. 14 players averaged 10+ points per game, and 10+ rebounds last season. I think that total increases to include, at least, Ayton, Kevin Love, Steven Adams, Julius Randle, AND! JaMychal Green.
  7. Carmelo Anthony is a top 100 player. Melo had the worst season of his career last year, and many, many people think he’s over the hill, all washed up, an old fogie, a spirit haunting the NBA, an anachronism from the Old Times. But, he actually had his best offensive rating, 110.8, and net rating, 5.2, since 2012-13. Man, if Melo bounces back even a lil bit, then he’ll probably be gold on this Rockets team. They’re not, like, overflowing with dudes who can score, y’know? Melo’s never been as good an outside shooter as he’s perceived to be, but if Houston can coach him to stick to his sweet spots, then he’s instantly improved. D’Antoni’s probably the best coach Melo’s ever had; perhaps now he realizes that, and will buy into the Houston system in full. I think he does, I think he has a bit of a Carmelo-ssaince, and I think Houston doesn’t miss Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute during the regular season as much as people think they will.
  8. Orlando will trade Aaron Gordon during the season because Orlando.
  9. Jaren Jackson, Jr., is a stud and helps the scoring-desperate Memphis Grizzlies return to relevance (not enough, though).
  10. Luka Doncic is everything we were promised. He and Dennis Smith, Jr., form a tandem that’s worthy of inheriting the team from Dirk, and they make the playoffs for five straight years...starting next season.
  11. Deandre Ayton can’t guard anyone, anywhere. Babies crawl past him and dunk, easily. Grandmothers pass through his legs. Imaginary friends break his ankles with sick, sick crossovers. He swats a ton of balls and they all, ALL, go out of bounds, and thus back to the opposing team. The Buffalo Bulls beat Ayton in the NCAA Tournament, again. He’ll get benched for no one, just open space, because that will be better than his “defense.” He’ll make a proper switch and then apologize, because he’d never done it before and it felt weird. He’ll have the best rookie Suns season, ever, and he’ll win Rookie of the Year, and the Suns will win 25 games. Then Jimmy Butler will join the team and call Devin Booker and Ayton “soft.”
  12. Andrew Wiggins is more dependant on Jimmy Butler than anyone else: if Buckets gets traded, then Wiggins is instantly a near-star, based just on volume alone. But! I also think he’s a young dude, and maybe he heard all the criticism, and heck, y’all, why can’t this kid get better? I think Wiggins improves as a player, IRL and in fantasy, even if Butler stays. The kids are alright, man, you just gotta give ‘em time.
  13. Myles Turner improves, but the Pacers kinda stay the same. Dangerous, sure, but not a team that makes the Eastern Conference Finals (they’re a big trade away, I think; do they have the resources for a Jimmy Butler trade? Butler and Dipo together would be frightening on defense.)
  14. Anthony Davis has an MVP year but the Pelicans miss the playoffs, and the Brow misses the MVP.
  15. Sacramento doesn’t know what they’re doing and this state continues.
  16. Here are my playoff predictions for the East:
    • Boston, #1
    • Milwaukee, #2
    • Washington, #3
    • Toronto, #4
    • Philly, #5
    • Indy, #6
    • Cleveland, #7
    • Detroit, #8
  17. Miami, Charlotte, and Chicago all end up being fairly capable, competent teams, but they’re not a match for the starpower of the other teams. “Starpower” is obviously in air-quotes for several of these teams.
  18. The LA Clippers could do anything, be anything. Have you seen this roster? If Danilo “Cincinnatus” Gallinari can actually stay healthy for more than five consecutive days, then this team could make waves. Marcin Gortat probably doesn’t matter, BUT! Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Tobias Harris is a fearsome foursome on defense. Plus, this team has The Boban. They’re either primed for a bigass trade (John Wall if Washington falls flat on its face, per usual?), or a bigass, uh, “waiting/wading” year. If they do nothing, then they’ll be an attractive destination for free agents next offseason. In the meantime, there’s no Alpha on this team, so the starters might all be fantasy friendly.
  19. Austin “Haunted” Rivers will not be my starting point guard this season. He’s gone! He helped me win a championship in my league, and we dropped him like a bag of flaming bantha poodoo! Austin, now a backup guard on the Wizards, fulfilled the prophecy: a son will be born, and play off-day minutes for your championship team, and lo! The heavens will sing his name. And, then promptly forget he ever existed. Austin, I said this in my goodbye letter that your Dad, Steve Ballmer, and I all signed, but I just want to say it again: under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are yours. Godspeed in that crazy District of Columbia. Start drinking white russians, because DC sure does love their hockey (and, their white russians!).
  20. Here are my predictions for the West:
    • Golden State, #1
    • Houston, #2
    • Utah, #3
    • Lakers, #4
    • Denver, #5
    • Portland, #6
    • OKC, #7
    • Spurs, #8
  21. The Pelicans barely miss the playoffs (seeds 4-8 are probably separated by just a game or two, and tiebreakers); the Grizzlies and Mavericks are much improved, but it’s not enough in a stacked, stacked West; and, Minnesota is punished for their drama and miss out on the playoffs, as well, though maybe with a winning record.
  22. Giannis wins MVP. The Bucks can’t compete with Boston’s depth, but Giannis reaches a new level of basketball, Ur-Elite, and transforms into Basketball Voltron and Milwaukee wins 50+ games and gets the 2 seed in the East. The Greek economy goes gangbusters, and Milwaukee fans start calling themselves Aegeans. Eventually, Giannis leads an army of Cheeseheads and jelly Mesopotamians to Troy and they sack the hell out of it, again.
  23. Someone from the Eastern Conference wins the scoring title. Melo was the last East player to do it, in 2012-13. Before that, it was Dwyane Wade in 2008-9. Let’s make it three in 10 years! C’mon, East! Personally, I’d love to see Kemba given the Westbrook Green Light, and just go absolutely crazy with the usage and shots.
  24. Dwight Howard is not a top 50 fantasy player. That’s probably a good thing for Wizard fans! Dwight has been demanding of his blech offense for years, but if DC can surround him with shooters, and their roster suggests that they can, then Dwight should be able to have an easier time. Focusing on defense is what DC needs from him, though. Less buckets means less value in fantasy, but IRL, it’s exactly what you want to see if you’re a Wiz fan.
  25. Taurean Prince and John Collins break out big time, and suddenly Atlanta realizes they have two really good players, and they trade them quickly, so they can stay “on schedule” in their rebuild/pipedream of Warriors East.
  26. Kelly Oubre, Jr., ends the year as a top 75 player. So does Herr Dennis Schroder, who might play more minutes than anyone anticipated, if Westbrook and Andre Roberson remain out indefinitely. Could Herr Schroeder Wally Pipp the Sarge?!?!? ...No. I mean, nein.
  27. Jae Crowder, Danny Green, and PJ Tucker all have better seasons than last year.
  28. Nothing interesting happens in Brooklyn. Minor trades, asset acquisition, and steady progress occur. The Mayor, Spencer Dinwiddie, is the Nets starting point guard at the end of the year. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson plays incredibly well and not a single goddamn person on the entire planet, not even his Mom, notices.
  29. LeBron falls out of the top 10 in fantasy player value.
  30. If the Washington Wizards don’t win the Southeast Division, then every single person in the whole world should get fired.