Way back in late October, a few days before the season began, I wrote and posted my 2013-2014 projections for each NBA team. I also put where they’d finish in the conference and did a playoff preview but we’ll get to the playoff preview a little later on. For now, let’s look at a team-by-team review on my predictions and see how many I nailed within the 5-win range and even a closer 3-win range.
Atlanta Hawks (Pre-Season Projection: 43-39, 6th in East)
Final Record: 38-44, 8th in East
Analysis: I expected the Hawks to have a solid season and make the playoffs on the backs of Al Horford and Paul Millsap with help sprinkled in by the likes of Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll, and Kyle Korver. While I did get my part about Dennis Schroder correct, which was not expecting much out of him but him having moments, much about my Hawks prognostication was off. I never saw the Al Horford injury coming and, let’s be honest here, no one really could. Horford only played in 29 games this season and the Hawks went 16-13 in those contests. Unfortunately for them, he didn’t play after December 26th. But they still had a good season considering the shortcoming.
GIF of the Year, Hawks Edition: Pero Antic’s one-legged three-pointer
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Barely. Thanks to the last day of the season.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): No. Possibly, had Horford not been injured.
Boston Celtics (Pre-Season Projection: 22-60, 14th in East)
Final Record: 25-57, 12th in East
Analysis: In a non-shocking development, the Boston Celtics were about as bad as I expected. That wasn’t too hard to predict since they got rid of all the remnants of their championship era. The only holdover was Rajon Rondo but he only played in 30 games due to coming back late from his injury. That was to be expected. They were definitely able to salvage some games and did keep their fans coming back for more but Boston fans are naturally loyal and rewarded the team with that loyalty. Boston does have the foundation for a good future, especially if they’re able to move Rajon Rondo during the draft and get younger pieces to give Brad Stevens a fighting chance as they go forward.
GIF of the Year, Celtics Edition: Avery Bradley’s behind-the-backboard shot
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Nailed it pretty well.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Got it. Thanks to a 3-16 finish.
Brooklyn Nets (Pre-Season Projection: 56-26, 2nd in East)
Final Record: 44-38, 6th in East
Analysis: I was way off of my Brooklyn Nets pick but there were some mitigating factors. For one, they started off horribly and that wasn’t that expected. Kevin Garnett missed 28 games, Brook Lopez only played in 17, and Deron Williams also missed nearly 20 games this season. On the surface, it looks bad but it wasn’t as bad as it ultimately could have been due to their injuries and lack of coaching in the early part of the season. At least they got rid of Jason Terry, though. I did have a concern with Jason Kidd but he proved to be a solid coach over the season. Playoffs will be interesting.
GIF of the Year, Nets Edition: Jason Kidd’s “Hit Me” cup incident
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Not even close.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): I struck out looking here.
Charlotte Bobcats (Pre-Season Projection: 25-57, 13th in East)
Final Record: 43-39, 7th in East
Analysis: I was a year too late on the Charlotte rise. I thought they’d take this step during next season but I was clearly wrong. Kemba Walker was great, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a defensive stopper, Gerald Henderson was good, Josh McRoberts had his moments, and Cody Zeller flashed his talent but the real cause of this was Al Jefferson and his superb post play. That and Steve Clifford getting every ounce out of this team defensively. Superb job by everyone on this team to not only make the playoffs but look like a viable team doing so. Future could be looking up for them finally.
GIF of the Year, Bobcats Edition: Kemba Walker’s OT game-winner in Toronto
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Nope. Al Jefferson made me look dumb.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): And Steve Clifford made me look dumber.
Chicago Bulls (Pre-Season Projection: 56-26, 3rd in East)
Final Record: 48-34, 4th in East
Analysis: I’m going to defend myself here a little bit. I fully expected a healthy Derrick Rose this season and while he did play, he didn’t play much at all. Joakim Noah was sensational. He carried the Bulls night-in and night-out and even did so despite the Bulls going off and selling Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers just for the right to cut Andrew Bynum. Jimmy Butler played what seemed like every minute of every game, Carlos Boozer was alright, but Taj Gibson gave them something that they can depend on going forward. Not to mention they got one hell of a contribution from D.J. Augustin that seemingly came out of nowhere. Maybe Coach Thibodeau understands his team better than everyone else.
GIF of the Year, Bulls Edition: Taj Gibson’s game-winner against Lakers
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): No. But sorta close, I guess.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Derrick Rose might have helped me.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Pre-Season Projection: 38-44, 8th in East)
Final Record: 33-49, 10th in East
Analysis: I had the Cavaliers sneaking into the playoffs and while the team that finish 8th in the East did indeed have a 38-44 record, I expected a lot more out of Cleveland this year. I liked the Anthony Bennett pick but he struggled. However, he did regroup and finish the year a lot better than he stared it. I liked Tristan Thompson and his consistency, as well. But they got nothing out of Andrew Bynum and Anderson Varejao also missed his usual amount of games. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters still look like they hate each other, Luol Deng provided support but won’t come back, and everyone else was just there. Jarrett Jack also kinda let me down. I expected 16 points per game and good defense out of Dion Waiters and did, I guess, get it but the team didn’t make the playoffs. Another year in the lottery.
GIF of the Year, Cavaliers Edition: Kyrie Irving’s double OT game-winner
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Got it. But barely. Not excited, though.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Oh how I wish.
Detroit Pistons (Pre-Season Projection: 37-45, 9th in East)
Final Record: 29-53, 11th in East
Analysis: I’ve crapped on the Detroit Pistons all season so I’m not going to waste time doing much more of that. I just don’t get how you spend $92 million in the offseason to make improvements to the team both on a talent level and also on an excitement level only to see yourself finish with the exact same record that you had the year before. Andre Drummond was great and was the only positive takeaway for the team this season. Greg Monroe is likely gone, which is good for him, and they’ll have to figure out how to give more playing time to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who should have gotten more playing time from the start rather than trying to play Chauncey Billups earlier in the year. And then there’s Brandon Jennings. But I’ve already said enough. This team, man. This team.
GIF of the Year, Pistons Edition: Jennings-Drummond backboard alley-oop
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): No.I knew they’d be bad, but man.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Spent $92 million and didn’t improve.
Indiana Pacers (Pre-Season Projection: 53-29, 4th in East)
Final Record: 56-26, 1st in East
Analysis: I didn’t like the Pacers drafting Solomon Hill and they didn’t even play him that much so that was a moot point from the beginning. But it does make me wonder since they did pass on guys like Tim Hardaway, Reggie Bullock, and even Archie Goodwin. If they had any idea that Danny Granger wasn’t going to be a worthwhile player for them this season, why not grab a potential shooting guard down the road who can help you? The reason I say that is because I don’t know how much longer Lance Stephenson will be in Indiana after his great season. They struggled at the end of the year and Paul George went from a top three MVP guy to maybe not even top five after he put up 40/34 shooting lines over the final 50 games of the year. He started the year going 47/40 in the first 30 games he played. I like them but I don’t love them. I wondered what they’d get for Granger and they got Evan Turner who isn’t very good. But, hey, you get what you can.
GIF of the Year, Pacers Edition: Paul George throws down a 360 windmill
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Yes, thanks to late swoon.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Barely but I got it.
Miami Heat (Pre-Season Projection: 58-24, 1st in East)
Final Record: 54-28, 2nd in East
Analysis: Thought the Heat would finish first but they didn’t. Thought they’d do better but they didn’t. It didn’t help that Dwyane Wade was rendered useless for almost 30 games due to his lingering leg issues. They rested guys at the end of the year or else they would have finished close to my projection for them but besides that it was just another year in South Beach. LeBron won’t win MVP this year but it doesn’t take away from the great year that he had. He’s still the best player in the world. You do have to wonder, though, how much longer those three have together. Wade isn’t what he used to be, LeBron’s having to do more, and Bosh is still solid but not enough. Is this the last hoorah?
GIF of the Year, Heat Edition: LeBron James hits game-winner in Oakland
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Late stumbles sorta helped.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Almost. Lost 5 of last 6.
Milwaukee Bucks (Pre-Season Projection: 32-50, 11th in East)
Final Record: 15-67, 15th in East
Analysis: When I talked about the Bucks before the season, I said they were on the right path to tanking until signing O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal, and Zaza Pachulia while also trading for Caron Butler and Brandon Knight. Well, they still sucked. Massively. Namely because all of those guys, minus Knight, were terrible or let go. They traded Neal, waived Butler later in the year, saw Mayo play terrible, had Pachulia miss games, and also had Larry Sanders miss close to 60 games. Everything that could go wrong for that team did go wrong. I loved what I saw out of the Greek Freak, so there’s hope. Same with John Henson. If they keep Larry Sanders and somehow get the first pick, I’d love a future Knight-Giannis-Wiggins-Henson-Sanders lineup simply for the length, athleticism, and defense. Please let Milwaukee get the first pick.
GIF of the Year, Bucks Edition: Giannis Antetokounmpo goes superhuman
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Holy crap I was way off.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Did anyone see this coming?
New York Knicks (Pre-Season Projection: 40-42, 7th in East)
Final Record: 37-45, 9th in East
Analysis: I came fairly close to nailing this on the money. When observing the Knicks prior to the season, I noted that they had an awkwardly tough schedule and a roster that wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves over an entire season. I hated the Bargnani trade, liked the Hardaway pick, but didn’t like the fact they had to play old guys like Martin-Stoudemire-MWP for vast stretches. Well, for the record, Metta World Peace didn’t last long in the Big Apple, Martin only played in 32 games, and Stoudemire missed 17 games of his own. Then there was Raymond Felton being trash, Tyson Chandler missing almost 30 games, Iman Shumpert’s offensive decline, J.R. Smith looking like complete garbage for a while, and Mike Woodson looking lost on the sideline. Carmelo Anthony was the only bright spot. Poor guy. I do wonder if he returns, though.
GIF of the Year, Knicks Edition: J.R. Smith unties Shawn Marion’s shoe
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Nailed it.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Took a late surge to get there.
Orlando Magic (Pre-Season Projection: 29-53, 12th in East)
Final Record: 23-59, 13th in East
Analysis: I liked the Orlando talent but thought they wouldn’t compete for at least another two years. They definitely didn’t compete this year and came close to getting within the 5-game window that I projected for them. They were better than their final record indicated and they were exciting to watch at times but they were a very young team that needed to grow. They’ll grow over the offseason and with another two lottery picks coming in this year, they should have the chance to have a bright future. I wonder what they’d get if they do indeed decide to finally trade Jameer Nelson and/or Arron Afflalo. I doubt either one is back in Orlando next year.
GIF of the Year, Magic Edition: Victor Oladipo’s monster block
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Close but no cigar.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): I expected too much here.
Philadelphia 76ers (Pre-Season Projection: 8-74, 15th in East)
Final Record: 19-63, 14th in East
Analysis: “Worst collection of talent I’ve seen in the history of the NBA.” And still, somehow, won 19 games just because they wanted to make me look like a damn fool. Well, they did. Michael Carter-Williams only made 33% of his shots outside of five feet so making a jumper is going to have to be something he works on over the next few years if this team has any hope of improving. I praise them for the simple fact that they didn’t rush Nerlens Noel back and actually let him sit out the entire year so that he can work on strength and conditioning. That’ll pay off in the long run. They went 5-34 over their final 39 games. If they did that for the whole year, they’d have finished with 10 or 11 wins. Sigh.
GIF of the Year, 76ers Edition: Evan Turner’s game-winning layup
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): I don’t even wanna talk about this.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): No comment.
Toronto Raptors (Pre-Season Projection: 33-49, 10th in East)
Final Record: 48-34, 3rd in East
Analysis: This entire projection was wrong just because of the sheer fact that they were able to trick the Sacramento Kings into trading for Rudy Gay. I didn’t think any team in the NBA would have been stupid enough to trade for Rudy Gay but oh how I was wrong. Prior to the Rudy Gay trade, the Toronto Raptors were 6-12. Granted it’s a small sample size, but that puts them on pace for a 27-win season. Below my projection but a lot better than I did after that. After the trade, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry took off. Amir Johnson was great, Jonas Valanciunas progressed well, and the pieces they got from the Gay trade proved to be instrumental towards their success this season. They’re a tough team and they got worlds better after getting rid of their biggest problem.
GIF of the Year, Raptors Edition: Terrence Ross dunks on Kenneth Faried
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Nope. Masai Ujiri killed me.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Did you think they’d trade Gay?
Washington Wizards (Pre-Season Projection: 48-34, 5th in East)
Final Record: 44-38, 5th in East
Analysis: In a way, I nailed this. I got the seed right. I was a tad off on the record but they got where they were supposed to be. Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal, John Wall, and company played great. Nene missing roughly 30 games didn’t help but they got quality production out of Marcin Gortat. They got nothing out of Otto Porter whatsoever and it feels like a waste of a pick at this point in time. One might even argue that he was the most disappointing top five pick this year simply because he didn’t show much of anything and was supposed to be one of the most pro-ready guys that was in the draft. He scored only 78 points all season but took 91 shots. Wizards have an interesting offseason ahead of them with no first round pick and both Ariza and Gortat unrestricted free agents. Good season, though. Wall and Beal are looking mighty formidable.
GIF of the Year, Wizards Edition: Nene dunks game-winner off Wall feed
Prediction Accuracy (Within 5 Games): Yes. Got the seed, too.
Prediction Accuracy (Within 3 Games): Super close but just missed.