Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mid-season NBA review of my NBA preview

So how are my preseason individual award and team predictions panning out so far? Let's take a look:

Individual awards
Preseason pick: LeBron James, Cavaliers.
Current Front-runner: James. MVP buzz early in the season can snowball and carry throughout the season. Thanks to his suberb stats and the Cavs' standing as one of the best teams in the league, it's hard to see someone unseating the King from his pole position in the MVP race.
The Best of the Rest: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade

Rookie of the Year
Preseason pick: Michael Beasley, Heat
Current Front-runner: Derrick Rose, Bulls
The Best of the Rest: O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook

Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason pick: Ron Artest, Rockets
Current Front-runner: Dwight Howard, Magic
The Best of the Rest: I've seen a few names thrown out by's awards man, such as Kevin Garnett, Wade, Bryant, James, Paul and Marcus Camby.

6th Man of the Year
Preseason pick: Lamar Odom, Lakers
Current Front-runner: Jason Terry, Mavericks. Manu Ginobili may have a better all-around game, but his limited minutes and early-season injury -- combined with Terry's scoring average at around 20 per game -- will help Terry's cause.
The Best of the Rest: Ginobili, Andrei Kirilenko

Most Improved Player
Preseason pick: Rodney Stuckey, Pistons
Current Front-runner: Beats me. How about Danny Granger, Pacers. It's interesting to note that many of the top candidates are All-Stars or All-Star candidates this year.
The Best of the Rest: Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Jeff Green, Paul Millsap, Kevin Durant, Stuckey

Coach of the Year
Preseason pick: Rick Adelman, Rockets
Current Front-runner: Stan Van Gundy, Magic. Or Mike Brown, Cavaliers. It's almost a toss-up. The Best of the Rest: Nate McMillan, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, George Karl, Doc Rivers, Erik Spoelstra

Team Performances
So far, things have shaken out similarly to what I expected. Some examples:
  • A Celtics-Lakers Finals rematch certainly doesn't appear to be out of the question.

  • Ditto for my prediction of a Cavs-Celtics ECF, and maybe a Lakers-Hornets WCF.

  • 13 of my 16 playoff picks are in position to make the postseason; the three I didn't choose were among my most difficult playoff omissions.

On the other hand...
I had the Washington Wizards returning for a fifth-consecutive playoff appearance. That obviously will not happen; the only things the Wiz are contending for may be a high draft pick and potentially the worst record in the league this season. I guess the injury to Gilbert Arenas (and Brendan Haywood) had a bigger impact than I expected.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

NBA All-Star '09: Who will be there?

The fans have spoken and, for the most part, they've done a good job selecting the All-Star starters. Here they are:
Guard - Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
Forward - Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire
Center - Yao Ming

Guard - Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson
Forward - LeBron James, Kevin Garnett
Center - Dwight Howard
Not bad. The sketchiest pick is probably Iverson, who may not have made the team without his popularity with the fans. Now the coaches' picks for the All-Star reserves will be announced later tonight. There is sure to be plenty of complaining about who should have made it once these selections are released.

Here is my list of predictions for the All-Star reserves, based on a combination of what I think will happen and what should happen. Remember only seven guys from each conference can make it.

These guys are very likely to make the team: Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups
My other picks: Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson
Other possibilities: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash
Darkhorses: Jason Terry, David West, Paul Millsap, Deron Williams, Manu Ginobili

Jefferson and Durant are in the same situation: they're good young players putting up good stats on bad teams. However, their fortunes have turned around lately with the Timberwolves 10-3 in January with one game (vs. the Lakers) left in the month, and the Thunder winning six of their last nine games. Carmelo's situation could be compromised by an injury, though he is now cleared to play again.

Very likely: Danny Granger, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson
Likely: Paul Pierce, Devin Harris
My other picks: Jameer Nelson, Ray Allen
Other possibilities: Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis
Darkhorses: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Tayshaun Prince, David Lee

Team record could be the deciding factor in some of these choices. The Boston Three Party might all make the team, and Ray Allen is shooting the lights out, which, along with team record, could propel him ahead of one of the Nets' two candidates. A second Orlando player (Nelson, Lewis, Turkoglu) would appear likely to be chosen. We'll see if LeBron gets a Cavs teammate in Phoenix.

The Eastern Conference predictions come with one caveat: selecting a backup center is mandatory, and I didn't choose a true center. However, coaches can list a player under their secondary position if they get substantial playing time at that spot. In this case, I make the assumption that Bosh gets picked as a center. Otherwise, it could be Ilgauskas, or another hybrid forward/center who plays center more often than Bosh (David Lee?).

UPDATE: The coaches votes are in, and I got them right, except David West got Al Jefferson's spot in the West, and Rashard Lewis is there in the East instead of Ray Allen.
Re-UPDATE: The NBA's commish has chosen Ray Allen as the injury replacement for Jameer Nelson. Mo Williams was later selected as an injury replacement for Chris Bosh.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

For a student, there's nothing better than straight A's

It's time again to give credit where credit is due. If you remember (or even if you don't remember), last year I chronicled my wife's impressive GPA for winter semester. With her fall semester grades now posted, I can say she's done it again -- she followed up all those A's (and a single A-) with A-minuses and an A. That means she scored in the "A" range for every class she took in 2008. Mad props, yo!