Tag Archives: Steve Nash

Season Predictions – Part 3 of 3

Before crunching the numbers on the teams in the Western Conference, a few specific predictions and storylines to keep an eye on:

1.              If Chris Kaman returns soon for the Clippers, who are currently 2-13, the Clips will make a run at the playoffs.  Not that I think Chris Kaman is some kind of superstar, but he’s a real C, and, as I’ve blogged before, teams that play a real C have a big advantage.  (Even the Clippers.)  Put Kaman with Blake Griffin, and you’re looking at a squad that will have the advantage in the paint against all but the best teams in the league.  That matters, and will start to show up in the win column when Kaman comes back.  Let’s hope that guy comes back soon, because the people who keep the standings for the NBA might stop publishing a win column in the Clippers’ row if he doesn’t.

2.              Aside  from the superstars, the most important player out West is Richard Jefferson.  If that guy keeps ballin’ like he’s ballin’ then the Spurs will be in the mix until the very end.

3.              I know that Steve Nash is immensely popular in Phoenix, but it just doesn’t make sense for an aging PG who is as good as he is to remain on a team that’s going nowhere.  Hopefully one of the teams that’s a PG away from seriously contending (Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte, and the Clippers come to mind) will find a couple of young assets to trade to Phoenix in order to grab Nash and make a run.  Unless it’s the Heat, in which case my head might spin off of my neck as I try to decide whether or not to root for that team.

4.              In making these predictions, I’m grading the Nuggets as if they will keep Carmelo, even though I expect them not to.  It’s not that I have any inside info, it’s just that I can’t see Denver risking losing him for nothing after what just happened to Cleveland and Toronto.

5.              As I type this, there are a bunch of major injuries that will have a big impact on the standings.  David Lee is a difference maker for the Warriors.  And Brandon Roy for the Blazers. Robin Lopez is also out, apparently for a month.  That makes it tough to get a read on some teams, but if I waited any longer, I’d have to call these “reflections” instead of “predictions.”

So, while I can still call them predictions, here they are (in the case of ties, I put the teams in the order that I expect them to finish).

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We’re about ten games into the NBA season so far.  It’s late enough to start perceiving some trends, and still early enough to make predictions.

If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s what’s been hoopening:  Miami, after all the hype, is 6-4.  The Hornets, who had no hype, are 8-1.  The Lakers, who still aren’t fully healthy, are 8-2.  The Clippers, who are mostly healthy, are, well, the Clippers.  The Knicks have shown signs of life, but then allowed Kevin Love to put up a 30-30 game.  No joke.  At least 30 points and at least 30 boards.  (A question for the NBA’s official statistician: does it only count as a 20-20 game, because it happened against the Knicks?)  And, after improving to 2-0 against the Heat this year, Paul Pierce tweeted an absolutely classic tweet.

We’re now deep enough into the season that it’s an appropriate time to start talking about predictions.  I begin my analysis by looking at individual players; specifically, stars.  For a team to make the playoffs, it obviously must have balance, depth, and role players.  No question.  But, in general, it also must have at least 1 star.

I don’t see more than 1 or 2 NBA teams making the playoffs that do not have an All-Star on their roster.  The only team to do it last year was Milwaukee, and they had a few guys who were borderline All-Stars.  This is no coincidence; when attempting to pick the playoff teams, I start by trying to pick the All-Stars.  Then I add 4 borderline All-Stars per conference, and that tells me which of the teams are worthy of going through the hoopservations state-of-the-art (ahem) data analyzer to predict playoff teams.

As a starting point, here were last year’s All-Star rosters:

EAST:

LeBron James

Kevin Garnett

Dwyane Wade

Allen Iverson (injured)

David Lee

Dwight Howard

Al Horford

Chris Bosh

Paul Pierce

Gerald Wallace

Joe Johnson

Rajon Rondo

Derrick Rose

WEST

Carmelo Anthony

Tim Duncan

Kobe Bryant (injured)

Jason Kidd

Steve Nash

Amar’e Stoudemire

Pau Gasol

Kevin Durant

Dirk Nowitzki

Zach Randolph

Chris Paul (injured)

Chauncey Billups

Brandon Roy (injured)

Chris Kaman

Deron Williams

Right off the bat, we know there will be a few changes, because Iverson isn’t in the league anymore (he was barely in the league when he made the team last year, but his name won’t be on the ballot this year so the chances of a repeat are low), David Lee went to the Western Conference, and Amar’e went to the East.

Here’s what I see for the East:

1. LeBron James

2. Dwyane Wade

3. Amar’e Stoudemire

4. Dwight Howard

5. Danny Granger

6. Paul Pierce

7. Gerald Wallace

8. Joe Johnson

9. Rajon Rondo

10. Derrick Rose

11. Joakim Noah

12. Andrew Bogut

Borderline:

Brook Lopez

Al Horford

Andre Iguodala

Anderson Varejao

And here’s what I see for the West:

1.  Carmelo Anthony

2.  Kobe Bryant

3. Steve Nash

4.  Blake Griffin

5.  Pau Gasol

6.  Kevin Durant

7.  Dirk Nowitzki

8.  Manu Ginobili

9.  Chris Paul

10.  Brandon Roy

11.  Deron Williams

12.  Russell Westbrook

Borderline

Stephen Curry

Zach Randolph

Tony Parker

David West

So, the teams we can eliminate from playoff consideration because they simply don’t have enough talent are: Detroit, Toronto, Washington, Sacramento, Minnesota, and Houston.  That probably doesn’t count as going out on a limb, so let me push the envelope a bit… at least 4 of those teams will win fewer than 30 games.

Soon, I’ll analyze each of the other teams and generate playoff predictions.

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