Admit it, every sports fan loves making predictions. It makes us look smart when we get it right, although our overall batting average is only slightly better than a lottery ticket winner. The only difference between you and me is that I wrote down all my takes in this column, which means I would have to live with the embarrassing ones for eternity, while you will enjoy the benefit of plausible deniability.
Let’s go through ten of my predictions over the past year and see how I did. (Yes, I’m intentionally skipping writing about Game 7 of the ECF because that series has been, well, unpredictable.)
1. The good: Andrew Wiggins is an All-Star
Yes, he is. And he was the Warriors’ second-best player in the Western Conference Finals, by far.
2. The good: Nikola Jokic is the MVP
A historically great one in a historically great race.
3. The good: NBA 75 Team
It wasn’t 100% but 89% is good enough. I still think Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Tony Parker should have made it. The Gasol and Parker snubs don’t get talked about enough because they weren’t the most talented individually. But they were the second-best guys in multiple title teams and that matters.
4. The bad: The Lakers will get swept in round 1
They didn’t even make the play-in! This was the one prediction I gladly got wrong.
5. The bad: Suns-Warriors in the WCF is inevitable
It was, until Luka Magic happened. But at least I got one team right.
6. The bad: The Mavs are not contenders
I’ll take the L on this one just because they made the final four. But I still think they aren’t and would need to upgrade in the offseason to become one.
7. The embarrassing: Jayson Tatum can’t be the best player on a title team
He’s five wins away from being one.
8. The embarrassing: 2022 Playoffs picks
Fifty percent in the first two rounds is unacceptable. That’s basically a coin toss! It was so bad that I decided to quit making predictions… at least until our pre-Finals roundtable coming out mid-week.
9. The embarrassing: The Utah Jazz
Apart from picking them in the first round against the Mavs and penciling them in as tier-4 contenders, the most embarrassing part is actually dedicating a column to them.
10. The jury is still out: The Warriors will not win the title this year
I have a love-hate relationship with the Dubs. I think highly of the organization, but like Charles Barkley, I hate the fans.
Andrew Wiggins is one of my favorite players, but I hate how he’s being under-utilized offensively. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of Draymond Green and Jordan Poole (the way he signals for a review is enough to get him into our imaginary All-Punchables Team). For some reason, I’ve found that I generally don’t like late first-round and early-second round picks, but I’m a sucker for high lotto picks (Wiggins) and late-second rounders (Jokic, Manu Ginobili). I love the Warriors team we saw in the WCF because Wiggins played extremely well—I’ve always maintained that the best version of the Warriors is where Wiggins is their second or third most important player, not the fourth or fifth.
They’re four wins away from proving me wrong. Or four losses away from proving me right.
11. Throwback video of the week
35 years ago, the Boston Celtics faced the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 1987 ECF. Everybody remembers that series for the iconic “Steal by Bird” but that actually happened in Game 5. Detroit would win Game 6 at home to set up a winner-take-all Game 7.
Larry Bird proved why he once held the best player on the planet championship belt, dropping 37-9-9 while playing the entire 48 minutes. Kevin McHale chipped in with 22 on a broken foot, while Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge added 18 apiece. Joe Dumars led the Pistons with 35 points, but it was a rough shooting night for Isiah Thomas who had 25 but only shot 10-for-28.