Seems a bit early for half the season to be through, but hey, that’s what happens when you start work two months late. Play’s been kind of sloppy out the gate, but it appears the NBA’s best and brightest are in the swing of things in this tough, abridged campaign. We made a few calls before the season’s tip off and had all intentions to shoot lights out. However, Coach Gotty™ might have a few of us starting the second half in warmups. That’s alright though. You miss every shot you don’t take.
Let’s take a look at the stat sheet and see where we stack up. This time we’ll own up to our calls and let the comments take over. It’s only right since everybody’s a sports critic these days.
1. Kobe Will Demand A Trade By Season’s End
It’s pretty clear, at this point, Kobe won’t demand a trade. He’ll instead make Lakers management’s lives living hells. And who can blame him? The Lakers are in shambles right now with a mismanaged Lamar Odom trade, leaving an ice box where Pau Gasol’s heart used to be and passing on Jeremy Lin all becoming public embarrassments. Then there’s WORST COACH EVER’s inability to control the team. KB24 is simply fed up and he’s letting it known. While he has said he doesn’t want a trade, he’s in an “I don’t give a f*ck” mode and voicing his displeasure every chance he gets. — David D.
2. The Magic Will Stink Early And D12 Will Be Traded
Trying to save face for the franchise, Dwight Howard remains in a Magic uniform as the All-Star game is played in Orlando. As the clock ticks on the trade deadline, Howard’s list of desired destinations will be whittled down to a team with worse playoff aspirations. It’s funny that, even amid the drama, Orlando sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with a winning record. All signs still point to Howard departing and during the All-Star practice, New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams sported a superman cape, joking around with the center. Now that Nets center Brook Lopez, the key in the deal, is back from injury – will we see D12 in Brick City? — Jason H.
3. The Golden State Warriors & Indiana Pacers Will Surprise People
Well, one out of two ain’t bad. The Golden State Warriors still haven’t been able to mesh all of their parts during Mark Jackson’s first year but they’re getting better. The team to watch, though, is the Pacers. Despite some piss poor games leading up to the All Star Break, it’s evident that Larry Bird has put together a formidable team that will be a nuisance in the playoffs. While Indiana probably won’t eliminate Chicago or Miami, they’re poised for a deep run and will even give those powerhouses trouble in a seven-game series. — David D.
4. The Blazers Will Finally Make It Out Of The First Round
It’s still tough to tell if the hot n’ cold Blazers will advance past the first round this year. Besides, they have to make the playoffs first. The Nuggets, Timberwolves and Jazz are less than two games behind Portland for the eighth seed at the moment, and none of them figure to fade away over the second half of the season. However, if the Blazers can sneak into the playoffs, they’ll be as dangerous as any team in the West. LaMarcus Aldridge is still a beast while Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Matthews and the portly ghost of Raymond Felton form a deep, talented supporting cast. — Ben Lampin
5. Knicks Predictions: Regret Waiving Chauncey, Chandler No Big Help To Defense, D’Antoni Fired, Phil Returns To NY
Take Jeremy Lin out of the equation and we were right on target about the New York Knicks. No Lin, no seven-game win streak and New York sits in the cellar of the Eastern Conference. Lin saved New York’s season and, momentarily, Mike D’Antoni’s gig. The Knicks defense has improved from the start of the season as rookie Iman Shumpert emerged as a key perimeter defender to compliment Tyson Chandler and the offensive foul drawing Jared Jeffries. As Lin has thrived in D’Antoni’s system, the Knicks new cash cow may delay a possible return of Phil Jackson. But with the addition of pieces like J.R. Smith and an active Baron Davis, Jackson’s “triangle offense” would also prove successful with New York’s new-found depth if the front office decides to change coaches. — Jason
6. Eric Gordon, John Wall, James Harden, Stephen Curry & Jrue Holiday Will Be All-Stars
The only name on this list really worthy of All-Star consideration is James Harden. Everyone else seems to have fallen onto some sort of bad fortune, be it injuries (Gordon and Curry) or playing on a cartoonishly bad team (Wall). Whatever the case, we were oh-for-five in this one. Hindsight’s a bitch. — AJ
7. Tom Thibodeau Will Run Derrick Rose Ragged…Again
Rose has already sat out 10 games, including for a week and change, thanks to turf toe (??) and back spasms. Chicago faired pretty well in his absence by going 7-3 and first time All-Star Luol Deng stepped up huge in most of those matches. Then, a heavy dose of perspective kicks in when you see Chicago’s beaten mostly bums with their star guard on the bench. Their play with Rose out is no doubt good for morale and a testament to their depth, but we’ll see if that support will carry over in the post season. No more disappearing acts in May, okay guys? *Stares at Carlos Boozer* — S. Cadet
8. TSS Will Write At Least 10 “CP3 To Blake/DeAndre Jordan” Posts
Current count has us holding at approximately five. The season’s not done yet, but the Lob City love fest has pretty much gone as advertised. L.A.’s other team seems capable of producing a highlight every trip down the court (as Kendrick Perkins can attest to), and with two All-Star starters, pre-season projections placing them amongst the league’s best seem justified. And if we haven’t waxed poetically enough about B.G.’s assault on gravity, that’ll come in the second half of the season. — AJ
9. The Memphis Grizzles Will Travel Even Further Into The Playoffs
At this point, it’s hard to imagine Memphis will go farther than the semis. The conference is better – there’s this squad nicknamed “Lob City” out there now – and the Grizzlies, for all the promise they showed during their run last year, haven’t taken a step forward as a team. Marc Gasol’s still one of the best young centers in the league and Rudy Gay’s doing what he always does – about 18 points, six boards and three assists a game – after missing 28 games last year. O.J. Mayo flat-out refuses to realize the promise he showed in high school and college and Mike Conley’s still an overpaid, average point guard. If there’s hope for the Grizzlies, it’ll come in the majestic form of Zach Randolph, who’ll be returning to the squad soon after missing most of the year with a knee injury. I don’t think it’s likely, but Randolph could be the spark that pushes the Grizzlies back into the upper-echelon of teams in the West. — Ben Lampin
10. This Is The Year The Durant/Westbrook Combo Finally Works
It all depends on how you look at the glass: half empty or half full. Oklahoma City’s tied for the best record in the league while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook account for the highest scoring duo in the league. And for kicks, the Thunder are the sexy pick to represent the West in the Finals. Unfortunately, they find themselves in the same scenario as LeBron James. Their regular season feats are something to marvel at, but the true test comes in May/June when their on-court chemistry falls under the microscope. — J. Tinsley
11. Miami Will Lose Again
They’re tied for the best record in the league, they’re chemistry is through the roof, yackity-schmakity. They’ve been catching teams sleeping in transition all year and play tough team defense but they’ve shown their weaknesses against the few deep clubs in the league. Heck they edged by Chicago by a slim margin with Deng out. Besides, OKC’s playing top tier ball as well. They play just as fast, defend well, have a better bench and play in a more competitive conference. Miami doesn’t want that match up with Oklahoma City if they play in June. — S. Cadet
12. LeBron And The MVP Sweep
You know what sucks? This prediction is one made three pointer away from being alive because, let’s face it, if the East had won Sunday’s ASG, there’s no question who the MVP was going to be. I’m better than that though, so we’ll refrain from playing the “if” game for the moment. Yet, with the most important of the trio being the Finals MVP very much alive, there is still room for James to redeem himself. And redeem himself he will. Yep, you’re damn right I just made another prediction. *Flips table, kicks chairs, storms out of room* — J. Tinsley
13. Jeremy Lin Will Have A Breakout Year And Become A Household Name
You don’t remember us making this prediction at the beginning of the season? For realz? Well, we totally did. Yep. Sure did. And we nailed it too. — David D.