How’s That Crystal Ball? (All-Star Version)

Before we get to the predictions, I have to say a few words about the win against Philadelphia. It’s funny how, when they were up by 20+, I really didn’t see how they would let the Sixers back in the game the way they were playing, but of course they did. It’s what makes them fun to watch, I guess. And however frustrating it is, and dangerous, it is also reassuring that they can do that but still come through when it counts. The Raptors went on a 9-0 run to finish the game after the Sixers tied the game at 93. Ya, they shouldn’t have let them back in the game, but to finish a game like that is impressive.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post…

Since the All Star break is upon us (for the Raptors, anyway), I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how my pre-season predictions are doing.

The first prediction I made was at the end of a very long look back at Colangelo’s tenure with the Raptors.

“My prediction, at least 45 wins and a run at home court advantage in the playoffs.  And the good possibility for another Executive of the Year Award.”

For those that want to read it in context, it’s right near the bottom, in the Final Analysis.

So way back before training camp even started, my prediction for the season was 45 wins and a chance at home court advantage.  Right now, the Raptors are sitting at 28-23 and .549, which translates over 82 games to….

45 wins!

Great, but the season isn’t over yet. They could hit a losing streak or rough patch and never reach that number, or they could continue at their current pace (22-10) since they turned things around at the beginning of December and win 49 games. Personally, I’d like to see the latter happen even if my prediction ends up being wrong.

“Bosh will have a career year, lead the Raptors back to the playoffs and re-sign”

Bosh currently has career high averages in points (24.4 ppg), rebounds (11.4 rpg) and field goal percentage (.525). I’d say he’s having a career year.

Now after the offseason, many questioned whether Bosh would be able to average his normal scoring numbers this season, with the addition of Turkoglu and the continued development of Bargnani, as well as the other additions. Personally, I thought all the additions would HELP, not HURT his statistics. Just about all of the great offensive players the Raptors added were also great passers and I felt that with Bosh planning to score inside more “just an increase by a couple of percent would bring him near the 24 ppg mark”, which is where he now stands.

Now, obviously, the playoffs seem definitely in reach, with the Raptors comfortably sitting in the 5th spot in the East. Home court looks out of reach, but should Boston continue to stumble, you never know. I doubt it, though.

We’ll have to wait until this summer to see whether the last part of my prediction comes true.

“The Raptors will struggle out of the gate but put things together by Christmas”

Well, I wasn’t optimistic enough with this prediction, it seems. They pretty much turned things around after their awful loss against Atlanta.  Of course, I also wrote…

“In December, they’ll go 9-6 and people will start forgetting the start, but still talk about trading Bosh. January will see them go 9-6 again, and fans will start talking about trying to get a top seed in the playoffs.”

In December they DID go 9-6, but actually ended up winning 10 games in January, not 9. There was talk of trading Bosh during the rough start, but it subsided in January. Really, Raptor fans are a predictable lot!

It wasn’t really hard to make this prediction, though, however accurate it is. The Raptors were a new, young team, but talented. They got off to a 7-14 the last time they had a rebuilt roster, so it wasn’t much of a stretch, especially considering the tough schedule, that something similar would happen this year.

“Bosh will be the only Raptor All-Star, but not the only Raptor at All-Star Weekend”

Pretty self explanatory here. I was wrong, though, in guessing that Shaq would again be an All-Star (thank goodness), and injuries took away any hope that Danny Granger would return to the All-Star game this season.

I suggested that Bargnani would be a good fit for the 3 point shootout, and I think it’s too bad he wasn’t invited. I think his style of shooting is made for this type of contest. In the end, I think the fact that he actually had a more well rounded offense might have, ironically, hurt his chances.

DeMar will be there, but is not guaranteed to be in the dunk contest. Instead, he’s going in the dunk off. I’m predicting right here he’ll win that dunk off against a guy not really known for dunking and then come in third in the Slam Dunk Contest. I’d love to see him win, though.

“Marco Belinelli will eventually be in the top 3 in voting for 6th Man of the Year”

He’s been up and down this year, but when he’s up, you can see the potential for this. Keep in mind, I made this prediction during a horrible pre-season for Marco. I made some comparisons to Ginobili, which I still think hold true. We’ll have to wait on this one.

“The Raptors will end up being a half decent defensive team”

In November, this prediction looked WAY off, and I won’t lie to you, I was a little worried. Bargnani was not playing defense like I had anticipated, and Calderon has yet to return to the type of defense he played when Ford was in town. In fact, I don’t know if any Raptors looked good defensively in November.

What turned the team around in December, however, was probably their defense. It’s still not great, but it’s about what I said it would be, half decent. They have the ability to play very good defense for stretches, and that’s all they’ve needed to do to in order to achieve the success they have.

Although they have now become a half decent defensive team, if they truly want to become contenders, they have to take the next step defensively. The question is, whether they need to make a trade for this to happen.

“The Raptors will not make it to the second round of the playoffs”

Well, since the playoffs haven’t happened, yet, it’s impossible to know whether this prediction will come true, but at this point, they’re a 5th seed and if the playoffs started today, they would face the Celtics, who they haven’t won a game against this season.

Hopefully things will change.

The rest of the predictions were for around the league….

“Cleveland will regret trading for Shaq”

Things have actually turned out better than I had expected in Cleveland, but I don’t think we have Shaq to thank for this. He’s averaging a career low 11.7 ppg and 6.8 rpg in just 23.2 mpg. They’re a worse defensive team this season, and I think they’ll need to make a trade in order to position themselves better for this summer. They have a lot of older veterans who are on the decline.

As for Shaq, himself, he’s pretty much kept his mouth shut and tried to be a good citizen in Cleveland. Maybe he knows this will be his last chance, or perhaps he heard too much about what he’s left behind. Personally, I just think it’s too early. He’s usually on his best behaviour at first, but he just can’t keep his mouth shut forever. Eventually, you know something stupid is going to come out.

“Dallas will be a surprise team”

They’re actually on exactly the same pace as last year, but they’ve been very erratic. Howard has not played well when he’s played, and he’s most likely gone by the trade deadline. Now, I’m going to guess that Dallas could get a very good piece in return for Howard. The main reason is because, for all intent and purposes, he’s got an expiring contract. Howard is set to make $11.8 million next season in the last year of a contract given to him when he played a lot better and looked to have a much brighter future. But next season is a team option, and I don’t think anyone would pick up that option, so he’s basically an expiring contract.

Do I bring this up in order to misdirect you so you don’t notice that I wasn’t right with this prediction? Well, yes.

“Orlando will miss Turkoglu”

Currently, the Magic are on pace to finish a few games behind where they did last year, and numerous articles have been written about how the Magic miss Turkoglu. Notwithstanding the last game, when Carter stepped in his wayback machine and threw up 48 points against New Orleans, Vince has struggled this season in Orlando. He’s got career lows in scoring (16.6 ppg), rebounds (4.4 rpg), assists (2.8 apg) and field goal percentage (.396).

While Turkoglu hasn’t been lighting it up in Toronto, he’s been the facilitator on offense that the Raptors had hoped he’d be and, if push came to shove, the Magic would rather have Turkoglu back. Last year, Orlando was 9-2 in games decided by 3 points or less. This year, they’re 2-3.

“Detroit will have to rebuild their team”

While Joe Dumars, the player, was, and still is, one of more underrated players in the game, I’ve always felt that Joe Dumars, the GM, has always been a little overrated. I went into a little detail of it here, but he’s had his share of bad decisions, as well as good ones. Yes, he built a Championship team, but without Rasheed Wallace dropping in his lap, I don’t think they win it, and, quite frankly, I think they were the weakest NBA Champion in recent history.

And while the trade for Iverson made some second guess him, it’s what he did afterwards that was the clincher for me. Using the cap room that Detroit gained to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villaneuva made no sense to me. Both players I felt were incredibly overrated. While both are very good offensive players, they’re incredibly flawed players that will make it difficult for them to ever start on a contender. Gordon is an explosive scorer who doesn’t pass and doesn’t play defense. As I said in my prediction, he’d be great off the bench, but I don’t think you want to purposely pay a bench player $11 million.

And Villaneuva is a big tease who’s got lots of offensive ability, avoids the paint and never, ever plays defense. Exactly where does he fit in on the Pistons squad?

Well, it’s the All-Star break and both Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton are both on the block. Personally, I’d put pretty much the entire team on that block. I don’t see much hope, here.

“The Spurs will win the Championship”

Okay, so they don’t exactly look like contenders right now, and in fact are only a game ahead of Toronto in the league standings, but I still think this team could put it together in time for the playoffs.What I thought was the best pickup in the league, Richard Jefferson, has not been successful. He not only hasn’t been able to fit in offensively, but defensively, as well. I figured his transition would be incredibly smooth, because I thought he was the perfect Spur player. Right now, I’m reading that the Spurs are willing to deal him, but aren’t finding any takers.

I’m going to tick this one off as incomplete….

So I’m not perfect, but I think I’ve done pretty well, prediction-wise.

Now, to make things more interesting, around the same time I made my predictions, my friend, Darren, emailed me three predictions for the upcoming season. Now, normally, we agree on pretty much everything to do with basketball, but there were two of his predictions here that I didn’t agree with. Try and guess which ones…

1. The New York Knicks will win more games than the Toronto Raptors

Just think both teams defense and rebounding isn’t great, but maybe the Knicks will run a better offense over the course of the season

2. Dejuan Blair OR Taj Gibson will get more votes for Rookie of the Year than DeMar Derozan

Just believe in their college stats, and despite them being drafted later, I think they are and will be better NBA players…not a big believer in that “Bigger Upside Potential” for draft choices

3. The Raptors will finish the season with less than 42 wins.

The East is stronger, and the rebounding and defense will be a nagging problem for them, throughout the year.

He even said he would give me $10 for every prediction he got wrong. Well, if nothing else, I’m going to be up 20 bucks come April 14th. Sorry, Darren.

5 thoughts on “How’s That Crystal Ball? (All-Star Version)

  1. Pingback: Morning Coffee – Feb 11 | Slam Dunking

  2. I don’t think there’s much to “wait and see” about Belinelli. There’s no chance he’s even mentioned for 6th Man of the Year. Wishful thinking at best.

    • well, he’s just 23 years old, can shoot, drive, play defense and pass the ball well. His biggest problem is inconsistency, which could be attributed to the fact that he’s, well, 23 years old.

      Is it a sure thing? Hell, no. Which is why I made it a prediction. I’m curious why you think there is “no chance” that he’ll ever be mentioned for 6th man of the year.

  3. Okay, so this is your friend Darren admitting he will owe you at least $10.00 on April 14th.

    Apparently, I should have overlooked my “gut feeling” about the Knicks winning more games than the Raptors, and relied on more statistical analysis!

    I have not given up on a 41 win season for the Raptors…yet…

    I seem to evaluate individual players better than a team.


    • I’d say it’s going to be closer to $20. Unless Bosh is out for an extended period.

      Like I said, you’re usually right (which is why we agree), but not this time.

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