Sports Perspectives by Mark Elder

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Basketball Prediction Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark @ 12:43

As mentioned in the early days of this weblog, I have a rational bias toward professional sports when compared to college sports.  College sports are a joke, so I will devote only one paragraph to college round ball in this post:

UNC will win the NCAA Tournament, some disrespected mid-major school will win the NIT and no one will care at all.  Duke will lose in an upset in the third round of the tournament, in part because Coach K, who I love, recruits too many white players.  Georgetown will make the Final Four as will Pitt, but neither team will be able to come within 10 points of UNC in the championship game.  Every half-way decent college player will turn pro after the tourney and very few will be impact players as rookies in the NBA.  Blake Griffin I like, though, because he rebounds.  Incidentally, how is it that people don’t yet understand that rebounding wins championships?  It’s written on the wall in the Hall of Fame.  It can’t be any clearer. 

Moving forward into basketball players who are talented…

I predicted the division winners at the beginning of the season, then revised them after the Iverson/Billups trade (great trade for both teams).  Here is what I’ve had since the trade:

EAST:  Celtics, Cavs, Magic

WEST:  Lakers, Jazz, Hornets

The division winners in the NBA are easy to call, traditionally, because basketball teams with better players and coaches usually win more games.  It’s more difficult to pick the other 10 mediocre teams that will make the playoffs.  My playoff lists are as follows:

EAST:  Cavs, Celtics, Magic, Pistons, Hawks, Heat, Nets, Sixers

WEST:  Lakers, Hornets, Jazz, Spurs, Nuggets, Rockets, Suns, TrailBlazers

In the playoffs I like David Stern’s dream and Kobe Bryant’s nightmare – Lakers v. Cavs in the championship series.  Evaluating the series objectively, the Cavs have an excellent chance against L.A.  New York is screwed if Lebron wins championships these next two seasons, however, so I’m going to say that he won’t.  Lakers in 6 this season over Cleveland.  The road to the Finals will be as follows:

First round winners:  Lakers over TrailBlazers (sweep), Suns over Hornets, Jazz over Rockets, Spurs over Nuggets, Cavs over Sixers (sweep), Celtics over Nets (sweep), Magic over Heat, Pistons over Hawks (in 7)

Second round winners:  Lakers over Spurs, Jazz over Suns (in 7 – this one could go either way), Cavs over Pistons, Magic over Celtics (in 7 – might be wishful thinking)

Conference Finals winners:  Lakers over Jazz (in 6), Cavs over Magic (in 6)

NBA Finals winner:  Lakers over Cavs (in 6)

That said, I would like to also go on record as saying that, objectively, Kobe and D.Wade are now tied for SECOND best player in the world.  Lebron James has eclipsed them as the most talented, versatile and valuable player in the world.  Dwight Howard is now 4th, and Chris Paul rounds out my top 5.

Let me be clear about something.  This is objective analysis, not my usual NY bias.  I hate all teams other than the NY Knicks, and none of these players has ever played in NY, so I have no allegiances.  Last year, I felt Kobe’s conrtibutions were the most significant of any player in the league, but you simply cannot say that he is better than Lebron in 2009.  Lebron has become so dominant, it’s scary.  His near triple-double against the Cs on Friday night demonstrated as much.  He’s going to win 5-8 of the next ten championships.  He’s that good.  I know some people have been on the Lebron bandwagon for years, and I have not, so I may seem late to the party, but that is not the case.  I’m not saying he’s always been better and I’m just now realizing it, I’m saying he has eclipsed Bryant, and it may be that Wade has as well, though that is at least debatable.

More on this to come during the course of the  season.

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