Hi Bucks fans! Every year, I project how I think teams in the NBA are going to do in the regular season (relevant to the Bucks), and I give myself a grade at the end to evaluate my foreshadowing capabilities. Sometimes, it goes really well, and other times, not so much. So, here is what I said regarding the Western Conference, with nothing held back.
To start, I’m going to rank the teams based on my (not Vegas’) preseason odds to beat the Bucks in a hypothetical playoff series. This way, we can see where I had them, and where they wound up in the standings.
San Antonio Spurs: 10,000 to 1 (14)
Houston Rockets: 1,000 to 1 (15)
Utah Jazz: 1,000 to 1 (12)
Oklahoma City: 1,000 to 1 (10)
Sacramento Kings: 150 to 1 (3)
Portland Trailblazers: 40 to 1 (13)
New Orleans: 30 to 1 (9)
LA Lakers: 20 to 1 (7)
Dallas: 15 to 1 (11)
Minnesota: 8 to 1 (8)
LA Clippers: 8 to 1 (5)
Denver: 5 to 1 (1)
Memphis: 3 to 1 (2)
Phoenix: 2 to 1 (4)
Golden State: EVEN (6)
Just getting a quick glance here, overall this isn’t bad. Especially with how jumbled the mid-level of the West is, the whole conference from the Clippers through Utah has been pretty much a winning or losing streak away from falling out of the picture. Honestly, if I bumped Golden State down to Dallas, Dallas down to Sacramento, and picked Sacramento to win the conference, that really makes this look pretty sharp. But then again, who before this season thought SACRAMENTO would win the conference? Let’s take a team-by-team look, by division.
At the end of the post, I stated that “I nailed my prediction for the Spurs the year before”, so I think I can easily give myself a 2-for-2. I basically just wrote about how this is “Keldon Johnson’s team” meaning that they would be tanking, in other words. The Spurs have been awful, and if you take away their 6-3 start, that just makes it look even worse. I still don’t believe the Bucks lost to this team.
I picked Houston ahead of the Spurs because they have two players who have the potential to be game-changers. Jalen Green, which was a smart choice, and Jabari Smith, who the jury is still out on. I brought up that they are finally on the portion of their rebuild where they don’t have a ton of random veterans on the roster filling up space, and that because they have the young skills with no veteran leadership (see Oklahoma City) they have the potential to be better than the Spurs. It wasn’t that big of a difference.
I stated that “this team looks possibly formidable” if Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram could play together. When they did, they were very formidable. I also mentioned how they have built a quality roster around Zion, but if he’s not there, then what? The problem was that I wondered if he would make New Orleans “better or worse?” That was a bad take, but other than that, I had New Orleans in the middle and that’s where they wound up.
I’m going to start off by pointing out “let’s not forget Jason Kidd is their head coach, and we all know how much he held the Bucks back, so I would think it is safe to assume the Mavs will take a step back this season.” ROFLMAO. They missed the playoffs! This obviously didn’t foresee Kyrie Irving coming here, but that didn’t even stop them missing. I said this is enough around Luka, and that most of these players are nice role players but nothing special. The odds were high, but to be fair, I gave them worse odds than I did the year prior.
Grade: A+ (B+ if you take away the Kidd comment)
The main thing to take away from what I said about Memphis is that they just need to stay healthy (and out of trouble) and they will be fine. They have a worse record than last year, but with regard to the standings they are right where I expected.
This division was basically on point. I swear I’m going to give myself a bad grade if I actually think I deserve one. Go ahead and review my old posts and see for yourselves if you don’t believe me.
Okay, here is my chance to prove that I am taking this seriously and not just giving myself all A’s. I had them down with San Antonio and Houston (for good reason), but they proved me wrong. “The Chet Holmgren injury will take them away from any small hope they have for a postseason berth” as they battled in the mix for the entire season. Oof. I did compliment how the team has been put together and how there are a lot of nice pieces. I guess I just thought they had another year of tanking in them. In fact, I said they would be a postseason dark horse in 2023–24 to round out the post.
I think Utah just fooled us in November because since then, they have not been a good basketball team. Lauri Markkanen aside, this team is a disaster heading into the 2023–24 season, and I feel confident in saying that. I did write this when they still had Bojan Bogdanovic as well, but it didn’t matter, this team didn’t make the postseason and was bottom-four in the West. Good enough, not perfect, but good enough.
The first thing I glimpsed when skimming was “Now, Portland is revamped.” Oh God, what else did I say? I read closer and said the rest of the roster “I’m not so sure about” referring to the bench. I said they are a “random, young hodgepodge of players.” I also didn’t give them great odds (10th) and was really skeptical about them despite them being “revamped”. Maybe I was even being sarcastic, but how can you know at this point?
Depth is definitely an issue as I suggested, and I did mention that they are going for it. I think this sentence sums up my grade, though: “even with Gobert, that step they took last season almost felt too big for me… it may just be me, but that uncertainty is why I don’t have them winning the division.” All in all, not a bad take on the Timberwolves. I’m not sure why I had their “odds” ranked so high though, but I think I was accurate in my assessment.
I had Denver as fourth overall, and they finished first. I still believe that is more likely a product of the rest of the conference dealing with various issues instead of Denver actually being the best in the conference. A bad take I had was saying the KCP trade would be a winner for Washington, so that was rough. I also didn’t trust myself more when I mentioned that they are getting back “two All-Star caliber additions” (Porter and Murray) so I should have. Overall though, not bad.
Okay, this division was worse, but aside from OKC and a hot month from Utah, I really don’t think I did that bad.
Okay, so I said this team intrigues me, but I will not pick them to be in the (real) postseason until they do it. I think I get a pass for that, not an “A,” but a pass. I really had a lot to say about how this team was intriguing and how having Sabonis would be beneficial to them.
This team changed so much from what I talked about, but ultimately I said this team won’t miss the postseason two years in a row with LeBron here. They almost did again, but then a strong finish brought them into the play-in. I also stated that I was not sure about where the improvement was with this team (the pre-deadline version) so I got that pretty well.
“I’m sure many of you can see on paper that they have a loaded roster. I just don’t trust them.” Man, that really nailed it again. Without Kawhi or Paul George, they aren’t real contenders, and that’s exactly what is happening. As of April 1st, they are even exactly where I projected them in the standings.
With the Durant trade and all of the injuries, I really don’t know what to say about Phoenix. I think if they didn’t suffer all of those injuries, they would have a better record and be closer to where I projected them to be. I think this is the team in the West at this point, and I think this more depends on the postseason results to determine my grade. For now, I think it was fine.
I had the Warriors as equals to the Bucks. Ouch. I asked if we had the ability to beat the Warriors. Oh my goodness, this was bad. The good that I stated was that they would need internal development to be successful. I also do think injuries played a role, but I don’t see them as favorites anymore.
Overall, Golden State and the Thunder were my two rough spots, unless you want to count the Kings (even though nobody should have assumed the Kings would be this good). What do you all think about my job projecting the West? Vote and comment below!
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