Quinn Revisits NBA Predictions

Staff writer Kevin Quinn revists and revises his NBA predictions as the regular season comes to a close:

nbaNBA Champion: Golden State Warriors

Midseason Prediction: Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are still one of the greatest teams ever in NBA history. Sure they haven’t quite captured the regular season success of 2015-2016 team who went 73-9, the best ever regular season, despite sporting a much better roster. Draymond Green has been disappointing this season with a dip in his scoring numbers and field goal percentages and Demarcus Cousins hasn’t looked like the player once referred to as the best Center in the NBA since returning from an achilles injury. Still a team with three 2019 All Stars, 2 more former All Stars, and two former league MVPs shouldn’t have trouble winning their third consecutive championship. Midway through the second round of the playoffs, the Warriors are currently facing what many see as their biggest challenge in the Houston Rockets. Cousins went down with a season ending injury in the first round, and Curry has not looked like his MVP self in the Houston series, but it will still be tough to bet against Golden State.

Eastern Conference Champion: Milwaukee Bucks

Midseason Prediction: Toronto Raptors

The Raptors didn’t have a bad second half of the season at all, they continued to be a top team in the Eastern Conference, and made one of the bigger splashes of the trade deadline by trading for veteran Center Marc Gasol. Gasol’s fit with the team still feels awkward. Toronto, a team who likes to run in transition more than almost any other team in the NBA doesn’t seem like the best fit for Gasol, who at 34 has definitely seen better days in his career. The team just seems destined to crumble sometime in the playoffs as they have been known to in years past. The Bucks on the other hand added Forward Nikola Mirotic at the trade deadline who fits their system very well. Mirotic adds height and shooting to a Bucks team that wants to put as much shooting as possible around star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Mirotic hasn’t been exceptional for the Bucks since the trade but he fills a void that the team had before the deadline. When the playoffs begin Malcolm Brogdon should be returning from a foot injury that saw his miss the last month of the season. Brogdon, while not the flashiest player, has had a historic shooting season, joining the elusive 50-40-90 club and is a key to Milwaukee’s success. While I’m not 100% confident in the Bucks, it will be interesting to see if Antetokounmpo can carry the team to the Finals. The Bucks ran through the Detroit Pistons in the first round, a series so lopsided it saw little media coverage. Now they face a big challenge in a very talented Boston Celtics team. Despite dropping game one of the Boston series at home, the Bucks rallied to take the next two games. I still like their chances to come out of the east.

Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks

Midseason Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks

The debate between Antetokounmpo and James Harden of the Houston Rockets for the MVP award is one that’s being had by NBA fans and analysts everyday. Harden has had an amazing offensive season average a ridiculous 36.4 points per game, but I still think the award should go to Antetokounmpo. He plays on a team with a better record, anchors his team’s defense, and gets his way more often than not when attacking the rim. While both players are the lone star carrying teams that would be far out of the playoffs without them, Antetokounmpo should win the award due to his efficiency as a scorer and his presence on the defensive end, an area where Harden has been criticized his whole career.

Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic- Dallas Mavericks

Midseason Prediction: Luka Doncic- Dallas Mavericks

Midseason the Rookie of the Year award race was cut and dry, Doncic was leaps and bounds above all other first year players in the first half of the season. That was until Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks decided to explode in the second half of the season. Young got off to a slow start but since the All Star Break he has been on a tear. The rookie point guard is averaging 25.0 points per game and 9.2 assists per game since the all star break, before the break he averaged 16.9 points and 7.6 assists on much worse efficiency. Young’s recent hot streak and clutch moments have had players like Donovan Mitchell and Blake Griffin coming out in support of him for the award, but the recent hot streak shouldn’t be enough. Doncic’s efficiency has gone down in the second half of the season, but his year long consistency and more well rounded game should still earn him the honors of Rookie of the Year.

Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams- Los Angeles Clippers

Midseason Prediction: Derrick Rose- Minnesota Timberwolves

It was a magical season for Rose, who added new elements to his game and showed flashes of the player he was before injuries. If the NBA had a comeback player of the year award Rose would win it without question. As good as it was for Rose, he missed the tail end of the season with an elbow injury and the Timberwolves are far out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Clippers have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season and Williams is a big key to their success. After trading their best player Tobias Harris to Philadelphia at the trade deadline many thought the Clippers were taking a step back and trying to secure a lottery pick in this years draft, but since the trade the Clippers have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams and have already clinched a playoff spot. Williams at 20.2 points per game leads the team in scoring and assists with 5.3 per game, all while coming off the bench. This season Williams passed Dell Curry for all time bench points, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest 6th men of all time. Williams has already one the award twice in 2015 and 2018, and him being honored for a third time seems very likely.

Defensive Player of the Year: Myles Turner- Indiana Pacers

Midseason Prediction: Paul George- Oklahoma City Thunder

A late season collapse saw the Thunder slip all the way down to the bottom of the Western Conference setting up a possible first round matchup, and probable first round exit, with the Golden State Warriors. Part of this was due to time that George missed due to injury. The Pacers seemed doomed and likely to collapse after a season ending injury to All Star guard Victor Oladipo just before the all star break, but have held their own with a roster with no true star. The Pacers are currently 5th in the Eastern Conference, right about where they were when Oladipo went down. Turner anchoring their defense has been a huge key to this success. His 2.7 blocks per game lead the NBA, and the Pacers defense suffers when he’s not on the court. Turner is no sure thing to win the award. Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, two of the games best centers, could just as easily take the honors. Turner should be honored for being a big part of the Pacers staying together and winning games when so many people thought they were doomed.

Most Improved Player: Pascal Siakam- Toronto Raptors

Midseason Prediction: Julius Randle- New Orleans Pelicans

Randle has taken a big step this season and his growth this year makes him one of the NBA’s most exciting young talents, but the Pelicans season has been highlighted by the messiness of Anthony Davis’ trade request and his uncertain future with the team. Every other player on the team not named Davis seems to be overshadowed.

Pascal Siakam’s leap forward has seen him go from an important role player to the second leading scorer on a team looking to make a deep run in the Eastern Conference. Siakam’s stats don’t tell the whole story of his contributions to his team, he is a guy who plays with high energy and toughness and does a little bit of everything on the court. He’s deadly in transition and already an elite defender who can guard pretty much every position. He’s makes defenses play tight on him with an ability to score from anywhere on the floor, but doesn’t always need the ball in his hands. D’angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets is also a pick for many to win the award. Russell is making every single Lakers fan scratch their head after the team gave up on the former number 2 overall draft pick after just two seasons. Russell is the leader of a Brooklyn team that surprised many and is currently in a playoff spot and earned his first All Star game selection this year, but Siakam’s ability to do anything on the floor should earn him the award.

Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer- Milwaukee Bucks

Midseason Prediction: Mike Budenholzer- Milwaukee Bucks

There isn’t much to say that I didn’t already say about Budenholzer midseason, in his first year in Milwaukee he has lead a team that was at the bottom of the playoffs a season ago to a championship contender in just one year. This isn’t the first time Budenholzer has had a great regular season as a coach. In 2015 he coached the Atlanta Hawks to a franchise best 60 wins and the best record in the Eastern Conference, but they were swept by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if an amazing regular season will lead to a postseason collapse for Budenholzer again or if he can take his team all the way to the Finals.

All NBA Teams

1st Team:

G: Stephen Curry- Golden State Warriors

G: James Harden- Houston Rockets

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo- Milwaukee Bucks

F: Kevin Durant- Golden State Warriors

C: Joel Embiid- Philadelphia 76ers

 

2nd Team:

G: Russell Westbrook- Oklahoma City Thunder

G: Damian Lillard- Portland Trail Blazers

F: Paul George- Oklahoma City Thunder

F: Kawhi Leonard- Toronto Raptors

C: Nikola Jokic- Denver Nuggets

 

3rd Team:

G: Kyrie Irving- Boston Celtics

G: Bradley Beal- Washington Wizards

F: Lebron James- Los Angeles Lakers

F: Blake Griffin- Detroit Pistons

C: Karl-Anthony Towns- Minnesota Timberwolves

 

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