2012-13 NBA Season Predictions That Proved Dead Wrong
Predictions are as ingrained in sports as wins and losses, especially when it comes to the NBA. Everyone has an opinion on who will win MVP, who will roll to a championship or which team will come out of nowhere and defy popular opinion.
Since all those people aren't able to see into the future, a lot of predictions (especially ones of the bolder variety) fall far short of coming true. Here's a list of some of the more egregious prognostications that were commonly spoken, written and argued before the 2012-13 NBA season began.
In a basketball season as unpredictable as this one, it's safe to say nobody was right about everything. Even the smartest analysts were off on a few salient statements.
5. Deron Williams Would Return to All-Star Form
There have been eight All-Star Games since Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams has been in the league. He's participated in three of them (2010, 2011 and 2012).
Heading into this season on the first year of a five-year, $98.7 million contract, Williams was said to be a near lock for his fourth. He was healthy for the first time since the Utah Jazz sent him packing across the country. He was unburdened by a poor supporting cast and what Williams thought to be a home-court disadvantage.
He was supposed to place himself back in the conversation of "best point guard" this year. After all, he's only 28 years old. This was going to be the beginning of his prime.
Williams has unquestionably taken a step back, however, not only failing to make the All-Star Game, but causing some to believe he might not even be the most important player in Brooklyn. That title now arguably belongs to Brook Lopez.
His usage percentage has dropped seven points, his points per game is down to the lowest figure its been since his second year in the league, and his assist percentage is behind Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul.
All those point guards (when healthy), along with Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose, are more complete than Williams right now. By this time next year, it wouldn't be all that difficult to imagine him falling out of the top 10 altogether.
4. Rajon Rondo Would Contend for MVP
Count me in on the list of NBA writers who thought this year would be different for Rajon Rondo—that this season he'd finally ride one aggressive postseason of brilliance into the next.
Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25, with 38 games of dazzling playmaking under his belt. He's still one of the league's best players, but no evolution took place in 2012-13.
Rondo averaged one fewer free-throw attempt per game this year than last, which is a primary indication that he wasn't attacking the basket in ways his team desperately needed. His per-game numbers and PER weren't anything extraordinary, and Celtics losses where he seemed to wander for 35 minutes began to add up.
Adding to the disappointment, Rondo's team has played more complete basketball since he went down for the year, going 11-4 without him in the lineup. The season began with Rondo as an MVP candidate, and it'll end with serious questions surrounding his future in Boston.
3. The Spurs Were Washed Up
Instead, they've zoomed through the 2012-13 season with more ease than any other team, holding the highest winning percentage, fifth-best offense, third-best defense and second-best overall point differential in the entire league.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each made the All-Star Game, and both have played elite basketball at their positions for much of the season. Even without Parker for the next four weeks, the Spurs have once again defeated Father Time in their quest for the Duncan era's fifth championship.
Eight months ago, many thought San Antonio's days of title contention were over. When will we learn never to doubt this team until its primary pieces are no longer playing?
2. The Oklahoma City Thunder Would Struggle Without James Harden
The Oklahoma City Thunder's decision to trade James Harden before the season began was polarizing.
In terms of their short-term likelihood of getting back to the NBA Finals and defeating the defending champion Miami Heat? Just about every basketball fan agreed they'd take a step back this season.
That hasn't happened.
The Thunder boast the league's second-best offense, highest point differential and are a hair behind the Boston Celtics for the sixth-stingiest defense. In other words, they're more than a title contender; they're the near unanimous favorite to emerge from the Western Conference.
Kevin Martin has stepped in admirably for Harden too, shooting 45 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from behind the three-point line on a plentiful five attempts per game.
Because they're an elite team that's fortunate enough to be playing under the "championship or bust" ideology, this prediction can't be graded fairly until the season is over. That being said, the Thunder have exceeded just about everybody's expectations so far.
1. The Los Angeles Lakers Were Legitimate Title Contenders
Heading into this season, any of the Los Angeles Lakers' detractors might have told you their age and lack of depth could be an insurmountable road block in their drive to obtain a 17th championship banner. But even the most aggressive attacker could not have accurately foretold the actual mess that's unfolded.
The Lakers have had three head coaches this season, and that's just an iceberg's tip in explaining how disastrous it's been. With just 22 games left in their season, the Lakers are 30-30, with a little less than a 50 percent chance at making the playoffs, according to John Hollinger's playoff odds.
Despite their advanced age, they're the fourth-fastest team in basketball—a strange combination of system and personnel that's never quite coalesced the way it was predicted to.
If they somehow manage to make the postseason, the Lakers will be forced to welcome Pau Gasol back into the fold, splattering yet another puzzle piece onto the most grandiose circus act in basketball.
No team's expectations shifted downward from opening day to the All-Star break more than the Lakers' did.