Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Welcome to judgment day.
Well, technically judgment day was six months ago when we made our NBA fantasy
projections. So today is really the judgment of our judgment day.
Did any of that make sense?
If not, I'll walk you through it. The premise should be pretty familiar.
Remember after football season when we compared our preseason projections to
the numbers everyone actually recorded? Well we're doing that again, only this
time with the recently concluded NBA regular season.
As you'll see, many of our projections were spot on. Unfortunately, we were
wrong just as often. So let's celebrate the good, the bad, the egregiously bad
and everything in between.
As the wise philosopher Cosmo Kramer once wrote, giddy up!
WHAT WE GOT RIGHT
Carmelo Anthony, F, New York Knicks TSN Preseason Projection: 27.3 ppg, 6.6
rpg, 2.8 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 27.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.1 apg
For all the criticism he gets, Anthony is actually a pretty simple guy. He
shoots a silly amount, rarely passes and ... well that pretty much covers it.
Props to Melo for purposely tanking this month (18.6 ppg on 41.6 percent
shooting) just so he could get closer to our projections. You have to admire
the man's commitment.
Trey Burke, G, Utah Jazz TSN Preseason Projection: 12.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.6 apg
Final 2013-14 stats: 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.7 apg
Of all the players we do projections for, rookies are easily the hardest to
predict. But somehow we nailed this one. Burke had a pretty typical rookie
campaign, playing really well some nights (for example, his breathtaking 32-
point performance last Wednesday against Minnesota) and very poorly on others
(like his four-point effort against Dallas a week earlier). But in the end, he
made us look smart and that's all that matters.
Vince Carter, G/F, Dallas Mavericks TSN Preseason Projection: 12.2 ppg, 4.2
rpg, 2.2 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 11.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg
The days of Vinsanity wowing crowds with his electrifying dunks may be over
but at age 37, the man is still plenty productive. He found his niche coming
off the bench this season and should get some votes for Sixth Man of the Year.
And would you look at that, he came pretty close to our projections too. Well-
Somehow the Jazz, a team everyone has been ignoring for the last six months
(and for good reason), had two players make our "What we got right" list. That
may be surprising to a lot of you but we weren't surprised at all by Favors'
steady production this season. Hence his inclusion in this extremely well-
written fantasy column.
Luol Deng, F, Cleveland Cavaliers TSN Preseason Projection: 15.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg,
2.8 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 16.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apg
Were we surprised to see Deng get traded to Cleveland? Probably. Were we
surprised when he finished the season averaging 16 ppg? Not in the slightest.
That's his lifetime average, after all (16.0 ppg in 677 career games).
Jeff Green, F, Boston Celtics TSN Preseason Projection: 16.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.2
apg Final 2013-14 stats: 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.7 apg
You probably remember my article from a few weeks ago when I called Green the
most unpredictable player in the NBA. So unpredictable, in fact, that his
season totals ended up being nearly identical to the stats we projected back
in October. Mystery solved, I guess.
Joe Johnson, G/F, Brooklyn Nets TSN Preseason Projection: 16.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg,
2.5 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 15.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.7 apg
Johnson had an all-new cast in Brooklyn this season. So naturally, his stats
stayed the same (16.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.5 apg in 2012-13). Hey, we just call 'em
like we see 'em.
Kemba Walker, G, Charlotte Bobcats TSN Preseason Projection: 17.5 ppg, 3.5
rpg, 6.0 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.1 apg
Sometimes creativity can be overrated. Instead of predicting a huge year for
Kemba, we figured he'd be right around where he was last season (17.7 ppg, 3.5
rpg, 5.7 apg). And guess what? We were exactly right. Which seems to be the
theme with this column so far. Too bad there's still 700 words to go.
Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder TSN Preseason Projection: 22.3
ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.9 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 21.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 6.9 apg
Westbrook had never missed a game until his knee surgery so certainly a
drop-off was to be expected. And because sometimes basketball makes more sense
than real life, that's exactly how it played out. Your welcome, fantasy
WHAT WE GOT WRONG (AND IN SOME CASES VERY WRONG)
Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans TSN Preseason Projection: 15.3 ppg, 9.3
rpg, 2.0 bpg Final 2013-14 stats: 20.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.8 bpg
Davis looked like a rookie last season (13.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) which was totally
appropriate considering that it was indeed his rookie season. This year, Davis
decided to take things up a notch and to be honest, we weren't quite prepared
for it. I'm not sure the NBA was either. We won't make the same mistake next
There's usually a bit of a learning curve when you go to a new team. But the
last time Garnett transitioned to a new team, he won a championship with the
Celtics while giving the most brilliantly incoherent post-game interview of
all-time ("ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLE!!!"). So excuse us for having high hopes
for KG in 2014. Next season we'll have to set the bar a bit lower.
Taj Gibson, F/C, Chicago Bulls TSN Preseason Projection: 7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.3
bpg Final 2013-14 stats: 13.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg
The Gibson projection wasn't our finest moment. But come on, how were we
supposed to know Gibson, the poster boy for average in his first four seasons,
would become a Sixth Man of the Year candidate? Or that the Bulls would be a
top-four seed in the East without Derrick Rose? You can't make this stuff up.
Danny Granger, F, Los Angeles Clippers TSN Preseason Projection: 13.4 ppg, 4.6
rpg, 1.3 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 8.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.0 apg
Maybe it was wishful thinking to assume Granger would return to form after
undergoing knee surgery in 2012-13. Our bad. It's sad to say, but Granger's
days of being a helpful fantasy contributor are probably over.
Blake Griffin, F, Los Angeles Clippers TSN Preseason Projection: 18.4 ppg, 8.7
rpg, 3.8 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 24.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.9 apg
After being stuck in neutral the last two seasons, something clicked for
Griffin in 2014. And he was fairly consistent too, averaging 24.2 ppg in the
first half of the season and 24.0 after the All-Star break. If Ron Burgundy
was a fantasy writer, he'd say Blake's kind of a big deal.
Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors TSN Preseason Projection: 12.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg,
6.5 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 17.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.4 apg
When we made our projections we weren't even sure Lowry would be starting for
the Raptors this season. And when the Raptors traded for Greivis Vasquez
midway through the season, we thought for sure Vasquez would get most of the
playing time at point guard. But hey, that's why we write this column. We'll
never doubt you again Kyle Lowry, I promise.
O.J. Mayo, G, Milwaukee Bucks TSN Preseason Projection: 18.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.1
apg Final 2013-14 stats: 11.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.2 apg
Remember that thing I said about basketball making sense sometimes? I take it
all back. Mayo was supposed to be Milwaukee's franchise player. Instead, he
spent the second half of the season either on the bench or in the trainer's
room. Mayo, who is set to be a free agent, probably cost himself millions of
dollars by under-performing this year.
Lance Stephenson, G, Indiana Pacers TSN Preseason Projection: 8.5 ppg, 3.8
rpg, 3.0 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.6 apg
Stephenson went from averaging 8.8 ppg last season to leading the league in
triple-doubles in 2014. Go figure. Now the question is, which Stephenson will
show up next year: the one we saw in the first half (14.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 5.1
apg on 50.2 percent shooting) or the one who struggled after the All-Star
break (13.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.7 apg on 47.1 percent shooting)? Good thing we
don't have to answer that for another six months.
Isaiah Thomas, G, Sacramento Kings TSN Preseason Projection: 14.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.6 apg Final 2013-14 stats: 20.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 6.3 apg
No, not that Isaiah Thomas. But who knows, maybe he'll be just as good some day. Somehow, the Kings had three players average 20 ppg this season (Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay) and still managed to finish with the third-worst record in the Western Conference. Now that takes talent.
Only six months until we get to do it all over again. Until then, this is a judgment-free zone.