With less than a month ahead of the start of a new NBA season, it is time for previews, analysis and, of course, predictions. It is tempting at this point to try to infer what will become of the season for each team based on what has been seen last year and market movements, which is an interesting study but, in turn, makes views In perspective, several of the predictions are naive or take for granted ideas that do not materialize. We will dedicate ourselves to that below, to review what was expected of each team and what ended up happening, focusing especially on both positive and negative surprises.
As usual, we will take as a reference the forecasts that Elio Martínez, director of Trends Wide, made in the previous ones of last season, not with the intention of focusing on their predictions but as a representative sample of the sensations with which each team arrived at the beginning of the course. At the end of the day, although they are personal bets, many of them reflect the general feeling that each team left, so they serve as a good starting point.
Some unexpected endings
Milwaukee and Phoenix weren’t exactly the first two franchises that came to mind when it came to fighting for the ring. The Bucks did start as candidates, but after the stumble against the Heat in the bubble, there were more and more doubts about whether they would be able to transfer their performance from the regular season to the playoffs. “First of your lecture is my forecast. Enough to make it to the Finals once and for all? That’s another movie ”was his preview, which ended up being imprecise in both respects. Those of Bundeholzer changed their approach in recent years, and after a regular season calmer in which they let the first place escape, they signed an excellent playoffs that led them to the title for the second time in their history.
Much more surprising was the case of the Suns, who, on the other hand, did come from a large bubble that, added to the incorporations, especially that of Chris Paul, invited optimism. However, there was also a notable reluctance to take Orlando’s 8-0 as a realistic scale of what this team could be, who had been fighting for the playoffs but far from reaching them with such authority. Not even the most dreamers were betting on a second place in the regular season and the Finals, which made them one of the great surprises of the course.
So were the Hawks, who were in a similar situation to those in Arizona. There were many who predicted that this young project had to make the leap and fight to occupy one of the eight postseason spots, but very few (if there were any) saw them as a finalist from the East. His regular season started with expected ups and downs, but McMillan’s arrival on the bench was a huge boost that took the team much further than it seemed reasonable to assume.
Year of injuries
One of the aspects that most throws the different forecasts on the ground is related to injuries, and there were not exactly few last season. One of the teams most affected by them was the Los Angeles Lakers, who started the course as clear candidates to repeat the ring but who saw their season become more and more complicated as Anthony Davis and LeBron James lost games because of physical problems. When they both returned, it was too late to avoid the play-in, and although they beat the Warriors in this they could not beat the Suns who reached the playoffs much more rolled and in great shape.
In the other conference, it was the Nets who saw their expectations frustrated the most for extra-sporting reasons, although the truth is that they were a team from which few expected a great regular season. The previous one predicted that they would take time to cruise but that they would be fearsome once this happened, but the truth is that Durant returned from his injury much better than expected and took them flying from very early. Driven by the arrival of Harden, they were a stronger team than previously believed. regular season Despite the continuous absences, but these did not stop in the playoffs and they were never able to unfold their full potential, which led them to advance less than expected.
And since we’re talking about Harden, you have to set your sights on Houston. In his case it was not the injuries that truncated expectations, but the departure of the escort, but the truth is that not even taking this as possible (the rumors were already strong at that time) such a disaster was expected. “If Harden stays, West Quarters; if he leaves, eighth ”was the forecast. But no. The ground was much, much lower.
Surprises without a prize
Positive surprises can also be considered the positions of the 76ers and Jazz, leaders of each conference after the regular season against expectations. Philadelphia, after a disappointing year that ended with a sweep in the first round, managed to redirect the project and dream of great goals again, while those from Salt Lake City made an important leap in quality to finish at the top of the league. NBA after a dream regular phase. Utah was the most surprising case, although in general both teams finished the league giving the feeling that their time had finally come to sneak into the league’s elite.
Later in the playoffs, however, that jump was a little half-baked. Neither of them even made it to the Conference Finals, and they fell relatively disappointingly to the Hawks and the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers respectively. Surprise or disappointment then? Both? None? It is the complicated thing about the separation between the regular league and the playoffs, that the performance in both can be very different and it is difficult to know how much to weight each one.
An unpredictable east
Just as in the West to a greater or lesser extent many of the forecasts were fulfilled (beyond the specific cases mentioned), the East was a box of surprises for better and for worse. Heat and Celtics, without going any further, signed quite poor seasons despite arriving as current conference finalists, and, far from waking up in the playoffs, they were crushed in the first round by the Bucks and Nets respectively. The Raptors were also below expectations, who had the difficulty of spending the whole year away from home and were sinking over the months until they finished very far even from the play-in.
Precisely in that play-in were the Hornets and the Wizards, the latter even taking the last place at stake for the playoffs. Despite the fact that they were teams from which a certain competitiveness was expected, both went through sections of the calendar in which they significantly exceeded those expectations, and although it is true that they were prey to their irregularity (Charlotte went from more to less and Washington from less to more ), left a much better taste in the mouth than expected.
However, much greater was the feat of the Knicks, who went on to occupy the well of the Eastern Conference in almost all bets to be one of the most solvent teams in the same and finish in a fourth place that returned them to the playoffs by Everything tall. The way Thibodeau brought the team to life after years of disaster even earned him the Coach of the Year award over men like Quin Snyder or Monty Williams, acknowledging the miracle he had wrought with a squad that seemed destined to fight for the number. 1 in the draft more than being in the playoffs.
(Cover photo: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)