Monday , Apr , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings: Part One

What’s good, basketball fans?

While no season ever turns out exactly as the experts called it, this year has seen more surprises than most, with a number of squads sporting win-loss records no analyst would have forecasted back in October. In particular, my own preseason predictions now diverge conspicuously from today’s table, and in an attempt to figure out exactly how things ended up as they did, we’ll be looking at my power rankings from late August last year alongside each team’s current league standing in terms of their win-loss record.

Please don’t think me an honest man for digging up errors that would otherwise have remained hidden; I’ll be doing my best to excuse myself and share the blame around like your favourite crooked politician throughout the article. By the end of it, we’ll hopefully have established who should put their hands up for making me look an idiot, and where I should shoulder the responsibility myself.

Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings: Part One

Please don’t think me an honest man for digging up errors that would otherwise have remained hidden; I’ll be doing my best to excuse myself and share the blame around like your favourite crooked politician throughout the article. By the end of it, we’ll hopefully have established who should put their hands up for making me look an idiot, and where I should shoulder the responsibility myself.
 
In the interests of simplicity, we’ll work through my manifold blunders alphabetically by team name. I’ll be dealing with the first half of the league today, and the other fifteen teams on Tuesday. Let’s get right into it.
 
 
Atlanta Hawks
Predicted Position: 28
Current Position: 27
Margin of Error:
 
What Happened:It would have taken a miracle for the fledgling Hawks to finish with a win percentage much more impressive than the one they currently boast, and I doubt anyone outside of Georgia would have expected them to end the year any higher than twenty-fifth. In short, they stunk only marginally less than most thought they would.
 
Boston Celtics
Predicted Position: 21
Current Position: 23
Margin of Error: 2  
 
What Happened: P-Squared put up monster numbers for Gang Green night after night, but without anyone more dangerous offensively than Wally Szczerbiak to help lead the charge, it’s not much of a shock to anyone that Boston will fail to qualify for the postseason this year.
 
Charlotte Bobcats
Predicted Position: 29
Current Position: 29
Margin of Error:
 
What Happened: Frankly, not much, but what were you expecting from a franchise that’s been in the league for less time than Darko Milicic?
 
Chicago Bulls
Predicted Position: 11 
Current Position: 19
Margin of Error: 8  
 
What Happened: I put my faith in the kids and they made me look a fool for it. Although the Bulls had their moments throughout the year, inexperience led to inconsistency as it has for so many squads in the past.
 
Cleveland Cavaliers
Predicted Position: 13
Current Position: 7
Margin of Error: 6  
 
What Happened: The Cavaliers managed to squeeze another productive season out of their ailing centre, and LeBron James more than managed to keep things together in Larry Hughes’ absence.
 
Dallas Mavericks
Predicted Position: 7
Current Position: 3
Margin of Error: 4  
 
What Happened: Avery Johnson convinced the notoriously defence-shy Mavericks to play at both ends of the floor, resulting in a record that reflected their talent for the first time in years. Whether their success will continue in the postseason remains to be seen, however.
 
Denver Nuggets
Predicted Position: 9
Current Position: 10
Margin of Error: 1  
 
What Happened: Carmelo Anthony dragged the Nuggets to a respectable win-loss record despite injuries to their top three big men that have kept them out for a combined total of well over a hundred games this season. Had they stayed healthy, Denver may well have found themselves in the league’s top tier of teams.
 
Detroit Pistons
Predicted Position: 3
Current Position: 1
Margin of Error: 2  
 
What Happened: My man Flip Saunders built on Larry Brown’s hard work and made a great squad even stronger, leading them to one of the best starts in league history. They may have lost a cheap game here and there, but they’re still looking down on the rest of the league with an eighty-plus win percentage.
 
Golden State Warriors
Predicted Position: 22
Current Position: 22
Margin of Error: 0  
 
What Happened: As predicted, the Warriors struggled with only B-Dizzle and J-Rich capable of putting points on the board, although Troy Murphy’s averages of fourteen and ten contributed to the cause.
 
Houston Rockets
Predicted Position: 4
Current Position: 20
Margin of Error: 16  
 
What Happened: Thinking about the Rockets’ season makes both my back and my brain hurt, so I’m going to move quickly on and pretend it didn’t happen. I’d encourage the city of Houston to do likewise.
 
Indiana Pacers
Predicted Position: 4
Current Position: 16
Margin of Error: 12  
 
What Happened: Ron Artest happened.
 
Los Angeles Clippers
Predicted Position: 20
Current Position: 8
Margin of Error: 12  
 
What Happened: I’m really not sure. My reasoning for this ranking was sound enough, and in all the hate mail I received following my original predictions, not one message questioned my placing the Clippers way down at twenty. All I can say is that I played the cynic card and ended up regretting it when their best-case scenario became reality.
 
Los Angeles Lakers
Predicted Position: 18
Current Position: 11
Margin of Error: 7  
 
What Happened: Although there was considerable backlash for my ranking of the Lakers, the emails were split fairly evenly between those thinking I’d overrated them and L.A. fans. Ultimately, optimism was rewarded, with the guys in gold now all but guaranteed a seventh seed in the second season.
 
Memphis Grizzlies
Predicted Position: 19
Current Position: 9
Margin of Error: 10  
 
What Happened: I was a little drunk on Haterade when it came to placing the Grizzlies, and they pulled together as a unit to make me look silly yet again. What’s more, there’s a chance they’ll be meeting Denver, a team currently with a worse record than their own, in the playoffs, which could mean that a team I called “just alright” will make it to the second round.
 
Miami Heat
Predicted Position: 2
Current Position: 5
Margin of Error: 3  
 
What Happened: Shaq’s ankle rolled over, and so did the rest of the team for a time. Between the big man’s injury and the personnel drama early in the season, things haven’t gone quite according to plan for the Heat. That said, they’re a team built for playoff basketball, and as such may not have put their full effort into the regular season.
 
 

Make sure to check back on Tuesday for the second half of this piece. Until then, take it easy.

CYE