Thursday , Apr , 06 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings: Part Two

What’s good, basketball fans?

As promised, I’m back with the second half of my Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings article. Naturally, the standings have shifted a little since Sunday, but so as not to have to recalculate the ranking-reality discrepancy for fifteen teams again, we’ll treat it as if they haven’t.

Whatever the case, the changes (none of which saw any team move more than two places) wouldn’t have been sufficiently significant to salvage the disaster that was my table from the summer. If those predictions had been a player, I would have traded them for Mark Madsen and considered myself the winner in the deal.

I can only take solace in that every other set of preseason rankings I’ve found has been similarly horrible, adding weight to my idea that this year was a particularly tricky one to call. The other alternative is that sportswriters are, on the whole, a bunch of ill-informed jackasses. Let’s move on before you have time to consider that fully.

Revisiting the NBA Power Rankings: Part Two

We finished with Miami last time (the link to the article is on the right of your screen if you haven’t caught it yet), meaning that Milwaukee’s next up for consideration.
Milwaukee Bucks
Predicted Position: 24
Current Position: 14
Margin of Error: 10 
What Happened: I may have missed the mark by a full ten positions with the Bucks, but I don’t consider it a Knicks-level screw-up (more on which later) since I was writing prior to the acquisition of All-Star Jamaal Magloire. What’s more, TJ Ford and Maurice Williams both played above and beyond even Milwaukee’s expectations, with Michael Redd improving upon his stellar ’04-’05 season.
Minnesota Timberwolves
Predicted Position: 12
Current Position: 21
Margin of Error: 9 
What Happened: The three letters most commonly used to describe Minnesota’s season are “WTF”, but I’d go even simpler than that: “ugh”. Somehow, a team with possibly the world’s most versatile player and an explosive (if troubled) second scorer ended the season among the cellar-dwellers. I may have overlooked the fact that even K.G. is only human by giving them the twelfth spot, but even a seasoned pessimist wouldn’t have seen them falling nearly ten spots lower.
New Jersey Nets
Predicted Position: 10
Current Position: 6
Margin of Error: 4 
What Happened: Finally, a prediction where my optimism was rewarded. Unfortunately, this is one of those where I wasn’t quite optimistic enough, erring on the side of caution rather than going goofy as I did with ’Sota et al.
“With one of the best fastbreak trios since Run-TMC, New Jersey will keep moving on up if they just keep on moving.”
At least I was right about one thing.
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets
Predicted Position: 30
Current Position: 15
Margin of Error: 15 
What Happened: I effed up. Massively. In my defence, so did everyone else. No more questions please.
New York Knicks
Predicted Position: 15
Current Position: 30   
Margin of Error: 15 
What Happened: I effed up. Again. Interestingly, however, if you switch New York and New Orleans in my rankings, I look like a genius. Below is an excerpt from my preseason analysis of the Knicks.
“…New York has a team that looks downright average, which will be a marked improvement on the disaster that was last season.”
It’s almost as if I enjoy being wrong.
Orlando Magic
Predicted Position: 23
Current Position: 25
Margin of Error: 2 
What Happened: If Stevie Franchise hadn’t been Knicked the f*ck out, he and the Magic would likely have finished a few places higher. As it is, he’s gone, Grant’s out, Darko’s in, and the word “rebuilding” has reared its ugly head once more.
Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers
Predicted Position: 17
Current Position: 18
Margin of Error: 1 
What Happened: “A.I. and A.I. will keep the wheels turning, but it’s up to Webber and Dalembert to inject some extra fuel in the engine. If the former finds his feet in Philly and the latter can learn to channel his outrageous athleticism, the Sixers could see themselves in the second season once again.”
Thankfully, some of what I wrote still holds up under scrutiny. With the Sixers engaged in battle with the Bulls for the eighth spot, Philly fans can still hold out hope that A.I. and co. will live to fight the first round, if nothing more.
Phoenix Suns
Predicted Position: 6
Current Position: 4
Margin of Error: 2 
What Happened: If you’d told me that STAT would be out for the majority of the year, I’d likely have ranked them even lower. Somehow, Nasty Nash, Diaw-Dropper and the rest of the gang managed to patch together a superb season even without their monster in the middle, leaving us to wonder what they could have done if Stoudemire had come along for the ride.
Portland Trailblazers
Predicted Position: 27
Current Position: 28
Margin of Error: 1 
What Happened: The Blazers did as the Blazers do. I defy anyone to cast their eye over Portland’s roster without either laughing or crying. Having just broken an eleven-game losing streak, they should do their best to lie low for the rest of the season and breathe a sigh of relief that they managed to put together a twenty-plus-win season with their limited personnel.
Sacramento Kings
Predicted Position: 8
Current Position: 13
Margin of Error: 5 
What Happened: Had they not had to endure the constant rumours that surrounded the franchise prior to the trade and the incessant questioning that came to town with Ron Artest once it went down, the Kings would undoubtedly have secured a spot closer to the one I predicted for them.
San Antonio Spurs
Predicted Position: 1
Current Position: 2
Margin of Error: 1 
What Happened: Tim and Manu have been sitting or playing hurt for a good chunk of the year, and they’ve still managed to stay within striking distance of Detroit’s record. With a little more luck on the injury front, San Antonio would have been close enough to smell seventy wins.
Seattle Supersonics
Predicted Position: 16
Current Position: 24
Margin of Error: 8 
What Happened: Who saw Bob Hill coming? Not I, apparently.
Toronto Raptors
Predicted Position: 26
Current Position: 26
Margin of Error: 0 
What Happened: There’s a quote from the movie Clerks which comes to mind as I look back joyfully at my correct ranking of the Raptors.
“There’s nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?”
There certainly isn’t, Randal. When it comes to the NBA, there might not be anything easier either.
Utah Jazz
Predicted Position: 25
Current Position: 17
Margin of Error: 8 
What Happened: Jerry Sloan, generally considered the most badass individual in the NBA, once again managed to draw blood from a stone, reminding myself and others that a bet against him is rarely a wise one.
Washington Wizards
Predicted Position: 14
Current Position: 12
Margin of Error: 2 
What Happened: Thinking that Gilbert Arenas might struggle with the extra defensive pressure that would inevitably come with the departure of Larry Hughes, I figured the Wizards would drop a little in the standings. Thinking back, I was an idiot.
Hopefully, by seeing where my predictions went awry and why, you’ll have a better grip on what went down in the league this season. Let me know via email ([email protected]) or the comment box below which teams you think have ended up higher or lower in the standings than you would have expected in the summer. I’ll be back with my next piece tomorrow, so be sure to check back with us for that. Until then, take it easy.