As I anxiously count down the hours until tomorrow night, when I can stop betting on college basketball and once again throw money at NBA first half over/unders, I have thought long and hard about the surprises that may occur in the second half of the NBA season. While some may shock you, here are a couple of bold predictions heading into the final four months of the season.
4. Donovan Mitchell will win the NBA Rookie of the Year… easily.
I know what you’re thinking. What about Ben Simmons? My response... 2nd place. Believe it or not, we have seen his story before, and it wasn’t long ago. Anyone know the last rookie to win the NBA dunk contest? That would be Blake Griffin in 2011. At the halfway point in that season, first overall pick John Wall was expected to win the ROY, but after Griffin exploded on the scene at the All-Star game, he never looked back. My prediction? The same will happen to Donovan Mitchell. Look for Mitchell to end the season averaging over 20 ppg., and beat Ben Simmons in ROY voting by a relatively significant margin.
3. The New York Knicks will end the season with a bottom three record in the NBA.
Rewind to two months ago. The Knicks were the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and Kristaps Porzingis was being praised as one of the top 10 players in the league. Today, the Knicks flat out suck. Losing their final eight games in the first half of the season, the Knicks are moving up the lottery board rapidly. With teams like Chicago, LA (Lakers), and Dallas too talented to compete with the tanking Knicks, and Brooklyn having nothing to tank for because of their first pick heading to the Land, I believe the Knicks end up falling far enough to possibly snatch up a Marvin Bagley to put next to Kristaps next season…
2. The San Antonio Spurs will not win a Playoff Series.
Currently tied for the third seed in the Western Conference, the Spurs have flown under the radar practically all season. While San Antonio has maintained a very solid record without their best player Kawhi Leonard, there is no real time table for a Leonard return. The Spurs are just 13-18 on the road this season, and while they still maintain a two game lead over the five seed OKC Thunder, I believe the Spurs will end the season behind both OKC and Minnesota and wind up opening the playoffs on the road against one of those teams. Due to their away-from-home woes, I think the Spurs will get bounced early and be back at home before the Western Conference Semifinals.
1. Neither will the Celtics…
Again, I know what you’re thinking. The Celtics are the two seed; you really think they would lose to Phili? No, but they’ll take an “L” from Milwaukee. While Boston had a good first half of the season, the Cavs are coming. I believe the new look Cavs will open the second half of the season hot, and pass the Celtics before the end of the regular season. I also believe the Bucks are for real. Now that Jabari Parker is healthy, the Bucks have as good a starting lineup as any team in the Eastern Conference. While Parker may need time to refine his game, I think the Bucks will enter the playoff poised for a run and take down Boston in the first round.