Almost Correct: Looking Back on Preseason Picks

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Back on Nov. 6, 2001, I made predictions about the Midwest Division in the NBA. How’d I do?

San Antonio Spurs

My Prediction: First (62-50)

Finish: First (58-24)

Yes! I got No. 1 right. Tim Duncan didn’t let me down, as he is poised to get the Most Valuable Player award. He averaged 25.5 points per game, 12.7 rebounds and just dominated most everyone who tried to guard him.

Steve Smith led the league in 3-point percentage, at 47.2 percent.

The Spurs will give trouble to the Lakers and Kings for the Western Conference Championship.

Minnesota Timberwolves

My Prediction: Second (56 26)

Finish: Third (50-32)

Missed it by that much.

The T-Wolves struggled and it cost them. They were poised to give the Spurs a run for the division title. Instead, they didn’t even retain home court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs.

Kevin Garnett averaged 21.2 ppg and 12.1 rpg, but couldn’t help the T-Wolves get more wins.

Joe Smith didn’t do much, as he missed only 10 games, but averaged only 10.7 ppg and 6.3 rpg.

Utah Jazz

My Prediction: Third (55-27)

Finish: Fourth (44-38)

For the first time in 15 years, the Jazz were just happy to make the Playoffs. Or were they? Karl Malone still led the team in points and rebounds, but has not presented a championship attitude for a long while.

Bryon Russell was a disappointment, only playing in 66 games. His 3-point shooting declined as well, going from 41.3 percent last year to 34.1 percent this year.

Injuries plagued Utah, keeping Donyell Marshall, Russell and John Crotty out. It also hurt that the Jazz had no defense.

Mr. Dependable, John Stockton, is still the man, but, as seen with Michael Jordan, one man in his 40s can only carry the team so far.

Dallas Mavericks

My Prediction: Fourth (53-29)

Finish: Second (57-25)

I knew when I was making these picks I was putting Dallas too low.

As much as I don’t like Dirk Nowitzki, he did quite a bit of damage, averaging 23.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg and shooting 39.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Steve Nash also blistered the nets, shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point land, and averaging 17.9 ppg. He also dished out 7.7 assists per game.

With all the foreign players, the Mavericks made a lot of noise, missing the division title by two games, but they are excited to do some more damage in the Playoffs.

Houston Rockets

My Prediction: Fifth (41-41)

Finish: Fifth (28-54)

I got the placement right, but I was way off on the record. They didn’t even have a chance to make the Playoffs, unlike what I had predicted them to do.

Injuries did not help the Rockets’ cause. In 57 games, Steve Francis averaged 21.6 ppg, but sat out the last part of the season with a right shoulder strain. Glen Rice was on the injured list, Kevin Willis only played in 52 games.

The Rockets were hurting.

It showed.

Denver Nuggets

My Prediction: Sixth (32-50)

Finish: Sixth (27-55)

For some reason, I’m not surprised I was right on this one. Denver has been sucking it up for several years now. This season was no different. The only mistake I made was giving the Nuggets too many wins.

Tim Hardaway spent time on the injured list, along with Antonio McDyess. Juwan Howard’s 17.9 ppg and 7.9 rpg almost pulled Denver out of sixth place into fifth, but didn’t give Nuggets fans much to cheer about, especially when he only played in 28 games.

Memphis Grizzlies

My Prediction: Seventh (25 57)

Finish: Seventh (23-59)

Vancouver?Memphis?it makes no difference. The thing I was most impressed with about Memphis was it beat the Jazz three of four times.

This was the closest I had to being exactly correct and that makes me happy.

Lance welcomes feedback at: [email protected].