As we approach the end of the NBA season, I thought it would be a fun exercise to revisit Bill Simmons’ over/under predictions. Because why not?
Without further ado.
WHAT BILL SIMMONS GOT RIGHT
Golden State Warriors (60.5)–Simmons took the over for Golden State, which was a no-brainer. Nice work, Billy.
Los Angeles Lakers (29)– Simmons (BS from here forward) took the under on the Lakers. Again, for a team with no-strategy other than propping up a hobbled Kobe, under 29 was the safe bet.
Memphis Grizzlies (50.5)–BS took the under. This seemed like a cuspy pick, but it paid off. Still, Memphis is limping into the playoffs with a rotation heavy on Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson and PJ “The Scientist” Hairston. Which is to say that there is some fantastic coaching in Tennessee.
Utah Jazz (42)–Under. Barely. Gordon Hayward is Money, and the young Jazzmen are looking like a team that is ready to lose to Golden State and/or San Antonio.
Minnesota Timberwolves (26.5)–BS went over. As a side note, the other day my friend Mizzle told me that Leicester winning the Premier League is analogous to the Timberwolves coming out of nowhere to win the NBA title. My response is that I would not be surprised in the least to see Minnesota win a title in the next few years. With the right coach, they could be the next Golden State. KAT is for real. Someone in Minnesota should be on the phone with Thibs right now.
Toronto Raptors (46)–Over. Another no-brainer. Toronto is one of the best teams in the Association. 46 was absurdly low.
Boston Celtics (43.5)–Surprise, surprise. BS went over on the Celtics. He was right, but he probably would have went over if the number was 82.
New York Knicks (30)–An over on the Knicks was pretty ballsy, and it barely payed off. “Thank you, Kristaps.”–BS
Philadelphia 76ers (21.5)–RIP The Process. We barely knew you (by the way, if you haven’t listened to Zach Lowe’s podcast with Sam Hinkie, do so straight away; Lowe is 100% responsible for Hinkie’s resignation). Also, 21.5 was a joke, right?
Chicago Bulls (50)–Under. Good call. Derrick Rose has only finished one season ever (and even then, he didn’t make it through the postseason), the Bulls fired a fantastic coach, their owners are notorious curmudgeons, and their best player (Butler) has beef with their supposed franchise player (Rose).
Milwaukee Bucks (44.5)–BS went under. At the time I thought it was a bad call, but Jason Kidd is a disaster waiting to happen, so why not. At least Milwaukee fans have the Greek Freak to look forward to.
Indiana Pacers (42)–Over! PG13 is still healthy! Monta Ellis have it all!
Detroit Pistons (34.5)–Never doubt Stan Van. The Pistons are ballin’. It sucks that Indiana and Detroit are prime sweep candidates in the first round, but those are the breaks. The Pistons franchise has multiple rings. I except for things to keep trending upwards in the Motor City.
Atlanta Hawks (49.5)–BS went under. Good call. Last year the Hawks were the best team in a mediocre Eastern Conference. There was much more competition this year. Besides, the Hawks are the Atlanta Braves* of the NBA**, always in the playoffs but never good enough to go further than the conference finals.
*Only the Braves have one ring, which is one more than the Hawks.
**I would say the Hawks are the Buffalo Bills of the NBA, but at least the Bills have made it to several Super Bowls.
Miami Heat (45.5)–BS went over. The Heat are a good team. Hassan Whiteside is a beast. If LeBron stayed in Miami, they would be winning more titles, but I suppose you’ve got to try to win one for the Land…
Orlando Magic (33)–Another over. Orlando is a decent young team that should win more than 33 games, but not many more. For whatever that’s worth.
THE TOO EARLY TO TELL DIVISION
It is too early to make a call for two teams. Consider this division to be like one of those presidential primaries that goes way too late into the night for anyone to stay up for. Get some rest and read about the results in the morning.
Cleveland Cavaliers (57.5)–BS went under. The Cavs have currently won 57, and they have one game to go (against Detroit). They have clinched the #1 seed, so they have no reason to play any of their starters, and they are playing a Detroit team fighting for the right to not match up against them again in the first round of the playoffs. I suspect Simmons will get this one right. Only time will tell.
Sacramento Kings (33)–BS went over. The Kings are currently sitting on 33 wins with one game to go (against a Rockets team that is fighting for the right to lose to the Warriors in the first round). I expect BS to lose this one, but when there is a snake in the grass, anything could happen.
WHAT BILL SIMMONS GOT WRONG
Los Angeles Clippers (56.5)–BS went over. One thing you could not have predicted: Quake Griffin’s drunken brawl with his “friend” the equipment guy, which sidelined him for much of the season. One thing you could have predicted: CP3 not delivering as expected. Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards of all time… to not perform in the playoffs and succumb almost annually to an injury that sidelines him when his teammates need him the most.
Phoenix Suns (36.5)–Another over gone wrong. The Morris twin situation should have been a big warning sign, not to mention the Great Arizona Point Guard Debacle of 2015. Further, Tyson Chandler only likes to play for every other team he signs with (it’s like the “even year” thing with the San Francisco Giants, only with basketball contracts). This one wasn’t even close.
San Antonio Spurs (58.5)–The 2015-16 Spurs might be the second best team of all-time. They are currently sitting on 65 wins, and Pop sits his starters on the regular. An under bet here wasn’t a bad call. No one expected the Spurs to gel with Aldridge so quickly. I am going to go out on a very long limb here and call the Spurs my favorites for the 2017 title.
Houston Rockets (54.5)–BS went over. I’ve got three words for why this was a terrible idea: The Kardashian Kurse. Also see: Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, Ty Lawson, the firing of Kevin McHale. In other words, last season was the fluke, not this one.
New Orleans Pelicans (48)–Anthony Davis is awesome, but are we sure he’s not Brandon Roy? It was easy to be excited for The Brow in the preseason, but boy did he let a lot of fantasy basketball owners down. Even at full strength, he is not good enough on his own to lead the Pelicans to the brink of 50 wins, and the seabirds don’t have another quality piece. As for Alvin Gentry, he took a fantastic Steve Nash-led Suns squad that made the Western Conference finals under D’Antoni and led them out of playoff contention. Thibs would have been great here. Jeff Van Gundy would have been great here. Gentry was a bad hire. Simmons should have seen this coming.
Dallas Mavericks (37.5)–BS went under. Dirk is old for a basketball player, but you still have a star player/coach/owner trifecta that has won a championship together. That’s good for at least .500 until someone proves otherwise.
Oklahoma City Thunder (57.5)–BS went over, which is totally understandable. OKC is currently sitting on 55 wins, and they are winning in San Antonio as I type*, so Simmons wasn’t too far off. Still, the Thunder worry me going into the playoffs. KD and Young Russell cannot close out games, and being terrible in the fourth quarter is not a good look in the playoffs. And I am not convinced that Billy Donovan was an upgrade over Scott Brooks. Things don’t look that different to me in OKC. Finally, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not sure why they didn’t go Thibs.
*They are now losing in San Antonio. Fourth quarter.
Denver Nuggets (27.5)–Simmons went under here, and by all accounts he should have been right. The Nuggets look terrible on paper, and weed is legal in Colorado. Somehow, someway, this ragtag band of overachievers have managed to win 33. Right-o, Nuggets. Hold your heads up high.
Portland Trail Blazers (26.5)–BS went under here, and he has a long-standing war with Portland soccer moms, so I am sure his inbox in getting hammered. The Trail Blazers are in the playoffs, and they will finish over .500. This has happened despite the Blazers letting LaMarcus Aldridge slip away to San Antonio, Wes Matthews go to Dallas, Nic Batum go to Charlotte, and Robin Lopez go to the Knickerbockers. Dame Impala has been a revelation, and CJ McCollum will win the Most Improved Player award. Also, Ed Davis! Go Blazers!
Brooklyn Nets (28)–This one was a failed over. I’m not sure what Simmons was thinking here. The Nets are terrible, and everyone knew they were going to be terrible. He either had a case of the Brooklyn Blinders, or he was reverse-reverse jinxing the Brooklyn pick that the Celtics have in their pocket. Probably the latter.
Washington Wizards (45.5)–BS went over. This should have happened. I honestly have no idea what happened in DC. Wall is good. Beal is good. The Polish Hammer is a great fit… Maybe their coach is really that bad. Maybe they collapsed under the pressure of the impending Durant Derby. Maybe the Eastern Conference got that much better. Maybe the shots just weren’t falling this season.
Charlotte Hornets (32.5)–BS went under. BS is comically down on Charlotte. He said the word “under” at least a dozen times when talking about Charlotte, he made this pick one of his “locks”, and he made fun of Jeremy Lamb being a starting shooting guard (the Hornets starting shooting guard is Nic Batum). Speaking of Batum, his addition addressed one of the Hornets’ main weaknesses (perimeter shooting), as did the addition of Jeremy Lamb. Spencer Hawes, another addition, can shoot the three. Frank ‘the Tank’ Kaminsky can shoot the three. They added a quality backup shooting guard in Jeremy Lin (Lin can shoot the three). Al Jefferson returned from injury (he was all-NBA the season before, but he cannot shoot the three). All of this on a squad that was already one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. An over pick here was the obvious move. Unfortunately (for Simmons) the Hornets first franchise victory in a playoff series came against Boston (courtesy of a buzzer beater by Alonzo Mourning, a buzzer beater which effectively killed the Bird-McHale-Parish era in Beantown). Simmons hasn’t been able to forgive Charlotte since. He probably still has nightmares about Super Hugo dunking all over his childhood dreams.
Sorry, Young Billy.
16-12, w/2 TBD
C- (extremely okay, with room for improvement).
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)