The days following the NBA All Star weekend are tough for the sports addicted; football is over, basketball is on hiatus, baseball hasn’t started, and there’s no major golf or tennis tournaments. Even the Olympics were finished by then; if you’re into that kind of thing. I consumed a lot of NBA podcasts and content during those slow days, and it has me thinking about predictions for the remainder of the season.
- The Brooklyn Nets will make the Eastern Conference Finals: I’m betting on them to do more than that (you can still find 6 to 1 on the Nets winning it all) but I think this is a less ambitious prediction to make. For the moment, the Nets are the 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and would have to win their play-in round to reach the playoffs. With Kevin Durant still injured, Kyrie Irving only available for away games, and Ben Simmons yet to play it’s hard to see them making up the nearly 4 games they need to gain on the 6 seed Boston Celtics. But I do think all the uncertainty surrounding the team has created an opportunity in the betting market; Durant is likely to return early next week, Simmons has landed in the ideal situation for his skill set, and New York City mayor Eric Adams may change the law keeping Kyrie out of home games in time for the playoffs. Plus the additions of Seth Curry and Andre Drummond have provided some much needed depth to a roster that retains the most star power in the conference.
- Evan Mobley will win Rookie of the Year: I’m hardly going out on a limb here, as Mobley is an enormous favorite in betting markets to win the award. Mobley’s defensive prowess is already drawing comparisons to Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, and his offensive game continues to develop as the season goes on. Equally important to his individual play is his affect on the team’s record; Cleveland had one of the worst records in the NBA last year, but now with Mobley (and the ascendant play of Darius Garland) the Cavaliers are the 5 seed in the East and could realistically challenge for the 3 spot. Mobley is already one of the most switchable defenders in the league, and his versatility and range allows the Cavs to turn back the clock and play two bigs at the same time with Jarrett Allen protecting the rim.
- The Los Angeles Lakers will miss the playoffs: Man do I envy the guys who bet this at 18 to 1 before the season. I’m no Lebron James or Russell Westbrook hater, but Lebron’s decision to push the Lakers to acquire the aging guard depleted their assets and left them handcuffed at the trade deadline. Westbrook’s inefficient play has reached new lows this season, and his $40,000,000 salary cap hit made it nearly impossible to deal him. Now with Anthony Davis out for at least four weeks, the Lakers are sinking like a rock and likely to finish with a 9 or 10 seed that would leave them at a disadvantage for the play-in.