After the weirdest off-season in NBA history, the first half of the regular season is finally in the record books. By now, enough time has passed for us to have gotten used to former franchise players in new colors. Derrick Rose is Knick, Dwayne Wade is a Bull, Durant is a Warrior, and so on and so forth. Approaching the NBA All Star Weekend, plenty of teams have since lived up to expectations – no matter how low or how lofty.
But we’ve also gotten quite a few surprises along the way – both the good and the bad kind. We went back to sports blog Bleacher Report’s September 2016 team record predictions, back before the first jump ball was in the air. We then compared the team’s expected performance with their actual W/L columns. And a few teams stand out as doing much better – and much worse – than we all thought they would, leading up to the NBA All Star Weekend.
Prediction: 43-39 (52.4%)
Actual Record So Far: 34-21 (61.1%)
Blazing the way toward the NBA All Star Weekend, the Wizards are winners of 14 out of their last 16. John Wall and Bradley Beal have really figured out how to make things work in DC, already outdoing last season’s 41 wins. Once just considered a fringe Playoffs team, they now find themselves in the third spot in the East.
Unless the Toronto Raptors or Atlanta Hawks find a way to catch up to the surging Wiz, the second round of the East could showcase NBA’s newest bad blood rivalry: Washington vs Boston.
Prediction: 38-44 (46.3%)
Actual Record So Far: 40-18 (69.0%)
Who knew that James Harden would have this kind of season? Averaging 29.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 11.3 assists a game, The Beard is making a strong MVP case for himself this season. Does he finally play defense now? Well… while that question is up for debate, there’s no denying his outstanding triple-double performances. His 53-16-17 New Year’s Eve performance ranks among the greatest individual games ever played in NBA history.
Let’s not forget the rest of the team: Clint Capela and Nene are doing an admirable job filling in for the lost Dwight Howard, and Eric Gordon is emerging as a Sixth Man Of The Year favorite.
Prediction: 49-33 (59.8%)
Actual Record So Far: 27-30 (47.4%)
You’d think that surrounding Andre Drummond with talents like Ish Smith and Jon Leuer would be an upgrade. Unfortunately, Coach Stan Van Gundy simply hasn’t been able to figure out how to make the best of this unit. Drummond continues to play well – with 14.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game to his name. But for the remainder of the season, these Pistons will be looking over shoulders at the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat – two teams aiming to rip that 8th seed away from them.
Prediction: 42-40 (51.2%)
Actual Record So Far: 22-35 (38.6%)
It seems like, at the start of very year, the Timberwolves are geared up for that one, important, breakout season. And it seems like every year, they end up banging their heads against that glass ceiling.
Karl-Anthony Towns continues to be a beast, and Andrew Wiggins remains a bright spot for the team’s future. But the departure of Kevin Garnett has made the lack of veteran presence too obvious for the Timberwolves. They’ve often grabbed huge leads in games, before melting down and losing at the last second – a telltale sign of a young team that needs maturing.
There’s still plenty of game left before the end of the season, however. How will the road from the NBA All Star Weekend to the Playoffs turn out? Comment below and let us hear what you think!