Before the start of the season, the staff here at DBB gave their answers to a set of questions which were predictions for the 2015-16 NBA season. With the regular season now closed, it's time to revisit these and see who has the Inner Eye and who has Inner Pie.
Obviously, the main ones we're focusing on today are the top 2, seeing as the end of season votes haven't happened yet (although we sadly know Stanley isn't getting anywhere near that award), the Finals are still a month away, and Brandon Jennings is sadly chilling in America's Retirement Village, Orlando.
With that being said, here are the predictions from Oct. 27, 2015, as well as what the writer wrote as validation, plus my little expert review. Let's begin.
For reference, our record finished at 44-38.
Predicted: 46-36, Yes (to playoffs)
If you're a team that fits, has solid coaching, and decent talent, you've got a leg up on most of the Eastern Conference. Each season you see teams make 10-15 win jumps. It's not that big of a deal. Turning over a bunch of poorly fitting pieces to align with the vision of a guy who finishes with 50 win seasons more often than he doesn't, that's a good way to make one of those jumps. And if this team decides to start playing some defense? They'll win 50+.
There's this idea that the East has improved. It hasn't. Conferences only improve with importing major talent, which the East didn't do this offseason - unless you consider David Lee or Nicolas Batum transformative talents. In fact, every single one of the East's playoff enter this season with something major to prove. Things like if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving can stay healthy and fit with LeBron James, that Tom Thibodeau wasn't a primary contributor to the Bulls' success the past 5 seasons, that Tim Hardaway, Jr. can replace DeMarre Carroll. And don't even get me started on the Pacers.
We get started here with a fairly honorable guess from the shiniest of onions. Only 2 games off the correct record is a good effort, and we obviously made the playoffs. Steve's right, teams do regularly make 10-15 win jumps, and one of them this year was the Pistons, making a 12 win jump from 2014-15. He also made solid points in the general review of the East. Teams improve, conferences don't, although I'm sure Steve had us closer to 4-5 seed with his 46 win team. Obviously we saw what happened with the Bulls, the Pacers struggled and stumbled to the playoffs, and Tim Hardaway Junior? Eesh. Well, comfortingly for Atlanta, Demarre Carroll missed most of the year anyway.
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
On paper, I have this Pistons as a .500 team. Barring injuries or career-worst performances, the Pistons should expect to get there. The 4-8 seeds out east will be hotly contested, as several teams vying for one of these spots improved over the off season. Yes, it's possible they don't make it...but in Stan we trust.
Podcaster extraordinaire Ben Gulker with some typically modest, calculated projections here. Not one to go overboard (looking at you Boourns), he misses the mark by 2 games in the other direction. No amazing declarations here, just to expect solid play. And yes Ben, no one did have a career-worst performance (except Andre at the
cliff-edge free throw line).
Predicted: 44-38, Yes
While the Pistons have had decent talent in their starting lineup the last few years, things really fell off when they went to the bench. It now feels like they have a more complete team 1-12.
We have our first savant. Jason B with the XStream guess, and it was money. But moving past that, let's examine his rationale. Hmm, yeah, I see, no. Turns out we were the exact opposite. Otherworldly starters, dropping off to "oh god, please, god no, not that" with the bench. Turns out, yes, things mostly did fall off when they went to the bench.
Sean Wheeler (Hypnowheel)
Predicted: 46-36, Yes
Good 3PT shooting = playoffs. Top 10 offense. Dre & Reggie are All-Stars. Brandon Jennings comes back as the best backup PG in the NBA.
Standard Hypnowheel optimism. Only 2 games off the correct guess, but not in the way he expected. Yes we made the playoffs, but as a shooting team we weren't exactly elite. We just shot a lot of threes so the variance meant we were bound to hit a lot, enough to bury teams on occasion. Yes, Dre was an All-Star, Reggie was close. Unfortunately, though, Brandon probably wasn't the best back up PG when he returned. WE MISS YOU EVERY DAY BRANDON.
J Parker Pool
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
Stan Van Gundy's track record. He knew what type of players he wanted and went out and got it. Caldwell-Pope's improvement plus Stanimal's energy plus the incredible Phoenix trade gives us more depth than we've had in a long time. And we're not starting Kyle Singler anymore!
This is a pretty good early assessment of what the Pistons were to become this season. Stan Van Gundy knew exactly the type of player he wanted on his Pistons roster, and he aggressively sought after them. The Harris trade was a surprise, but everyone saw the Phoenix trade for the excellent steal that it was from day dot. KCP made a semi-jump to respectability with his lock-down defense and burgeoning mid-range game (his three could use some work). The only real disappointment was Stanley, and even here JPP wasn't off, because he said "energy", not skill. And if there's one thing we can never accuse Stanley of, it's laziness. And yes, luv you Kyle, but sorry not sorry.
Michael Snyder (Mophatt1)
Predicted: 37-45, No
They are definitely going in the right direction and improved a great deal but so did the East. The start of the season is brutal. Would anyone be surprised with a 1-3 start? Then they go on a six game West coast trip. Then host Cleveland. 3-8 isn't out of the question. Too many questions on defense and the ability to close games still lingers. Until I see those questions answered, I can't put them in the playoffs. Sorry to be a party pooper.
Ah, the first of the pessimist. Look, I honestly can't blame Michael here. After years of diabolical horror, you couldn't blame some for being cautious, despite the positive signs. But, to be fair, no Michael, why?? Yeah, no one would've been surprised with the 1-3, but no one expected 3-0 BABY!!! Defensively, yeah there are questions, that's a fair point, but the clutch question was emphatically answered by REGGIE "MR FORF QUARTER" JACKSON. We're sorry you were a party pooper too, Michael, but someone has to be the martyr.
Predicted: 41-41, Yes
As slow as the start of the season might be, I think .500 at the end is all it'll take to make it into the playoffs. So, so long as they don't start 5-23 and have to scrap back from that Josh Smith-like territory, I think they'll find a way to make it to .500 by season's end. I'm drinking what Sean Wheeler is serving.
Yeah, we made the playoffs, but it needed more than that .500. But this was an honest statement at the time. When these were done, we'd just seen the 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets, who won all of 38 games, make an 8 seed. The Pistons' mark of 44-38 this season would've put them at 6th behind Atlanta, Cleveland, Toronto, Washington and Chicago. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
I think we will start slow but get better as the team builds chemistry, Johnson contributes more, and Jennings return makes our bench especially effective.
Nothing much to say here. Rev kept it short and simple, and while he was a bit off with his evaluation of Jennings, we can't deny that before the injury, Johnson did have a decent impact. And to be totally fair to Jennings, he did make the bench effective, they ran more and got a lot of open shots, but it only lasted a few weeks.
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
The Pistons will be above the .500 mark, which over the past few seasons is more than enough to make the playoffs in the East. This team will not have a stable year of play. There will be some win streaks and losing streaks, but SVG will have the club playing his style of basketball, and that is a winning style of play.
Our social media guru David got one thing spot on. This year was anything but stable. We had the good time, the Niagara Falls flowing in Kool-Aid and the jersey retirements, down to the pitchforx and the "TRADE REGGIE NOW" moments. But ultimately, that manifested into a winning style of play, and we did comfortably make the post season with a better record, but a worse seed than we largely imagined.
Predicted: 50-32, Duh
The Pistons have had a massively productive centerpiece player in Andre Drummond for a few seasons and have failed to build a roster around him that actually takes advantage of his unique strengths. With SVG's pursuit of shooting and defense on the wing, and pick and roll skills at the point, the Pistons seem poised to improve greatly improve on offense and defense. A lot depends on Drummond, but if he returns to his previous norm of shooting efficiency and improves his defense even slightly, the Pistons become a truly dangerous team.
Ah, the first of the graduates from Kool-Aid State. Like we couldn't blame Michael for his pessimistic take, we can't do the same with Gabe for his overly optimistic one. We had productive players, a coherent system...fuck it, WE HAD A SYSTEM. SVG did exactly this, looking for shooting to surround his patented pick and roll with Reggie and Andre, and it worked. Andre improved his numbers (aside from one), made small improvements in defence (I still blame the guards for allowing penetration as much as him), and we made the postseason. Profit.
Predicted: 43-39, Yes
Better 1-12 than last year. Weak east. Feeling Lebron will get hurt for some serious time.
For a left field take I hand you over to Michael Dubicki.
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
There will be at least one or two teams that everyone has pegged as being semi-locks for the playoffs that fall off the cliff for any number of reasons. My personal pick would be the Raptors and I personally don't see the Celtics being this magical team but in any case I see the Pistons falling anywhere from 6-8 in the East and losing in the first round after winning a couple games and making it competitive.
Chris was very right about there being two publicly perceived semi-locks falling out, but well off as to who they actually were. The Raptors had a great season, got 2 All-Stars and secured the 2nd seed and homecourt against Indiana in the first round, while Boston surprised everyone to finish 48-34, get a deserving All-Star in Isaiah Thomas and clinch 5th in the East. However, Washington and Chicago, two teams people were saying would challenge for ECF, fell off the proverbial map. Finishing 10th and 9th respectively, I present the two locks that got busted.
Predicted: 42-40, Yes
First round matchup with Chicago
Jordan didn't actually give a reason for why we'd make the playoffs, so I'll just leave this here instead. He guessed we'd finish 7th and face the Bulls. Well, lol Chicago. But if I had to guess his validation, I'd like to think he'd say:
Reggie Jackson will average close to 19 points and 7 assists while shooting a career-best rate from 3. Andre Drummond will make his first All-Star team and average a strong double double of 16 points and 15 boards. Marcus Morris will prove a steal, improve all his numbers dramatically and shoot close to 36% from 3. KCP will develop into a lockdown defender with a passable offensive game. Ersan will prove serviceable, but Stan will see an opportunity to upgrade, and package him with maybe Brandon Jennings (even though this hurts to say) for a potential future power forward, maybe someone in the Tobias Harris mould.
Or, y'know, whatever.
I cannot imagine this team missing the playoffs this year with an overhauled roster that fits nicely together under the SVG regime. Also, the East is not as improved as advertised. It may take a bit for the Pistons to click on all cylinders, and I don't see this team making it past the second round of the playoffs this time around, but I suspect this is indeed the beginning of a new era for the Pistons.
I don't think any Pistons fans could bear to even think about maybe missing the playoffs...again. Yeah, the roster fit really well on paper, but games aren't won on paper and it's the eternal curse of a Detroit sports fan to be more than a little worried. It would take a bit to click, and I feel comfortable in saying we didn't ever really click anyway. And that's scary, considering we're 44-38, and at the doorstep of a new era.
Predicted: 44-38, Yes
The roster finally makes sense and I think they will finally break the playoff drought. Andre Drummond will be a beast and make the All-Star team, and Reggie Jackson will narrowly miss making it. We will break the franchise record for three pointers made, and play better defense as a team. All that combined will be enough to win 44 games and make the playoffs as the 5 or 6 seed.
Another one of the ingratiated few. Justin successfully predicted the record of 44-38, although, hilariously, he thought that'd be enough for a 5-6 seed. Which is fair, again considering the terrible track record of the Eastern Conference in recent years. Spot on All-Star predictions as well, with Andre the lone Motown representative and Reggie narrowly missing out. We did play better team defense (mostly), and yes, we set a franchise record for threes with 740, beating last season's mark of 703. Well done Justin.
Predicted: 39-43, Yes
Who's ready for the 8th seed!!! I know I am!! While the east teams don't need the same level of wins to get into the playoffs like the western conference teams, it's still just as competitive. I'm not buying the Pacers and Heat taking as big of a leap as some have predicted. I also think Boston barely squeaked into it last year and can easily be knocked out. So yes, I see the Pistons as an 8th seed against the Cavs.
Well Jamie predicted the correct seed, but was woefully pessimistic with the record. Usually that would be enough to get 8th, but we had to win 44 this time around and still sweat late to clinch it. You were right not to buy Indiana's stock, and no one could blame you for not being a believer of Miami or Boston, but they both performed well. Miami's savvy vets and Boston's team style of play saw them firmly entrenched in the top 8. Perfect first round prediction though, not that it was a masterstroke to pick the Cavs as the #1 seed.
Predicted: 44-38, Yes
Because why not? The roster is starting to take shape under supreme overlord Stan Van Gundy. There's shooting coming out of every orifice here, especially with additions like Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock. Add to that a full season of Jodie Meeks and the resurrection of our saviour Stanley Johnson and you have a second unit that should provide little to no drop off from the starters. Of course there are a few qualifiers, such as the health of Ersan Ilyasova, whether Jackson lives up to his contract, and the whole Brandon Jennings situation, but I think that this is the year that all the dysfunction finds someone else for a change.
WOW WHAT A LEGEND THIS GUY IS. CORRECT RECORD, UNBELIEVABLE STUFF. But in all seriousness, what did I actually write. Well, yes, there was shooting everywhere, just not with Reggie Bullock, who only found his shot in March, probably in the most mundane place, like on a basketball court. Lol no, we got 3 games of Jodie Meeks, just 79 short of the required 82 to make it a full season. Stanley was perhaps hampered by unrealistic expectations placed on him by the fans based on Summer League and preseason. As for the qualifiers, Ersan was actually perfectly healthy for us, I think we can safely say Reggie has earned his money this year, and Brandon's situation didn't really affect us too much (hey, he helped land us Tobias). And yes, the dysfunction found someone else (hello Los Angeles), so well done Ben.
Predicted: 40-42, No
In the East, Indiana, Miami and Boston all have improved rosters, but more importantly, three of the best coaches in the NBA. Even if Brooklyn and Milwaukee fall out of the playoff picture, that means Detroit will be improved but could also be on the outside looking in.
Tut tut Sean, one of only two to predict the drought to continue. I know you're happy you're wrong, but you weren't exactly wrong here. On paper, Indiana, Miami and Boston were improved, and the latter two actually did improve. Indiana has looked bad lately, but the Pistons, thankfully, played well enough to "scrape" in as the 8th seed with 44 wins, ridiculous.
Well, there you go. There's our staff predictions from 6 months ago. Feel free to check out the original post, which can be found here, where you'll see the other questions answered, as well as fan predictions in the comments. Who do you think has a future in clairvoyance? Myself, Jason and Justin picked the record, which is fairly hard considering there's 82 games of variance, but hey, we can't all be special.