So what does this tell us? Simply that it’s really hard to guess how the season will pan out? A few of these awards seem like they should have been locks from the outset – particularly Howard as defensive player of the year. Of course, a lot of these predictions aren’t done with any thought of accuracy or that they’ll get checked well after the fact. In hindsight, the 2010-2011 season had some pretty big surprises: Chicago’s success and Derrick Rose’s MVP play; Dallas making it to the Finals, let alone winning; and, Boston taking themselves out of contention with the Perkins-Green trade. There was a lot of hype about Thibodeau going into the 2010 season, and he proved his ability by taking the long-floundering Bulls to the top of the conference and deep in the play-offs. Blake Griffin came back from injury and single-handedly made the Clippers interesting to watch.
The leading NBA season forecasters, according to this form of tabling, are Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report and Chad Ford of ESPN. Tyler went 4 for 7, Chad was 5 for 9. John Hollinger and Justin Verrier are tied for second, both going 4 for 9. As mentioned before, nobody picked Dallas to get to the finals, only two of the previews had Odom as 6th man, and only 4 had Thibodeau as Coach of the Year. Five people had the prescience to select Kevin Love as the Most Improved Player.
The most common successful predictions were Miami winning the East (26), Griffin as Rookie of the Year (20), and Howard as Defensive Player of the Year (20).
The most common unsuccessful prediction was Los Angeles getting back to, and winning, the Finals (all but two). The MVP award was suspected as being a two person race between Durant and LeBron, with some token votes for Howard. By far the most interesting and diverse predictions were for the Most Improved Player. I think I’ll have to look into this category further – how does one predict which player will have a breakout year? Is it just a hunch? Is it related to a coaching change? A trade? An expected increase in minutes? What is it that Hollinger, for example, can see that enables him to predict that Love would have a great season in 2010-2011? How did Hollinger also think that Greg Oden was going to qualify for the 6th Man award (I guess advanced stats can’t predict injury)?
Last thing – I thought seriously about taking out the names of the individual analysts and writers, but in the end decided to keep them. I’m hoping that with future posts we can see if there are any identifiable trends through different years.