Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 14, 2024


Xiao reevaluates his pre-season predictions.

In October, I created a list of NBA contenders. Now that the NBA season is in full swing, I will look back on my predictions to see where I was correct and where I was wrong.

Just as I predicted, the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks sit atop the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee is the current one seed, and Boston is the two seed. Jayson Tatum is having an electric start to the year and is my current pick for MVP (although Luka Dončić is not far behind). Tatum is averaging 32 points per game, but he does not have to carry the offensive burden by himself. 

Boston is deep, the guard rotation of Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon is one of the best in the league. Payton Pritchard has been buried in the rotation, but he can fill in nicely if Boston suffers any injuries. Grant Williams and Sam Hauser are legitimate sharpshooters, and Al Horford is still producing at an elite level. When Robert “Timelord” Williams comes back, this team will become even deadlier. 

Currently, Boston is relying on the center rotation of Luke “The Green Hornet” Kornet and Noah Vonleh. Timelord’s vertical spacing ability will add another dimension to this offense, and he will be able to return Boston’s defense to an elite level. 

I was incredibly wrong about the West. The Golden State Warriors look absolutely terrible. Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson have turned into elite bricklayers. Poole is shooting 32% from three, and Thompson is shooting below 35% from the field. If Poole and Thompson don’t progress to the mean soon, Golden State is in deep trouble. 

Originally, I said that on paper the Los Angeles Clippers are the best team in the league and would be title favorites if Kawhi Leonard stayed healthy. Well, that didn’t happen. Leonard’s knee is still bothering him and he is out for the foreseeable future. If Leonard is not 100%, I would be concerned about LA’s ability to make a title push. 

I was wrong about the Minnesota Timberwolves. I hope they can turn it around, but the core of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Rudy Gobert is just not working. They still have time to right the ship, but they are not looking like the elite team I predicted would be a dark horse in the West. 

I was right about the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers. Miami is struggling with a 6-7 record, a far cry from the team that was the one seed last year. Philadelphia looks mediocre once more. Joel Embiid will have to go nuclear to drag this team into the playoffs if James Harden cannot stay healthy.

I was right about Sacramento. Not even my fellow writers believed in this pick, but the Sacramento Kings, after a dreadful 0-4 start, have bounced back with statement wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. De’Aaron Fox’s midrange is something special, Kevin Huerter is thriving and Keegan Murray is one of the most polished rookies I have ever seen. This team will break Sacramento’s playoff curse.

To be completely honest, I forgot about the Cleveland Cavaliers in my last article. Cleveland is incredible. The duo of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell is scary. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are defensive anchors. Kevin Love is on absolute fire from three. This team will make serious noise in the playoffs.

When Danny Ainge took control and traded away Mitchell and Gobert, everyone believed they were tanking for the number one pick (which should be Kyle Filipowski; I am not on the Victor Wembanyama bandwagon), but currently they sit atop the Western Conference. Lauri Markkanen has revitalized his career in Utah. If he continues playing at an all-star level, this team will, at the bare minimum, waltz into the playoffs. 

I knew the Los Angeles Lakers were going to be bad. Read my article if you don’t believe me. I guess Russell Westbrook has surprised me slightly. He is shooting 36% from three, which is not bad at all. Regardless, the days of MVP Westbrook are over. New Orleans Anthony Davis is gone, no longer even a top-20 player in the league. This roster is poorly constructed and does not have the star power needed to compensate for such poor bench depth. I feel bad for Lebron James. He should demand a trade to Cleveland so he does not waste his rapidly-fading prime carrying this team.

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