Friday, February 14, 2014

Consensus NBA Power Rankings, All-Star Break

With NBA All-Star Game upon us, we are now at the unofficial midway point of the 2013-14 NBA season.

In reality, we hit the midway point of the season about a month ago as all teams have played anywhere from 51 to 55 regular-season games so far.

Considering the break in action in the regular season, it seems to be a good time to request a bold "second-half" prediction from each of our rankers.

Without further ado, here are some bold second-half predictions:

John Trifone

My bold prediction will be that the Golden State Warriors will make the Western Conference Finals. Currently, the Warriors sit in the No. 8 spot, and the Grizzlies are just 1.5 games behind them. It's certainly plausible that the Warriors could miss the playoffs altogether.

The West, in general, is so deep, that picking any one individual team to navigate it seems like a bit of a bold prediction. The Rockets, for example, have propelled themselves up to the No. 3 seed, but as strong of a team as they have, I wouldn't be surprised if they made a first-round exit. It seems to me that just about anyone in the West could be one-and-done or make a run.

In fact, aside from Phoenix and Dallas, I wouldn't be surprised in the least at any of the other six teams advancing to the NBA Finals. As tough of a road as it will be, I think that the Warriors have the talent to make the Conference Finals and give the Thunder a real run, if that is indeed who they meet there. Who knows? If Kevin Durant cools down a bit, the Warriors may even win the series.

Kevin Hanson

My bold prediction is that T'Wolves forward Kevin Love will average 30 points and 15 rebounds per game for the remainder of the season. While that may not seem outrageously bold for Mr. Double-Double, the last time a player averaged 30/15 for a full season was Bob McAdoo for the Buffalo Braves 40 years ago (1973-74).

While I'm not predicting that he boosts his full-season averages to those numbers, the fact that nobody has done it in 40 years illustrates how difficult it would be to maintain that pace over a significant stretch of the season.

In his first 50 games this season, Love had seven 30/15 games. Looking at each of those stats on an individual basis, Love had 30-plus points in 16 of 50 games and 15-plus rebounds in 18 of 50 opportunities.

Sean Beazley

Here are a couple of bold predictions:
  • The Knicks get the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference (not so bold), but they will beat the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs.
  • The Heat sweep their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs, only to get swept in the NBA Finals by Oklahoma City.
Dan Yanotchko

This year, the MVP award will go to Kevin Durant rather than LeBron James, as Durant has been leading the Thunder to the league's best record even though the Thunder are missing All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

Durant has won the NBA scoring title three years in a row, and he is also on pace to win it for 2014 as well. At the All-Star Break, Durant has the following splits 31.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.5 APG and is shooting 41% from 3-point range. LeBron's splits are, 26.5 points per game, 7.0 boards per game, 6.6 assists per game.

Yes, King James has taken home the MVP award four of the last five years, but the way Durant is playing in absence of a star, will earn him his first MVP award.

- See our 2013-14 NBA Power Rankings at the All-Star Break here

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