2015-16 All-NBA Teams: Predictions vs. Reality

With Euro 2016 on a break, it’s time to go back to something I was planning to post for about a month now. Let’s return to the world of NBA for a little while. Quick, to the Ballmobile!

Back in 2013, when the All-NBA Teams for the 2012-13 season were announced, Sekou Smith of the awesome NBA.com Hangtime blog (very recommended!) wrote a post in which he predicted how the 2015-16 All-NBA Teams will look like.

Fastforward 3 years to 2016, now we have the actual All-NBA teams for the 2015-16 season, and it’s time to check how right and how wrong he was. Predictions vs. reality, yo.

First, here’s a link to his original column:

HT Time Machine: Future All-NBA Team

And now let’s have a look at the raw data, before we comment on it:

Sekou Smith’s All-NBA Predictions

Actual All-NBA Selections

1st Team F – LeBron James

F – Paul George

C – Marc Gasol

G – James Harden

G – Steph Curry

1st Team

F – Kawhi Leonard

F – LeBron James

C – DeAndre Jordan

G – Steph Curry

G –Russell Westbrook

2nd Team

F – Kevin Durant

F – Blake Griffin

C – DeMarcus Cousins

G – Chris Paul

G –Kyrie Irving

2nd Team

F – Kevin Durant

F – Draymond Green

C – DeMarcus Cousins

G – Damian Lillard

G –Chris Paul

3rd Team

F – Kevin Love

F – Derrick Favors

C – Dwight Howard

G – Jrue Holiday

G –Damian Lillard

3rd Team

F – Paul George

F – LaMarcus Aldridge

C – Andre Drummond

G – Klay Thompson

G –Kyle Lowry

First thing I would like to say – damn, Sekou’s predictions were legit! Out of the 15 possible specific predictions (player + team) he got 5 exactly right, and out of the total 15 players he predicted that would be selected to the All-NBA teams (regardless of the specific All-NBA Team) – 7 were actually selected. Sekou can totally give Prof. Trelawney a run for her money.

I'm a bit worried by the fact that Russ is the only guy looking to the right. AND he's the only one without a ball. Illuminati confirmed.

I’m a bit worried by the fact that Russ is the only guy looking to the right. AND he’s the only one without a ball. Illuminati confirmed.

Now let’s break down the whole thing.

LeBron James as a 1st Teamer is a no-brainer, although Sekou predicted he would still be in Miami and will lead the league in assists. But we’re not going to hold that against him.

Paul George – Well, in 2013 he just had his breakout season and looked totally like the next big superstar, which is reflected in the crazy scenario Sekou wrote, which had PG averaging a triple-double for a season… In reality, PG did follow it up with another great season, but then in 2014 suffered this gruesome injury which altered the planned future. He bounced back brilliantly this last season and looked as great as ever, but a 1st Teamer and a triple-double average? Probably not… In fact, he hasn’t cracked the 4.1 assists-per-game barrier yet.

Marc Gasol – You know, this was actually a decent prediction. In 2013, Marc – who was never the “big numbers” guy, looked like a reasonable choice for the center spot on the All-NBA 1st Team, seeing as he was just voted as the Defensive Player Of The Year. He did manage to get a 1st Team All-NBA nod last year, but this year he was derailed by injuries.

James Harden – This prediction was solid too, and it’s actually quite surprising that Harden wasn’t selected into ANY All-NBA Team this year. He did not average over 30 points-per-game (although he was really close with 29.0), but he did lead the Rockets in assists, just like Sekou predicted, with 7.5 assists-per-game (Sekou predicted 7.6, damn!).

Steph Curry – Now this was spot-on. While the numbers don’t quite match (Sekou predicted 23.6 points and 10.4 assists), Steph did get an All-NBA 1st Team selection, which was totally non-trivial to think of back in 2013.

Kevin Durant – Back at the time I thought this is a wild prediction. What are the odds of KD not being a 1st Teamer?! But lo and behold, The Durantula was indeed selected only to the 2nd team. Another great pin-point prediction. However, he lost the scoring race this year not only to Harden but to Steph as well…

"I've decided to take my talents to michaelsportstats.com"

“I’ve decided to take my talents to michaelsportstats.com”

Blake Griffin – Well, who would have guessed that Blake would punch a guy and get himself injured+suspended? If it wasn’t for that I guess there’s an 80% chance that he would have been selected to the All-NBA 2nd Team, just as Sekou predicted. But hey, shoulda coulda woulda. Or something. I don’t know, we don’t use this expression here in Israel.

DeMarcus Cousins – Damn, another spot-on prediction! And another non-trivial one, too. Back in 2013 DeMarcus was still the head-case that people hoped would develop into a great center, which is something he managed to accomplish since, while still maintaining somewhat of that head-caseness. Sekou wildly underestimated his scoring (predicted ppg – 20.9, actual ppg – 26.9) but overestimated his rebounding (predicted rpg – 13.4, actual rpg – 11.5) and blocking (predicted bpg – 2.1, actual bpg – 1.4) so overall the numbers also do ok.

Chris Paul – another perfect prediction, but this one is less surprising, since Paul is a no-brainer for the All-NBA Team ever since his 3rd season in the league, and the only question is whether it will be 1st Team or 2nd Team.

Kyrie Irving – A nice wishful thinking that didn’t work out eventually. Kyrie did get a 2nd Team selection last year, but with the injuries back in 2015-16 there was no chance he would accomplish something similar this time. And speaking of injuries, Sekou greatly overestimated the average number of games Kyrie gets to play in his career – 68.5 games per season. The actual number? 61.8…

Kevin Love – Well, back in 2012-13, when Kevin was still in Minnesota and was a statistical juggernaut, it seemed only logical that he would continue to pile up big numbers and get an All-NBA nod. However, reality was different, and with 16.0 ppg and 9.9 rpg Love is nowhere near an All-NBA selection this year. In fact, he didn’t even get a single vote…

Derrick Favors – Wow, a wild exaggeration. His scoring average is dead-on (16.4 ppg vs. predicted 16.3), but he averages about half of the rebounds and blocks Sekou predicted he would (8.1 vs. 15.3 and 1.5 vs. 3.4. You guess what are the rebounds and what are the blocks, I’m not telling ya).

Dwight Howard – This is actually a quite sad story. Dwight was never the same player ever since he left Orlando, and while his absence from the All-Star game and the All-NBA teams last season can be accounted for by him playing only 41 games, this year this is not the case. I really liked him on that Magic team, but I don’t know whether he will ever get another All-NBA selection…

Jrue Holiday – What. The. Fuck. Like, seriously. Sekou was obviously influenced by that one time Jrue was selected to the All-Star game. He never reached the same heights since. I call that the “Jamaal Magloire Syndrome”.

Not many people know that, but Tim Duncan plays with the number 21 in honor of his favorite player - Jamaal Magloire.

Not many people know that, but Tim Duncan plays with the number 21 in honor of his favorite player – Jamaal Magloire.

Damian Lillard – Another great prediction by Sekou, although Damian went even one All-NBA Team better. His numbers are not so different from the predicted ones, and so this is one of Sekou’s finest predictions, judging by the fact that in 2013 Lillard has only finished his rookie campaign.

Now, some interesting actual 2015-16 All-NBA selections that Sekou missed include the two dominant centers – DeAndre Jordan (1st All-NBA Team) and Andre Drummond (3rd All-NBA Team). The reason behind those misses is probably the fact that the 2012-13 campaign was just the last one before DeAndre exploded into the monster he is today (although I don’t agree with his 1st Team selection) and Drummond – well, Drummond was just coming off his rookie campaign, and while it was really solid, he didn’t even get selected to the All-Rookie 1st Team back then.

Kawhi Leonard is another player whose career path was kinda hard to predict back then, although he rightfully deserves the 1st Team nod he got this year.

Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, is a real big miss by Sekou. I mean, come on! This is Westbrook we’re talking about, one of the most gifted and competitive players in the league, do you seriously believe he will not make an All-NBA team if he’s healthy?! He’s done it every season from 2010-11! I’m sorry, but even then I would have guessed that he will make the 2nd Team.

Draymond Green – Ok, no one expected this so I don’t hold against Sekou the fact that he omitted Green, who in 2013 just finished his rookie season with mammoth averages of 2.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 0.7 apg – from his predictions.

LaMarcus Aldridge – His omission is borderline, though. 3 of Aldridge’s 4 All-NBA selections came after Sekou published his predictions, and maybe he was considering the fact that in 2016 LaMarcus will be 30 years old already, but still – in 2013 LaMarcus was a constant dominant force on the Blazers, averaging 21-9.

Kyle Lowry – Yeah, well, who WOULD have guessed Lowry will develop into an All-Star so late in his career? A true late-bloomer. Nothing to hold against Sekou here.

Klay Thompson – Well, Sekou did write that Steph and Klay will be the best-shooting backcourt in the league, so this means he expected Klay to improve, right? I mean, in 2013 Klay just finished his 2nd year in the league. So I’m a bit surprised he didn’t at least give him a 3rd Team selection. Anyone who had seed Klay play then knew he was something special – the greatest shooter in the league after his splash brother from another mother.

So all in all – a nice matching. And it was definitely one of the most entertaining columns in the history of the Hangtime blog. One peculiar omission from Sekou’s predictions is Anthony Davis, though. I mean, similarly to Lillard, Davis was only coming off his rookie campaign, but he was already the most hyped player of that draft and even then I thought it’s crazy that he is not included in Sekou’s predictions. Now, it’s true that in a twisted turn of events Davis missed out the All-NBA teams this year, but he WAS a 1st Team All-NBAer last year! And probably will be again in the future. So I call this correct prediction (his absence from any All-NBA Team in 2015-16) lucky.

Well, that’s it. Let’s return to the Euro. Italy’s gone so I don’t really have a favorite team now, but of the remaining teams I hope Wales win it (although the French will surely win). Go Bale!

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