Standings ’23-’24: Original Projections vs Reality

December 19th, 2023

Now that we’re a third of the way through the season, I’d like to take a look back and evaluate what I originally predicted the standings to look like in the East & West compared to where it is today. Per usual, I was way way way off on several of these projections (coughchicagocoughbullscough).


PRESEASON PREDICTIONS                                     STANDINGS AS OF 12/19/23

  1. Boston                                                                             1. Boston
  2. Cleveland                                                                        2. Milwaukee
  3. Milwaukee                                                                      3. Philadelphia
  4. New York                                                                        4. Orlando
  5. Philadelphia                                                                   5. New York
  6. Chicago                                                                          6. Cleveland
  7. Atlanta                                                                            7. Miami
  8. Indiana                                                                           8. Indiana
  9. Miami                                                                             9. Brooklyn
  10. Orlando                                                                        10. Toronto
  11. Toronto                                                                        11. Atlanta
  12. Brooklyn                                                                      12. Chicago
  13. Charlotte                                                                     13. Charlotte
  14. Detroit                                                                         14. Washington
  15. Washington                                                                15. Detroit


Boston has come out guns blazing. Arguably the most impressive team in the entire NBA. One of the few squads who are top 5 in both offensive and defensive rating. They’re on the short list of teams who can realistically win the ch’ip this year.

Milwaukee, New York, and Philly are all in the top 5 in both columns. That said, I thought the James Harden mess would set Philly back further. Instead, it’s unlocked Maxey, Embiid, and Nurse. Nobody will want to play them come playoff time. Also, what Milwaukee is doing is impressive, given they have so many new faces, including a first-time coach. 

I was right about Charlotte, Detroit, & Washington bringing in the rear of the conference. However, I was dead wrong about Chicago & Atlanta. Figured continuity would reign supreme. I figured wrong. Furthermore, Cleveland is about to take a tumble in the standings now too, as Garland and Mobley are injured. Plus Mitchell will likely be traded by the deadline. They’re a Play-In team potentially.

My biggest miss was Orlando though. I thought they were another year away. But defensively, they’ve arrived. One of the best defensive teams in all the NBA, even if they fall back in the standings a bit after this hot start, they’ve announced they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. And they’ve done this without their starting C (Carter Jr.) and their starting PG (Fultz). Plus they have tradable pieces if they wanted to make a midseason addition. Hat tip to the Magic.


PRESEASON PREDICTIONS                                     STANDINGS AS OF 12/19/23

  1. Sacramento                                                                     1. Minnesota
  2. Minnesota                                                                        2. Oklahoma City
  3. LA Clippers                                                                      3. Denver
  4. Denver                                                                              4. Sacramento
  5. Los Angeles                                                                    5. Dallas
  6. Golden State                                                                   6. LA Clippers
  7. Phoenix                                                                            7. New Orleans
  8. Memphis                                                                          8. Los Angeles
  9. Dallas                                                                                9. Houston
  10. New Orleans                                                                  10. Phoenix
  11. Oklahoma City                                                               11. Golden State
  12. Houston                                                                          12. Utah
  13. San Antonio                                                                    13. Memphis
  14. Utah                                                                                 14. Portland
  15. Portland                                                                          15. San Antonio


Very proud of my Sacramento, Minnesota, and Phoenix picks. I thought the Suns were a play-in team, too top-heavy, not enough depth, injury-prone. They didn’t disappoint. And I projected SacTown and ‘Sota to be among the best teams in the West. Teams that haven’t “been there before” (and by “there” I’m referring to 1st in the standings) will go extra hard in the regular season to get there. Teams that have “been there, done that” don’t value home court throughout the playoffs as much. Regardless, these teams aren’t going anywhere. The Kings were 3rd last year. They’re here to stay. And regarding Minnesota, this is officially a team that can win the championship. They’re well-coached, they have elite size, and AntMan believes he’s the best player on whatever court he steps on.

The big ones I got wrong here are the Thunder and Mavs. Generally, I bet against Kyrie, no matter what the odds. But Luka’s Greatness beats Irving’s Craziness, and the Mavs halfcourt offense is humming along as well as ever. I expect them to fall a little, but they’re playoff bound. The Thunder, like the Magic, I was too late on. I predicted it would take them another year. But Holmgren is playing like a vet, JDub is one of the best young Wings in the west, and SGA is one of the best players in the league. They’re young, exciting, and well-coached. They’re here to stay, IF they remain healthy.

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