Revisiting those 35 confident statements

NBAE/Getty Images

NBAE/Getty Images

Before the season, I made my standard 35 statements with stupid amounts of confidence, so let’s revisit. I’d say you could put my success rate somewhere between a Thabo Sefolosha corner 3 and Kendrick Perkins outlet pass.

1. Kevin Durant will restore order and win his fourth scoring title. Touchdown.

2. KD will average at least five assists a game. Durant has increased his assists every season for the last four seasons, going from 2.7 in 2010-11 to 5.5 last season.

3. The Thunder will break their losing streak against the Heat. On a roll. I’m the smartest man alive.

4. The Thunder will again produce two All-Stars. Annnnnd scene. Though I will say it was fairly absurd that the Thunder didn’t produce two. They had the best record in the league at the break, and while Westbrook had missed maybe too many games to be considered, Serge Ibaka had a strong case to be made.

5. Russell Westbrook will return Dec. 1 against the Timberwolves. Nope. He came back four weeks earlier than anyone expected, Nov. 3 against the Suns. I did say this, though: “I’m just pretty certain it’ll be a home game, because that’s how it should be.” Half credit?

6. For the first month of the season, KD will average 34 points a game. In hindsight, this was super dumb because KD is a notoriously slow starter to the season (and by slow, he averaged 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists in November), but Westbrook returning just three games in kind of blew it apart before we had a chance to know. Because in the full month Westbrook actually did miss — January — Durant averaged 35.9 points a game. So I’m counting this for myself.

7. Jeremy Lamb will average double-figures. This was one of the bolder preseason predictions, and for a while there, I was right! He finished averaging 8.5 points a game, but through January he was over 10 points a game before falling off dramatically in February (horrible month, 6.6 points on 35.1 percent shooting), then down to 4.8 points in March on 33.8 percent shooting, then losing his job entirely to Caron Butler.

8. The Thunder will wrap up the Northwest before April. The Northwest Division was a lot more difficult than anticipated, with the Blazers actually leading it on New Year’s Day. The Thunder overtook them soon after and never looked back, wrapping their fourth straight division title by five games, in mid-April.

9. The Thunder will finish top three in technical fouls. The Thunder led the league in technical fouls, piling up 58 of them, which equates to 0.7 a game. Durant was tied for the league lead with 16 (along with DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin), while Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook both had 10.

10. Serge Ibaka will record 25 double-doubles. Make it 27 double-doubles for Ibaka. He started better than he finished in that regard, putting up 18 by Jan. 25. Over the final three months, he had just nine.

11. Ibaka will shoot 60 percent from the field. A bit too optimistic. Ibaka shot 57.3 percent from the field in 2012-13, so I thought he might be able to increase upon that as he saw better shots created by Westbrook and Durant. Ibaka finished shooting 53.6 percent.

12. The Thunder will make a semi-significant trade at the deadline. Should’ve known better. Nope.

13. KD will go 50-40-90 again. A late season slump cost Durant from 3, as he finished 50.3 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from 3. But he never really had a shot anyway as he dipped at the free throw line, hitting 87.3 from the stripe.

14. Derek Fisher will lead the league in leadership and intangibles. I said, “Probably while also averaging 15 minutes a game.” He averaged 17.6 a game.

15. Steven Adams will appear in at least 70 games. On draft night, the feeling was Adams was destined for a season in Tulsa. After Summer League, we thought maybe he could stay with OKC as the third-string center. After preseason, it was pretty clear he should be the backup center. And a few games in, we were thinking maybe he should be the starter. Adams ended up playing in 81 games this season, starting 20.

16. Adams will also grow a bushy mustache and endear himself to Thunder fans to the point people are saying things like, “I wouldn’t trade Adams back for James Harden. Really, I wouldn’t.” We have something to hope for next season.

17. KD will record five triple-doubles. Like 2012-13, Durant finished with three. He had four other games where he finished with double-digit assists, but failed to get the rebounds.

18. Reggie Jackson will win Sixth Man of the Year. It seemed crazy at the time, but Jackson had his name in the running for a good part of the season. He went through a pretty severe slump following Westbrook’s February return, and didn’t quite put up the necessary numbers during his starting stint. He finished fifth in the voting with four first place votes.

19. The Thunder will play 82 games, 41 of them at home and the other 41 on the road. Nailed. It.

20. Westbrook will have his best season yet. Here’s what I said: “It won’t be a full one, but in terms of production and numbers, Westbrook is set up to play his best basketball.” Westbrook raw numbers weren’t as good as they have been in the past — 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.9 assists — but he had the best PER of his career (24.7) and after his second return, his PER was a ridiculous 28.7.

21. Nick Collison will make an All-Defense team. That prediction was more of a hopeful transmission, a tongue-in-cheek nod to Collison’s underrated defense.

22. Perk will record one double-double. Nope.

23. Adams will finish with more double-doubles than Perk. Yep. Here’s what I said: “It might only take one to do it, so it’s not like this is the craziest thing.” Adams had one — 17 points and 10 rebounds in the fourth game of the season against the Pistons — the only double-double from a Thunder center this season (not counting Adams’ in Game 6 against the Clippers).

24. The Thunder will finish bottom 10 in 3-pointers made. They finished tied for 14th with the Heat, making 8.1 per game. Durant made 192 of the Thunder’s total 664.

25. Derek Fisher will induce 72 facepalms. I think it ended up being 76. But in all seriousness, Fisher had a surprisingly positive season for the Thunder. He made shots, played decent defense and really wasn’t a glaring eye-sore at all times.

26. Fisher will hit at least five big shots that will make you say, “I never doubted that guy!” He made some, but not really in the playoffs, where we all thought he’d show up biggest. Fisher made 12 total postseason 3s on 41 attempts.

27. Andre Roberson will be sent to the D-League and then called back up again 297 times. Roberson actually started 16 games! Who saw that one coming? He played in 17 games for the 66ers.

28. The Thunder will take a step forward in defensive efficiency, but a step back in offensive efficiency. Turned out they took a step back in both, dropping to seventh in offensive efficiency, scoring 108.1 points per 100 possessions, and allowing 101.0 (fifth).

29. Perk will be called for 600 illegal screens. It was supposed to be a point of emphasis before the season started, but Perk somehow survived without fouling out of every game.

30. The Thunder won’t lead the league in margin of victory again. The Thunder finished third in margin of victory (+6.3) behind the Spurs (+7.7) and Clippers (+7.0).

31. KD will finally win MVP. He did it.

32. The Thunder will win 56 games. They won 59.

33. The Thunder will get the No. 2 seed in the West. I said this: “The top of the West always comes down to a game or two you shouldn’t have lost and without Westbrook, the Thunder are going to have a couple of those games they shouldn’t have lost.” Those losses to the Cavs, and Jazz, and Magic and Lakers turned out to be pretty significant.

34. The Thunder will return to the Finals. Nope. Down in six games to the Spurs juggernaut, but they were closer than you might think. They played the first two games without Serge Ibaka, and clearly struggled to adapt. They got him back, and he was somewhere in the 60 percent range, but was still able to make a big impact. Game 6, the Thunder completely blew it, but had Manu Ginobili not hit that 3 (or Tim Duncan been called for that way illegal screen), the Thunder would’ve had a Game 7 to get there.

35. The Thunder will lose in six games to the Bulls. I’m going back to delete my original post and pretend this never happened.

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