The NBA season is past the halfway mark. The official break of the All-star game is still a week away, but every team has played close to 50 games, so we have a good feel for how teams will do. That being said, I would like to eliminate nearly every team from the list of contenders and offer a list of the five teams who have a legitimate chance of winning it all this year.
This list is based on the past six years of NBA Champions. It’s a very simple system. It answers the questions of who won? How many points did they score? How many points did they allow? And what was the scoring difference? For your reference, here is a list of that info:
Winner PF PA Diff
2007 San Antonio 98.5 90.1 8.4
2006 Miami 99.9 96 3.9
2005 San Antonio 96.2 88.4 7.8
2004 Detroit 90.1 84.3 5.8
2003 San Antonio 95.8 90.4 5.4
2002 LA Lakers 101.3 94.1 7.2
Averages 97.0 90.6 6.4
Based on these winners, there are some easy indicators that I’ve found. First, no team in the past six years has won the title allowing more than 96 points a game during the regular season. Second, no team has won the title averaging less than 90 points, but a better indicator for this stat is the average points scored of 97. Last, no team has won the title with less than a scoring differential of 3.9. So, with these stats in mind, who are the legitimate title contenders for 2008? As of February 9, they are:
1 Detroit 97.5 89.9 7.6
2 Boston 99.6 89 10.6
3 Dallas 100.2 95.6 4.6
4 San Antonio 96.3 91.2 5.1
5 New Orleans 100.2 94.6 5.6
I think that based on these stats, Detroit has the most legitimate chance of winning. I know Boston’s numbers are more impressive, but they have NO PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE as a team together. If they did, I would label them the hands-down favorite to win. As you can see, there is no one else in the East who has a real shot at winning it all.
In the West, I put Dallas first, based on their stats (and my personal bias). They’ve got a great nucleus and are playing putting up great number. I would not count San Antonio yet, simply because they’ve won it all so many times this past decade. And New Orleans is in a similar situation with Boston in their lack of playoff experience, so I really don’t see them even making the Western Conference finals.
This list leaves out the team with the best record in the West: The Phoenix Suns. They made a blockbuster trade this week in picking up Shaq, so it’s hard to really know where they will end up come playoff time. But as of right now, they don’t match up with the statistical criteria for NBA Champions. I also don’t think that Shaq will put them over the top. I expect them to fizzle out of the playoffs in either the first or second round.
The other team that isn’t on this list that needs to be considered is the LA Lakers. The Suns are getting all the trade attention because of the Big Aristotle, but Pau Gasol is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He was hidden in Memphis for his whole career, but now he will be getting the attention he deserves. It’s hard to say for sure, but the Lakers may end up being a force to be reckoned with.
With all of that being said, let me make my NBA Final prediction: Dallas vs Detroit. This may cause some family problems for my younger brother.