THE dust is still settling after the armageddon unfolded on the final night of the regular season out West. The Denver Nuggets were the unlucky ones to miss out, but they weren’t the only team that had a forgetful 2017-18. The Eastern Conference has already received their report cards, so now it’s time for the rivals to learn their fate.

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Dallas Mavericks

My Predicted Record: 35-47
Actual Record: 24-58

What Went Right?
THERE wasn’t a whole lot to smile about in Dallas this season. Dennis Smith provided a spark right away as a rookie and I’m a big fan of how Dwight Powell goes about his business. That’s about it. Ouch.

What Went Wrong?
HARRISON Barnes continues to average his very empty 17-20 PPG, Dirk is now ancient and there is very little other hope on the rest of the roster. The whole Nerlens Noel drama was a distraction all year round, and the Mavs will happily wash their hands with him this offseason.

Final Grade: D
I have bad news Dallas fans, there are more tough times ahead before things improve. With a ton of money committed to Barnes, Powell and Wesley Matthews next season, there won’t be a cavalry arriving anytime soon to save the day. Gulp.

Denver Nuggets

My Predicted Record: 44-38
Actual Record: 46-36

What Went Right?
SAY what you will about his defense, but Nikola Jokic might be the most versatile big man in the league today. His development and the further growth of Denver’s starting backcourt in Gary Harris and Jamal Murray is a great sign for their future playoff hopes.

What Went Wrong?
THE Nuggets deserve a ton of credit for staying in the hunt right up until the end, but it’s a position they shouldn’t have been in. You can point to two horrible losses to bottom feeders Dallas and Memphis in the final month of the season as backbreakers and if they had have taken them out things might have been different. Defensively, they need to sort their shit out next season if they are serious about the playoffs too.

Final Grade: C
THERE is a real possibility that Mike Malone is done in Denver and a mini shake-up might be just what the Nuggets need. On offense, they are going to be incredibly hard to stop, but if they can’t sort out their defense then a similar finish is on the cards in 2018-19.

Golden State Warriors

My Predicted Record: 69-13
Actual Record: 58-24

What Went Right?
DESPITE the fact that he only played 51 games this season a healthy Steph Curry looked almost invincible. The former 2x MVP is likely out for the first round of the playoffs and he can’t come back sooner for the Warriors. In his absence, the ship will be steadied by Kevin Durant who was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate through the first half of the season.

What Went Wrong?
AS much as the injuries hurt and probably held them back from chalking up 60+ wins, it’s the age of guys that will start to play a factor. The stars like Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are all starting to look a little tired and the likes of Andre Iguodala (34 years old), Shaun Livingston (32), David West (37) and JaVale McGee (30) aren’t getting any younger.

2017-18 End of Season Report Cards- NBA Western Conference 1Image from sfgate.com

Final Grade: B
A B grade sounds fair for an ‘average’ Golden State season. It’s funny, we have come to expect so much from the Warriors that 58 wins (the third most in the entire league by the way) is considered as average. The playoffs will really determine if the season is a success or not.

Houston Rockets

My Predicted Record: 60-22
Actual Record: 65-17

What Went Right?
THE big tick for Houston fans this season was seeing Chris Paul and James Harden co-exist and share the ball. Questions were raised in the offseason as to how two ball dominant guys can share the rock, but they had no issues whatsoever. Everyone else meshed into their roles spotting up for open jumpers while Clint Capela caught lob passes when defenders closed out hard. Perfection for the Rockets offense.

What Went Wrong?
TO be honest, not a lot. Both Paul and Harden missed a handful of games, but that didn’t slow them down at all. Their stagnant iso-dominant offense isn’t the greatest formula for success, but at the end of the day, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Final Grade: A+
THIS season can be considered a success for the Rockets even if they fail to win it all. James Harden and Chris Paul will be eager to change the narrative around their playoff shortcomings and they should make the West Finals at least. Anything less than that would be a bummer.

2017-18 End of Season Report Cards- NBA Western Conference 2Image from stocklandmartelblog.com

Los Angeles Clippers

My Predicted Record: 42-40
Actual Record: 42-40

What Went Right?
LOU Will is almost a certainty to take home 6th man of the year honours for the second time in his career. Averaging a career-high 22 points per game (PPG), Williams was one of the few bright spots for LA this year. Getting a decent return for Blake Griffin’s overwhelming contract was a plus as well as the play of ‘rookie’ 31-year old point guard Milos Teodosic.

What Went Wrong?
THE Clippers did a lot of things well but didn’t really do anything great. Today’s NBA revolves around a ton of 3’s and LA struggled in that regard, ranking in the bottom third of the league for makes (9.5 a night) and percentage (35.4%).

Final Grade: C-
LA was the only team that I was bang on when predicting their record. It was such a weird year for the Clippers after their midseason trade and a handful of injuries. They still owe a ton of money to guys on their roster, hamstringing them moving forwards. They are ok, just.

Los Angeles Lakers

My Predicted Record: 30-52
Actual Record: 35-47

What Went Right?
THANKS to the second half of the season the Lakers have set themselves up to make a splash in free agency. A youthful and exciting core could definitely see them land Demarcus Cousins, Paul George or even the Chosen One, LeBron James. I was also kind of surprised with how well Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played too. He could be worth resigning at the right price.

What Went Wrong?
THINGS went pretty much according to plan for Los Angeles this season and I might be picking straws here. I think trading Larry Nance over Julius Rande was a mistake as Randle will demand a bigger contract come extension time. They could have kept Nance and saved some dollars that they could have then used on free agents or other rookie extensions.

Final Grade: B
GETTING more minutes into the kids was an important part of the plan this year and with their rookies starring This year was a success, more games for the youngsters, open up cap space and attack the free agents.

Memphis Grizzlies

My Predicted Record: 39-43
Actual Record: 22-60

What Went Right?
FULL credit to Memphis, they did a great job of reaching rock bottom when their injuries piled up. It seems like a lifetime ago that they were 3-0 after wins over the Pels, Warriors and Rockets (in Houston). If they add a supreme talent to the mix and get everyone healthy they could be in for a quick bounce back.

What Went Wrong?
ONLY getting 12 games from Mike Conley obviously put a ceiling on what they could achieve this season. The Grizz have very little depth behind their star talent in Conley and Marc Gasol, meaning things were bound to go pear-shaped if one or both of them wasn’t on the court. That led to box scores like this gracing the NBA.

2017-18 End of Season Report Cards- NBA Western Conference 3

Final Grade: D
I thought they could stay in touch with the playoff teams, they could not. Obviously, injuries halted that, but they played awful the entire year. They started 7-5 with Mike and then flatlined from there. IF they want to rebuild they need to deal Conley and Gasol to speed up the process.

Minnesota Timberwolves

My Predicted Record: 44-38
Actual Record: 47-35

What Went Right?
I loved the move to go and get Jimmy Butler. He gives them a real chance at building something special as the young core continues to grow with Butler leading the way. He missed a chunk of time with injury, but still, he was a difference maker for the T-Wolves.

What Went Wrong?
ANDREW Wiggins was one of the biggest disappointment in the entire league this year. Much like Harrison Barnes, you can pencil him in for 17-22 points and a pair of rebounds and assists, but not much else. His defense isn’t amazing and if Minnesota wants to contend he needs to take another step in his development.

Final Grade: B-
THEY made it back to the playoffs which is a massive achievement considering the last time they were there Kevin Garnett was donning a Timberwolves jersey. They are probably in for a quick stay and they should have been a higher seed though. Either way, postseason action gets them a solid grade.

New Orleans Pelicans

My Predicted Record: 38-44
Actual Record: 48-34

What Went Right?
THANKS to the heroics of Anthony Davis the Pels season stayed alive after Boogie went down. His historic February, that saw him average 35 points and 13 rebounds an outing, led to an 8-3 record for New Orleans and was a massive factor into them playing in the postseason this year. The play from Jrue Holiday was another big factor, with the recently paid guard living up to his contract and becoming the Robin for Davis’ Batman.

What Went Wrong?
THE biggest bummer on NOLA’s year was the Achilles injury to DeMarcus Cousins. He was on track to be an All-NBA talent and we would have loved to see a whole season from ‘The Twin Towers’. These type of injuries can be career altering for players and I’ve got my fingers crossed that Boogie comes back better than ever.

Final Grade: B
NEW Orleans is facing a huge offseason and (much like the Bucks) they can’t afford to mess this up. If they do it could lead to Ant Davis walking out the door. Is the right answer to resign Cousins? I don’t know at this stage, but they need to keep contending in an effort to draw other free agents. Either way, claiming the 6th seed without Boogie for half the year makes 2017-18 a success for the Pelicans.

Oklahoma City Thunder

My Predicted Record: 54-28
Actual Record: 48-34

What Went Right?
SAY what you will about Westbrook’s stat padding or selfishness I fucking love the guy. He is a true competitor and he is doing things that have never been done before. He wasn’t the only OKC player who performed well this season with Steven Adams having a career year. Terrance Ferguson could be a find too.

Philadelphia 76ers v Oklahoma City ThunderImage from okcthunderwire.usatoday.com

What Went Wrong?
IT wasn’t all rosy in OKC with Melo failing to adapt and become the third-stringer behind Paul George and Westbrook. He was meant to be the final piece of the puzzle and instead of starring we could be seeing the depressing decline as Anthony’s career winds down. Patrick Patterson was a big disappointment for me too. I thought he would be an awesome get for the Thunder, but instead he was virtually a non factor.

Final Grade: C
THEY made it back to the playoffs and they are a very puzzling team. No results from here on out would surprise me, but I expected more for them this year. The Paul George signature looms as a massive factor in how their roster will take shape next year. A passable year from the Thunder.

Phoenix Suns

My Predicted Record: 24-58
Actual Record: 21-61

What Went Right?
PHOENIX is another team that nailed their ‘tanking’ season. Josh Jackson’s second half of the year was awesome with the 4th overall pick averaging 18.7 PPG after the All-Star break. They got more minutes into their young guns and they finished at the bottom of the league in the hopes of landing another star player. Perfect scenario.

What Went Wrong?
THE whole Eric Bledsoe drama feels like it was a lifetime ago and the protected first round pick they got for him is staying in Milwaukee. I have never been a big fan of the Suns big men either and while Dragan Bender looked OK at times this year, the rest of their frontcourt like Marquese Chriss and Alex Len have been letdowns.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Phoenix SunsImage from hoopshabit.com

Final Grade: C
AS much as they sucked this year their game plan was to get a good pick and they did just that. I actually really like their roster and they are going to be great in a few years if they stick to their script. They must nail this pick and find Devin Booker a co-star.

Portland Trailblazers

My Predicted Record: 41-41
Actual Record: 49-33

What Went Right?
A lot went well for Portland this season. They became a great defensive unit and their success just after the All-Star break meant that they avoided having to scrap for a playoff spot over the final weeks of the season. Everyone knows their role and they are well drilled making them a potentially scary team in the playoffs.

What Went Wrong?
THEY didn’t end the season in the best form which has a lot of people picking them to be upset in the first round. Losing Mo Harkless to a knee injury definitely played a factor in that and he is still going to miss playoff time. Aside from that, they weren’t a great shooting team last year and the numbers are slightly inflated by Dame’s dominance.

Final Grade: B+
I still don’t know if they are good, but they definitely performed better than I expected them too. Lillard looked like an MVP chance at one point in time, they got contributions from Jusuf Nurkic and their bench and their future is still

Sacramento Kings

My Predicted Record: 31-51
Actual Record: 27-55

What Went Right?
THERE wasn’t a hell of a lot to smile about in Sacramento, but what’s new? Their draft picks all looked fine and De’Aaron Fox looks like he could be an All-Star. Willie Cauley-Stein had a solid year too and he can be their starting center of the future.

What Went Wrong?
THEY still lack ‘a guy’ to go to. Buddy Hield isn’t the answer and it’s unfair to expect that from Fox so early on. As a result, their offense was woeful and was led by 14.5 points a game from Zach Randolph. Z-Bo had a great year at his age, but you can’t be expecting success with him as your No. 1 option.

Final Grade: D
As expected their young core couldn’t get the job done and they will be facing an uphill battle again next year. They need to find their franchise-altering player this offseason if they are going to be anchored here for another 34 years. Hold on tight Kings fans.

San Antonio Spurs

My Predicted Record: 53-29
Actual Record: 47-35

What Went Right?
HANDING Dejounte Murray the reigns at point guard was the smart move by San Antonio and kudos to Tony Parker for stepping aside. Of course, Pop had everyone playing their role and guaranteed a Bryn Forbes, Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans a few more years in the league. LaMarcus Aldridge became an All-NBA guy as well and deserves a hell of a lot of credit.

What Went Wrong?
KAWHI Leonard, der. The greatest two-way player in the league managed just nine games for the entire year as he battled a mysterious quad injury. It wasn’t the injury itself that was the most concerning factor, it was the fact that Leonard clashed with the front office and his fellow players around his return to the court.

Final Grade: B
TO qualify for the playoffs without Kawhi is a pretty impressive feat and it’s a credit to the Spurs organisation. Still, they seem destined to be bounced in round one against the Dubs and they can’t win it all without Leonard meaning a B seems like a good fit for their year.

Utah Jazz

My Predicted Record: 42-40
Actual Record: 48-34

What Went Right?
EASILY the best story for Utah this season was the play of rookie Donovan Mitchell. His explosion into an offensive stalwart and a walking highlight reel softened the blow of losing Gordon Hayward in the offseason and he could lead Utah to the second round. Ricky Rubio had a career year shooting the ball and Joe Ingles is a do-it-all king.

What Went Wrong?
IF Rudy Gobert didn’t get hurt it would have been really interesting to see what their ceiling could have been. Throw on top of that the fact that Dante Exum is always injured, Derrick Favours is still a questionable starter and they lack great depth. Their bench is still a bit of a revolving door and you forget Alec Burks is still in the league until he checks in for the Jazz.

Final Grade: A
EVEN if OKC takes them down in the first-round I think this year has been a great one for the Jazz. With Mitchell surging ahead they could be a contender in a few years with the right moves and it 2017-18 was a strong start to the post-Hayward era.

Peace ✌

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