Reminiscing With Ratke | 2018 Predictions
New year. New you. New me.
What I remember most about a new year is writing the previous year on every paper in high school before scribbling it out and writing the correct one.
Introduction to Art
This is the third-year we’ve done this column.
Let’s take a look back at last year’s predictions:
2016-17 NBA MVP
My Pick: James Harden
The Actual Winner: Russell Westbrook
I still feel cheated. It should have been Harden.
But Westbrook averaged a triple-double all season long while Harden only averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game while his team won eight more games than the Thunder despite having equal talent!
Okay. Let’s move along.
2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year
My Pick: Joel Embiid
The Actual Winner: Malcolm Brogdon
From last year’s column: This is Embiid’s award right now. Let’s just pray the talented big fella can stay healthy.
From Jan. 1 to the end of the season, Embiid played in just nine games. It’s tough to give someone who played in just 31 games an award, even if it was pretty clear he was the best rookie. Congrats to Malcolm Brogdon, who will definitely be a rotational player for the next 10 years.
2016-17 Most Improved Player
My Pick: Zach LaVine
The Actual Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo
LaVine tore his ACL on Feb. 3.
My goodness. I should probably stop writing this column.
My Prediction: Patriots
Who won: THE PATRIOTS! (Sorry, Atlanta. At least the first half was fun!)
My actual words: "I don’t like talking about it, I hate bringing attention to it and I definitely have never looked for sympathy or to get free things like coffee or groceries because of it, but in early December, I broke my right hand playing basketball. Because I am weak and fragile, I predict I will break another bone in 2017. Most likely playing softball or walking in the skyway, two of the more dangerous things I do in life.”
What actually happened:
I broke my hand again. Same hand. Same bones. This is stupid.
2017-18 NBA MVP: LeBron James
You could argue that James should have won last season, too. We probably just get bored with him because he’s so good and we know he’ll be so good, so we try to find someone else. I don’t know the reasoning.
Back in 2015-16, I thought it was crazy that we were seeing peak LeBron when the Cavaliers won the title on James’ back.
I spoke too soon. Two seasons later, at age 33 and after 1,000 games in the league, we are seeing Peak LeBron (a term my friend coined at Liquor Lyle’s).
This season, James is averaging 27.7 points (highest since 2008-09, when Rashard Lewis led the league in 3-pointers made), 8.1 rebounds and a career-high 9.2 assists per game. And he’s efficient, too! James is shooting 56 percent from the field (highest since 2013-14), 38.7 percent from deep (highest since 2012-13) and a career-high 78.2 percent from the free-throw line.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 4, 2018
I don’t get how this is possible, but enjoy it and don’t take him for granted. What we’re seeing from him this season is freaking insane.
In Michael Jordan’s Age 33 season, he averaged 29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the field, 37.4 percent from the 3-point line and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line, for whatever that’s worth.
2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year: Donovan Mitchell
I thought for sure Ben Simmons was going to win this award. I no longer think that.
We have three main candidates right now, will all due respect to Lauri Markkanen, Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith Jr.
There’s Simmons, along with LA’s Kyle Kuzma and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell.
If I had a vote, I’d go Mitchell at one, Simmons at two and Kuzma at three.
Mitchell has taken the NBA by storm and is averaging 18.2 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from the 3-point line. You can probably expect those numbers to go up. Since the start of December, Mitchell has been a huge part of Utah’s offensive, playing 34.3 minutes per game while averaging 23.1 points per game, including a crazy 41-point game against the Pelicans.
Simmons has been a solid all-around player, averaging 16.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game, but the fact that he has been playing point guard and refuses (and can’t) to shoot a three pointer is problematic. This is going to be tight. Simmons is coming off a 21-point, nine-rebound, six-assist, three-steal and three-block performance against the Suns.
And then there’s Kuzma, who is the central figure of Kuzma-Mania or “Kuzmania” for those who like to abridge things. Kuzma is averaging a team-high 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting 39.2 percent from deep. In the month of December, he had two 30-point games, one coming against the Wolves in a loss. The one thing Kuzma has against him is the fact that the Lakers kind of aren’t very good. They are last in the West. It’d be hard to give it to him over two guys who are trying to lead playoff pushes for their squads.
We’ll Look Back On The Wolves/Bulls Trade And Think . . .
It sounds cliché, but it sure looks like a win-win right now.
On the Wolves side, you can’t tell me the team would be 24-14 without Jimmy Butler. Butler has been an absolute stud for the Wolves on both ends, has changed the culture and should be representing the team in the All-Star game next month.
— NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2017
Then there’s Justin Patton, who is averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game (16.6 minutes per game) with the Iowa Wolves. That equates to about 18.7 points and 11 rebounds per game. It’s early, and it’s the G-League, but there’s plenty of potential there.
As for the Bulls. They received LaVine, Markkanen and Kris Dunn in the draft-day deal.
LaVine looks set to return soon, and will surely help the Bulls with scoring, especially from deep. It’ll take a while, but knowing what we do about LaVine, it’d be a surprise if he wasn’t better than he was prior to the injury, maybe just not right away.
Markkanen, the player the Wolves drafted at No. 7 for the Bulls, is averaging 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 34.6 percent from the 3-point line. The Finnisher has been a pleasant surprise for a team looking for some hope on the horizon.
And then there’s Dunn, who has found some success in Chicago, averaging 13.7 points and six assists per game.
The Wolves got the best player in the deal, along with plenty of potential, while the Bulls got three solid players to build around.
Thus, a win-win.
If I say the Vikings, am I jinxing the Vikings? If I don’t say the Vikings, do I start on fire immediately after writing this?
How about this? The state of Minnesota will win the Super Bowl as a host.
Byron Buxton Will Be An All-Star
It feels like we’ve been waiting for Buxton to emerge since 2000. But that’s not true considering Buxton was just six years old in 2000.
In his final 66 games last season, Buxton hit .309, 12 home runs and 37 RBIs while stealing 16 bases.
This summer will be the Summer of Buxton.
My cat (KAT) has put on some pounds. I’m trying to slim him down. I used to take pride in KAT being physically fit. I’m afraid he’s let himself go. Time to do some laps around Lake of the Isles, big guy.
I’d rather break my hand.
I’m trying to save more money. Maybe buy less chips and more spinach.
The year of 2017 was a weird one as a nation and individually.
A few things I’ve learned:
· Nobody really has any idea what they are doing. Some more than others? Sure. But nobody is perfect, despite what it may seem from the outside. Be confident. Kick butt. And don’t be afraid to say you messed up. I’m not-so-great at that last one.
· Talk to your family more. Reach out to a close friend you’ve lost touch with. Things happen in life that you can’t prep for, so try not to have any regrets when they do. What makes life magical and sometimes tragic is that the unexpected always happens.
· Cheese sweats are a thing. So be careful with that.
· Sports are meant to be a fun thing. Let's try to have more of that.
That’s all I’ve got.
Have a great 2018.