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Pelton ranks Houston as tops in wins for 2019 season

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by jogo, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. jogo

    jogo Member

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  2. Acura

    Acura Member

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    53 wins tops the league next season? Interesting
     
  3. ricky-retardo

    ricky-retardo Contributing Member

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    How might a wide-open 2019-20 NBA regular season play out?

    With free agency largely wrapped up and most rosters nearing completion, it's time to look ahead to the upcoming NBA campaign with the help of our projections based on ESPN's real plus-minus (RPM). This is our fourth season using RPM for projections, which have correctly picked teams' preseason lines 57.5% of the time in that span.


    While the beauty of sports is the impossibility of predicting everything that will unfold, RPM projections have offered a better starting point for expectations about the season to come. So, after answering a few key questions about them, let's take a look at what RPM forecasts for 2019-20.


    How do the projections work?

    Our RPM projections utilize the multiyear, predictive version of RPM as a starting point. They're adjusted for typical player aging and -- new this season -- then regressed toward the player's projected offensive rating and defensive rating from my SCHOENE projection system, based solely on box score stats. (For players without RPM projections, including rookies, the SCHOENE ratings are used instead.)

    [​IMG]
    What to expect in 2020 NBA free agency


    Games played are projected based on time missed over the previous three seasons. I then make a subjective guess at minutes distributions for each team. Multiplying those minutes by players' offensive and defensive ratings yields team ratings that translate into expected wins. I used those projections to simulate the season 1,000 times and record the average number of wins as well as how often each team made the playoffs.

    Why are these projections so compact?

    Amazingly, only three teams are projected for more than 50 wins this season. In part, this is a product of the conservative nature of projections. While we know that more than three teams will win 50-plus games, we don't know for sure beforehand which teams will do so.

    That said, the parity the RPM-based model forecasts appears unique to this season. Using the exact same method with 2018-19 projections yielded six teams with projections of 50-plus wins and a seventh whose projection rounded up to 50.

    What makes this season so wide open?

    Besides the absence of a single dominant team with the Golden State Warriorslosing Kevin Durant, this season is also unique because of the level of roster turnover this summer. I project just 62% of minutes leaguewide to be played by returning players, as compared to 76% in 2018-19. That's important because of the tweak to the projections I made last season to treat players who change teams differently than those who remain with the same team.

    Regressing projections toward the player's SCHOENE projections rather than league average improved out-of-sample projection and no longer penalizes stars quite so harshly for changing teams. Still, it's clear that even stars do pay an RPM price for changing teams.

    Within the sample I used for testing (back through 2012-13), 13 players who posted an RPM of 5.0 or better changed teams. On average, their RPM declined from +6.0 to +3.3. By comparison, players with an RPM of 5.0 or better who stay with the same team see a much smaller drop-off from an average of +6.4 to +4.8. This effect is particularly relevant for the Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, all of whom added players whose projections would rank among the NBA's top 15 if not for the adjustment.

    Given that, it's no surprise the top three teams in the projections all had a relatively high degree of continuity this offseason and return three of last season's top five players in RPM.

    With that noted, let's get to the projections, starting with the Western Conference.
     
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  4. ricky-retardo

    ricky-retardo Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
    Western Conference
    [​IMG]
    1. Houston Rockets
    Average wins:
    53.7
    Playoffs: 99%

    Despite swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster deal, the Rockets still have a high degree of carryover from the team that won 53 games last season. I project more than 80% of their minutes to be played by returning players, the league's fifth-highest mark. Add in Westbrook's track record of playing more minutes than Paul and Houston looks likely to excel again during the regular season.

    [​IMG]
    2. Denver Nuggets
    Average wins:
    53.3
    Playoffs: 99%

    The Nuggets won 54 games last season to claim the second seed but did so with the point differential typical of a 51-win team, so this projection does reflect some improvement from a young roster that returns almost entirely intact. Denver's 88% of minutes projected to be played by returning players is the NBA's highest.

    [​IMG]
    3. Los Angeles Lakers
    Average wins:
    47.9
    Playoffs: 90%

    It's important to remember here that RPM is trying to project the regular season, not the playoffs. The Lakers figure to be better during the playoffs, when they can ramp up the minutes of stars LeBron James and newcomer Anthony Davis, both projected to be among the league's top 10 players. New coach Frank Vogel also might be able to cut ineffective players out of the rotation.

    [​IMG]
    4. LA Clippers
    Average wins:
    47.8
    Playoffs: 87%

    As with the Lakers, the Clippers should be stronger in the postseason, perhaps even more so because of load management for newcomer Kawhi Leonard -- who is projected for 62 games and 34 minutes per game during the regular season, after playing 60 games during the 2018-19 campaign.

    [​IMG]
    5. Utah Jazz
    Average wins:
    46.8
    Playoffs: 86%

    This time a year ago, the Jazz ranked second in RPM projections, which proved accurate in terms of their point differential (+5.2, second best in the West) but not their record (50-32, fifth). Despite adding Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in a critically acclaimed offseason, Utah's projection has dropped by virtue of the hit the team's depth took. Additionally, Conley is projected to play only 64 games, and an extended absence would leave the Jazz short-handed at point guard.

    [​IMG]
    6. Golden State Warriors
    Average wins:
    46.4
    Playoffs: 84%

    Since the RPM projections debuted the season after the Warriors' first title, Golden State has never before been projected for fewer than 60 wins. Welcome to a new era, at least for this season, with Durant gone and Klay Thompsonprojected for only 21 games during the regular season.

    [​IMG]
    7. Dallas Mavericks
    Average wins:
    44.0
    Playoffs: 70%

    Despite not getting their top targets in free agency, the Mavericks are still forecast for a leap forward in Luka Doncic's second season, with Kristaps Porzingis joining him in the lineup. In particular, Dallas stands out because of depth. Of the 14 players projected to play in 2019-20, only veteran guard Courtney Lee projects worse than a minus-1.4 RPM.

    [​IMG]
    8. Portland Trail Blazers
    Average wins:
    40.2
    Playoffs: 35%

    A modest RPM projection is nothing new for the Blazers, who were pegged for 41.7 wins last season before actually winning 53 en route to the conference finals. Portland coach Terry Stotts has consistently shown the ability to get young players to exceed their projections, and second-year guard Anfernee Simons could be next in that lineage.

    [​IMG]
    9. Sacramento Kings
    Average wins:
    39.9
    Playoffs: 34%

    After the Kings won 39 games to finish ninth in the West last season, RPM suggests they could be even more competitive with improved depth via free agency. Sacramento hasn't reached 40 wins since 2005-06.

    [​IMG]
    10. Minnesota Timberwolves
    Average wins:
    39.5
    Playoffs: 31%

    Having made additions around the edges this summer, the Timberwolves might be a bit underrated because of the return of forward Robert Covington, who missed the final 45 games of last season because of a bone bruise in his right knee. During the 22 games Covington played with Minnesota after the Jimmy Butler trade, the team went 12-10.
     
  5. ricky-retardo

    ricky-retardo Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]

    11. San Antonio Spurs
    Average wins:
    38.6
    Playoffs: 25%

    RPM projections don't account for coaching, and the Spurs have beaten their projections by at least six wins in three of the past four seasons. So although San Antonio lost RPM standout Davis Bertans in the ill-fated pursuit of Marcus Morris, I'd bet on Gregg Popovich finding a new winning combination.

    [​IMG]
    12. New Orleans Pelicans
    Average wins:
    38.5
    Playoffs: 24%

    Projections for rookies are conservative, so No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson is projected as just slightly better than league average in his first season. If he can beat that forecast, the Pelicans could be in the mix for the playoffs this season.

    [​IMG]
    13. Phoenix Suns
    Average wins:
    38.0
    Playoffs: 22%

    Having won only 19 games last season, the Suns are forecast for the biggest improvement in the league this season. Squint hard and Phoenix had the makings of a competitive team last season, outscoring opponents by 0.5 points per 100 possessions in the 180 minutes Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, and Kelly Oubre Jr. played together, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Add reliable veterans Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric to that group and the Suns could leap out of the West cellar.

    [​IMG]
    14. Oklahoma City Thunder
    Average wins:
    36.6
    Playoffs: 13%

    In the East, the Thunder could be a playoff contender with a 37-win projection after losing Westbrook and Paul George. In the West, that's good for only 14th place in an incredibly deep conference.

    [​IMG]
    15. Memphis Grizzlies
    Average wins:
    31.9
    Playoffs: 2%

    Someone has to lose games in the West, and that's most likely to be the Grizzlies after dealing stalwarts Conley and Marc Gasol in the past seven months. Still, Memphis could be competitive behind a solid frontcourt of Jaren Jackson Jr.and Jonas Valanciunas.
     
  6. ricky-retardo

    ricky-retardo Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
    Eastern Conference
    [​IMG]

    1. Milwaukee Bucks
    Average wins:
    50.7
    Playoffs: >99%

    Given that multiyear RPM encompasses the past three seasons, it includes the period when the Bucks were a fringe playoff team under Jason Kidd, before making the leap to championship contenders in Mike Budenholzer's first season at the helm. Milwaukee's projection also is hampered by newcomers Kyle Korver, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews all rating worse than minus-2.0 per 100 possessions. Nonetheless, the Bucks easily surpass the rest of the East field.

    [​IMG]
    2. Boston Celtics
    Average wins:
    47.2
    Playoffs: 94%

    The Celtics are one of four teams projected by RPM to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, something they quietly pulled off last season despite underperforming expectations. With the departures of Aron Baynes and Al Horford, defense could be the greater challenge, but Boston has strong defenders on the perimeter, led by NBA All-Defensive first-team pick Marcus Smart.

    [​IMG]
    3. Philadelphia 76ers
    Average wins:
    46.8
    Playoffs: 95%

    As compared to FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO projections, 27 of the 30 teams are within four wins of those marks here. And then there's the Sixers, projected for 58 wins by CARMELO -- tied for most in the league -- and only 46 by our RPM-based model. What explains the discrepancy given similar inputs?

    First, CARMELO doesn't attempt to project games played, so Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons (projected for 66 apiece) have less value here. That seems fair in the case of Embiid, who has averaged 63.5 games over the past two seasons, but not Simmons, who has missed only four games over the past two after his entire 2016-17 campaign was lost to injury. Related, CARMELO gives playing time to only 11 Philadelphia players and none at all to reserves Furkan Korkmaz and Kyle O'Quinn, both a part of these projections. Lastly, as noted, players changing teams works against their projections, and Philadelphia had relatively high turnover. Just 60% of Philadelphia's projected minutes are played by returning players. Add it up and the two similar systems reach different conclusions about the Sixers.

    [​IMG]
    4. Orlando Magic
    Average wins:
    46.4
    Playoffs: 94%

    The Magic securing home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs would be a surprise, but maybe that shouldn't be the case. Buoyed in part by poor opponent 3-point shooting, Orlando had the East's third-best net rating after last season's All-Star break. The Magic dumped poor-performing reserves Jerian Grant and Jonathon Simmons and upgraded their bench with RPM standout Al-Farouq Aminu while retaining most of their core (85% of their projected minutes are by returning players, second behind Denver). So Orlando could move up a tier in the East this season.

    [​IMG]
    5. Toronto Raptors
    Average wins:
    45.5
    Playoffs: 89%

    Without Leonard and fellow starter Danny Green, the defending champs still look like a solid playoff team as currently constructed but no longer a serious contender due to their weakened wing rotation.

    [​IMG]
    6. Miami Heat
    Average wins:
    42.9
    Playoffs: 79%

    The addition of Butler via sign-and-trade, as well as the decline of the rest of the East, pushes Miami back into the ranks of likely playoff teams after two years in the lottery.

    [​IMG]
    7. Indiana Pacers
    Average wins:
    42.3
    Playoffs: 74%

    The Pacers got high marks for their offseason moves here and elsewhere, so it's a little surprising to see their RPM projection near .500. Besides the uncertainty of Victor Oladipo's return from a ruptured quadriceps tendon (he is projected here for 49 games), a couple of factors work against Indiana, starting with their turnover. Just 49% of the Pacers' projected minutes are played by returning minutes, lowest among 2019 playoff teams. Additionally, newcomers Justin Holiday and T.J. Warren project as a drop-off from former starting forwards Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young.

    [​IMG]
    8. Brooklyn Nets
    Average wins:
    41.0
    Playoffs: 64%

    Could the Nets take a step back after landing stars Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency? It seems possible, starting with the fact that Durant might not play at all in 2019-20. (He isn't included in Brooklyn's projection.) Given the massive leap from 28 wins in 2017-18 to 42 last season, the Nets were perhaps due for some regression to the mean -- and the effect of changing teams means Irving might not be a big upgrade on departed D'Angelo Russell.

    [​IMG]
    9. Chicago Bulls
    Average wins:
    39.4
    Playoffs: 50%

    Like the Suns in the other conference, the Bulls look set to become competitive after winning only 22 games last season. The additions of Otto Porter Jr. (at the 2019 trade deadline), Tomas Satoransky and Young give Chicago far more proven NBA talent and should push the Bulls' weakest performers to the fringes of the rotation.

    [​IMG]
    10. Detroit Pistons
    Average wins:
    39.3
    Playoffs: 49%

    A budget-conscious offseason might not help the Pistons return to the playoffs after nabbing the eighth seed last season. Factoring in the penalty for changing teams, Detroit's marquee newcomers (Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and Tony Snell) all project at least 1.8 points per 100 possessions worse than league average.
     
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  7. ricky-retardo

    ricky-retardo Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]

    11. Washington Wizards
    Average wins:
    32.7
    Playoffs: 7%

    The Wizards' projection would be last in the West; but in the East, having Bradley Beal and not much else beyond him is good enough for 11th place.

    [​IMG]
    12. Atlanta Hawks
    Average wins:
    30.4
    Playoffs: 3%


    Given the young Hawks won 29 games last season, this projection might be somewhat disappointing. The veterans that Atlanta added this summer, most notably Evan Turner, don't figure to help the team win, and lottery picks De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish also project as below-replacement players as rookies.

    [​IMG]
    13. Charlotte Hornets
    Average wins:
    30.2
    Playoffs: 3%

    The loss of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb sends Charlotte's projection tumbling down the East standings.

    [​IMG]
    14. Cleveland Cavaliers
    Average wins:
    26.5
    Playoffs: <1%

    A healthier season for Kevin Love (projected for 60 games after playing only 22 in 2018-19) would make Cleveland far more competitive after last season's 19 wins.

    [​IMG]
    15. New York Knicks
    Average wins:
    26.0
    Playoffs: <1%

    Despite loading up on veterans, the Knicks still have the league's worst projection. That's partially because of the players New York picked. None of the newcomers projects better than league average in terms of RPM, leaving second-year center Mitchell Robinson as the Knicks' lone above-average contributor.
     
  8. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    Reeko has very high hopes for this year’s squad...not “running it back” has me feeling rejuvenated
     
  9. BigBum

    BigBum Member

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    I am crazy?
    BB human beings projections on August 15: (not robot projection)

    Nuggets 65 wins
    Clippers 63 wins (Kawhi projected 65 games)
    Rockets 55 wins
    Jazz 50 wins
    GS 48 (Klay projected 7 games)
    Lakers 46
    Blazers 45
    Spurs 45
     
  10. Air Canada

    Air Canada Member

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    Not crazy... You just have low ball IQ
     
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  11. steddinotayto

    steddinotayto Contributing Member
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    No team in the West will win 60 games next season. Virtually every in-conference game will be competitive.
     
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  12. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    "Average Wins"

    A team with 53 average wins will sometimes win 58 and sometimes win 48.
     
  13. coyotetex

    coyotetex Member

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    Yes you are crazy. :)

    I think we underestimate how dominant the Rockets are when healthy and not distracted by Melomania. The Rockets are by far the best team over the past two seasons if you take out the first two months of last year. We all know why the Rockets under performed during that time frame, so there's little to no mystery there.

    If you believe that Westbrook > 2018/19 Paul (which is a reasonable idea) and you feel the rest of the team has stayed the same or improved slightly, then why wouldn't the Rockets project to a 60+ win team?

    I don't think the West being slightly stronger now relative to last year is going to measurably affect the Rockets record. Overall, the Rockets should be the same team we saw after the AS break last year, only better. That's a 60+ win team.
     
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  14. Juxtaposed Jolt

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    I feel like Orlando and Boston are too high and Indy is too low.
     
  15. Fyreball

    Fyreball Contributing Member

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    65 wins for the Nuggets in the most competitive Western Conference to date??? And 63 wins for the Clippers with all that roster turnover??? Yeah, don't quit your day job....whatever that is.
     
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  16. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

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    Playoffs are all that matter with this group at this point.
     
  17. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    65 wins for the Nuggets in this WC? That means they’re on the level of a 17-18 Rockets or title winning GS. I don’t see it.

    63 wins for the Clippers with Paul George missing time to start the season and projecting Kawhi for 65 games I don’t see either.

    @BigBum what kind of edibles are u taking?
     
  18. Hardy Toll Road

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    @BigBum is not an insider
     
  19. acjeitherocket

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    regular season is irrelevant
     
  20. Reeko

    Reeko Member

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    ?

    Does anyone confuse him as such?
     
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