2011 NBA Now Rankings 2.0 (Final Pre-season Build) Part 2 The Build 2011 v1 and The Best Team in the NBA?

That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?- Yeats “The Second Coming”

A month has past since I did my first pre-season projection for the coming NBA season (NBA Now Team Rankings take 1). As I said there, it was a preliminary team rankings based on 2010-2011 performance and didn’t include:

  • Detailed Minute allocations
  • The Rookie Model
  • Injuries
  • Age modeling

You may be aware that since then I’ve worked on all of the above (see Part 1) and it was a lot of work (go here for the Basics behind it all, here for the veteran model and here for the rookie model).

In part one I looked at projecting the stars, superstars and good bigs for the coming season. Here I’m going:

  1. Show my player projections so far including player allocations
  2. Project win totals for every team based on their rosters as of today (which will need to be updated prior to the season starting)
  3. Identify the Favorites, Contenders and pretenders using the necessary conditions from the Championship Equation called out in Part 1

So here is the official 1st pass at the preseason nba. You will be amazed and surprised . I totally was. It’s like a weird machine for forecasting the future.

"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff."

The 2010-2011 Build v1 (as of 10/15/10)

There are 519 players currently on NBA rosters. I’ve done projection for 455 players at this point. The full build is here.

Now, when I started my expectation where a clear cut exercise with one team above all others (hint: they’re the southernmost team in the league) and the big argument to be about second place. My expectations we’re wrong. There are two superteams for the 2010 and 2011 season not one. The 2011 projection looks like:

Miami and Portland are not just projected to be the 2 best teams in the league but they’re projected to have historically great seasons. Before anyone asks, the Portland projection assumes that Oden & Przybilla play less than 1700 minutes. Combined. If Portland can have some health? They’ll join the Heat (and the Wizards) in challenging the all-time win marks.

So the Heat and the Blazers shape up as the favorites. As for the rest? The Lakers, Spurs,  Celtics and Bulls round out the contenders here. Some might ask why the Bulls win totals have fallen so far. The answer is big,tall and red-headed and might go away before when final cuts are made (but I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t, sorry Bulls fans).

From Boston with Love

For this group the health of the Heat and Blazers will be key. I’ll go further into detail for each contender in upcoming posts.

As for the rest? There’s a mad scramble with only five teams completely out of the playoff race. A fun fact is that Miami vs Cleveland or New York looms in the first round of the playoffs (somewhere in an office in New York, David Stern  is giddy with anticipation).

Feel free to review the roster, projections & minute allocations and make constructive comments and criticism. I’ll incorporate your feedback into the final build once rosters are final.

DYI Snark. We're all about Fanservice

61 Comments

  1. Chicago Tim
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    What if Scalabrine only plays in garbage time? I can’t believe he can be responsible for a 9-game swing all by himself. I’m really hoping he’s a kind of bench and practice assistant coach/player, who’s there because he knows Coach T’s system.

    At any rate, he surely wouldn’t play significant minutes in the playoffs. But hey, at least your prediction for the Bulls is back in line with everyone else now, although still on the optimistic side of the range. It’s your prediction for Orlando that is unusually pessimistic.

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      CT,
      Not quite a final prediction as of yet. The Bulls for example have 17 players on the roster right now and some of these guys are taking minutes from better players (i.e. every minute Scal plays). It’ll improve somewhat once final roaster are set. The first prediction, which I did just for the bulls, is probably more accurate right now. I do think it’s:
      Heat
      Bulls/Celts fighting for the 2 seed
      Magic
      Hawks
      and the Nets/Bucks/Cavs/Cats/Knicks fighting for three spots and the right to get killed in the 1st round.

      Orlando got worse while everyone else got better. Duhon? QRich? Carter and Rashard also kill them this year. Orlando was one of the surprising teams to me.

  2. 10/15/2010
    Reply

    Arturo,
    THATS THE SECOND TIME U QUOTED YEATS! it’s time 2 change it up with some cool Kanye West quotes. CAN U TELLL HOW excited I AM FOR THE NBA TO START??????? i will be seeing boston and miami but i won’t catch the lakers and houston game (damn night classes)!

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      Yo, Alvy, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish. But the Celtics have one of the best teams of all time.

  3. Raspu10
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    Thanks much for the data and projections. Yah, you clearly have a lot of minute adjustments to make, but this is a fantastic start for the season.

    • Raspu10
      10/15/2010
      Reply

      ps – and remember that with the refs this year, “the center cannot hold”

  4. howlingfantods
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    How much time are you projecting from Marcus Camby? He’s behind Aldridge as the backup PF on the depth chart if Oden and Przybilla are healthy. He’ll get major minutes only for so long as those other two guys are injured.

    Which is one of the reasons I suspect your projections for Portland might be a little optimistic. The top WP48 player on the team is expected to back up the weakest WP48 player of the starting unit.

    • Austin
      10/15/2010
      Reply

      I recognize you from BE…hello!

      I seriously doubt Camby is behind Przybilla on our depth chart. Not to mention, Arturo’s assumption is for Oden and Przy to play danged low minutes, and even if they’re healthy I doubt they’d take more than 500 minutes from Camby.

      Camby’s minutes put him at 32 mpg over 70 games.

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      ESPN has Camby and Aldridge as starters and Pryz as the backup at PF and Oden at center.
      I have it 2783 min for Aldridge, 2240 Camby, 1104 Pryz, 672 Oden and I actually think that fairly sub-optimal.
      If Oden gets more minutes the numbers actually go up.
      Portland’s frontcourt is patently ridiculous even when they’re not healthy.

      • howlingfantods
        10/15/2010
        Reply

        M, well, it’s certainly really speculative since we have no real clue of when Oden and Przybilla return. My guess is that a fully 100% healthy frontcourt rotation would have Oden starting and playing 25-30 mpg (pretty much all the minutes he can play without fouling out and Aldridge playing 35. That leaves around 35 big man mpg to be split up between Camby, Przybilla and Cunningham.

        Of those guys, I think Cunningham is actually Nate’s type of player and has the potential to grow his role in the rotation by the end of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a distribution like 15 minutes for Camby, 12 for Cunningham and 8 for Przybilla as the backup bigs to Oden/Aldridge.

        • howlingfantods
          10/16/2010
          Reply

          Actually, come to think of it, Camby’s actually kind of an example of where there’s I think some legitimate criticism for the WP48 model. Seems like there should have been more negative impact for Denver after he left and more positive impact for the Clippers when he arrived if he was truly such an outstanding player, basically one of the MVPs of WP48. Yet the 08-09 Nuggets improved from 50 to 54 wins and the Clips fell from 23 to 19 wins.

          Not to say that Camby’s a bad player of course– I’ve always thought of him as a good player from back in the knicks days– and obviously there were other roster changes that also contributed to the Nuggets getting better and the Clips getting worse after Camby switched teams. But is he really one of the biggest win producers in the league? He’s one case of a player who I think PER ranks more appropriately as a better than average player, as opposed to WP48 ranking him as basically one of the all time greats.

          • 10/16/2010
            Reply

            I think Camby gets judged unfairly. This year is a clear case study for him. If he is a great player and you just added him to a 50 win team (and I think he is) we’ll see it in Portland record.

  5. Austin
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    As a Blazers fan, I’m examining that surprise prediction the most closely.

    The only errors I see:
    Pendergraph is out for the season with an ACL injury
    Batum will probably play more, taking minutes from Luke Babbitt in particular. He’s the entrenched starting SF, and should play 30 mpg while healthy.
    Wesley Matthews will play some 3…and I’m not sure why he’s projected to play twice as many minutes as Batum either.

    Even as a big homer who loves Camby, I didn’t realize how gigantic his raw win total was. Even without Przybilla and Oden playing a full season between them….dang. Here’s hoping he’s completely ageless!

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      I need to add injuries in the final version. In my defense, I did do over 455 individual projections.

      • Austin
        10/16/2010
        Reply

        Oh I understand. You projected for injuries but did not include current ones.

        Anyway that’s fine, I just meant it as a heads-up – I love the stuff you’re doing these days.

        • 10/16/2010
          Reply

          Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate the feedback. It’s hard to keep track of all the injuries.

  6. Fred Bush
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    I really only follow the Spurs in depth. Some comments: (1) Bobby Simmons is listed everywhere I can find as a small forward. (2) Historically Parker gets more minutes than Hill. (3) I expect McDyess’ minutes to drop this year; Blair might start alongside Duncan.

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      Individual position assignments aren’t terribly important. I’m just using them to ballpark minute allocations. Hill and Parker’s numbers are interchangeable
      The Spurs make nervous. There’s a chance that they’ll bury Blair in the rotation for Splitter and McDyess (both monumental mistakes) or that Pop sticks to form and plays the hell out of Blair. Those are 5 to 10 game swings.

  7. 10/15/2010
    Reply

    The only thing that makes me sad is that the Blazers picked up the players Denver threw away for “stars” and cap space. I’d love Camby and Miller to get a ring, they deserve it.

  8. evanz
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    A Doctor Who reference…this blog has officially been kicked up a notch in my book.

  9. evanz
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    I do think the Wizards will win more than 4 games.

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      LOL.
      So do I. 11 seems to be the hard bottom in the modern NBA. 10 is in play though (especially if Gilbert is out now)

  10. Ken
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    I love these posts, apart from one thing — I’m a Wizards fan, so their line was blindingly ugly. I’m curious though how they dropped 4 games from your last projection. As I recall, when you ran the preliminary model you had them in the 8 to 24 win range (worst case vs. best, if you can call 24 wins a best case) . What changed?

    Anyway, thanks for setting expectations so low that a 10-win, just-avoided-the-NBA-record-for-sucking season will feel like a victory.

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      Ken,
      Thanks. Sorry about that. Buck up though, no one is under contract past 2012 except Gilbert and I honestly believe the union throws him under the bus in the upcoming CBA and a rule goes in that let’s him be cut.

      As for why the projection went down? The guys they brought in for the preseason are horrible. Adam Morrison is a two time nba champ though.

  11. neal frazier
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    (note – going for the capillaries here…) Do you really expect Boozer to play 2177min this year? Since he is starting the season injured, I think he is going to miss 30 games instead of 12 and end up with just 1500min played which should cost the Bulls about what 3 games? I guess would only drop them to a 4 seed…

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      If he plays 60 games at 38 minutes a night that’ s 2280, so yeah.

  12. neal frazier
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    meant to add an actual question to that ridiculous snipe – how can the Spurs have a better raw wins +/- but a lower raw wins than the Lakers?

    • 10/15/2010
      Reply

      raw wins +/- is the margin of error predicted. So the Spurs have more variation built in than the Lakers (and this is without considering the Blair factor).

  13. neal frazier
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    Darnit, the Boozer thing just gave me a question – It seems like having a player miss whole games due to injury would cost a team more wins than having them play the same fewer number of minutes across more games – ie a team that could play Boozer just 25mpg for 80 games would win more games than a team that played Boozer 40mpg for 50 games – is there a way to show if this is true from the data?

    (if so, this would contradict the idea of resting old guys on the second of back to cack nights like some teams have done in favor of just limiting their minutes each game like Houston is saying they will do with Y.Ming.)

    (Also, this assumes that the team in question is not portland – ie does not have a seemingly infinite number of .300wp48 bigs to plug in to the lineup whenever a starter gets hurt…)

    (and is there a way to edit posts so those of us who pull the trigger too fast can modify our original post instead of putting up a string of posts the way I just did?)

  14. 10/15/2010
    Reply

    Neal,
    It’s an excellent question that could account for a lot of the variation in the Wins Produced vs. the actual. I’d need to build a model (probably using games played) to do this. Cool future project.

    I’m going to follow up on the Portland supply of bigs in the future.

    Don’t know. don’t you have an edit button underneath the comment?

    • neal frazier
      10/16/2010
      Reply

      No edit button – but maybe thats a good thing as it is causing me to think a tiny bit before hitting ‘post comment’.

  15. some dude
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    Portland as the other superteam! hah. Well, still needs to be some tweaking I say. While I do have them pegged as the West’s #2 seed, I am very confident LAL will win more games by at least a 3-4 game margin if not more. But that’s cool, it’s why they play the games I suppose.

    Boozer – agree with Neil. How the minutes are allocated matter. I don’t think you can make straight team projections solely on player numbers without allocating the minutes properly. By this I mean Portland is much more likely to miss games Pryz and Oden miss entirely, or even miss Camby and those 2 and this will bring their win total down.

    It’s like the convo we had before about Boozer and Chicago’s opening schedule. Their schedule is really tough and the team is to struggle without Boozer, but under the model it appears Boozer plays 25mpg (or wtvr) rather than only 60 games at 32mpg (or wtvr). I’m sure it’s quite complicated to adjust this issue.

    Also, under what premise do you see Boozer getting 38mpg when he’s never cracked 35 and has Taj behind him?

    Anyway, Blazers won’t crack 60 but will be the #2 seed (or #3 at worst). Spurs won’t win 58 because they’ll actively give games away not playing Timmy/Manu in back to backs as well.

    The Hornets projection really surprises me. All they did this off-season was add Ariza, no? And that makes them better than OKC?

    You know my gripe with the Warriors.

    Houston is really shocking. You take last season’s team and add Yao and subtract Ariza’s awful play and they get worse? huh?

    Clips seem too low to me. Raps seem way too high. That team is going to be horrible. Their defense was really bad last season and will continue to be so, but without Bosh their offense is no longer as good. They are a bottom 3 team.

    The biggest shock to me is the Bucks. They added Maggette, Gooden, and lost a fluke season from Ridnour and are now not just worse, but much worse? They’re deep and play excellent defense. This will be a playoff team in the East and competing for the 4-5 seed.

    So as to be fair, those are some criticisms but I do agree on other predictions. Kings, Nuggets (if melo stays), Mavs, Suns, Cavs, Bobcats look about right. Really glad to see Cleveland while obviously getting worse not becoming the absolute worst team of all time as some in the national media claim them to become sans Lebron. Outside the Clips and Raps, the bottom all looks about right, too.

    • 10/16/2010
      Reply

      Sd,
      Take a good but not great team and add 2 world class bigs (a young one who’s developing and injury prone and one who’s top 5 and underrated) shake and get a great team. Worked for LA in 2008, no reason it can’t work for the Blazers in 2011 (and they won more games in 09 & 10 than LA in 06 and 07).

      It’s a valid point on Boozer but we’ll see. It’s a young 41 win team that upgraded multiple places. They’ll be up there, how far depends on injuries.

      San Antonio could be better if they played their guys but pop will be happy with the third seed. Also Splitter taking time from Blair scares me.

      The Hornets have Chris Paul. West,Ariza, Okafor are decent pieces around him. After that they kind of suck but seriously, Chris Paul.

      OKC has too many questions at big, they’ll probably go up in the final build but Kristic and Green are not the starting 4/5 on a championship contender, I’m sorry.

      I’ll probably up Biedrins minutes for GSW which’ll get them closer to 50. :-)

      Houston’s best player is Yao and the model only has him good for 734 minutes. I need to tweak that but they really don’t have a star just a bunch of decent guys. Won’t get it done this year.

      If the Clips are higher it’ll be because Griffin is an absolute monster. I wouldn’t bet against it.
      Raps are not that far from bottom 3.

      I’ll spend some time with the deer but Bogut already admitted he’s not 100%. Maguette is overrated. Salmons might need some tweaking as well.

    • Raspu10
      10/16/2010
      Reply

      Heh – you’re gonna hate it when he gets Charlie Bell and Udoh out of the top-6 for projected minutes, and puts Biedrins and Reggie Williams in instead. Trust me on that, it’s true even if he leaves VladRad in the top 10. If Arturo’s min-model-max values err in WP48 for the Warrior players, it it’s probably fair to say they err slightly on the side of caution, allowing for transfer effect on going from a bad team to a good one.

      But your issue is Monta, and I feel you – I really do. And knowing players and trends and such, it would be hard to credit his ability to turn his head around and actually produce something beyond low-efficiency points with his talent. A month ago I would have bet against him. But if this goes on – what we’re seeing from him so far – then he’s going to be playing a lot closer to 2008 than 2010.

      The Clippers are not a good team, at the moment. Blake is amazing (seeing was believing), but there isn’t anything else there. And his FT shooting is out and out horrendous. Hack a Shaq turns into Shake a Blake…

  16. some dude
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    Apologize for misspelling your name Neal. Honest mistake. No edit button here, either.

    • neal frazier
      10/16/2010
      Reply

      No problem – happens all the time :)

  17. dm
    10/15/2010
    Reply

    Even though their not my teams I just can’t help feeling giddy when looking at the good projections for nba bottom feeders like the Kings, Warriors and Nets. Some of these teams have a clue, while some are probably stumbling on wins but regardless their loyal die hard fans are in for a treat!

  18. some dude
    10/16/2010
    Reply

    Arturo – But again your model doesn’t allocate the minutes properly. It’s assuming X minutes per game per 82 rather than Y minutes per game over 60 and thus there are likely to be games lost because they have no bigs playing. And Camby is not top 5 and he’s overrated like crazy. I mentioned it before, but he’s a cheating rebounder. I watched him in LA for long enough and in person to see it. He will cost the team games with selfish play. You don’t have to believe me, but there’s a reason why he hasn’t gotten past the 1st round in a decade. Please don’t compare him to Pau. We saw Pau obliterate him head 2 head in the playoffs. Oh, and he’s only getting older. Let me reiterate that I think they are the #2 team out West, but I guarantee they won’t hit 60 wins.

    Regarding the Bulls, I definitely think they improved and win a bunch more. And I earlier said 55 is probably the top end, so your model seems to be reasonable.

    Blair will lose time if he can’t figure out how to defend. That’s why he was pulled out last season. The team was 2 point worse with him out there and actually even worse at times with Duncan even alongside him. And for whatever reason, the team struggled on offense when he was paired with jefferson (personally, I blame R-Jeff). But he needs to defend adequately. He’s talented but undersized and even though he cleans the glass, if he gives up as many layups as last year, he’ll be deservedly on the bench. I think he’ll be better this season, though.

    Chris Paul didn’t help them much the past 2 seasons. Okafor is bleh. They’re not better than OKC, sorry. I don’t think they’re contenders either, and the media has overblown their potential this year as they’re a big away, but they’re still a good team.

    Keep tauting the Warriors for 50. I love the false hope for the norcal folks. :D

    I still don’t get your defense of Houston. They won 42 games last year. Your projecting 38 wins with nearly the same team plus Yao. Who is getting that much worse to not only negate Yao’s positive force but also negating what they did last season? I mean, Yao is worth at least 5 wins at 24 mpg, no? So you’re predicting some collection negating 9 wins. I don’t see it.

    I personally think the Raps will be the worst team in the league this year. Don’t overestimate my Griffin enthusiasm. When I say Clips too low, I mean they’re more like 10th in the West, not 14th!

    • 10/16/2010
      Reply

      We’ll disagree on Camby.

      The Hornets in 2009: 49 wins 28 by CP3
      The Hornets in 2010: 37 wins 11 by CP3 (who’s out half the year)
      So if CP3 is back how’s 45 wins a high number?

      Golden State will be good and a fantastic team to watch on tv.

      Houston can be explained by the model having Brad Miller get 1700 minutes of playing time.

      The Raps might be the second worst team once all the rosters shake out. Nobody’s close to Washington at the bottom.

  19. some dude
    10/16/2010
    Reply

    Because Chandler is gone, Peja is worthless, and CP3 is injury prone and frustrated. The bench went from mediocre to atrocious IMO and this will matter. That said, 45 isn’t that high and doable, but I just think OKC gets higher than 45 (but not a top 3 seed).

    GSW, keep up the hype. I’m lovin’ it. Golden State will be a fantastic team to watch if you like schoolyard play and no defense. Personally, I’m no fan.

    I think Miller’s projected a bit high at 20mpg. That leaves only 4 minutes for non-Yao aka Hill and Landry. I actually think Miller won’t be used so much and/or he’ll be a bit more productive in Houston. Sorry, Miller doesn’t negate 9 wins, especially when Kevin martin barely played and Battier will be back to his usual role. Houston will be around 50 wins.

    The Raps might have the edge for this reason: The Wizards will try every night, The Raps might not. And defensively, the Raps have the potential to be the worst ever, much like last season’s squad. Neither team has much talent, though. But what I do know is the Raps were only not horrible last season because of their offense and that took a big hit and the D should get even worse!

    • 10/16/2010
      Reply

      OKC’s bigs other than Ibaka are not promising. That said I like them close to fifty. Probably will be there in the final projection.
      Houston numbers will go up when I up Yao’s numbers but not that much (maybe five wins?). Again no stars but Yao and he’s unreliable. I know it seems counterintuitive but I can’t really see fifty wins there.

      The problem is that I think this’ll be like 1996. Two really good teams, 4-5 other teams over 50 then everyone else.

      The Raptors are bad but the wizards are really bad. The best player on the roster for next season (McGee) has a projected .090 WP48 for the season. He would be the fifth best player on the Raptors. John Wall’s wp48 for the preseason is .002. Gilbert is already acting like a headcase. Josh Howard is out. Nick Young, Yi, Al Thorton and Adam Morrison on the same team. That’s a mighty train wreck.

  20. some dude
    10/16/2010
    Reply

    How did Houston win 42 last year without Yao and are expected to win 38 with him? I just don’t get that. Other than Brad Miller, is there just an across the board drop in WP48 for everyone?

    Are you suggesting Portland or LAL is one of those 2 really good teams? If it’s Portland, your Celtics green glasses aside, that’s ridiculous. If you want to say “three really good teams,” fine, but excluding the 2 time defending champs who improved during the off-season seems a bit silly. And they’re projected to win 61 with Bynum missing time and Kobe being rested too, no?

    As for the Wiz, well I expect one of those 2 or the T-wolves to be the worst team in the league (if K-Love goes down again or doesn’t get over 30mpg…). And hey, the wiz won 3 of 5 this preseason. :D

    Look, I know they suck. That’s obvious. But sometimes in the NBA just trying win can net you an extra 3-5 games and I’m not convinced toronto will try. Wall will be wildly inconsistent (and I do think he’s overrated) , but on those days he has good games, the team could pull some victories.

    Look, the Raps were 111-113 in efficiency last year. Bosh was worth about 4 pp100 for the team last year (and that was with him giving half effort at times). And I’m sure defensively he is better for them than rookie Ed Davis and that guy that fouls every 20 seconds. If he’s worth 4 points each way (or 6 points on offense and 2 defense), this could be a 107-117 team next season. That’s worse than every team last season.

    Wouldn’t surprise me if Washington is that bad either, though.

  21. 10/17/2010
    Reply

    Arturo:

    Best thing about this post is that it makes me feel good about telling my brother (who’s a big Arenas fan for some god-forsaken reason) that the Wizards won’t win more games than the Heat lose.

  22. 10/17/2010
    Reply

    RG,
    I actually think that’s an awesome wager. I figure 12 losses for Miami and 12 wins for the wiz (remember there’s some weird ceiling for losses).

  23. 10/19/2010
    Reply

    Arturo:

    The only reason I didn’t make it is because I’ve been talking shit about the Heat winning 75 games and I wasn’t confident the Wizards would only win 6 games. But man, that would be sweet if it happened.

  24. […] in (numerical) second last year, so he would be a good choice.  The downside to Durant is that Arturo has the Thunder only winning 45 games; I don’t know if people would pick Durant if they […]

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