The Full Monty: Win Predictions for the 2012-13 NBA Season

“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”
― Richard P. Feynman

I’m going to get this wrong. This season there is a significant disconnect between what people think they know and what the numbers actually say. More correctly I’m going to get some of this wrong but hopefully I’m also going to get dome of this right.

That’s kinda why you’re here.

This offseason I had a list of goals laid out:

  • Rank all the draft prospects and rank them (Check)
  • Prepare a list of all the free agents (Check)
  • Create a full historical database using new Wins Produced and rank all the players (Check , Double Check and Triple Check)
  • Quantify the running value of a win under the new CBA (Check)
  • Develop an improved Age Model (Check)
  • Evaluate every teams roster at the end of the 2012 season (Check)
  • Develop a model for ranking Euro prospects (Check)
  • Rank all the current NBA players and project them out and use that to do a baseline projection of this season (Check)
  • Evaluate the preseason numbers (Check)

Time to get to the most important one and consolidate all the numbers into a projection for the year that we can track .

That requires some explanation, don’t you think? Let’s get to it.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the numbers have no pity. They care not one wit for potential or what if’s . They laugh at your Darko’s and your Jeff Green’s Boston. They laugh at your bench Laker fans. They look at your team Miami fans, shrug, and say you’re still too small. They look at your roster Bobcats fans and offer to buy you a beer.

Let’s start with the really hard bit: the minute projections. For that I combine data from rotoworld’s nba depth chart page, with data from ESPN and other sources together with my own research about minutes by spot on roster.

That leads me to a full depth chart projection.

The next bit is to do Players projections for every single player.

I did six separate projections.They are listed below:

  1. Last Years Wins Produced per 48 numbers.
  2. Last Years Wins Shares per 48 numbers (calculated by me using the instruction on Basketball on Paper).
  3. Last Years Wins Produced per 48 numbers adjusted for new position adjustments.
  4. The weighted averages of the last three years of Wins Produced per 48 numbers.
  5. The weighted averages of the last three years of Wins Produced per 48 numbers incorporating the age model.
  6. Last Years Wins Produced per 48 numbers adjusted for new position adjustments taking into account the preseason.

Finally I did the projections on a team by team basis.

Let’s close this out with some thoughts:

  • Seems like one of the stated goals of the new CBA, parity, is manifesting itself before our eyes as I do not see any 60 win teams in the composite projections.
  • The Knicks and Nuggets vaulted a level with their offseason moves. Brewer, Kidd, Felton, Camby and Prigioni are all upgrades for New York. The Amare injury helps as well. The Igoudala trade was brilliant for Denver as it took away GK’s most harmful toys ( the model actually assumes he somewhat buries
  •  The Thunder fell a level with the recent Harden trade (particularly when you account for age improvement). The Celts and Lakers have way too many questions marks (age, injury, the prominent involvement of Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa, Darko Milicic, Antwan Jamison and Metta World Peace). Miami still has no decent big men (Josh Harrellson is interesting but doesn’t figure to play much).
  • Minnesota is really, really good, having the biggest year to year projected improvement at 17.6 wins, and remains a contender even with the Love/Rubio injuries. They will be a very hard out come playoff time.
  • The Spurs as always are lurking. Age and injury are a factor. This is however another team that will turn it up for the playoffs.
  • Anthony Davis is really,really good.
  • The biggest x-factor in the projections is Andrew Bynum’s knee. If he’s healthy and plays? Philly wins their division and challenges for the 3rd seed. Second biggest is if Bargniani plays for Toronto. If they somehow avoid playing him? Challenge for a top 3 seed.
  • Houston is a borderline playoff team right now. I’m really,really rooting for an OKC/Houston first round series.

As a final bonus, here’s the playoff predictions:

I realize, I am in all probability not properly modeling just how badly George Karl will mishandle his playoff lineups but there it is.

And yes I realize I am putting my trust in this man again. God help me.


(Editor’s Note- . I made a revised version of this with a more boring and more logical result.)


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