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October 25, 2010
SCHOENE on 2010-11
Final Projections

by Kevin Pelton

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On the eve of the 2010-11 season, Basketball Prospectus offers the final update to the SCHOENE projections originally found in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11. These standings factor in the most recent estimates of injuries and playing time and utilize Bradford Doolittle's simulator (run 1,000 times) to account for the variability in projections. The percentages shown reflect the frequency with which each team won its division, a conference title and an NBA championship.

East Playoffs   Win%     W      L    Play    Con    NBA    ORating      DRating
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Miami           .709   58.2   23.8  1.000   .534   .373   113.3  (5)   106.3  (1)
Orlando         .652   53.5   28.5  1.000   .268   .148   112.6  (7)   107.7  (5)
Chicago         .605   49.6   32.4   .997   .110   .043   110.6 (13)   107.5  (3)
New York        .538   44.1   37.9   .930   .031   .010   113.7  (4)   112.5 (29)
Boston          .528   43.3   38.7   .900   .023   .010   109.3 (21)   108.7 (10)
Milwaukee       .517   42.4   39.6   .855   .021   .006   108.7 (22)   108.2  (9)
New Jersey      .498   40.9   41.1   .766   .006   .000   110.4 (15)   110.8 (20)
Cleveland       .489   40.1   41.9   .699   .005   .000   110.0 (17)   110.6 (19)

In the book, we had the Heat with 60 wins. The loss of Mike Miller for at least the first two months of the season and the addition of Jerry Stackhouse explain the drop, which puts Miami below last year's projection for Cleveland (59.7 wins) and Orlando (59.4). The Heat is the clear favorite, reflected by far and away the league's best chances of winning a championship, but the difference is not nearly large enough to start sizing up championship rings just now. Miami did have a 71-win season in one of the runs.

Even though SCHOENE is hardly enamored of the bottom playoff teams in the Eastern Conference, all of them made the playoffs in at least 70 percent of the simulations (rounding ever so slightly in Cleveland's case) because of the four-game gap between the eighth team and the ninth team.

East Lottery    Win%     W      L    Play    Con    NBA    ORating      DRating
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Atlanta         .439   36.0   46.0   .298   .001   .000   107.1 (24)   109.5 (14)
Toronto         .437   35.8   46.2   .289   .000   .000   111.1 (10)   113.3 (30)
Philadelphia    .412   33.8   48.2   .132   .000   .000   105.4 (28)   108.9 (11)
Charlotte       .402   33.0   49.0   .095   .001   .000   104.3 (29)   108.2  (7)
Indiana         .379   31.1   50.9   .037   .000   .000   106.3 (25)   110.4 (18)
Detroit         .319   26.1   55.9   .002   .000   .000   105.6 (27)   112.2 (27)
Washington      .282   23.1   58.9   .000   .000   .000   102.0 (30)   109.6 (16)

The Wizards are one of two teams (the L.A. Clippers are the other) who did not make the playoffs in any of the simulations.

West Playoffs   Win%     W      L    Play    Con    NBA    ORating      DRating
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Portland        .670   55.0   27.0   .995   .354   .175   114.0  (1)   107.7  (4)
Denver          .601   49.3   32.7   .950   .135   .053   113.8  (2)   110.3 (17)
San Antonio     .598   49.0   33.0   .938   .132   .054   113.2  (6)   109.5 (15)
Golden State    .589   48.3   33.7   .897   .086   .031   112.3  (9)   109.1 (12)
Oklahoma City   .588   48.2   33.8   .921   .093   .033   110.0 (18)   106.8  (2)
Dallas          .575   47.2   34.8   .866   .078   .025   110.7 (12)   107.8  (6)
New Orleans     .571   46.8   35.2   .813   .068   .024   113.8  (3)   111.0 (21)
L.A. Lakers     .551   45.2   36.8   .687   .034   .011   110.2 (16)   108.2  (8)

It is safe to say these are the only projections you will read that feature Portland-Denver-San Antonio-Golden State as the top four in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are perhaps the most difficult team to project. Even after accounting for a more pessimistic assessment of Kenyon Martin's timeline for returning from knee surgery, Denver looks like a contender in the Western Conference (that's a group that goes at least eight deep). However, plenty of experts have the Nuggets finishing out of the playoffs. If Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are both traded for young players, that is perfectly reasonable. So we really need two Denver projections--one for calling Anthony's bluff and another for blowing things up.

West Lottery    Win%     W      L    Play    Con    NBA    ORating      DRating
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sacramento      .521   42.7   39.3   .468   .013   .004   112.4  (8)   111.4 (23)
Utah            .490   40.2   41.8   .234   .004   .000   109.5 (20)   109.4 (13)
Memphis         .470   38.6   43.4   .141   .002   .000   110.5 (14)   111.3 (22)
Phoenix         .443   36.3   45.7   .049   .001   .000   110.8 (11)   112.3 (28)
Houston         .437   35.8   46.2   .040   .000   .000   109.9 (19)   111.7 (25)
Minnesota       .363   29.8   52.2   .001   .000   .000   107.6 (23)   111.7 (24)
L.A. Clippers   .325   26.6   55.4   .000   .000   .000   106.1 (26)   111.9 (26)

The top-to-bottom superiority of the Western Conference is one of SCHOENE's more interesting projections. The East had two of the top three picks and made more noise in free agency, yet the projections indicate that it is the West that improved over the summer. Sacramento and Utah would both be playoff teams in the Eastern Conference by these projections.

It is worth noting, as we consider the value of preseason performance, that Memphis and Utah joined Orlando as the NBA's lone unbeaten teams during the exhibition season.

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is now available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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