Let’s Play: Glimpse the Future


With a quarter of the precincts reporting, we can now start to predict the outcome of this NBA season with some relative accuracy.  As of right now I am only comfortable taking a stab at the final regular season standings of the Western Conference…the playoffs can be too unpredictable.

I’m going to focus on those teams that John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds are projecting to finish one through eight…hey it may not be perfect, but I ain’t gonna do this exercise for bottom-dwellers like the Clips.  What I am going to do, is take a team’s current record and use their average winning percentage over a relevant period to project how many games we might expect them to pull down from now through April.  For example, the Hornets are sitting at 14-9 right now and their average winning percentage in the Chris Paul era is .528 so following the formula I’ve developed (Current Wins + (Remaining Games * Average win %) = 2010-2011 Projected Wins) we can expect New Orleans to win about 45 games this year. 

This system has it flaws for sure, for example Houston has been pretty strong on a yearly basis for awhile now, so using their average winning percentage in the Yao era against their current record might actually put them in my projected Western Conference Playoffs.  On the other hand, things were very lean during the first two years of Durant’s career with the Seattle/ OKC team, so they will probably get screwed by my set-up.  But realistically, the only team not in current top eight of the Western Conference with a shot at the playoffs is Memphis, which I see as outside looking in unless they can pull a rabbit of the hat with a trade or something.

 And now the future of the Western Conference….Drum roll please…..

  1. San Antonio Spurs 61-21
  2. Dallas Mavericks: 56-26
  3. Los Angeles Lakers: 55-27
  4. Utah Jazz: 52-30
  5. Denver Nuggets: 51-31
  6. New Orleans Hornets: 45-37
  7. OKC Thunder: 43-39
  8. Portland Trailblazers: 43-29

Remember, the results above are reached by this formula: (Current Wins + (Remaining Games * Average Win %) = 2010-2011 Projected Wins).  To come up with the average winning percentage of a given team I used what I thought were valid milestones for a given team; for instance for the Jazz I used their records from the Deron Williams years, but for the Nuggets I used their records from the George Karl years.

A slight twist on the methodology would be to follow this formula: (82*Average Win %).  Since things do tend to regress to the mean it might actually prove to be more accurate, so let’s take a look how that would alter things.

  1. San Antonio Spurs: 57-25
  2. Dallas Mavericks: 53-29
  3. Los Angeles Lakers: 53-29
  4. Denver Nuggets: 52-30
  5. Utah Jazz: 49-33
  6. Portland Trailblazers: 44-38
  7. New Orleans Hornets: 43-39
  8. OKC Thunder: 37-45

But on second thought those standings look pretty bogus.  Brandon Roy isn’t going to be able to pull Portland that far up in the standings, and I don’t think that Denver can maintain their stability enough to win a division.  Either way, I like the way things seem to be stacking up for the Spurs this year.