How many games will the San Antonio Spurs need to win?
Last season, San Antonio still managed to make the tournament with just a 45.8% win mark. If we shift that percentage to a full 82-game season, the Spurs will need to have a record of 38-44 to finish where they did last season. So far, San Antonio is on pace for just 30 wins, but early data shows they're playing much better than their record suggests.
Cleaning the Glass is an excellent tool that filters out garbage time in their data to provide more accurate analysis. While expecting 45.8 wins is too ambitious for this roster, the overall suggestion that their bad record is deceiving is believable. Through 11 games the Spurs are the team in the bottom nine in the NBA standings with a positive point differential.
Let's take a closer look at the other teams in the Western Conference to monitor.
Dead in the water: New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets
It's going to be a long season for the Pelicans (1-11) and Rockets (1-10), and the biggest result from this season will be how many ping pong balls they have in their corners come draft time.
Unless Zion Williamson comes back very soon and starts dominating with Brandon Ingram, I don't see a way they'll be even close to the 10th seed by the season's end. The Rockets have plenty of young talent but will be using this season to develop it all.
Barely treading: Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder
Both the Timberwolves and Thunder have the benefit of having at least one proven star on their team, but their supporting casts don't add much (besides Anthony Edwards). The Wolves are 3-7 and the Thunder are 4-6 through 10 games.
The Wolves are currently fully healthy and are still in the bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. I also find it hard to believe that Karl Anthony-Towns will remain happy with the direction of the franchise much longer.
The Thunder, meanwhile, boast a better defense so far but are only score 99 points per game (29th). It will take a superhuman effort from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plus some steady support from his teammates to keep them close to contention in the West. I'm not a firm believer in the latter happening.
So which teams are the most likely to be in the mix with the Spurs (if they get there) when it comes to the play-in?