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The numbers say what?!?!?!(Hold on to your seats boys)

30 posts in this topic

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yes, Miami actually got better

By Bradford Doolittle

Basketball Prospectus

Posted ImageAndrew Bynum is all smiles in Philly, but his new team might not have the same success this year.

The transactions are still trickling in, but barring an unforeseen blockbuster, we can just about put a wrap on our offseason transactions. Using NBAPET, my system for projecting, evaluating and tracking the league, I've entered all transactions through the weekend and created a wins forecast for every team.

I've also compared the wins forecast to last season's total of Pythagorean wins per 82 games for each team, which is the record each team should have had based on its point differential. This gives us an idea how teams have moved up and down the NBA ladder since the Heat wrapped up the championship a couple of months ago.

With ESPN.com's Summer Forecast upon us, let's take a look at just how close these projections are to what our expert panel predicted. The first number for each team is projected wins, the second is how many games better (or worse) the team should be than in 2011-12.

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1. Miami Heat: 60.5 | 2.6

With the Bulls likely to take a big step back this season, the Heat should be able to land the East's top seed with little difficulty, something it has gone without the last two years despite winning a pair of conference titles. Miami projects to be a top-five team on each end of the floor, displaying the most balance of any team in the league.

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2. Atlanta Hawks: 48.7 | 2.5 worse

It's funny, our projections systems have never much liked the Hawks over the years and now that they've unloaded their highest-profile player, we've got them getting a better seed than at any point during Atlanta's current string of playoff teams. The Hawks' offense without Joe Johnson will get better, trading in a lot of long jumpers for more trips to the foul line. Still, it's not so much a matter of the Hawks getting better as it is the rest of the East backsliding.

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3. New York Knicks: 48.4 | 1.9 worse

If this seems odd, consider that the Knicks finished five games worse last season than their point differential suggested they should have. Because that kind of disparity usually evens itself out, New York's projection would have improved even if the Knicks had stood pat during the offseason.

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4. Boston Celtics: 46.9 | 1.9 worse

This seems about right. The Celtics retained more or less the same core, only one year older. The supporting cast looks a little bit better, and Boston projects to be the best defensive team in the league.It should be enough for Rajon Rondo and Co. to run Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce a little longer, but it can't stop the inevitable.

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5. Chicago Bulls: 46.9 | 16.8 worse

What did you expect? With Derrick Rose forecast to be out at least half the season and Chicago's league-best bench almost completely turned over, even the most optimistic Bulls fan can't dare hope for another No. 1 seed. If they get one, the folks in Springfield, Mass., might as well go ahead and clear out a spot for Tom Thibodeau in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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6. Indiana Pacers: 43.7 | 6.9 worse

This is a surprisingly pessimistic look at the Pacers, who certainly seem like one of the league's rising teams. Mostly we're seeing a regression for Indiana's performance on the defensive end. One problem in that area may be the addition of Ian Mahinmi, which could make the already foul-prone Pacers the most hack-happy team in the league.

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7. Brooklyn Nets: 42.9 | 18.8

The good news is that Brooklyn projects to be the most improved team in the league. As we've written, that would have been largely true even without the addition of Johnson because of the injury problems the Nets suffered last season. While Johnson's addition appears to help the Nets a lot more than his loss hurts the Hawks, the fact of the matter is that the Nets are still well short of the league's upper crust.

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8. Philadelphia 76ers: 42.5 | 11.3 worse

The Sixers' projection is bogged down by an iffy playing time projection for Andrew Bynum, which is based on his long history of knee trouble. However, even if Bynum repeats last season's healthy campaign, the Sixers will still be short of perimeter players that can efficiently create their own shot. That problem is made worse by the lack of the traditional, playmaking point guard that can make this kind of power configuration work. The Sixers should again be one of the top defensive teams in the league.

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9. Toronto Raptors: 41.8 | 10.8

The additions of big man Jonas Valanciunas and shooting guard Landry Fields give Toronto a much more solid starting five. Head coach Dwayne Casey's team will stress defense, and if DeMar DeRozan's productivity starts to match his raw talent, the Raptors might be poised for a playoff run.

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10. Milwaukee Bucks: 39.7 | 2.1 worse

You might not have noticed that Milwaukee actually outscored its opponents last season, but it did. Still, even a full season of Ersan Ilyasova, Monta Ellis and the addition of Samuel Dalembert only serve to maintain the Bucks' status as perfectly average.

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11. Detroit Pistons: 32.9 | 6.1

The Pistons' name still pops up in 'who will lose the most games' polls, but there is upside to the Greg Monroe-Rodney Stuckey-Brandon Knight core. If rookie Andre Drummond can contribute in a positive fashion, Detroit could be one of the league's more improved outfits.

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12. Cleveland Cavaliers: 30.9 | 9.6

With one season under Kyrie Irving's belt, the Cavaliers should continue their upwards arc with another big step forward. Irving is a legit franchise player. Meanwhile, the Anderson Varejao-led contingent of big men are forecast to make Cleveland one of the league's top offensive-rebounding teams.

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13. Washington Wizards: 30.2 | 3.0

Washington's new veteran frontline of Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza should help solidify the Wizards on the defensive end. Unfortunately, the offense still projects as one of the league's most inefficient. However, that could change fast if John Wall's production begins to match his elite potential.

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14. Orlando Magic: 29.2 | 14.2 worse

The Bulls are the only team projected to take a bigger step back than Orlando faces in the first year post-Superman. And it could crater much worse than this as veterans like Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington and Glen Davis start to lose their motivation to stay "healthy."

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15. Charlotte Bobcats: 15.7 | 6.6

The absolutely scary thing about the Bobcats' 7-59 record last season (8.6 wins per 82 games) is that it was entirely justified by Charlotte's horrific point differential. The Bobcats will be better, but they'll still be so bad that hardly anyone will notice.

Bradford Doolittle is an author for Basketball Prospectus. Follow him on Twitter at @bbdoolittle.

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I am not to fond of only using statistics to determine an outcome because after all, we are human and things constantly change. BUUUUT MAN.....I sure hope your system holds true. This would be huge!Thanks for posting!

Edited by CODHAWKSFAN

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Imagine if we played Brooklyn in the 1st round of playoffs. That would be funny/weird. Posted Image

Edited by AHawks89

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I think the only goal with this was to set the bar so high that one of these prognosticators will actually overrate us for once. Kudos.

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Ain't no way. I optimistically place the Hawks at 5th in the east.

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This is the whole point. The east is looking at an historically bad season. That's why i think the Hawks staying in the middle of the playoff pack is very likely. I think we'll be a pretty good team. After the Heat and Celtics the rest of the east is a mess.

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The prime offseason story would change from, "But, can we keep Josh Smith?" to "But, can we keep Larry Drew?"~lw3

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First of all, thanks for posting - - Interesting.

Figures don't lie.

Liars figure.

Statistics show and prove who is good and bad, but remember,

Players play the game and coaches coach the game.

Cold, hard facts may prove one thing - BUT - Actual human beings

can and do make a huge difference. You can't guarantee that they

will always do as expected - IE - Follow the statistics script.

We will not know for sure until we get our players on the floor, have

them work out together, establish a chemestry and then get into games

that really matter.

I'm personally looking foreward to seeing how everything shakes out.

GO HAWKS!!!

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Again, Gray Mule the wisest man in the room!

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More trips to the foul line? Games aint won on paper but Sounds good to me. Hopefully size won't be an issue and we could approach 50 wins. But it would be a miracle if Drew's past unwillingness to adapt to size and talent, doesnt affect the Hawks in the playoffs.It will be interesting to see if the other teams in the East are that bad. I mean Brooklyn is 50%. NY with the 3rd seed and Indy is way down there.Weird list but yeahThat'd be great :). But the team has to be proactive in actually getting better because other teams will.

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Indiana's "hack happiness" messed up our season last year. Pound of salt.

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This is the whole point. The east is looking at an historically bad season. That's why i think the Hawks staying in the middle of the playoff pack is very likely. I think we'll be a pretty good team. After the Heat and Celtics the rest of the east is a mess.

Historically bad? Are you kidding? Look at the teams that improved like NY, Philly, Brooklyn. Look at the up and coming teams like Cleveland, Washington. The only teams that have dropped off is Us, Orlando, and INdy.

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This is the same thing I've been saying for weeks. This tool figures in that we were sans Horford for much of the year. As long as we remain reasonably healthy, I think 55 wins is very possible. Remember 55 wins is 27 losses and you have to find 27 times that potent scoring attack will be outdone this year. We are built for a high seed. The question remains how will we be built for the 2nd round.

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Only way we become a 2nd seed ifwe have perfect chemistryteague or smoove plays like an MVPlarry drew somehow becomes red auerbachwe become an elite offensive team while maintaining an average defensive efficiency. it is not impossible but very unlikely.

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Here is no doubt that the hawks SHOULD make the playoffs1) The heat are head and shoulders atop the east 2) celtics because of defense in preseason should be here3) Knicks have the 3rd (maybe 2nd most talent but I don't see them landing here) so....4) nets pacers and hawks are all in the mix for 3-6Heck really can throw the 2) an the celtics spot up for grabs because they just want to make it to the playoffs healthy and they have a chance. Bottom line I think the ceiling is 2) for the hawks and the basement is 7)The bottom line is the best team chemistry and health will determine these seeds

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From the article:

The Hawks' offense without Joe Johnson will get better, trading in a lot of long jumpers for more trips to the foul line.

I suspect the opposite will be true. Josh Smith is likely to view the departure of JJ as a green light to fire up even more jumpers. This will make us worse, not better.

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Wow. I cannot remember a time ESPN has ever spoke so highly of us, but I can see it though... Although Joe was our #1 option on offense, he did hold us back a lot. With that enormous contract, he had a boat-load of pressure on his shoulders to be the man, so we got a lot of ISO Joe and him trying to fight through double teams only to get a long brick or to sound of an expired shot clock in return. Now that Joe and Marvin are gone, it forces defense to account for everyone on the floor. With Joe off of the floor, Horford, Smith, and Teague will have more opportunities. Lou is a bigger signing for us than trading Marvin for Harris. I can see Lou being that spark plug off the bench and I think he'll have quite a few games in the 20+ range. Morrow will be big for us. Harris will be big for Teague development. Josh will be an All Star this year. Now that will will have a capable scorer at 3 (Smoove, Korver, DF's TD pickup) and still have a capable scorers at 2 (Morrow, Williams, Jenkins), I believe that we will forget about ole JJ2 after the first couple games.

Edited by PSSSHHHRRR87

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Wow. I cannot remember a time ESPN has ever spoke so highly of us, but I can see it though... Although Joe was our #1 option on offense, he did hold us back a lot. With that enormous contract, he had a boat-load of pressure on his shoulders to be the man, so we got a lot of ISO Joe and him trying to fight through double teams only to get a long brick or to sound of an expired shot clock in return. Now that Joe and Marvin are gone, it forces defense to account for everyone on the floor. With Joe off of the floor, Horford, Smith, and Teague will have more opportunities. Lou is a bigger signing for us than trading Marvin for Harris. I can see Lou being that spark plug off the bench and I think he'll have quite a few games in the 20+ range. Morrow will be big for us. Harris will be big for Teague development. Josh will be an All Star this year. Now that will will have a capable scorer at 3 (Smoove, Korver, DF's TD pickup) and still have a capable scorers at 2 (Morrow, Williams, Jenkins), I believe that we will forget about ole JJ2 after the first couple games.

By JJ2 do you mean Joe or Jenkins? I'm hoping Jenkins is one of those guys who shines as a pro but i'm suspecting he may be sitting most of the time. I do think we will be exciting to watch and will hopefully put some highlights back in the factory. We just need to be able to hold it together down the stretch defensively. I'm still expecting more trades before the end of the year though.

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Wow. I cannot remember a time ESPN has ever spoke so highly of us, but I can see it though... Although Joe was our #1 option on offense, he did hold us back a lot. With that enormous contract, he had a boat-load of pressure on his shoulders to be the man, so we got a lot of ISO Joe and him trying to fight through double teams only to get a long brick or to sound of an expired shot clock in return. Now that Joe and Marvin are gone, it forces defense to account for everyone on the floor. With Joe off of the floor, Horford, Smith, and Teague will have more opportunities. Lou is a bigger signing for us than trading Marvin for Harris. I can see Lou being that spark plug off the bench and I think he'll have quite a few games in the 20+ range. Morrow will be big for us. Harris will be big for Teague development. Josh will be an All Star this year. Now that will will have a capable scorer at 3 (Smoove, Korver, DF's TD pickup) and still have a capable scorers at 2 (Morrow, Williams, Jenkins), I believe that we will forget about ole JJ2 after the first couple games.

2011 - 12 Usage % for our projected top 5 players next year:

- Josh Smith: 28.4

- Louis Williams: 27.4

- Devin Harris: 19.5

- Jeff Teague: 19.1

- Al Horford: 17.9

Shots and Minutes per game in 2011 - 12 amongst those same 5 players:

- Smith: 16.7 shots in 35.3 minutes

- Williams: 12.2 shots in 26.3 minutes

- Teague: 10.2 shots in 33.1 minutes

- Horford: 9.4 shots in 31.6 minutes

- Harris: 8.6 shots in 27.6 minutes

Field Goal % of these 5 players in 2011 - 12:

- Horford: .553

- Teague: .476

- Smith: .458

- Harris: .445

- Williams: .407

For our top 9 - 10 players to be effective, the top 2 usages on the team MUST come down. And somehow, Al Horford's usage and shots must go UP. It's almost unheard of to have 3 PG sized guys have the top 5 usage on the team, AND have a frontline player that leads the team in usage.

I think the one thing that people need to remember next season, is that Josh Smith is in a contract year. And because of that, he's going to be looking to put up the best numbers possible. After getting a taste of being the #1 option at times last year, I'd be surprised if he all of a sudden just played within himself, and let the guards take over the offense.

The problem with this team, is that we now have 3 good guards that NEED the ball in their hands to be effective. None of those guys are really good playing off the ball. And one of these guys is going to be left out of the loop if Smith's usage will be in the mid - high 20% range. If all 3 are effective, that probably means that Smith is getting significantly less touches, which will not be good for him numbers wise, unless he's shooting at around or over 50% FG.

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Field Goal % of these 5 players in 2011 - 12 // True Shooting % of the 5 players in 2011-12

- Horford: .553 // .585

- Teague: .476 // .551

- Smith: .458 // .499

- Harris: .445 // .564

- Williams: .407 // .525

TS% Comparison Joe Johnson - .557 (2010/11 - .517; 2009/10 - .538; 2008-09 - .534; 2007-08 - .535)

I added the ts% because I think it gives a much better picture of offensive efficiency. The bottomline message is that Josh's jump shooting needs to decrease.

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