Maybe it is a bit early to start doing this, but I figured the best way for me to get a feel for the 2013 NBA is to run some predictions. I used age adjusted PA100 offensive numbers over the past two seasons (2010/11 only weighted a quarter of 2011/12) and RAPM defensive numbers (already include past seasons in the priors) to predict individual players and team efficiencies for the 2013 season.
I will be posting the results one division at a time over the next week+. First up is the Atlantic Division:
How to read these:
I used PA100 numbers to predict offense and RAPM numbers to predict defense. Due to cross-matching and team defense I think RAPM is a more reliable measure of individual defensive contributions than PA100 defense. The problem with mixing PA and RAPM here is that RAPM is overly conservative (underrates the contributions, both good and bad, of individual players), while PA likely runs the other direction. To address this problem, I converted both scores into standard deviations: +1 means that all else equal a possession including that player produces one standard deviation in point differential more than the average possession. -1 means that player hurts the team to the same degree. [I added stars to make this easier to see .5 = half star, 1 = full star... I did not add stars to players who's sample size is too small to take seriously.]
I used past seasons, roster build, and general guess work to assign a percentage of possessions accounted for by each player. Each position uses 20% of the team's possessions so 20% is the hypothetical max. Top starters tend to account for between 13% and 14%. Feel free to debate the percentages I assigned here. I don't know a ton about non-Wolves teams so I appreciate the feedback and may make adjustments before posting my final predictions.
In the case of rookies and players with limited minutes in the past two years I assigned numbers in a purely subjective fashion. Players who's values were not drawn from data are italicized. Again, feedback is appreciated on these values (but you had better bring numbers if you want me to change them in response.)
Philly got rid of their three best players (Iggy, Brand, and Sweet Lou) and only brought in one star to replace them. They balanced their roster, but they lost way too much talent in the process. Letting Lou walk and then paying more to replace his minutes with Nick Young was definitely their worst move of the offseason.
That said, I don't feel bad for Philly. The Atlantic Division is possibly the densest in the league. It doesn't have any real contenders, but it doesn't have any push-overs either. Philly really hurt themselves this offseason, but they still look like the best worst-in-division team. Assuming Bynum is done being perpetually injured (big assumption), the 76ers have a solid and well-balanced core of young players going into the future.
Brooklyn is my early favorite for "most disappointing" team. You don't contend while ignoring defense. Gerald Wallace can't defend every position simultaneously, and given his age and play-style, the 13% of possessions I gave him may be pretty optimistic. I can see Deron performing considerably better than the prediction above (based on pre-2011/12 excellence), but he has never been much of a defender and it would take more than just a "super-Deron" to make this team anything approaching a contender.
This was a very difficult team to project minutes for... So many skinny bigs and pure points. There is quite a bit of talent on this roster, but I can't imagine the Raptors going long without moving players. Lowry, Johnson, Fields, and possibly JoVal makes a strong core. I am excited to see how this team plays-out.
Not a very interesting team. Thanks to a solid core of Garnett, Rondo, and Pierce Boston will have another winning season, but they did nothing to help themselves this offseason. The Jeff Green signing makes absolutely no sense. It may or may not be the worst move of the offseason, but it is certainly the most difficult to understand. Green, Terry, Lee, Darko... blah. Sullinger is the only acquisition I am giving decent odds of making a difference.
Just as Philly was the least-bad #5 in any division, the Knicks look like the worst division winner in the league. Brewer was a great pickup, but until Amare remembers how to play basketball (or the Knicks find a way to trick Prokhorov into swallowing his salary like ATL did with JJ) his albatross contract will keep the Knicks out of contention.
Next up: The Central Division...