For Atlantic Division results and a brief discussion of methods, see here. For the Central Division see here. For the Southeast Division see here. For the Southwest Division see here. For the Pacific Division see here.
Please don't let the folks over a Blazer's Edge know, but I have Portland ranked as the worst team in the West. We can quibble over the ratings I assigned to their rookies, but I think I was pretty fair. I like Lillard more than most, but it is hard to imagine him stepping right into the starting NBA point guard role. It is kind of shocking how much Portland has positioned themselves to rely on Meyers Leonard. I see no reason to rate him as anything but a very bad player next season. Given that the Blazers are a 3.6 point differential behind the next worst teams (Phoenix and Houston) I will need to be more than just a little wrong on these ratings for it to matter.
The most obviously contentious of the objective ratings is Nic Batum. His value has been covered more than enough at Canis Hoopus this past summer so I won't go there [Search the Canis Hoopus history, keywords: vjl110, Madison Dan, Batum, RAPM, assist receptacle... if you want more discussion]. On the bright side, the model loves LaMarcus Aldridge. He rates as one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
Millsap is a star. Favors is turning into exactly what everyone hoped he would be. Hayward is a solid offensive player. I feel vindicated in pegging Burks as a top-5 pick. Kanter had a much better rookie season than Derrick Williams. Marvin Williams was a good acquisition.
This is a nice team, but the Jazz need to do some serious fine tuning before they can compete in the West. Big Al needs to go. He is only stealing minutes from better players at this point. The Jazz also need to find a serious answer at the point. If Utah accomplishes those two things Denver and Minnesota need to watch out.
The Wolves have clearly "arrived". Barring significant injury we should be in the playoffs. That is pretty damn exciting. The really amazing thing is that, more than nearly any other team, we will be winning games by not giving minutes to bad players. We jettisoned dead weight (Wes, Webster, Darko, and Wayne) and replaced them with competent NBA players. How long have we been begging for that kind of an offseason?
Due to their defensive deficiencies, Love rates as the third best power-forward in the division and Pek only rates as an average player (sorry CJ, blame RAPM). Kirilenko (based on 2011 production) grades as a very solid two-way player. Ricky looks really good, but his impact will be limited by his late and likely metered start (note: this makes us more dangerous come playoff time). This is an exciting time to be a Wolves fan. We aren't contenders unless Brandon Roy 2013 turns out to be Brandon Roy 2010, but we will be competitive every single night.
Moving Afflalo for Iguodala was a coup. Iggy has been one of the best players in the NBA for years. Not only does he completely devastate opposing wings but he has done it while averaging 39 minutes a game for years. I love the idea of an Iggy/Gallo 2/3 or 3/4 pairing. Both can defend, both can move the ball, both can get to the line (Gallo is one of the best in the NBA at this), and Gallo makes up for Iggy's shooting deficiencies. Throw in Lawson, Faried, Chandler, Miller, and Koufos... wow. Timberwolves fans should be very thankful the Nuggets moved Nene for McGee, because Denver's space-cadet center is the only thing keeping them within reach.
The Thunder only have one negative contributor in their top seven (the relevant roster for projecting playoff success), and even Perkins is an important contributor defensively with only a moderately negative differential. They have a five player deep core of young star players. They don't have any serious injury concerns. They don't have any problematic contracts. This team is my favorite to claim the #1 seed in the West in 2013, and probably for years to come.
Durant grades out below most peoples' perception. In fact, he scores exactly the same as Kevin Love (both on offense and defense). I love this result because my more subjective assessment has always come to the same conclusion. The RAPM defensive numbers seem to support Brooks' management of the shooting guard spot. Starting Thabo and bringing in Harden as a 6th man is exactly what I would do assuming the numbers above.
The Thunder are the team to beat in the regular season, but as you will see when I post playoff rotations, they may not be my favorite to win it all.
Next up: Conference Standings