Last night should have been the home and season opener for the Toronto Raptors but thanks to the NBA lockout, the HQ had to turn to the good folks at Basketball Prospectus for what might have occurred...
One of the big questions going into this NBA season was...well...what do we do if there IS no season?
How do we provide content?
What can we possibly find to discuss when the team we cover, is sitting on the sidelines?
There's no easy solution, but one thing that seemed encouraging was an article a few weeks ago on Basketball Prospectus, talking about a collabo between the site and Stat-o-Matic, in order to simulate the 2011-12 season.
From the article:
We have supplied our friends at Strat-O-Matic with a set of SCHOENE projections from Kevin Pelton's state-of-the-art system. They have used those forecasts to generate virtual Strat cards for newcomers to the league--Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, et al.--and those have been added into the most recent Strat set based on last season. We worked with them to bring every team's roster as up-to-date as possible, including draft picks (Irving to Cleveland), trades (Flynn to Houston), retirements (goodbye Shaq!) and those who have committed to playing overseas without an opt-out clause (Wilson Chandler). Soon, Strat will run a simulation of the season, complete with injuries, team-specific rotations and playing style tendencies. They will supply us with the results, and we will share them with you in the form of a daily post. It might not be quite as fun as watching Derrick Rose break ankles with his crossover, but it's the next best thing.
Essentially then, Basketball Prospectus is giving their best shot at estimating how the 2011-12 season would have played out, and we here at the HQ intend to follow along.
On that note, Toronto's first game of the 2011-12 season was to have been played last night, against division rival Philadelphia.
By Stat-O-Matic and Basketball Prospectus' calculations, Philly would have won by four, in a comeback 94 to 90 win at the Air Canada Center.
Leading the way for Toronto was Andrea Bargnani with 20 points and 6 rebounds, while Leandro Barbosa chipped in 20 as well.
Philly's win came thanks Jrue Holiday's 23 point, six assist, four rebound, two steal night, while Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Thad Young also turned in solid performances.
Three reasons this outcome makes sense:
1. On paper, taking potential free agency period moves out of the equation, Philly is a more talented team than Toronto.
2. The 76ers and Raps split last season's series two games apiece, but Philly won the latter two and seemed to only get stronger as the playoffs approached. The Dinos of course went in the opposite direction.
3. The box scores for players like Andrea Bargnani (team high -17, only six rebounds in 35 minutes of action, 8 of 27 from the field etc) and Amir Johnson (team-high 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) among others, jive with what you'd expect from this group, and the fact that Toronto was up by 17 at one point and lost in the end, unable to close it out...well...that seems pretty bang on too.
Main reasons this outcome seems questionable:
1. While the box score numbers for Toronto's key players makes sense, look further down the stat sheet and things get suspect. For instance it's hard to see guys like Reggie Evans and Julian Wright being back on the team at this point, and Linas Kleiza playing 16 minutes?
I highly doubt it.
In any event, it's an interesting exercise, and and one that we'll be following until this lockout finally ends.
How do we feel about this outcome in the end?
I think that even If you acknowledge that the projection doesn't take into account all adjustments that likely would have occurred (trades, free agency, potential jumps in productivity from younger players, etc, etc.), a close Philly win still seems like a very likely outcome, and therefore in Toronto's fake season, I'm starting them at 0 and 1.