With most of the big moves of free agency having settled down, and even a lot of role players off the market with a few notable exceptions, I thought I'd take a look at how the season projects out.
I'm using RPM here, ESPN's player impact statistic, and then using net points as a predictor for winning percentage using Pythagorean wins.
Quick walk through: first, I took the RPM value of every player in the league from last season. Didn't adjust them in any way, didn't project improvement or decay. Just last year's value.
Then I placed all the players on their current teams based on the off-season so far, and all the rumours I could track. Any players still unsigned I've left off completely for now. Most of them are either low impact or low minutes players so they shouldn't skew this too much.
I made no adjustments to minutes, or guesses on how playing time will change. I simply listed the players and their MPG from last season for each team. I tried using total minutes, but it became too difficult to adjust for players who missed large chunks of last season. By using MPG that fixes most of those issues (though not all, I'll touch on this later).
Then, having compiled all the players, their RPM and their minutes based entirely on last season, I created a MPG-weighted average RPM for every player on every team. This creates an automatic adjustment - I'm not taking an approach like WS and simply summing the WS of new players, as if their minutes need to be adjusted those numbers will obviously change. This approach simply assumes that if a team, based on their total MPG from last season, has too few minutes to go around, every player will have their minutes adjusted downwards proportionally. Probably not true, but there aren't any instances where this effect is extreme, so I think this is a reasonable approach.
This yields, for each team, an average RPM (I actually did dRPM and oRPM separately just for additional information). Those RPM values are then multiplied by 5 (as at any time, a team will effectively have 5 of their average player on the floor impacting the game). That value is added (or subtracted, for dRPM) from the league average ORTG last year (103) to give a predicted ORTG and DRTG for the team.
Then using the Pythagorean approach, win percentage is calculated (I used a power of 14.5, though 16 has been used as well). Multiply by 82 and you've got your number of wins.
Here is what the Raptors looked like, for example.
|Player||Team | || MPG | || ORPM | || DRPM | || O-impact | ||D-impact|
|Per player average RPM||0.475||-0.003|
|Net impact per 5 players||2.377||-0.017|
|ORTG and DRTG||105.4||103.0|
So, I did that for every team. And ended up with these rankings. *** EDIT: updated to reflect completely forgetting the Lance Stephenson LAC/CHA trade the first time through (although somehow getting Barnes to the right team). Plus adding the impact of the Lawson deal for HOU/DEN. ***
|Place | || East | || ORTG | || DRTG | ||Wins|
Those results seem reasonable to me.
Some corrections I thought to make (they are not implemented above, that's the raw data there). Paul George returning to Indy using his RPM and MPG from 2013-14 would mean a jump of 7 wins, up to 5th right behind TOR. Chris Bosh returning to his 2013-14 RPM and MPG would mean a 3 win jump for MIA, which only moves them one spot up the standings unless you don't do the Paul George adjustment. Kevin Durant doing the same would add 4 wins to OKC's total, moving them up one spot ahead of MEM. I didn't adjust for Melo, as he had a reasonable number of games and minutes and had his usual impact last season.
So, a couple promising things for Raptors fans: first, the Raptors project to have a top 10 offence again. And they project to improve to a league average defence. Hopefully they can make even larger strides based on improved systems, but it is heartening that purely on the strength of the personnel they are looking to make a 6-7 spot jump defensively. And it appears that the prediction of a struggling Raptors offence might be a little premature.
Another very promising consideration: the Raptors own the less valuable of the Knicks and Nuggets first round picks this coming draft. And this system places those two teams 3rd and
7th 5th (!) in the lottery. A 7th 5th overall pick would be a pretty nice return for Andrea Bargnani.
I hope you liked this little early projection game. I tried to keep my own assumptions and biases completely out of it. Any questions are very welcome.