Reviewing ESPN’s 2012-13 Western Conference Projections

Published: August 21, 2012

Mason gives his take in regards to ESPN’s projections for the NBA Western Conference standings in 2012-13. What did they get right, and where did they go wrong?

In case you haven’t seen them yet, ESPN published their Western Conference projections for the 2012-13 season this morning. If you remember, I did my own variation of these projections on Hornets247, focusing around the 7th-13th seeds, earlier this month. Below, I go over how well I think the many great basketball minds who took part in this forecasting fared with their predictions.

Three things they got right:

  • The top six seeds. The order of these six teams is questionable, but the Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Clippers, Nuggets, and Grizzlies should be the top six teams in the West this season (largely thanks to Rubio’s recovering ACL). Specifically, my order looks like this – OKC, LA Lakers, Denver, San Antonio, LA Clippers, Memphis.
  • Utah and Golden State’s rank. Their projected records both look low (the Jazz should win around 45 games and Golden State should approach .500), but they do look like the 8th and 10th best teams in the conference right now.
  • The bottom. The Kings should finish at the bottom of the conference this season, but not by much, as indicated by the rankings.

Three things they got wrong:

  • The record of the 8th playoff seed. The notion that the 8th seed in a deep Western Conference will only finish with a .500 record seems quite conservative. Two years ago, it took 46 wins to make the playoffs in the West, which is around what it should take this season.
  • Dallas and Minnesota’s rank and record. With a projection of 46 wins, it almost seems like future mid-season transactions by Mark Cuban are already a foregone conclusion. I’m not buying; they’ll be around a .500 team this year, but that won’t be enough. Conversely, Minnesota is well-positioned to earn a postseason berth this year even with Rubio out for the first month or two. Brad Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus projects the T-Wolves as the 4th seed, and that includes the expectation that Rubio will miss between 30-40 games.
  • Portland, Houston, and New Orleans’ order. There is very little chance that The Blazers win 35 games this season. Behind Aldridge, Batum, and Matthews, their team is very young and inexperienced, and they will go through some growing pains this year. Similarly, the Rockets have four rookies (Lamb, Jones, Patterson, White, Motiejunas) who all stand to get significant minutes, something that will likely limit their ceiling. The Hornets have what is easily the best shooting guard (when healthy) as well as the strongest front court rotation of the three teams, which should propel New Orleans to the 11th best record in the conference, with Portland coming in behind them but ahead of Houston.

How do you think ESPN’s panel of 100 basketball writers did? Hell, where did I mess up? Share your thoughts below!


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