2011 NBA Preview


The much anticipated 2010-11 NBA season is set to debut in just one week. All the marquee free agents have signed and several players returned from injury to participate in the preseason, but there are still many questions to be considered. In this weeks post, I will take a look at which rookies have performed well this preseason, compare 50 years worth of teams with multiple elite scorers, compile a list of the oldest NBA teams in NBA history, and, finally, display my season projections.

As I found in preparing for last week’s post, preseason player stats are tough to come by. The only site with historical player statistics that I could find was nba.com. Rather than try to apply another metric, I decided to use nba.com’s Efficiency as an estimator of value. Efficiency uses a simple formula that adds points for positive contributions such as scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals and subtracts points for negative contributions such as missed shots and turnovers.

Efficiency is usually expressed per game. It may not be the most accurate indicator of player value, but it’s a decent estimator. If a player logs enough minutes, Efficiency per 48 is a more appropriate measure of performance than Efficiency per game, but with limited minutes available in the preseason, I decided to use Efficiency per game.

Rookie Preseason Statistics

The rookie leaders in regular season efficiency over the past five years have won rookie of the year three times and finished second twice. These same five players also led all NBA rookies in preseason efficiency three times, finishing 2nd and 4th the other years, respectively. (For this purpose, I excluded the missed rookie season of Blake Grffin and Greg Oden.) In the following table, I list regular season and preseason efficiency, draft pick and rookie of the year finish for the leaders in regular season rookie efficiency and the Rookie of the Year winners since 2005-06.

Top Rookie Efficiency Ranks

YearPlayerPreseason*Regular SeasonDraft Pick*ROY Finish
2010Tyreke Evans2141
2009Brook Lopez11102
2008Al Horford1132
2007Brandon Roy4161
2006Chris Paul1141
2009Derrick Rose8211
2008Kevin Durant3211

*excludes Blake Griffin in 2009-10 and Greg Oden in 2007-08.

The following table displays the top rookie efficiencies over the past six seasons. (2010 preseason statistics have been updated through Sunday, October 17th games.)

Rookies Preseason Stats

YearPlayerTeamEFFPickGPMPGPPGEFF48ROY Finish
2011Blake GriffinLAC24.51629.517.339.92
2010Blake GriffinLAC18.71728.113.732.01
2010DeJuan BlairSAS17.937717.713.948.34
2008Al HorfordATL173830.111.227.162
2011DeMarcus CousinsSAC16.65525.216.431.64
2011John WallWAS15.81635.516.221.5
2007Marcus WilliamsNJN15.8226281627
2009Brook LopezNJN15.510628.811.825.83
2007Rajon RondoBOS15.421829.211.125.1812
2011Jordan CrawfordATL1527434.816.820.77
2009Greg OdenPOR14.81623.811.530.13
2006Chris PaulNOK14.74626.79.21
2010Tyreke EvansSAC14.44731.415.121.951
2009Michael BeasleyMIA14.32724.616.427.897
2010Ty LawsonDEN14.118718.110.637.64
2009DeMarcus NelsonGSW13.8Undrafted621.39.530.78
2006Charlie VillanuevaTOR13.87630.5162
2010Taj GibsonCHI13.526828.412.422.875
2009Rudy FernandezPOR13.424529.41221.849
2011Evan TurnerPHI13.22532.81019.38
2010Jonny FlynnMIN13.16826.914.623.415
2009Mike TaylorLAC13.155823.912.426.55
2007Steve NovakHOU13.132724.612.125.65
2007Brandon RoyPOR12.96834.814.817.811
2010Stephen CurryGSW12.87828.41021.452
2009O.J. MayoMEM12.83829.615.420.582
2008Anthony RobersonDEN12.8Undrafted527.614.222.2
2006Channing FryeNYK12.7861911.25
2010DeMarre CarrollMEM12.627825.59.923.84
2008Kevin DurantSEA12.3263018.819.821
2011Jeremy EvansUTA12.255517.2834.39
2011Manny HarrisCLE12.2Undrafted519.69.829.92
2009Derrick RoseCHI12.11828.413.920.531
2008Luis ScolaHOU12.157725.19.623.353
2006Danny GrangerIND1217527.210.67
2009Marc GasolMEM11.948825.17.222.668
2007Paul MillsapUTA11.947817.47.932.586
2008Al ThorntonLAC11.814827.616.220.414
2006Andrew BogutMIL11.61727.47.93
2010Omri CasspiSAC11.32372111.725.77
2008Darius WashingtonSAS11.3Undrafted7219.325.81
2011Greg MonroeDET11.27627.2919.7
2006Nate RobinsonNYK11.22162510.2
2009Marreese SpeightsPHI11.116720.49.626.1
2007Tyrus ThomasCHI114819.49.4279
2007Shelden WilliamsATL115822.68.523.34
2009Roy HibbertIND10.9178199.227.74
2010Terrence WilliamsNJN10.911724.711.321.06
2007Rudy GayMEM10.98727.413.919.153
2009Kevin LoveMIN10.85821.28.524.346
2008Rodney StuckeyDET10.815825.612.120.02
2007Leon PoweBOS10.649514.46.234.35
2008Michael HarrisHOU10.5Undrafted213.5537.26
2009Luc Mbah a MouteMIL10.437830.48.116.37
2007Alexander JohnsonMEM10.445820.48.424.65
2009Mario ChalmersMIA10.334723.37.321.211
2009Eric GordonLAC10.37723.614.621.085
2006Sarunas JasikeviciusIND10.3Undrafted622.29.8
2010Brandon JenningsMIL10.21082610.919.053
2009Ryan AndersonNJN10.221613.58.836.01
2006Raymond FeltonCHA10.25625.7114
2011Timofey MozgovNYK10.2Undrafted518.28.426.6
2010Jeff TeagueATL10.119726.912.118.15
2008Aaron GrayCHI10.149717928.47
2008Joakim NoahCHI10.19723.17.621.02
2006Ryan GomesBOS10.150720.77.79
2006Joey GrahamTOR1016427.211
2011Nikola PekovicMIN9.731616.58.728

Overall, the current group of rookies has played pretty well, but Blake Griffin clearly is a notch above the rest. I was initially concerned that his injured knee would hamper his explosiveness, but now I think his biggest worry should be re-injuring himself from one of his reckless plays. (I only saw him play once this preseason, but he fell very dangerously a couple times when he was trying to make low probability plays.)

There were many players who arguably exceeded exceptions in the preseason and went on to exceed them in the regular season such as Blair, Rondo, Horford, Robin Lopez, Paul, Evans, Brook Lopez, Lawson and Villanueva. Of course, other such as Marcus Williams and DeMarcus Nelson exceeded expectations in the preseason, but their value in the regular season never matched up. I’ll be interested to see how Jordan Crawford pans out. (Yes, the same guy who is probably more known for dunking on Lebron.)

The Spurs two most significant rookie acquisitions have yet to impress. The Spurs’ first round pick in 2010, James Anderson, has struggled in limited minutes with an Efficiency of 5.2 in 18.8 MPG. Hopefully, he can improve throughout the season. Tiago Splitter has yet to see action in any preseason games.

Big 3 Scorers

Much has been made of Miami’s Big Three. I wouldn’t hesitate to call this the most significant off-season move(s) of all time. Wade and Lebron are both very good passers, but since those two and Bosh have all been significant scorers, many question how they will be able to share the rock without limiting effectiveness, and justifiably so. In order to look at other top heavy teams and teams who acquired big scorers, I selected the top 15 teams sorted by the percentage of team points last year for each team’s big 3. “Similar Player Mins LY” represents the percentage of player minutes that were similar last year to the measured year. Teams with low figures had significant turnover. The average team has a percentage around 60%. I included last year’s and the current year’s winning percentage.

Big 3's - Teams Sorted by Highest Percentage of Team Points Last Year

TeamYearLY Pts/TmPts Big 3Similar Player Mins LYW%LY Tm W%

With short term memory, it might be easy to forget the hype surrounding the 2003-04 Lakers, who acquired Karl Malone and Gary Payton. With Kobe and Shaq already accounting for a high percentage of the teams points, the addition of Malone put them above the Miami’s big 3 in the above table. A couple teams such as Wilt’s 1962-63 Warriors and the 2006-07 Wizards simply relied on existing stars to an extreme extent. Others such as the 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks and 2006-07 Nuggets brought in high usage players (Antawn Jamison, Antoine Walker and Allen Iverson).

On this list of 14, the average team wins 49 games, but only one (the 1983 76ers) has won the championship. The thing that really sets the Heat apart from the rest of this group is the efficiency of their stars. The Usage Rates of Bosh, Wade and James nearly add up to 100% over the past two years and their combined offensive ratings exceed 115. The Usage rates pretty much need to decrease by definition, but the Offensive Ratings will increase as these players will now share the heavy workload of low percentage shots. In addition, each can expect to be recipients of much easier scores now that defenses are unable to focus on them with the same intensity as before.

If we expect the Usage rates to fall to 80% and the Offensive Ratings to increase to 120 and each player to play 36 MPG, the remaining players would only need a combined Offensive Rating of 109 to break that all time team single season record. League average has been 108 over the past 2 years.

Oldest Teams

John Hollinger wonders when age will catch up to the Dallas Mavericks in his 2011 team preview. Spurs fans are well aware that their team isn’t exactly an up-and-coming, either. There were several years in which San Antonio has been among the oldest teams in the NBA, but admittedly, most of those veterans were role players. With that said, historically, older teams have done very well:

Oldest Teams


These teams won an average of 62.3% of their games, down from 64.7% the prior year. The decrease probably has something to do with the effects of age, but remember that both good and bad teams naturally tend to get closer to average.

Another factor of the high success of older teams is that older players seem to often retire with something left to contribute. In other cases, they may are more likely to be removed from a team because a younger players are considered a better investment. In theory, this effect should be lessened by teams utilizing the services of the NBA Developmental League.

Team Projections

Here are my projections for the 2011 NBA season.

2011 NBA Projections

Eastern ConferenceWestern Conference
TeamProjected WinsTeamProjected Wins
Miami69LA Lakers56
Atlanta44Oklahoma City48
Milwaukee41San Antonio48
Charlotte34New Orleans44
New York34Denver44
Indiana32LA Clippers34
New Jersey31Golden State32

The Miami Heat project to challenge 70 wins. I feel that Houston and Portland could improve on these win totals if Yao Ming and Greg Oden can make significant contributions. For Denver and any potential trading destinations, a Carmelo Anthony trade could also shake things up.

Many feel that Cleveland will sink to the depths of the league. While I feel this might have been the case last year, the addition of Antawn Jamison could go a long way (If his knees hold up.) He averaged over 21 points with good efficiency over the past 3 years with Washington. Mo Williams also averaged over 17 PPG with a 57% true shooting percentage (Pts/TSA/2). Remember, the Cavs still have quality role players in Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, J.J. Hickson, Daniel Gibson and have just added Ramon Sessions. I have them making the playoffs with only 35 wins in a top heavy Eastern Conference.

The Spurs have many variables that could potentially go either way. Other than the ages of Duncan and Ginobili, Parker has yet to show he can return to his form from 2009. George Hill and James Anderson have potential, but have struggled thus far in the preseason. Some are hopeful that Richard Jefferson will improve on last season’s contributions, but so far, his preseason numbers haven’t confirmed this suspicion. Perhaps the most reasonable source of potential improvement is Tiago Splitter. However, Splitter himself has yet to see any action in the preseason. With all accounted for, I have the Spurs likely to finish down 2 games from last year, at 48, with a 6th seed in the Western Conference playoff spot. Hopefully all the pieces will be clicking by then.

  • http://seriesandtv.com Pulpo

    As always great job…
    What throws me off a little is the projected wins… Only 3 West teams getting over 50 wins?
    Spurs not getting there?

    I have to say… I don´t see that happening.

  • SpurDAWG50

    I love the break downs and such, but 48 wins? That’s a bit of a stretch, no? Not being a homer or anything, but, I don’t see then getting less than 53. I know that’s only 5 games, but still!

  • The Beat Counselor

    Hate the Lakers, but how are they projected to win just 56 games? They improved with Blake and Barnes. Is this assuming another injury plagued year from Bynum?

  • zainn

    wow, im pretty sure we’ll hit about 52-54 wins this season. reason being that the past 3 seasons of declining wins were because parker and ginobili were both playing bball in the summer for their respective teams, they didnt do so this summer, and therefore you are 4-6 wins off.

  • bduran

    I know you only used Efficiency because it’s what’s available, but I thought I should point out one of it’s big flaws.

    The problem with Efficiency (PER has the same problem) is that it rewards scoring far too much. The formula adds points and substracts (field goals attempted – field goals made). So it only subtracts missed field goals. This may seem logical but it doesn’t really work out right. If the formula is Pts – (FGA-FGM) this is the same as Pts – FGA + FGM. So the formula rewards them twice for every made shot.

    The break even point on FG% (shooting only 2s) is 33%. If a player makes one of 3 he gets two points for the made shot, and loses two points for the misses. So any player who shoots over 33% can increase his Efficiency simply by shooting more shots.

  • bduran

    I agree that 48 games is way to low for the Spurs. For one, their point differential form last year would predict 54 wins, or four more than their 50 wins. So they outperformed their record. Secondly, it seems that you assume everything negative, and nothing positive. That TP’s last season is more representative of this year performance then his previous several. That Duncan and Ginobili will decline and that Hill, Blair and RJ won’t improve. That Anderson, Neal, and Simmons won’t be an improvement over Mason and Bogans. That Splitter won’t be able to contribute significantly. These thing are all possible, but I don’t find it likely that everything goes this way and I think a lot of it would in order to finish 6 games down from last years expected wins from point differential.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Scott Sereday

    One thing to consider is that these totals represent expected wins by team. This factors in catastrophe and luck. After these factors run their course in the season, the highest and lowest teams tend to have further spreads than this. (I’m thinking my projection for Miami might be too high, they are really tough to peg.)

    The major concern for the Spurs is that since Ginobli and Duncan are likely the Spurs most valuable players, an injury or a decline in their performances should have a greater impact on the Spurs record. Plus, since the Spurs have an above average team, average luck would tend to make their record worse. Look at the projected standings, they are tied for 4th in the West and only the Lakers project significantly better than them.

    For the Lakers, Bynum did project to miss some time. The team is old and they did “only” win 57 games last year (with a Pythagorean expectation of 54 games.)

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  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Scott Sereday

    Good point regarding Efficiency bduran. Also, defensive rebounds tend to be overvalued in that metric. And I do understand your reason for optimism about the Spurs. If things go well, they could very easily compete for the West, but if they don’t they could also be in a fight for the final playoff seed.

  • bduran

    I just don’t see them struggling to make the playoffs without significant injury to Ginobili or TD. Neither of those guys have declined in terms of the box score yet, and I don’t see a large decline this year. The rest of the team should be the same to better.

    Also, I’m curious why you think defensive rebounds are overvalued?

  • Ian

    Utah w/ more wins than us…really?

  • ITGuy

    This is fine and looks smart but I can do the same (guess) just by saying that I think the Spurs will win 52 and lose 30.

    @Scott Sereday
    “If things go well, they could very easily compete for the West, but if they don’t they could also be in a fight for the final playoff seed.”

    This can be applied to all the top 8-10 West teams.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Scott Sereday

    As discussed on my post for the offensive value of steals.

    “As for rebounds: a rebound is a rebound and is worth a possession…from a team’s standpoint, anyway. The one missing piece of information is that gathering a rebound that a teammate would have otherwise grabbed adds no value. That is why the accepted value of an individual defensive rebound is around .3 (since the opposing team has a 30% offensive rebounding rate) and offensive rebounding value is accepted at 70%.

    Read more: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/2010/10/04/spurs-stats-nba-leaders-steals-fastbreak-transition/#ixzz12ps2KpFq

    I believe this is used in PER, SPM and many other more recent metrics. From my understanding Efficiency just uses a weight of 1.

  • zainn
  • Jacob

    waived goodbye…. we hardly knew ye

  • Jimbo

    I think some of those rankings will be way off when the season ends. A lot can happen out West given the number of teams with solid talent, but I don’t think Utah has a prayer of capturing the second seed. They lost a lot. I’m a big Deron Williams fan and an even bigger Sloan fan, but I think they will be challenged to make the playoffs.

    IMO, Chicago and Milwaukee are better than .500 teams, provided they don’t have serious injuries.

    Miami won’t sniff 69 wins. You can take that to the bank.

  • rob

    Ever watch a weather forecast compared to the actual weather when conditions aren’t perfect to predict? One should take this with a grain of salt and not subscribe to the theory though it is very thorough calculated guess.

    I did notice a major difference in your projection compared to last year’s playoff teams in the west. Last year there was only a seven game difference between 1st and 8th. What makes the difference projectable to be almost double that to 12?

  • rj

    ……lame. still not a fan of these statistical analysis, data collection based articles. i would rather read an article about a players impact or an interesting observation of league treneds. loved the article about elite point guards. i wanted to check into project spurs half way through this one. but hey, im one of those guys that would rather draw a picture then solve an equation.

  • Greyberger

    Just a quick coda to the valuing defensive/offensive rebounds sidebar, mentioned above:

    While almost everyone agrees that defensive and offensive rebounds should be considered separately in composite metrics (WP48 and NBAeff being exceptions) there isn’t a consensus on the relative values.

    The typical valuation is that offensive rebounds are 2.3 times more valuable than defensive boards. I’m guessing this is based on historical data that shows teams usually get 70% of defensive boards.

    Regression analysis will find different values based on the inputs used. I’ve seen a SPM regression where rebound rate squared was included, to see if a non-linear relationship of rebounds to value was instructive.

    Trying to come up with a theoretical answer (without regressions to guide you) for how much rebounds are worth is a real challenge. The state of rebounding today is a mix of inherent advantages that the defense has and an intuitive strategy that has developed over the years, and it complicates our attempts to explain the worth of what a player does.

  • Jim Henderson

    From the main post:

    “Wade and Lebron are both very good passers, but since those two and Bosh have all been significant scorers, many question how they will be able to share the rock without limiting effectiveness, and justifiably so.”

    The fact is Wade & James were ranked 1 & 2 in usage last year. They’re both unusually efficient for having such high usage rates, and thus the box-score, “star” impact they had on their respective teams over the years. In essence, the imperative of sharing the ball more with the Heat will depreciate their individual value to their team compared to how they’ve been perceived over the past several years. In other words, obviously one cannot simply add the production of James with last year’s Cav’s & Wade’s production from last year’s Heat to get a sense of how dominant the Heat could be this year. It’s much more complicated than that.

    In fact, while it may be true that for most players’ their efficiency tends to improve noticeably in relation to a lower usage rate, this is not necessarily the case by default. Indeed, Wade & James feel most comfortable in high usage situations, and as a result I don’t expect their respective efficiencies to increase to any meaningful extent with lower usage rates this season. This means that Miami’s fortunes will depend more than the hype would suggest on their ability to develop team chemistry, work the ball as a team, and get key production out of a handful of role players. I have my doubts about them on this account because even though their leaders have the skills to play “team ball”, in the final analysis it’s still truly about them. For example, LeBron’s passing is ultimately “about him”. In the end, a narcissistic tendency at the top will hold a team back from its highest potential. And that is the Heat’s Achilles Heal.

    A few brief comments about your predictions:

    There’s NO way that Miami will come close to 70 wins. I would project 62, with a ceiling of 65. No doubt that’s a good season, but it’s in the playoffs where they’ll disappoint. I’d say it’s 50/50 they don’t even make the Eastern Finals (Orlando, Boston, & Chicago will all have a shot at taking them out).

    There’s NO way that Sacramento will only win 26 games. I project 37 wins with a floor at 30. Too much special young talent on that team (e.g., Evans, Casspi), including an impressive front line of Dalembert, Cousins, Thompson, & Landry.

    The only way the Rockets don’t win more than 45 games is if Yao plays less than half the season. The odds are he plays more than half the season this year, and they also have exceptional young talent on that team; arguably the most talented 1 through 10 in the league (along with the Magic, Heat, Lakers…). I project 54 wins for the Rockets, with a floor of 47.

    Finally, it’s HIGHLY unlikely that the Bulls win just 41 games this season. They won 41 last year without Boozer, Brewer, Korver, CJ Watson, K. Thomas (and K. Bogans!!!), and of course they will also have the continued progress from their burgeoning stars (Rose & Noah). I project the Bulls to win 49 (Boozer missing a month will keep them from 50 wins), with a floor of 45.

    The Spurs are still a big unknown, but Pop NEVER wins less than 50, and so I doubt it happens this year. They’ll win between 50 & 54 games. Take it to the bank.

    PS – On the age factor – one should only look at the projected minutes of a teams top 8-9 rotation players, not the entire roster. By that metric the Spurs (along with the Celtics, especially with Perkins down with injury, and probably the Lakers) are one of the oldest teams in the league. But the Celtics & Lakers still have at least two “key” players that are still considered in their prime (Rondo, Perkins/Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Artest). The Spurs have one — Parker.

  • joshmbp

    ok so utah wins more games than us? no way. al jefferson is horrible and still has to adjust to his new team. way wrong. its going to be LA in first, OKC second, Dallas third (if not second), with the spurs fourth…. etc etc. RC (or Pop i cant remember) stated earlier in the offseason that we needed to focus more on winning earlier in the season instead of just gearing up for the playoffs like in years past. A higher win total gains them more playoff games at home which statistically are easier to win and also bring in more money for Peter Holt. (side note: I would be kinda pissed if every year my team didnt care about standings in the post season. They’d be losing me money damnit!) I expect the spurs to win more games than last year. Def more than fucking utah. wtf dude?

  • bduran

    So far this preseason he’s increased his scoring efficiency from last season and improved his per minute production in steals, rebounds, assists, and TOs. The only thing he’s done worse in is blocks. I’m optimistic about his play this season. We don’t need him to be a star, we just need a solid 30-35 minutes a game from him. A starting lineup of TP, Manu, Blair, and TD, along with solid play from from RJ, should be able to match up with just about any lineup in the league outside of Miami.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Jim, the only issue i have with your post is that if you still consider Bryant (32) and Artest (31) “in their primes” I think you should also still consider Manu (33) is in his. If you look at the way he played towards the last 1/3 of the season, he absolutely still has it. Artest is DEFINITELY slower than he was in his prime. Still a lockdown defender, but i have a hard time believing that he could stick with TP. Manu, yes.

    I think when we play the Lakers you’re going to see a lot of cross matching, with Bryant guarding RJ and Artest guarding Manu. As much as i hate to see it, when we start seeing a matchup like that, we need to go smaller and put Parker/Hill/Manu in to exploit our speed advantage. Fisher/Bryant/Artest wouldnt be able to stay in front of them.

  • McShane

    What do you have for your margin of error on these estimates?

    2 through 5 seem to be a dead heat in the West.

    The Heat could easily win 70 games this season… but wins in the regular season do not necessarily convert to wins in the offseason (see: 2007 Mavs, 2009 Cavs, 2010 Cavs). Neither the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs, nor Celtics will go out of their way to have the absolute best records in the regular season, they all have old/fragile players they need to nurse (Bryant, Bynum, Fisher; Duncan, Ginobili, McDyess; Kidd, Terry, Marion, etc; Garnett, Pierce, Allen….).

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    Check out this Seattle Basketball player named Tony Wroten. He is a future #1 pick

  • rob

    Off topic a bit…Our man Bruce Bowen does a nice job in the nba video clips on the main page forecasting the Celtics and players.

    Gotta love the Bow Tie.

  • bduran

    Ugh, I meant that last comment for the RJ post. Sorry about that.


    I’ve wondered about that, but I’m not sure that I buy it. If DRBs are easier to come by, then they are for everyone so from a player evaluation standpoint it should even out so there’s no need to undervalue them. From a team contribution standpoint, then like you said gaining possession is gaining possession. Also, there’s the issue of guys like Blair who can gain multiple offensive rebounds from what essentially amounts to one possession. Still, I would be interested to see if one or the other is more highly correlated with winning.

  • Hobson13

    Even with advanced stastical analysis, it’s very difficult to predict future success for teams. One can’t put a number on how players such as Hill, Blair, Splitter, and perhaps even Anderson will impact and improve the Spurs. Furthermore, what does it look like to have a healthy, but older Parker, Manu, and Tim? These three haven’t been fully healthy and firing on all cylinders in a number of years. The last time they were all healthy, they were younger and probably more productive, BUT also had an older/less efficient supporting cast.

    The Western Conference is the definition of parity. The Lakers are still the best in the West, but after them, it’s anyones guess as to where teams will fall. Yes, the Spurs could very well be second seed, but they could also fall to 8th seed. With Pop and company’s seemingly newfound focus on the regular season, I think the Spurs have a chance to win more games than last season. With Hill, Blair, Splitter and the bench, I think it will also allow the Spurs to wear down opponents with depth (which we’ve been unable to do in several years.)

    Bottom line: The 2010-2011 version of the Spurs, from top to bottom, seems to be a superior team to the previous Spurs squads. However, the West is very tough. The days of a WC team winning 60+ games are probably over at least for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, I think the Spurs MAX ceiling is 56 wins. (This assumes health of the old guys and very substantial development of the new guys) The Spurs floor is probably 41 wins. (This assumes Manu and Tim are used up and the young guys are almost worthless.) The truth, however, is probably somewhere in between. My final answer is that the Spurs win 53 games.

    P.S. I don’t think the Heat have a chance at 68 wins unless they want the Big 3 to play 40+ min EVERY night. That would spell doom for that team come April and May. I agree with the people who say that the Heat just don’t have enough depth outside their top 5 and have yet to address their lack of bulk inside. Those two factors are serious weaknesses that Lebron, Wade, and Bosh will be forced to compensate for night in and night out. I expect them to be hot coming out of the gate, but to falter late in the season when the minutes pile up on the starters.

  • L-Man

    Wrong. 50 wins is what the Spurs do!

  • Jim Henderson

    October 19th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    “A starting lineup of TP, Manu, Blair, and TD, along with solid play from from RJ, should be able to match up with just about any lineup in the league outside of Miami.”

    What match-up problems the Heat pose with Wade & James they give up on their front line. There no more difficult of an overall match-up for us than LA, Boston, Orlando, and Houston, with a healthy Yao.

    October 19th, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    “Jim, the only issue i have with your post is that if you still consider Bryant (32) and Artest (31) “in their primes” I think you should also still consider Manu (33) is in his.”

    The central point is that LA’s 3 main guys are 1-2 years younger than our 3 main guys. In that key 31-34 year old territory that can make a difference in terms of stamina and durability, which is a factor when attempting to sustain a long playoff run.

    “….we need to go smaller and put Parker/Hill/Manu in to exploit our speed advantage. Fisher/Bryant/Artest wouldnt be able to stay in front of them.”

    The problem with that is Hill cannot guard either Bryant or Artest.

    October 19th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    “The Heat could easily win 70 games this season…”

    Easily? Really?! I think not, since only ONE team has ever done it in the 60 year history of the NBA (led by the GOAT). Miami does not have a prayer to be the second one. Not even a snowball’s chance in Hell.

    “Neither the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs, nor Celtics will go out of their way to have the absolute best records in the regular season,…..”

    That I agree with, but Miami can try as hard as they want for 70 wins this year and they aren’t going to get. They haven’t even played ONE game together yet. Do you know how hard it is to win 70 games??

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Scott Sereday


    Although there are no universally consensus values for offensive and defensive rebound, there is a largely accepted range. Statistical plus minus models can help estimate value of statistics, but if not everything is accounted for the results can be misleading. SPM estimates value, so if offensive rebounders tend to be poor in non-statistically measured aspects of the game, the coefficient in SPM will be below the true value of that statistic.

    I haven’t actually seen this study, but I have heard that good offensive rebounders tend to increase team offensive rebounds by about 70% per Oboard and elite defensive rebounders increase defensive rebounds by a much lower rate.

    Of course, not all defensive rebounds are the same. I try to notice who grabs uncontested free throw rebounds or uncontested other rebounds. It seems like many teams designate certain players to grab the defensive rebound. These are almost useless since almost anyone could perform this task.

    Regarding the projections, over the past 4 years, the average error was under 7. Of course, this year with all the free agency movement, I suspect all errors will be greater. And, yes, projecting is largely a crapshoot. All models I’ve seen are closer in accuracy to assuming 41 wins for all then to perfection.

    I definitely think the Heat can challenge 70 wins, even without perfect health, but if they run away with things and have too many injuries (they’ve already have had some in the preseason), every loss makes that task so much more difficult. Perhaps 67 would be a more reasonable estimate after accounting for a potential “coasting factor”. Compare this team to the team 2009 Cavs team that won 66 out of 81 games with Lebron. The Cavs had better role players, but even without Wade, which team seems better? And I consider Wade to be somewhere between the 2nd and 5th best player in a typical situation.

  • Gary

    Am I the only one pissed not to get some Tiago action ?

  • miggy

    Great stuff Scott. Of course some of this stuff is over my head, but there are a lot of contributors that break it down very well for me. Bduran, Greyberger.

    I wonder why coaching is never added in the equation. I truly believe that coaching plays a significant part of wins and losses. There must be some analysis of the effects of the head coach.

    I don’t think the Spurs would have 4 championships without Pop.

  • miggy

    @Gary – I’m with you. Maybe not pissed, but definitely anxious.

  • Pop-a-vich

    Oh come on, we all know the Spurs are gonna win more than 50 games this season! But it’s okay, this is just a PREDICTION.

  • Pop-a-vich

    Oh come on, we all know the Spurs are gonna win more than 50 games this season!

    But it’s okay, this is just a PREDICTION.

    Go SPURS Go!!!

  • Jim Henderson

    Scott Sereday
    October 19th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    “Compare this team to the team 2009 Cavs team that won 66 out of 81 games with Lebron. The Cavs had better role players, but even without Wade, which team seems better? And I consider Wade to be somewhere between the 2nd and 5th best player in a typical situation.”

    But Scott, you have to admit you’re comparing win-loss records from different seasons, against different competition, and evaluating “paper” rosters based on individual production/talents that were gained while being THE star on separate teams to arrive at the second best win-loss record in the more than 60 year history of the NBA. I don’t need to tell you that teams don’t win 70 games because their roster looks good on a piece of paper. You have a remote chance to win that much with special leadership, special chemistry, special coaching, “usually” via significant success together as a team in previous year(s), and several special role players (some unheralded), that all happen to to fill a relatively small niche on the team efficiently in the same year.

    Let’s take a moment to look at the prototype, the record-holding Chicago Bulls of 1995-96. That team had TWO future hall of famers/ top-fifty of all-time players, with one of them still considered the GOAT, which takes into consideration 60+ years of NBA talent. Beyond that they had role players, some better/more special than others, some very obscure and unheralded. For example, for people that don’t follow the NBA very carefully, many have probably never even heard of Jud Buechler, Randy Brown, Dickey Simpkins, Bill Wennington, and Luc Longley. I guarantee you that their production stats will underwhelm the of softest critics, but ALL of these players allowed the team chemistry to work, and they ALL performed admirably and dependably in limited minutes of court-time. Their TWO superstars had played previously together for SIX years and won THREE championships together. They had an experienced coach that at age 50 had 7 years as a head coach, had recently won three championships in a row with the two superstars, has now won ELEVEN titles, and is considered the best NBA coach of all-time. And say whatever you want about Wade & James, but they are no Jordan & Pippen. And no, I’m not just comparing their production stats. I’m comparing them as competitors, as individuals AND teammates, as leaders, and with proper consideration of ALL the intangibles that such an evaluation inevitably entails. Spoelstra is a nice young (39) coach, with two years coaching experience, but he’s no Phil Jackson circa 1995-96. Wade won a title because of Shaq, and a choking Maverick team. They Heat are weak on the front line, no Shaq from 5 years ago, and no choke-artists waiting in the wings. They have the Celtics & Magic to contend with all season, the Magic (one of the most talented teams 1-10 in the league) in their own division, and a couple of shots at the two-time defending champions. If Bynum is healthy the Heat are in trouble in those games.

    I could go on and talk about other teams that got close to 70 wins, like the LA Lakers of 1971-72, and give some reasons as to why they won so many, and how they differ from this year’s Heat. I could also talk about how Boston was able to win 66 three years ago in their first year with two new stars joining the lone star, Paul Pierce, but I’d prefer to keep this comment short of novel length. Suffice it to say, the Celtic’s success of 2007-08 was much more unique than many can fully appreciate, and they were still short of 69.

    If you want to think the Heat have a pretty good chance of winning 69 games that’s fine. The Heat do have the talent to win a lot of games, but talent is far from everything. And it just seems that making a rather bold prediction like that (winning 69 – since only 2 teams in NBA history have done it, out of a thousand plus teams) would warrant providing a more compelling case than what you have thus far presented.

  • Jim Henderson

    Rumor has it the Spurs are interested in giving this guy a look. Apparently they’re still looking for depth/defensive presence at the SF spot.


  • rob

    Wow. It’s just a prediction.

  • bduran


    “I haven’t actually seen this study, but I have heard that good offensive rebounders tend to increase team offensive rebounds by about 70% per Oboard and elite defensive rebounders increase defensive rebounds by a much lower rate.”

    Now that would be interesting to see. Of course, once again it seems like this could be exaggerated by the situation where a player gets essentially the same board three times. That doesn’t happen of the defensive end and since there are fewer offensive rebounds this could potentially have a large effect.

    Also, at some point we may be working too hard. It would be interesting to see how much an arbitrary change in the value of rebounds changed the rankings of players in various metrics. You know, something like taking PER, Efficiency, WP48 and multiplying DRB by .7 and ORB by 1.3. I would bet that it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

    One last thing, do you have description for your model? Looking through your post I didn’t see one.

  • bduran

    Here’s a link to an article on wages of wins predicting the Spurs record.


    The author has two predictions. One is the “optimistic” projection which assumes no drop off in Manu and Tim, Tiago being above average, Parker playing at an average of the last couple of years, and are new guys being at least somewhat productive. This leads to an estimated 62 wins.

    The other is a “pessimistic” view. Manu and Tim and the rest of the over 30 drop off. Tiago is not as good as we hope, Parker is the same as last year, and our new guys offer nothing. This leads to an estimated 48 wins and seems to match a lot of the assumptions in the above prediction.

    This article also has a Mavs prediction giving them a range of 48-56.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Jim, did you not see Hill guard Bryant last year? He certainly can guard Bryant, as much as Bryant can be guarded. So long as Hill maintains pressure without falling for ball fakes (which is really the only way Bryant was able to beat him), he’s our best option on him.

  • Greyberger

    Wow Berri sure isn’t taking any risks with his predictions. Spurs are predicted to win between 48 and 62? Way to go out on a limb, professor.

  • bduran

    I’m guessing you didn’t read the article.

    First off, it’s not Berri’s prediction. Also, it’s more of a discussion of what we can expect from the Spurs depending on how certain things fall then a prediction. I’m sure if the author was pressed on a number it would fall somewhere in the middle. If you want precise predictions based on Wins Produced try this.


  • The Beat Counselor


    I know you weren’t addressing me, but I clearly remember that game where Hill guarded Bryant at AT&T and although he did a commendable job (was it TWO picks around half-court? One of which he tripped him for a breakaway dunk lol). I believe Bryant left midway through the 3rd quarter with a strained back after be ineffective after an unconscious 1st quarter, scoring in the neighborhood of 10 points, some of which were off of pretty, Olajuwon-type post up moves.

    Tough to take that game as indicative of how Hill can handle Bryant defensively because Bryant almost never leaves a game, even when he’s hurt.

    Looking forward to seeing that match up again though.

    On a side note I spotted a girl I used to date sitting right behind Pop that game (in the 4th qtr), which is crazy cuz we are both from California…and the worst part is, she was sitting in my dream seats wearing a #8 Kobe jersey. Pretty much sums up our relationship in a nutshell right there.

  • Jim Henderson

    October 20th, 2010 at 3:26 am

    “Wow. It’s just a prediction.”

    Yeah, just not well-supported, despite the appearance. If you’re going to buy into the Miami “dog and pony” show with an amazingly bold win prediction make it sensible or humorous. One or the other. The hype needs to be dialed back on that team. They haven’t won one game together yet.

  • Jim Henderson

    October 20th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    “So long as Hill maintains pressure without falling for ball fakes (which is really the only way Bryant was able to beat him), he’s our best option on him.”

    Hill may be our best option, but the match-ups you mentioned don’t really give us much of an advantage. Artest would be a tough match-up for Manu to guard, and Fisher can score some on TP because of his strength advantage.

  • Greyberger

    Re:bduran, I did like the linked discussion and the author did have more to say than the typical “win if they’re healthy, fade if they’re not” piece. I don’t think much of WP or WP48 as a predictive tool though. Even if you think last season’s numbers were valid and a starting point for this years’ you have to estimate the minutes and position of the roster and hedge for injury. At this point you have to have a lot of faith in WP48’s predictive power before the subjective stuff because there’s bound to be some errors of estimation or omission in subjective adjustments…

  • Greyberger


    I also like the Galletti stuff but I kind of wonder when he’ll graduate from using WP48. Contra Berri it is really just another linear weight model with enough judgment calls and compromises to make the end results look weird. Like the Wiz projected to win 4 games or Clippers with Griffin to win 22.

  • bduran

    “At this point you have to have a lot of faith in WP48′s predictive ”

    It wasn’t designed as a predictive tool, it was designed as a player evaluation tool. It’s purpose is to look at what a player has already done, and measure that player’s contribution to the team. Now, obviously this has uses when trying to decide how a player is going to perform in the future. If you’re going to use it as a predictive tool, then I think it’s fine as a baseline. However, it says nothing about injury, aging, or minute allocations. These require either subjective analysis on the part of the predictor or it needs to be plugged into other models.

    As for the Clippers and the Wizards, projecting rookies has always been difficult. Also, even if a draft pick develops into an excellent player, immediate super stars are very rare.

    “it is really just another linear weight model with enough judgment calls and compromises to make the end results look weird.”

    Judement calls and compromises? I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. It’s a pretty straight forward and simple model, which is why I like it. Maybe you have an issue with the position adjustment, that’s the only real judgement call. One that I happen to agree with. What type of model do you prefer?


    Why is it humorous? Pretty much every stat guy is picking Miami to win an incredible number of games. Now you disagree with this because you feel that Lebron’s selfish nature will hurt the team along with the fact that Wade’s and Lebron’s production will be reduced because they have to share the same ball. This if fine. Those are valid points and maybe you’re right. I do think it’s a little conceited that you ridicule everyone elses projection because it’s not in line with your perceptions of the situation.