We are also yet to see Clint Capela set screens for Young, roll to the rim, and make weakside defenders make decisions. He hasn’t played since being traded from Houston, and I’m intrigued to see if Lloyd Pierce can make the Capela-John Collins pairing work on the floor. Defensively, we sure know Collins could use a safety valve next to him to clean up mistakes.
This year, in lieu of writing about every team before the season kicks off, I plan to release these projections, then do a roundup after the preseason.
I have written about the NBA over the last seven years, currently based in the Louisville/Indianapolis area. My previous platforms include BBallBreakdown, HoopsHabit,
Under a new head coach – one that appears to be open to a lot more innovation and lineup adjustments – I just believe the Clippers have the highest playoff upside with this particular roster. If the strengths of their closing five with Ibaka are as dangerous as expected, this should be their year.
Let’s get this out of the way: It feels abnormal sorting through win projections two weeks before Christmas.
Suns, Jazz, Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets, Lakers
The Sixers, in theory, should have plenty more space to operate with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in various pick-and-roll sets. And we all know how much Doc Rivers loves to run ball-screen action over and over until it stops working. With Danny Green and Seth Curry, I could easily envision Philly’s offense leaping from league-average into the second tier. It’s just always a situation where I chicken-out with projecting this team too high. Based on the history of Simmons and Embiid’s durability throughout a regular season, it’s better to be on the safe side. Their ceiling is probably obtaining the second-best record in the East. I have them fifth, which is admittedly closer to their floor this year. They should have more weapons to use in the postseason, though, and that’s what ultimately matters.
So, for those new to this, my annual tradition is projecting the entire league. This includes win-loss records, as well as offensive and defensive ratings. One of the most fascinating parts about doing this every year is tracking the strength and progress of both conferences. Zara Ropa 2019
Here’s to a fun and healthy season for everyone involved!
Below, you will see my breakdown of the Eastern and Western Conference – the standings, offensive and defensive ratings, and where each team ranks in both categories:
The preseason action, which begins today, is going to bring more clarity on where every team is. That’s assuming their key players are healthy and in uniform. Until then, let’s touch on a few different groups – namely the ones I don’t feel too comfortable about:
I’d be surprised if any of these groups severely underperformed or overshot their projections. Nike React Element 87 Retail
Last season, it was the proudest I’ve ever been about the final product as I turned it into a giant eMagazine . With only one month in-between free agency and the start of this regular season, it was impossible to deliver another 140-page monster with such a quick turnaround.
Seven years ago, in 2013-14, the West was stronger than it’s ever been. Over time, largely due to drafting and grooming superstar talent, the East has narrowed the gap. It’s still not the supreme conference, even at the top, but it has certainly made this exercise tougher as the years roll on.
Hawks, Pacers, Blazers, Wizards, 76ers, possibly Mavericks
It’s worth mentioning the collective net rating, which is a team’s point differential per 100 possessions, must equal zero when you take the sum of the entire league. Hence, why you see 11.5 for the West and -11.5 for the East. There has to be the same amount of points allowed as points scored over the course of a season .
Typically, there are 1,230 wins to distribute to 30 different teams. This time, because of the shortened schedule, nba predictions 2020 season there will only be 1,080.
In an effort to get the NBA schedule back on track for a traditional Fall to Spring regular season in the near future , this coming season has to be compromised in some way.
Portland has the best mix of talent they’ve had since one of my favorite groups, the 2013-14 Blazers, disbanded. On paper, this team is more gifted and balanced than their 2019 West Finals squad. The problem is, the West is much better at the top than it was two years ago. Portland’s range is probably fourth to eighth, and I’ll place them seventh until they prove they can put together a passable defense.
Then, the same information displayed in a visual format. Throughout the season, I organize and update this graph called the “League Outlook.” This is how it appears for preseason projections:
To me, Dallas is in the same boat as Philly. Could they finish second in their conference? Absolutely, because they have the generational talent to do it. But as of Dec. 6, Kristaps Porzingis was only starting some light treadmill running. He had meniscus surgery in early October, and it’s probably wise to push back any expected return date. The last thing they would do is rush him back and jeopardize the future. If he returns in late January or February, that’s where they likely hit this projection . Then again, maybe Luka Dončić simply pushes closer to his goal of becoming the best player on Earth. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that happens in 2021 and he soars this offense to greater heights than before.
Here are the rankings on both sides of the ball, with offensive rating on the left and defensive rating on the right:
Each team will play 72 games, including roughly 14 back-to-backs. The league actually implemented a smart component to the schedule this year, as teams will knock out two games against the same opponent in certain cities — whether it’s on a back-to-back or with one day’s rest. Limiting as much unnecessary travel as possible was a wise move in the midst of severe COVID-19 outbreaks and no specific timetable for a vaccine.
For teams who advanced deep into the playoffs during the Orlando bubble , it’s not going to be much of a break. However, there are eight teams who weren’t invited to the bubble due to their poor records, and those groups are eager to compete.
For starters, this is like the fifth straight year of expecting the Pacers to take a step back – very rarely is the reasoning based on something they did. It’s usually a byproduct of thinking other teams improved enough to warrant Indiana slipping in the standings. This year, it’s Brooklyn and Philly, two teams that should get healthier star production along with a revamped coaching staff.
Yes, I’m fully prepared for everything to go awry with this pick again. Perhaps not in the same epic meltdown the Clippers went through versus Denver, but they do seem to be allergic to the Conference Finals.
I have written about the NBA over the last seven years, currently based in the Louisville/Indianapolis area. My previous platforms include BBallBreakdown, HoopsHabit, ClutchPoints, and The Cauldron. After graduating from the University of Louisville in 2017, I have been a freelancer that enjoys analyzing professional basketball through the lens of X’s and O’s, advanced analytics, and all of the various human elements involved in the beautiful game. You will find me covering games and events throughout the NBA schedule in various cities. My goal as a writer is to bring a unique and nuanced level of on-court analysis to an audience that craves it. I’m a fan of backscreens and motion offenses.
Atlanta is the trickiest East team right now. You could argue Washington because, well, what on Earth can you even expect from Russell Westbrook at age 32? But I would still have Atlanta has the bigger wild card here. They addressed a lot of the issues surrounding their dumpster-fire offense when Trae Young has to sit, with Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic supplying a bit of a sparkplug in some of their second-unit lineups .
Finally, just based on where I have everyone projected in the regular season, these would be my playoff selections and picks from the second round to NBA Finals:
It’s not hard to see the Pacers just zooming by this 39-win mark based on continuity alone. They will also enjoy the services of a better offensive mind leading the way, as Nate Bjorkgren has the responsibility of decluttering their offense to unlock the best version of Myles Turner. Projecting Indy this low never turns out to be a great idea, but your hands are almost tied when you see the competition around them.
With seemingly nothing in this calendar year being “normal,” espn nba predictions 2020-21