- This took me a painstakingly long time to do. I, quite literally, predicted the result of every single NBA game this season and came to this projection. Enjoy. Tweet me (@FlyByKnite) if you want to discuss any of this or have any questions. If you want me to post the Excel data, let me know as well. One thing to remember is that I don’t expect any team to hit their actual projection because of the sheer randomness of the NBA. What I am going for, however, is a +/- of 5 games. So, if a team hits within 5 wins of my projections then I will consider that a win for myself.
Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks have not been without an interesting offseason to say the least. They decided to let Josh Smith go, which in my opinion was absolutely the right move, and went into the draft needing more dynamic playmakers. So they settled on German point guard Dennis Schroder. After that, they worked out free agent deals with Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, and DeMarre Carroll. All in all, Atlanta has built a nice little foundation here. Gone are the high-flying days of Josh Smith and now entering are the hardworking days of Al Horford, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, and Jeff Teague. I don’t expect much out of Schroder in his first season but he will have moments that make you believe he has the potential to be a very good player down the line.
Projected Record: 43-39, 6th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: Speaking of entertaining offseasons, the Boston Celtics have decided to start the rebuilding plan a year earlier than expected and did so by trading off the last remnants of their Big Three, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They shipped them out to Brooklyn and got back several first round picks but also had to take back a terrible contract in the form of Gerald Wallace. They also were able to trade coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 first round pick. Boston definitely won’t be good this season, especially since Rajon Rondo is trying to come back from a terrible injury but they should be able to salvage some games and keep their fans coming back. It won’t be pretty but the future is on the horizon.
Projected Record: 22-60, 14th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: The main beneficiary of the Boston Celtics firesale happened to be the Brooklyn Nets, as previously mentioned. This now gives Brooklyn one of the most experienced and deadly starting lineups in the entire NBA. The problem is that their bench isn’t that well constructed. While they do have some talent in Jason Terry, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche, they all come with their own brand of weaknesses. Namely, Terry’s inability to play defense, Evans’ inability to play offense, and Blatche’s inability to be smart. Despite that, Brooklyn will be a tough team for anyone to play this season. My main concern is with newly minted head coach Jason Kidd. This will be an interesting season.
Projected Record: 56-26, 2nd in Eastern Conference
Analysis: When you think of a team that was in desperate need of the first overall pick this past year, you think of the Charlotte Bobcats. Despite the fact that they had great talent in the likes of Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, they still needed that first overall pick. Instead they slipped all the way to fourth. However, they did nab Cody Zeller, who I believe will be a better player than a lot of other people think. They also retained Gerald Henderson and brought in Al Jefferson. While they will be improved this season, they still won’t be a good team. Their true next step will probably come in the following season.
Projected Record: 25-57, 13th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: First off, as we all know, the big news is that Derrick Rose is now back and it looks like, based on preseason, that he’s actually gotten better, which is a supremely scary thing to even think about. We’re talking about a former MVP coming back better after destroying his knee about 18 months ago. The emergence of Jimmy Butler proved that the Bulls do have solid talent surrounding Rose once he was going to return and their starting five is about as good in any of basketball. Their problem is that they’re not an explosive scoring team and can get bogged down at times but thankfully their defense can save them. They’re going to have a great season. I just don’t see them overtaking Miami for the best record. It’ll be a close race the whole way, though.
Projected Record: 56-26, 3rd in Eastern Conference
Analysis: Not only did the Cleveland Cavaliers win the draft lottery this past April but they also signed Andrew Bynum and are going to get Anderson Varejao back. If Dion Waiters can take the next step, which’ll be him becoming a solid 16 points per game scorer with good defense, then I really do like Cleveland to make the playoffs. I also really love the progress that Tristan Thompson made last season and loved the selection of Anthony Bennett with the top pick. I’m not a big believer in Earl Clark so I do feel they’re weak at small forward but they should be able to deal with that. Health is a major issue for them. If they’re healthy, they have a great shot of making it in.
Projected Record: 38-44, 8th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: This team has all the makings of the most dysfunctional group in the history of the NBA. I mean, it doesn’t get much crazier than this. They not only signed Josh Smith away from Atlanta by overpaying him but they also went out and traded for Brandon Jennings for no good reason. I’m not going to lie, I actually like Brandon Jennings but this was a dumb move for the Pistons considering they already acquired Josh Smith and didn’t need an equally maddening player. There’s only one ball on this team and I doubt it ever finds Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond now. And if that’s not enough, they also signed Chauncey Billups after taking promising shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the draft. I can now imagine final game possessions for Detroit ending with Smith and Jennings reenacting that Fresh Price of Bel Air episode where Carlton steals the ball from Will and heaves the final shot.
Projected Record: 37-45, 9th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: I didn’t really agree with what the Indiana Pacers did during the draft, selecting Solomon Hill, but every move they’ve made after that has been a sound one. They signed Paul George to a contract extension and have begun reinforcing their team more by getting guys like Luis Scola and Chris Copeland. Their starting lineup is very good and their bench, which was a massive weakness for them last year, got strengthened. A part of me wonders what they’ll get for Danny Granger if they decide to trade him this year but that’s neither here nor there. The Pacers have a very bright future, anchored by a two-way star in Paul George and a defensive monstrosity in Roy Hibbert.
Projected Record: 53-29, 4th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: Say hello to the best team in the Eastern Conference, yet again. It should be no shock that any team with LeBron James is at the top of a conference standings list. The Heat are coming off their second straight championship and third straight Finals appearance. It’ll be tough for them to win a third title in a row and reach an astounding fourth straight Finals appearance, but the possibility is there. Not much has changed for them outside of Mike Miller leaving and the arrival of both Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. The Heat still feature the premier Big Three in the NBA – Bosh, LeBron, Wade – and that’ll be good enough to keep them in every game this season. The road in the Eastern Conference must go through Miami. Good luck to all other teams.
Projected Record: 58-24, 1st in Eastern Conference
Analysis:The Milwaukee Bucks were on the path to a true and proper tank job but then did things like signing O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal, and Zaza Pachulia while also trading for Caron Butler and Brandon Knight. They have no clue what they’re doing. So, in other words, they’re the same old Milwaukee Bucks. Gotta give it up to consistency. Anyways, they still have Larry SANDERS! and John Henson, who are two great young big men. And, before I forget, they also drafted the greatest name in the history of the NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s going to see a lot of action in his first year and he’s going to make people wonder how so many teams could pass on him. It’s going to be a painful year for Milwaukee but there is some hope. Some. A little bit.
Projected Record: 32-50, 11th in Eastern Conference
New York Knicks
Analysis: I’m sure this projection is going to piss some people off and make them wonder what I’m smoking. But, let me explain. They have an awkwardly tough schedule and they don’t have a roster that can sustain them over an entire year. Yes, they do have Carmelo Anthony but trading for Andrea Bargnani was a panic move. Tim Hardaway was a good pick but they also have an aging Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Metta World Peace that’ll get a lot of minutes. Not to mention that Iman Shumpert likely won’t get enough minutes because Mike Woodson hates him and thinks J.R. Smith is the greatest thing since condoms were invented. I just don’t see it in New York this year. Plus, the Carmelo saga will sap their drive a little bit.
Projected Record: 40-42, 7th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: Orlando is a surprisingly talented team but lacks a direction. For them, that’s fine. They’re in the talent acquisition business right now rather than the win every game possible business. That’s what smart teams are supposed to do when building a winner. Get as much talent as possible. They did just that in this past draft when they took Victor Oladipo, the best two-way player in the draft, with the second pick. Combine him with Arron Afflalo, Mo Harkless, Tobias Harris, Jameer Nelson, Andrew Nicholson, and Nikola Vucevic. You can see the talent already forming there. However, Orlando’s best bet of competing isn’t for at least another two years. And that’s fine. They’ll be an exciting team to watch, though, and will be better than what their final record indicates. They’ll compete.
Projected Record: 29-53, 12th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows how I feel about Philadelphia already. This is quite honestly the worst collection of talent I’ve seen in the history of the NBA. This is bad. All bad. Their most talented player, Nerlens Noel, won’t play this year. Which, in all honesty, is smart. Their other first round pick, Michael Carter-Williams, can’t make a shot outside of five feet. They have other solid talented players on the roster but that doesn’t matter. This team sucks. It’s trash. It’s an abomination and it should be taken out back, shot, and then lit on fire to get rid of any evidence that it ever existed. Finding wins on the schedule for this team was such a stretch that I almost killed myself. God bless their fans.
Projected Record: 8-74, 15th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: On the surface, the Toronto Raptors look like they have all the talent in the world to make the playoffs. They have a good starting lineup, talent wise, but then you dig a little deeper and realize that this team is severely flawed. They’re not going to be a good defensive squad, at least individually, and their offense is heavily predicated upon isolation from their top two wing players, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. That’s not a viable way to survive in the NBA right now. They lack an interior scoring punch, although Jonas Valanciunas looks to be taking the proper steps to get there. They’ll be competitive in games but they won’t finish a lot of them on the positive side. It’s going to be a mind-numbing year north of the border.
Projected Record: 33-49, 10th in Eastern Conference
Analysis: I know for a fact that I’m going to catch some hell from people for this one. Yes, this is a very aggressive projection for the Washington Wizards, a team who just picked third overall in the NBA draft this past April. However, look at it from a different perspective. John Wall improved during the second half of last year, as did Bradley Beal. They’re adding another versatile wing scoring option in Otto Porter. They already have a good inside game with Nene and a good mid-range big man in Kevin Seraphin. On top of that, they just traded for Marcin Gortat. This is a team that has all the makings of a very versatile offensive and defensive squad. I think they’ll surprise some people this year and vault themselves into the top six seeds in the Eastern Conference. I have them fifth and I actually feel really confident about that.
Projected Record: 48-34, 5th in Eastern Conference