We are roughly a month and a half from training camps opening and a 10+ weeks until the dawn of the regular season. A lot can change between now and then. Free agency (or what’s left of it at this point), trades, and injuries all can shape the trajectory of a team between now and mid-October.
We all understand this. Still, though, it’s always interesting to me to know what forecasting models and group-think projections say about how good or bad teams will be next season. I have participated in large sample group projections in the past for ESPN. I was part of the early iterations of the NBA Rank project (I stopped after the first two years) and I have offered win projections as part of their summer forecast series that has outperformed Vegas bookmakers.
This isn’t to pat anyone on the back. My point is to say that there is value in what these projections say, even if they’re not always right. And, to be clear, they’re not always right.
So, in saying all that, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton has released a stats only win projection for every team in the league for the 2017-18 season.
It’s under ESPN’s Insider umbrella, so it is paid content. You can read the entire thing here, if you have a subscription. I do. So I read it. This article is actually free. So, better for you!
Before we get into the Lakers, piece, though, here’s Pelton explaining the model:
As in past seasons, I’ve put together projected playing time based on a formula that estimates games missed by taking into account the number missed over the past three seasons (adjusted for any offseason injuries/suspensions) and my own guesses at how rotations will shake out.
Most veteran players are rated using the multiyear, predictive version of RPM, adjusted for the typical aging curve. Newcomers to the league and players who played too little for an RPM rating are rated using their projected offensive and defensive ratings from my SCHOENE projection system, which incorporates translated performance in the NCAA and professional leagues besides the NBA.
For those who are not aware, RPM prefers to ESPN’s metric of Real Plus Minus — a sort of “all in one” stat which balances player production against the players he shares the court with (both teammates and opponents). It is supposed to wade through some of the noise which comes from various lineup configurations, strength/weakness of teammates and/or opponents, etc.
The top of the RPM metric often mirrors what most observers would say are the best players in the league. It also rates other players higher or lower than counting stats or the eye test might presume they should. You’ll find varying opinions on how good a metric RPM is. I have no hard opinion on RPM, but thought I should at least give a snapshot.
Now, to the Lakers.