With most of the lineups of NBA teams now close to being filled, early projections on how many wins each will have next season were already released recently. In the piece by Kevin Pelton of ESPN, he used their real plus-minus stats to predict the rankings per conference, based on their current players.
As expected in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors (62.1) are on top of the list. Already having a very talented roster, they were successful in adding a few more key pieces like Nick Young and Omri Casspi, that will only boost their chances of defending their title.
The surprise starts from teams ranked second to fourth, as the San Antonio Spurs (52.6) are between the second ranked Houston Rockets (55.0) and Minnesota Timberwolves (50.1), who round up the top seeds. All three teams were able to bring in more talent to their fold, but it still remains a big question if their moves will be enough to beat the mighty Dubs team.
The Thunder (49.5), Clippers (48.9), Nuggets (47.2) and Jazz (44.7) are predicted to make it to the playoffs, but the Pelicans (44.2) and Blazers (43.8) may still squeeze in if they’ll be able to build on their showing from last season. However, the league has seen stranger things happen in the past, and the other Western teams may still pull off some surprises and knock off any of the other teams from the projected top eight.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics (49.4) are the favorites to be on top, with the Cleveland Cavaliers (49.2) right behind them. The addition of Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum, are being considered as enough to beat the Cavs for the number one spot, especially with the East Champs remaining quiet in free agency and the uncertainty surrounding the Kyrie Irving situation.
The Wizards (47.5), Bucks (46.9), Hornets (44.1) and Raptors (43.4) are the middle-of-the-pack teams according to the piece, but like in the West, there are still some squads like the Miami Heat (42.3) and Detroit Pistons (35.1), who have the ability to pull off some upsets and move up the ladder.
There may still be a few more months left before next season starts, but the predictions are already starting to emerge, as many believe that there might not be a lot of movement that will be completed anymore, except for possible deals involving Irving and Carmelo Anthony, which have the potential to be landscape-changers. But until that happens, the projections from ESPN may hold true, if most rosters will remain the same until October.