The Denver Nuggets schedule was released about two weeks ago, and the doldrums of the NBA offseason officially came upon us.
The break in action, as well as the end of Olympic basketball, gave ESPN analyst Kevin Pelton an opportunity to release his projections (Insider access required) for the records of all 30 NBA teams and the league standings. Pelton uses ESPN's real plus-minus (RPM) to craft his projections. Here's further explanation on how the rankings are made:
Like last season, I've put together projected playing time based on a formula that estimates games missed based on 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 rating from my SCHOENE projection system, which incorporates translated performance in the NCAA and professional leagues besides the NBA.
With that explained, here are his projected standings:
|WESTERN CONFERENCE||EASTERN CONFERENCE|
|Utah Jazz (3)||47.6||34.4||Boston Celtics (2)||49.8||32.2|
|Oklahoma City Thunder (6)||45.6||36.4||Toronto Raptors (3)||48.8||31.2|
|Portland Trail Blazers (7)||44.5||37.5||New York Knicks (13)||34.7||47.3|
|Denver Nuggets (8)||40.4||41.6||Brooklyn Nets (14)||28.8||53.3|
|Minnesota Timberwolves (11)||37.1||44.9||Philadelphia 76ers (15)||24.5||57.5|
|Golden State Warriors (1)||66.8||15.2||Cleveland Cavaliers (1)||52.1||29.9|
|L.A. Clippers (4)||46.3||35.7||Detroit Pistons (4)||47.5||34.5|
|Sacramento Kings (10)||37.7||44.3||Milwaukee Bucks (7)||40.9||43.1|
|Phoenix Suns (14)||29.2||53.8||Indiana Pacers (8)||38.9||43.1|
|L.A. Lakers (15)||24.3||57.7||Chicago Bulls (11)||37.8||44.2|
|San Antonio Spurs (2)||54.5||27.5||Washington Wizards (5)||41.4||41.6|
|Houston Rockets (5)||45.8||36.2||Charlotte Hornets (6)||41.0||43.0|
|Memphis Grizzlies (9)||39.4||42.6||Atlanta Hawks (9)||38.6||43.4|
|New Orleans Pelicans (12)||37.0||45.0||Miami Heat (10)||38.3||43.7|
|Dallas Mavericks (13)||34.3||47.7||Orlando Magic (12)||36.2||45.8|
In addition to projecting the standings, here's the blurb Pelton wrote about the Nuggets.
Quietly, the Nuggets have assembled an intriguing group of young talent (led by RPM favorite Nikola Jokic, projected for plus-5.0 points per 100 possessions) with a few veterans in tow. Even with Danilo Gallinari projected for just 50 games, internal development could be enough to push Denver into surprising playoff contention.
Pelton projects the Northwest Division to be very competitive, one of two divisions in the league to send four teams to the playoffs (the Central Division being the other). With the improvements made by every team (except Oklahoma City) in the division, each game against a divisional rival will be so important for playoff positioning.
Earlier in the summer, ESPN surveyed their panel of experts to predict the records for the teams (before the schedule was released). The Denver Nuggets were picked to finish twelfth, with a 34-48 record. Hopefully the Nuggets finish with a record closer to the statistical projections than the gut projections.
Regardless of what projection model you fancy (gut versus stats), the regular season can't get here soon enough. My local Wal-Mart is already mocking me with Halloween merchandise already, such teases.