NBA stats-based win projections: Why one model has the Warriors fighting for a playoff spot

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

After a busy summer in the NBA, what can we expect during the 2022-23 season? My stats-based win projections are back to help answer that question, at least during the regular season.

One of the biggest challenges for statistical projections is how disconnected the NBA’s 82-game schedule has been from the playoffs. None of the four No. 1 seeds over the past two campaigns has reached the NBA Finals, the first time that’s happened in back-to-back years since 2011 and 2012.

With injuries to star players becoming more common and the past two regular seasons marked by absences due to health and safety protocols, team performance from year to year hasn’t been this inconsistent in decades. (Keep that in mind when you see where your favorite team is projected below.)

Nonetheless, statistical projections can be revealing. Mine are based on a combination of my SCHOENE player projections for box score stats as well as three-year, luck-adjusted RAPM from NBAshotcharts.com. I estimate games played based on those missed over the past three years then make subjective predictions for playing time.

The result is an expected wins total based on average health luck. Because some teams will have better or worse fortune, but we don’t know which ones, the average totals will inevitably be closer to .500 than the actual final standings.

Let’s take a look.

Western Conference

1. Phoenix Suns
Average wins:
49.0

No statistical projection can factor in the possible mental toll of Phoenix’s lopsided Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last season nor whatever is going on between newly signed center Deandre Ayton and the organization. Still, the Suns have enough talent and a big enough cushion from last season’s 64 wins to project atop the West. Note their predicted rotation does not include Jae Crowder, as the team and the veteran forward agreed he would stay home from training camp while awaiting a possible trade.

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