I mentioned in my last post that I would be re-doing my projections for the 8 teams that I had already done with new, better numbers courtesy of Nathan Walker. The other day, Nathan posted his projected xRAPM numbers for just about every player in the league (save for the incoming rookies, for whom I will still be using the Hickory-High projected numbers). Now that I have the numbers from Nathan, I have gone ahead and re-done the projections on the previous 8 teams I had finished working on and posted about. The numbers don’t change too much, although, it’s notable that Miami is now tops in the East, with the Thunder and Rockets duking it out atop the West. Here are the projected wins totals for the 4 teams I had done out East:
Each team’s name contains a link where you can see the projected xRAPM and minutes for each player, so you can make whatever quibbles you might have with those. I feel these win totals seem like better bets as far as getting things right from a big picture perspective, because they don’t have the wildly optimistic 60+ win projections for anyone. Now that I have all the numbers I need, I will be continuing the projections. Tomorrow: the New York Knicks.
* For the Bulls, Derrick Rose did not have a projected xRAPM from Nathan, owing to his absence for the entire season last year, so I just used his xRAPM from his last season played (11–12) of +4.3. That may prove too optimistic and if that’s the case, you can discount the Bulls accordingly.
Kudos to Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey. He got his second superstar to pair with James Harden. After years of hovering around Western Conference mediocrity, the Rockets now have two of the best players in the league 27 years old or under. Dwight Howard is, unquestionably, the best center in the NBA and James Harden is, probably, the best shooting guard currently operating in the league (apologies to Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, whose respective runs at the top of the position have passed). In addition to simply being two incredible talents at their respective positions, Harden and Howard have synergistic skillsets. Howard is one of the league’s absolute best and most dangerous fingers as the roll-man in the pick and roll and James Harden is one of the best guards in the league at running the pick and roll. There’s a potential for so, so many Harden to Dwight lobs for easy dunks, you guys. It’s going to be so fun.
There’s still loads of work to be done filling out the remainder of the roster. Current center Omer Asik has requested a trade, as he’s too good to be a backup, even for Dwight Howard, and the Rockets need to move his salary to have the space to pay Dwight what they’ve offered him. They will also likely move Jeremy Lin, as Patrick Beverly has proven to be his better at the point guard position for a small fraction of Lin’s salary. There are rumors that the Rockets may try to sign and trade for Josh Smith, using one or both of the Lin and Asik contracts, or possibly trade Asik for stretch power forward Ryan Anderson, a former teammate of Howard’s from Orlando. It will be interesting to watch how Morey is able to round out this roster to maximize its chances at winning it all, but the heaviest lifting is done. Dwight Howard is a Rocket. Daryl Morey’s long chase for a true top 5 player is over.
Kudos, also, to Dwight for choosing the best fit for his talents and his best chance at winning a title, all while sacrificing $30 million in guaranteed money, which is HUGE given his back surgeries. As Dwight reportedly said, he’s betting $30 million that the Rockets will be better positioned than the Lakers going forward to win a ring. Now that Dwight’s wearing the Rocket uniform and not the Purple and Gold, it’s probably a pretty safe bet.