2012-13 NBA Preseason Projections: Can The Lakers’ Big Three Top LeBron James & Miami?

posted in NBA

The NBA season is upon us, with the Cavs and Wizards tipping things off Tuesday evening, and the slightly more enticing Heat-Celtics and Lakers-Mavs matchups getting underway later that night. That means it’s time to post our preseason projections, before the word “preseason” is no longer accurate.

The main purpose of these ratings is to provide a data-driven starting point for our NBA projected standings page. This will automatically update every day this season, to reflect the latest results and the most up to date power ratings.

As we did last season, we’re releasing these with a word of caution. While the 2011-12 preseason NBA standings projections performed well in terms of picking the final order of teams, the win total projections and postseason odds were overly conservative.

We expect something similar to happen this year. We believe the ordering of teams should be fairly accurate, but the actual probabilities and projected wins are likely clustered in too narrow of a band. The best teams will be better, and the worst teams will be worse, we’re just not sure by how much.

Here’s what we can take away from these projections:

  • The Lakers may have snagged a Big 3 or Big 4 of their own, but their supporting cast is poor enough that we project the Clippers as the top team in the Pacific Division.
  • The Heat don’t seem to be enormous favorites here, like they are at some sports books. This is the exact same thing we said about the Heat last year. While they did ultimately win the title, they were sure given a huge assist by Derrick Rose’s injury.
  • The Eastern could be the most competitive division, with a virtual 3-way tie for first place in the projections, and all 5 teams having a realistic shot at the playoffs.
  • Before the James Harden trade, the Thunder were projected with 11.4% championship odds. Those are now down to 7.4%. While the Thunder remain the third-highest rated team, the loss of Harden dealt a large blow to OKC’s title chances.

Without further ado, our 2012-2013 NBA preseason projections:

Eastern Conference
AtlanticTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
New York646.635.474%28%10%5.1%
Boston845.736.471%26%9%4.3%
Philadelphia1045.037.069%24%8%4.0%
New Jersey1839.942.150%11%3%1.5%
Toronto1939.942.149%11%3%1.3%
CentralTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
Chicago547.534.576%41%12%6.1%
Indiana1145.037.069%30%7%3.6%
Milwaukee1642.739.360%22%5%2.4%
Detroit2831.850.223%4%1%0.2%
Cleveland2929.752.318%3%0%0.2%
SoutheastTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
Miami154.727.392%66%32%16.5%
Atlanta1244.537.567%20%7%3.6%
Orlando2136.745.339%7%2%0.8%
Washington2236.545.538%6%2%0.8%
Charlotte3023.658.47%1%0%0.0%
Western Conference
NorthwestTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
Okla City349.432.679%37%15%7.4%
Denver945.436.668%25%8%4.2%
Minnesota1342.739.360%18%5%2.7%
Utah1542.639.459%17%6%2.6%
Portland2731.350.720%3%1%0.2%
PacificTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
LA Clippers447.734.375%40%12%5.7%
LA Lakers745.836.270%34%9%4.3%
Phoenix2038.743.344%13%3%1.2%
Golden State2336.145.935%9%2%0.8%
Sacramento2633.049.025%5%1%0.4%
SouthwestTR RankWLPlayoffsWin Div1 SeedNBA Champs
San Antonio253.428.689%59%27%13.8%
Memphis1442.739.358%16%5%2.6%
Dallas1742.139.958%15%5%2.3%
Houston2435.246.833%6%1%0.6%
New Orleans2534.247.828%4%1%0.5%