Tuesday, August 21, 2012

ESPN.com: Doolittle: East win projections

Friend of the blog Bradford Doolittle published the Basketball Prospectus win projections for the Eastern Conference yesterday (Insider). Therein, the current state 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks projected to win the second-most games in the Eastern Conference. The (pleasant) surprise of the ordinal rankings make it possible to overlook that the projections have the Hawks winning games at a lesser rate than their 2011-12, fifth-best record in the East performance. This isn't an argument that the Hawks get better, it's that the East gets worse.

As for why the Hawks project to win* almost 49 games after trading away their two best wing players in salary dump deals, I think the explanation is fairly simple. Because Marvin Williams is such a low usage player and Joe Johnson is not an especially efficient scorer (and surely projects to decline in any forecasting system given he's on the age precipice for good but nor great shooting guards), a collection of fairly efficient low usage players (Morrow, Korver, maybe John Jenkins) and a couple of not especially efficient high usage players (Devin Harris and Lou Williams) simulates to be similar to the Hawks having kept Williams and Johnson.

Nor should we overlook in the upheaval that a (healthy) primary post rotation of Josh Smith, Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia with the fully competent Jordan Williams and Ivan Johnson in reserve, is a really nice post rotation.

I don't think it will play out along the lines of this projection because of the uncertainty of the practical changes in usage and roles for so many players. Plus, until Ferry acquires a good perimeter defender, Smith and Horford will have their work cut out to make this an average defensive team and team defense has to have a similarly large margin for error in any forecast. And there's always the chance that Danny Ferry makes a conscious decision to win fewer games in 2012-13 in order to improve the franchise's program's chances of winning a championship thereafter.

In the accompanying Summer Forecast, the ESPN.com NBA team collectively picks the Hawks to win 40 games and finish eighth in the East next season. Assuming the Hawks try to win for the entire season, I pegged them at 45 wins, envisioning them playing an offensively entertaining but defensively abysmal style.


Unknown said...

I appreciate the prospects for next season. Ferry to do some modifications and with the help of Weiss. I feel positive that the team react better

jrauch said...

So Bret, you're basically imagining the Suns without Steve Nash?

I'd love to see Drew get these guys to play more up tempo.