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2009-10 Eastern Conference Preview

Posted by Neil Paine on October 26, 2009

Click here for the Western Conference Preview

After many months of projections, it's finally time to unveil our official preseason forecast. They're based on our Win Shares projection system, with rosters/depth charts current as of Sunday, October 25, 2009. We used Win Shares to establish a base team strength rating for each squad, and then plugged those into the handy log5 formula and ran another 10,000-season simulation. What follows are the rosters (newcomers are highlighted in yellow), projected per-minute stats from our Simple Projection System, projected WS, the results of our 10,000-season sim, and my brief (200-words-or-fewer) thoughts on each team. So let's start the show, in reverse order, beginning with…

15. Milwaukee Bucks (31-51, 5th in Central Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.369 24 31.2 50.8 46 15 25 21 8.4% 0.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Brandon Jennings 3.3
G Luke Ridnour 12.4 50.2 6.4 3.7 2.3 1.5 0.3 2.4
G Michael Redd 21.4 56.4 2.9 3.8 2.0 1.0 0.2 5.1
F Hakim Warrick 17.1 56.2 1.3 7.2 1.8 0.8 0.6 3.5
C Andrew Bogut 14.3 56.3 2.6 10.6 2.4 0.8 1.4 3.9
F Kurt Thomas 9.5 51.7 1.6 10.4 1.1 1.0 1.3 2.9
G Charlie Bell 12.2 51.7 3.5 3.2 1.6 1.1 0.1 1.7
C Dan Gadzuric 11.0 48.8 1.5 9.4 1.8 1.2 1.5 1.0
F Carlos Delfino 13.4 51.7 3.7 3.9 2.2 1.0 0.2 1.3
F Luc Mbah a Moute 10.7 53.1 1.6 8.3 1.7 1.5 0.8 2.8
F Ersan Ilyasova 16.5 51.9 1.6 10.1 2.0 0.6 1.7 1.0
F Joe Alexander 14.5 51.6 2.4 6.0 2.5 0.8 1.4 0.9
G Roko Ukic 12.8 45.5 5.8 3.6 2.3 1.2 0.2 0.4
G Jodie Meeks 0.6
C Francisco Elson 8.7 50.0 1.4 8.3 2.0 1.1 1.2 0.5
F Walter Sharpe 15.2 52.4 2.9 6.2 1.8 1.0 1.0 0.0

Comments: They lost a ton of talent over the offseason — Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, Ramon Sessions, etc. What's ironic is that their Pythagorean record was 38-44 last year, and that was with Redd and Bogut playing only 69 combined games, so you have to think that if they had kept the team intact they probably would have made the playoffs and could have finished 2nd in the division.…That said, it was all about money, all about staying under the luxury tax. Herb Kohl would have been on the hook for no small amount of cash, and they weren't realistically going to take on the East's powers even if they had kept the whole crew together.…They'll be bad this year, there's really no way around it. You've got a rookie PG, the top 2 remaining stars are injury-prone, and the rest of roster is just not equipped to be a competitive team. This is the definition of a "rebuilding" year.

14. New York Knicks (31-51, 5th in Atlantic Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.368 25 31.3 50.7 46 15 21 25 8.1% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Chris Duhon 10.8 55.9 6.7 3.2 2.5 1.0 0.1 3.4
G Nate Robinson 19.7 55.2 4.5 4.7 2.1 1.4 0.1 4.5
G/F Wilson Chandler 15.7 52.9 2.3 6.1 1.7 1.0 1.0 2.6
F Al Harrington 19.6 54.7 1.8 6.7 2.1 1.2 0.3 3.8
F/C David Lee 15.6 60.1 2.1 11.8 1.8 1.0 0.4 7.0
F Danilo Gallinari 15.3 61.6 1.9 5.4 1.5 1.2 0.5 1.9
F Jared Jeffries 8.2 47.2 2.1 6.5 1.8 1.2 0.8 0.9
C Darko Milicic 11.9 51.0 1.4 9.0 1.9 0.8 2.1 1.3
G Larry Hughes 15.0 49.3 3.1 4.0 1.9 1.6 0.3 1.5
G Toney Douglas 1.5
C Eddy Curry 18.6 58.8 1.1 6.8 3.1 0.5 0.6 1.1
F Marcus Landry 0.5
F/C Jordan Hill 1.1
G Cuttino Mobley 13.5 51.2 2.4 3.6 1.8 1.1 0.4 0.2

Comments: Exciting team to watch, but they're probably not going to win a lot of games this season.…Lee and Robinson were good re-signings, they'll be the Knicks' two best players this season. I'm not sure that they fit into New York's plans beyond this year, though.…The knock on D'Antoni in Phoenix was that they didn't play defense, but that was largely an illusion of pace, they were usually average. This Knicks team, on the other hand, is going to be a sieve; there's just not enough for D'Antoni to work with.…Everyone will give them a free pass this season, we all know that signing LeBron James is their real goal — they will be judged on their front-office performance next summer more than their on-court play this winter. But I just don't see it happening; there's no reason for James to leave Cleveland, especially if they win a championship. It's nice to aim high, but N.Y. is probably going to have to settle for less than they want next summer.

13. Washington Wizards (32-50, 5th in Southeast Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.380 23 32.1 49.9 49 16 17 29 11.1% 0.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Gilbert Arenas 22.1 54.8 5.5 4.6 2.9 1.5 0.3 4.7
G/F Mike Miller 13.5 59.9 4.4 6.9 2.4 0.5 0.4 4.0
F Caron Butler 18.8 55.1 4.0 6.0 2.7 1.6 0.3 5.3
F Antawn Jamison 20.1 53.7 1.7 8.5 1.4 1.1 0.3 5.4
C Brendan Haywood 13.1 56.5 1.4 9.1 1.8 0.6 2.0 3.9
G Randy Foye 16.2 52.7 4.4 3.5 2.2 1.1 0.3 1.8
G/F DeShawn Stevenson 11.8 50.0 3.6 3.4 1.5 0.9 0.2 1.1
G Nick Young 17.7 54.1 2.0 3.4 2.0 0.9 0.4 0.8
F Andray Blatche 14.7 52.2 2.4 8.5 2.4 1.1 1.8 1.2
C JaVale McGee 15.8 54.9 1.1 9.1 1.9 1.1 2.2 1.3
F Dominic McGuire 6.7 49.1 3.3 7.5 1.7 1.1 1.3 0.5
G Mike James 12.4 48.0 4.2 3.2 2.1 1.0 0.2 0.2
F/C Paul Davis 12.6 48.8 2.0 7.5 1.6 1.1 0.6 0.4
C Fabricio Oberto 8.8 58.7 2.5 8.4 1.6 0.7 0.5 1.3
G Javaris Crittenton 11.6 51.1 4.2 5.5 2.5 1.2 0.2 0.1

Comments: A lot of people are convinced they're going to instantly be contenders with everyone healthy, but I don't think they'll be able to stay totally injury-free, and just like last year they have zero depth.…Offensively, they're not going to be horrible — their top guys will certainly be efficient, and that includes the new guy, Mike Miller. So their starters are going to make shots, no doubt, but their bench is littered with poor offensive players. That's really going to drag them down, especially if the injuries come up again.…Their defense is awful. If it wasn't for Sacramento, this would be the worst D in the league, and Flip Saunders isn't going to turn it around with coaching.…It's going to come down to how healthy their Big 3 are, obviously, but this is not the same group that was a .500 team from 2004-05 through 2007-08. The supporting cast is really terrible. They're probably going to be a major disappointment.

12. New Jersey Nets (34-48, 4th in Atlantic Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.405 22 33.9 48.1 50 19 24 19 22.0% 1.9% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Devin Harris 19.5 57.2 6.6 3.4 2.9 1.6 0.2 6.7
G Courtney Lee 12.5 56.6 1.8 3.6 1.3 1.4 0.3 3.4
F Bobby Simmons 12.1 56.1 2.0 5.7 1.5 1.1 0.2 2.4
F Yi Jianlian 13.5 49.7 1.6 8.1 1.8 0.8 1.0 1.1
C Brook Lopez 15.8 58.3 1.4 9.7 2.0 0.7 2.1 4.6
F/C Tony Battie 11.1 51.6 1.1 8.0 1.5 0.8 0.7 1.9
C Josh Boone 11.1 54.2 1.3 9.7 1.3 0.8 1.4 2.2
G Rafer Alston 13.3 49.1 5.6 3.5 2.1 1.5 0.2 3.2
G Keyon Dooling 13.7 55.8 4.2 2.8 1.8 1.2 0.2 1.5
F Sean Williams 11.1 54.5 1.3 8.5 1.9 0.8 2.7 1.5
G Jarvis Hayes 13.5 53.2 1.4 5.2 1.1 1.1 0.2 1.5
G/F Chris Douglas-Roberts 14.0 54.7 3.3 3.9 1.9 0.8 0.5 1.0
G/F Terrence Williams 1.2
F Eduardo Najera 10.4 54.8 2.1 7.1 1.5 1.4 0.7 1.2
F Trenton Hassell 7.3 49.2 2.1 4.6 1.1 0.6 0.4 0.4

Comments: It's going to be the same story for them as it was last year, made worse by Vince Carter's absence. They've got some talent for the future — Harris, Lopez, Lee, etc. — but this season is basically a write-off in preparation for spending that cap money next summer.…I'm not sold on Yi: he's only 22, and there have been flashes of potential, but in the end he's had two terrible seasons. The track record for players starting their careers this way is not encouraging.…Devin Harris is a stud, a bona fide star. If you're going to trade away a Hall of Famer, you can't do any better than the Nets did when they picked up Harris.…I like Brook Lopez a lot: he's efficient, he rebounds, he blocks shots, etc. Legit centers are hard to come by, and New Jersey has one in Lopez.…The next step for them is luring someone to come play with their core. Prokhorov's money was nice, but with the relocation plans still up in the air, I wonder what kind of effect their off-court situation will have on potential signees?

11. Chicago Bulls (36-56, 4th in Central Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.427 21 35.6 46.4 52 20 19 20 36.0% 4.2% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Derrick Rose 16.8 53.4 6.2 4.1 2.3 0.8 0.2 4.2
G John Salmons 16.2 57.0 3.1 4.4 2.1 1.1 0.4 4.2
F Luol Deng 16.7 53.6 2.4 6.6 1.7 1.2 0.5 4.7
F Tyrus Thomas 14.4 52.9 1.7 8.8 2.1 1.5 2.4 3.6
C Brad Miller 13.8 55.4 3.9 9.2 2.3 0.9 0.8 4.6
F/C Joakim Noah 10.9 58.3 2.1 10.8 1.7 1.1 1.9 4.9
G Kirk Hinrich 13.9 53.3 5.9 3.6 2.4 1.5 0.4 3.3
G Jannero Pargo 12.8 56.4 1.6 10.0 2.3 1.0 0.6 1.2
C Aaron Gray 12.2 52.9 2.5 10.2 2.3 0.9 0.9 1.3
F Taj Gibson 1.2
F James Johnson 1.5
G Lindsey Hunter 11.3 46.4 4.4 2.9 2.3 2.0 0.3 0.4
F Derrick Byars 0.4
C Jerome James 14.1 50.9 2.4 7.0 2.4 1.1 1.1 0.1

Comments: They lost Ben Gordon via free agency, to another team in the division, and they didn't do anything to make up for that loss. It was a great run in the playoffs last year, but it's going to be very difficult to replicate that in 2009-10.…Derrick Rose came with a lot of hype last season, and he's got the potential to be a superstar, but I'm not sure he's one of the game's elite point guards yet. Defensively, he has issues, as you saw when Rajon Rondo lit him up in the playoffs.…Even before the injury, what happened to Luol Deng? A few years ago, it looked like he was going to be a star. Now he's a good player, but nothing more.…They have a lot of guys with more potential than production — Rose, Thomas, Deng, etc. If they all figured things out, this could be a dangerous team.…Joakim Noah and Brad Miller are a terrific offensive duo in the frontcourt. When Noah got significant minutes, he proved he could produce.…They're going to struggle to return to the playoffs, but you have to focus on that young talent. They'll be back in a few years if they play their cards right.

10. Miami Heat (36-46, 4th in Southeast Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.429 20 36.0 46.0 52 20 20 15 39.8% 5.2% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Mario Chalmers 11.7 56.1 5.5 3.4 2.2 2.2 0.1 4.1
G Dwyane Wade 26.5 57.1 6.8 4.6 3.4 1.9 1.1 10.5
F Michael Beasley 20.4 54.6 1.7 8.0 2.1 0.8 0.7 3.3
F Udonis Haslem 11.6 54.0 1.3 8.7 1.3 0.7 0.4 4.7
C Jermaine O'Neal 16.6 51.1 2.4 8.0 2.7 0.6 2.4 2.3
G Daequan Cook 13.8 52.3 1.7 4.2 1.1 0.8 0.2 1.5
C Jamaal Magloire 9.5 50.1 1.2 10.4 2.2 0.6 1.2 0.8
G Chris Quinn 13.0 55.1 4.8 3.3 1.4 1.1 0.1 1.9
F James Jones 11.9 56.1 1.3 4.3 0.9 0.7 0.7 1.9
G/F Quentin Richardson 13.0 49.7 2.3 6.2 1.4 0.9 0.2 1.0
F Shavlik Randolph 14.8 53.6 2.5 9.0 2.7 1.0 1.1 1.2
F/C Joel Anthony 6.3 53.1 1.1 6.7 1.4 0.7 2.8 1.1
G Carlos Arroyo 11.1 57.0 1.2 7.0 2.6 0.9 1.5 0.7
F Yakhouba Diawara 9.9 49.4 1.7 3.9 1.0 0.7 0.3 0.5
G/F Dorell Wright 11.9 52.8 2.3 7.4 1.4 1.0 1.1 0.4

Comments: This team screams "Plexiglas Principle" to me. Teams that make vast improvements in one season tend to give some of that back the next year.…Miami made a 28-game turnaround on the strength of Wade being healthy for the first time in 3 years. If he plays 79 games again, fine, they've got a chance to go back, but what happens if he's hurt?…Beasley didn't really impress anybody last year. But if they make the playoffs again, it's going to be because he turned a corner.…Jermaine O'Neal is toast. He's on the wrong side of 30, his offensive game is shot, and he doesn't even defend well anymore. Between him and Magloire, the center position is going to kill them.…The big question for them is obviously whether Wade sticks around next summer. You have to think that if they miss the playoffs this season, it's going to really cause him to question if he's in the right place or not.

9. Philadelphia 76ers (36-46, 3rd in Atlantic Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.433 19 36.1 45.9 52 21 22 13 41.0% 5.3% 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Louis Williams 19.0 53.0 4.7 3.4 2.6 1.6 0.3 4.3
G Andre Iguodala 17.4 56.1 4.7 5.2 2.4 1.6 0.5 7.8
F Thaddeus Young 16.0 56.9 1.4 5.9 1.6 1.5 0.3 5.7
F Elton Brand 16.8 52.0 2.0 9.1 2.5 0.8 1.8 3.5
C Samuel Dalembert 10.6 55.1 0.6 11.6 2.1 0.6 2.5 4.2
G Willie Green 14.9 49.3 2.9 3.0 1.6 1.0 0.3 1.7
F Jason Kapono 13.4 54.6 2.0 3.3 1.4 0.6 0.1 1.4
F Jason Smith 17.6 59.6 1.8 7.7 2.3 0.9 0.5 1.3
C Marreese Speights 17.5 55.7 1.2 8.3 1.4 0.8 1.5 2.9
G Royal Ivey 10.1 48.7 2.9 3.4 1.5 1.3 0.3 0.7
G Jrue Holiday 1.1
G/F Rodney Carney 14.6 52.6 1.1 4.4 1.3 1.3 0.8 1.1
C Primoz Brezec 15.7 58.6 2.5 4.2 1.4 2.0 0.4 0.2

Comments: Losing Andre Miller hurts. The difference between him and Louis Williams at this point in their careers is probably going to be the difference between making the playoffs and staying home.…I'm really high on Iguodala and Young; they're going to be the two best players on this team, because they're efficient on offense and they're terrific defenders, especially Iguodala. For my money, he's one of the league's most underrated players.…Elton Brand got the benefit of the doubt last year because he was injured, but I question whether he can be anything close to what he was. In his prime he was one of the best in the game, but he hasn't showed that in 2½ years.…Dalembert is frustrating, always has been. His talent and his contract don't match what you get out of him on a nightly basis.…Marreese Speights is a legit offensive player, for sure. But they can't play him more until he quits fouling and plays tougher D.…There are too many question marks to consider Philly anything more than a one-and-done, and that's if they make the playoffs at all.

8. Charlotte Bobcats (37-45, 3rd in Southeast Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.438 17 36.6 45.4 52 21 23 12 45.1% 6.4% 0.5% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Raymond Felton 13.9 49.8 6.7 3.5 2.6 1.4 0.3 3.5
G Raja Bell 12.5 54.8 2.3 3.7 1.2 0.8 0.2 2.2
F Gerald Wallace 16.8 57.5 2.8 6.9 2.2 1.8 0.9 7.7
F Boris Diaw 13.2 55.7 4.6 5.7 2.6 0.8 0.7 3.8
C Tyson Chandler 11.1 60.8 0.9 11.0 1.8 0.5 1.3 6.4
G D.J. Augustin 16.4 60.1 4.7 2.9 2.2 0.8 0.1 4.2
G Ronald Murray 16.8 52.7 3.5 3.3 2.5 1.5 0.3 1.7
F Vladimir Radmanovic 13.4 55.6 2.4 5.6 2.2 1.1 0.4 1.8
F Derrick Brown 1.1
C DeSagana Diop 6.6 48.1 1.2 9.8 1.5 0.9 2.1 1.8
G/F Gerald Henderson 1.1
C Nazr Mohammed 13.2 51.1 1.5 9.6 2.2 0.9 1.4 0.8
G/F Stephen Graham 15.5 52.4 2.0 5.4 2.3 0.7 0.3 0.2
F/C Alexis Ajinca 14.8 49.7 1.9 6.2 2.2 1.3 1.0 0.2

Comments: They've never made the playoffs, but I think that's going to change this year. If you look at the moves they made since Larry Brown took over, you see them getting much better defensively, and that's the foundation they wanted to have.…Okafor never really became the kind of player you expect from a #2 pick, so swapping him for Chandler doesn't really make a big difference, as they're both D-first bigs without much offensive talent. The key thing for Charlotte was to get out from under Okafor's contract.…Gerald Wallace is outstanding. He doesn't shoot particularly well, but aside from that he's an all-around beast.…D.J. Augustin is going to be a great one. He's undersized and he needs to work on his defense, but he's highly talented.…Diaw doesn't seem like a Larry Brown guy, he doesn't always give 100%. Raja Bell, though, works as hard as anybody.…They made enough positive changes to be a legit playoff contender, but they won't make any noise once they get there.

7. Detroit Pistons (38-44, 3rd in Central Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.452 16 37.5 44.5 55 20 18 17 54.0% 10.1% 0.7% 0.0% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Rodney Stuckey 15.4 51.8 5.5 4.2 2.4 1.2 0.2 3.7
G Richard Hamilton 18.8 53.6 4.4 3.5 2.1 0.8 0.1 4.6
F Tayshaun Prince 14.0 51.9 3.1 5.5 1.2 0.6 0.6 5.6
F Charlie Villanueva 20.3 53.2 2.2 9.0 2.2 0.8 0.9 3.9
C Kwame Brown 9.8 54.2 1.7 9.6 2.0 1.0 1.0 2.0
G Ben Gordon 20.9 57.5 3.4 3.6 2.4 0.9 0.2 4.8
F/C Chris Wilcox 16.1 54.5 1.6 9.0 2.2 0.9 0.6 1.7
F Jason Maxiell 12.6 57.8 0.9 8.4 1.3 0.6 1.7 4.1
G Chucky Atkins 12.5 49.3 5.0 2.9 2.0 0.9 0.2 0.7
F/C Ben Wallace 5.7 43.9 1.7 9.7 1.1 1.4 1.9 2.1
G Will Bynum 17.9 52.8 6.4 3.9 3.2 1.5 0.2 1.5
F Austin Daye 1.4
F Jonas Jerebko 0.7
G/F Deron Washington 0.3
F DaJuan Summers 0.4

Comments: Rumors of Detroit's demise were greatly exaggerated last season. The Billups/Iverson situation had a lot of people down on Joe Dumars, but he responded by picking up Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Regardless of fit, that's a pretty nice haul in terms of talent.…Stuckey is a guy I thought would make big strides last year, but he's still not efficient enough. They annointed him the successor to Billups, but he's not there yet, not even close. Fortunately, at 23 he still has some time to improve.…I don't know how they're going to handle the Gordon/Hamilton timeshare. Hamilton is declining, but he had a problem with coming off the bench last year. Gordon is better, but he's been a sixth man for a while.…Villanueva is a good player. He scores, he can stretch defenses, he's an underrated rebounder — he's like a defensively-challenged version of Rasheed Wallace.…Will Bynum is a sparkplug, he can score in bunches.…Ben Wallace is probably finished, but there's an off chance he can add something to their D.…Michael Curry needed to go, he had lost the players. I'm not sure if John Kuester can do better, but he probably can't do worse.

6. Indiana Pacers (39-43, 2nd in Central Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.469 15 39.0 43.0 55 25 16 18 67.2% 15.5% 1.3% 0.1% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G T.J. Ford 17.8 53.7 7.1 4.0 2.9 1.5 0.2 4.4
G Dahntay Jones 11.6 53.6 2.0 4.4 1.8 1.2 0.5 2.2
F Danny Granger 22.5 58.5 2.4 5.5 2.2 1.1 1.2 7.4
F Troy Murphy 15.1 59.4 2.6 11.0 1.7 0.9 0.5 7.0
C Jeff Foster 9.1 54.4 2.4 10.8 1.6 1.1 0.8 4.2
G/F Brandon Rush 12.7 52.0 1.5 4.9 1.5 0.8 0.8 1.5
C Roy Hibbert 17.6 52.6 2.0 8.5 1.9 0.8 2.5 2.3
G/F Mike Dunleavy 18.2 57.3 3.4 5.3 2.4 1.0 0.4 2.6
G Earl Watson 11.0 48.2 7.8 3.7 3.0 1.1 0.2 0.8
F Tyler Hansbrough 1.4
G Travis Diener 11.7 53.0 6.0 3.9 1.3 1.1 0.2 1.9
F Josh McRoberts 12.5 50.8 2.5 8.7 1.7 1.4 1.6 0.8
G Luther Head 13.5 54.1 3.7 4.0 1.9 1.2 0.2 1.0
C Solomon Jones 10.9 61.2 1.1 7.6 1.6 0.5 1.7 1.0
G A.J. Price 0.4

Comments: They're going to be one of the surprise teams of the league. They had a solid second half last year, and could have a pretty decent season in 2009-10 with more improvement from Granger and the other young players.…Granger is a superstar in the making, but he has to get better defensively to take that next step.…Mike Dunleavy was very effective the last time he was healthy, but he'll be gone for half of this year and there's no telling what he can bring when he does return. Dahntay Jones, his replacement, is the anti-Dunleavy — not a lot of offensive skill, but a guy who puts the necessary effort into defense.…T.J. Ford surprised me. Early in his career, he was inefficient and it didn't look like he would live up to the billing, but he's grown into his game and he's a great fit in Indiana.…Troy Murphy doesn't play PF the conventional way, but he had a great season last year and is one of the most underrated players in the game.…O'Brien and Dick Harter can flat-out coach. People think Indy doesn't defend, but that's just an illusion of pace — they were basically equal on offense and defense last year.

5. Atlanta Hawks (40-42, 2nd in Southeast Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.491 14 40.3 41.7 55 25 14 16 78.0% 24.2% 2.2% 0.2% 0.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Mike Bibby 15.6 53.5 5.3 3.7 2.0 1.2 0.1 4.8
G Joe Johnson 19.5 53.9 5.1 4.0 2.3 1.0 0.2 6.5
F Josh Smith 16.7 53.7 3.0 7.9 2.6 1.5 2.2 5.1
F Marvin Williams 15.2 56.5 1.7 6.4 1.4 1.0 0.6 5.9
C Al Horford 12.5 56.7 2.4 10.5 1.7 0.9 1.4 6.1
G Jeff Teague 1.6
G Jamal Crawford 18.3 53.7 4.3 2.8 2.2 0.9 0.2 2.2
F Maurice Evans 12.3 55.5 1.4 4.7 0.9 1.0 0.2 2.5
F Joe Smith 13.8 51.1 1.5 8.4 1.3 0.7 1.1 2.3
C Zaza Pachulia 12.8 56.4 1.6 10.0 2.3 1.0 0.6 3.0
C Jason Collins 5.4 44.0 1.1 5.8 1.4 0.8 0.8 0.1
F Othello Hunter 13.0 54.4 2.2 7.5 1.6 1.0 1.2 0.2
C Randolph Morris 12.0 49.6 1.9 7.1 2.2 1.0 0.6 0.1

Comments: Everyone talks about the fact that they've improved their win total in five straight seasons, but the streak probably ends this year. It's not that they lost anyone special, but they also didn't improve, they still don't have a lot of depth, and the plexiglas principle looms.…Jamal Crawford is overrated because he doesn't defend, and what's worse is that he was Atlanta's headline acquisition while everyone else in the top half of the conference added stars.…Mike Bibby had a renaissance year last season, but at 31 I have my doubts as to whether he can repeat it. It won't be a surprise if he reverts back to the inefficient form he showed in '07 and '08.…Joe Johnson is consistent, you have to give him that. We've probably seen his best (and this is it), but there are worse go-to guys out there.…Joe Smith was a good veteran pickup, but I hated the Jason Collins addition. He used to defend but now he's a total non-entity.…Those 47 wins were probably the most they could realistically expect out of their talent base.

4. Toronto Raptors (43-39, 2nd in Atlantic Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.523 13 42.6 39.4 59 27 12 14 89.3% 41.7% 4.6% 0.5% 0.1%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Jose Calderon 13.6 60.8 9.2 3.3 2.1 1.2 0.1 7.9
G DeMar DeRozan 3.1
F Hedo Turkoglu 17.1 55.0 4.7 5.3 2.7 0.9 0.3 6.7
F/C Chris Bosh 21.7 58.2 2.5 9.4 2.2 0.8 1.0 9.5
F/C Andrea Bargnani 17.2 55.3 1.6 6.1 1.9 0.5 1.2 3.1
G Marco Belinelli 15.4 55.5 3.5 3.4 2.2 1.4 0.1 1.2
G Jarrett Jack 14.0 56.3 4.7 3.7 2.5 1.1 0.2 2.3
F Antoine Wright 11.1 51.1 2.0 3.9 1.3 1.0 0.6 1.0
C Rasho Nesterovic 13.4 53.7 2.6 7.4 1.7 0.8 1.2 2.3
F Reggie Evans 8.8 50.0 1.2 11.4 2.2 1.4 0.3 1.4
F Amir Johnson 10.1 60.4 1.2 9.6 1.5 0.9 2.7 3.2
G Marcus Banks 13.7 52.6 4.1 3.7 2.4 1.3 0.6 0.5
G Quincy Douby 14.4 50.6 2.6 4.1 2.0 1.0 0.6 0.1
C Patrick O'Bryant 14.5 55.2 2.2 8.4 2.6 1.1 2.1 0.2
G/F Sonny Weems 14.6 49.2 2.9 5.4 2.5 1.0 0.6 0.1

Comments: The 2008-09 season was a total aberration — this was morally a 49-33 team in 2007-08, and they won 47 the year before that. Last year the role players weren't efficient and the whole team regressed defensively, but given the track records of the current roster, you have to think they'll bounce back.…Bosh is a superstar and Calderon is an elite point guard; the addition of Turkoglu gives them another talented offensive player, so I fully expect an offensive resurgence this year.…I don't know how wise the Turkoglu deal was long-term, but as far as win-now moves go, it helped make Toronto relevant in the East again.…Bargnani is still soft and has some major flaws, but he showed signs of life last season. Any improvement he makes will go a long way toward Toronto rejoining the East's second tier.…Marco Belinelli is talented, he has a lot of skills. Between him, Demar DeRozan, and Jarrett Jack, the guard rotation alongside Calderon could surprise.…Amir Johnson has great per-minute statistics, but he still doesn't understand that you can't stay in the game if you foul every 5 minutes of court time.

3. Orlando Magic (56-26, 1st in Southeast Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.703 4 56.5 25.5 72 41 6 3 100.0% 92.4% 44.0% 15.8% 8.9%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Jameer Nelson 16.8 58.4 6.2 4.3 2.4 1.3 0.1 7.3
G Vince Carter 20.2 54.3 4.5 5.2 2.1 1.0 0.4 6.9
G/F Mickael Pietrus 13.9 55.2 1.7 5.6 1.5 1.1 0.8 4.0
F Rashard Lewis 17.6 58.1 2.5 5.6 1.9 1.1 0.6 7.8
C Dwight Howard 20.3 61.6 1.5 13.6 3.0 1.0 2.5 12.9
F Brandon Bass 15.7 57.6 1.3 8.3 1.9 0.6 1.2 4.2
F Matt Barnes 13.5 53.3 3.6 7.4 2.2 1.0 0.6 2.4
C Marcin Gortat 11.8 57.6 1.1 12.0 1.3 0.9 2.1 3.8
G Anthony Johnson 10.0 50.3 5.1 3.5 2.0 1.1 0.2 2.0
G J.J. Redick 13.6 57.1 2.4 3.8 1.7 0.7 0.1 2.2
G Jason Williams 18.5 58.4 10.1 3.0 3.2 1.1 0.3 1.0
F Ryan Anderson 14.0 55.2 1.7 8.5 1.7 1.2 0.6 1.6
C Adonal Foyle 9.3 50.7 1.4 9.2 1.7 0.8 2.2 0.3
F Linton Johnson 12.1 53.0 2.1 6.8 1.8 1.1 0.6 0.1

Comments: Not many teams coming off of a Finals appearance: A) get better the next season and B) aren't even the 2nd-biggest favorites to represent the conference in the Finals again. But that's where Orlando is. Carter was a fantastic addition and he makes them a stronger team; at the same time, I'm not sure they would be favored head-to-head against Boston or Cleveland if they played again today.…I was impressed with the way they responded without Nelson. Alston didn't light the world on fire in the playoffs, but the supporting cast was so good that it didn't matter. With Nelson back, the gap between them and the rest of the East's elite is that much smaller.…The team is scary deep in the frontcourt. In addition to the starters, which has maybe the best PF-C combo in the Conference in Lewis-Howard, they've got Bass, Gortat, Barnes, and Anderson coming off the bench. As far as backups go, that's a lot of talent.…They may not be the odds-on favorites to win the East again, but it would surprise no one if they go back to the Finals next summer.

2. Boston Celtics (58-24, 1st in Atlantic Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.724 2 58.4 23.6 71 44 10 1 100.0% 94.3% 59.3% 22.9% 14.4%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Rajon Rondo 13.1 54.3 7.9 5.7 2.6 2.1 0.2 8.5
G Ray Allen 18.0 59.8 2.9 3.6 1.8 0.9 0.2 9.2
F Paul Pierce 19.7 58.1 3.8 5.4 2.7 1.0 0.4 9.6
F Kevin Garnett 19.0 56.4 3.3 10.0 2.0 1.3 1.4 9.1
C Kendrick Perkins 10.5 60.1 1.7 9.5 2.5 0.5 2.3 5.1
G Eddie House 15.9 56.7 2.7 4.0 1.5 1.4 0.2 4.0
G/F Marquis Daniels 15.0 49.4 2.7 5.1 2.2 1.4 0.5 0.9
F/C Rasheed Wallace 13.9 51.4 1.8 8.0 1.2 1.1 1.6 4.6
F/C Glen Davis 12.2 52.4 1.6 7.0 1.8 1.2 0.5 3.3
G Tony Allen 14.2 54.2 2.8 4.6 2.9 1.9 0.7 1.9
F Bill Walker 15.2 61.2 2.7 5.6 2.5 1.1 0.5 0.7
C Shelden Williams 12.6 51.5 1.2 9.8 2.1 1.3 1.1 0.8
F Brian Scalabrine 9.3 52.5 2.0 4.4 1.4 0.7 0.7 0.5
G J.R. Giddens 15.3 56.1 3.0 6.6 2.2 1.3 0.7 0.1
G Lester Hudson 0.0

Comments: I thought losing Garnett would destroy their chances, but they survived Chicago and pushed Orlando to the brink. With KG at full strength, they're going to be as formidable as ever.…Rajon Rondo is amazing. He's so versatile, such a great defender, and every year he gets better. I know he had some locker-room issues and they dangled him in trade talks, but letting him go would be crazy.…The Wallace signing was the kind of move a veteran-laden team like Boston pulls off, and it makes them that much more dangerous. He's older, but his defense is going to fit right in on this team.…What can you say about Ray Allen and Paul Pierce? They're All-Stars, as usual — it's the backups I'd be concerned about. Daniels is overrated, he's badly inefficient, and there's not a whole lot to be said for Tony Allen, Bill Walker, or Scalabrine, either. Throw in Eddie House behind Rondo at PG, and this bench is the main weakness.…Still, barring injury, the Celtics will be a formidable force in the Eastern Conference.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (63-19, 1st in Central Division)

Talent Rank AvgW AvgL High Low O-Rank D-Rank Playoffs Conf Semis Conf Finals Finals Champs
0.777 1 62.5 19.5 75 47 1 2 100.0% 97.3% 86.2% 60.5% 46.0%
Pos Player P/36 TS% A/36 R/36 TO/36 ST/36 BK/36 WS
G Mo Williams 17.9 57.9 4.9 3.8 2.4 1.0 0.1 7.9
G Delonte West 12.8 54.6 4.3 3.8 1.9 1.5 0.4 5.1
F LeBron James 26.8 58.8 6.6 7.1 2.8 1.6 1.0 18.2
F Anderson Varejao 10.7 55.0 1.4 9.5 1.4 1.2 1.0 6.8
C Shaquille O'Neal 19.7 60.1 2.0 10.1 3.0 0.7 1.7 5.3
G Anthony Parker 12.5 54.2 3.2 4.4 1.4 1.2 0.2 3.1
G Daniel Gibson 12.3 55.7 2.8 3.3 1.4 0.9 0.3 3.1
F Jamario Moon 10.6 55.5 1.7 6.9 0.8 1.4 1.3 4.2
F J.J. Hickson 13.4 56.4 1.0 8.2 2.2 0.8 1.4 1.1
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas 16.5 51.9 1.6 10.1 2.0 0.6 1.7 4.5
F Danny Green 0.6
F Darnell Jackson 10.3 51.7 1.4 7.1 1.4 0.9 0.5 0.5
G Coby Karl 13.4 54.6 2.0 3.3 1.4 0.6 0.1 0.0
F Jawad Williams 15.8 54.4 2.8 5.9 2.0 1.2 0.6 0.1
F Leon Powe 16.6 60.0 1.3 9.9 2.1 0.7 1.0 2.1

Comments: This is the most talented team in the conference, hands down — probably the best team in the entire league. James is the game's best player and that goes a long way, but they've also surrounded him with great complementary players. This whole roster is tailored to play off of James' strengths.…Shaq was the big-name pickup, and he'll be an upgrade over Z, but the most important pickup was Anthony Parker. With West's situation up in the air, Parker's defense and versatility is going to be crucial.…Jamario Moon's acquisition was underrated; he constantly made his teams better when he was on the court, so he'll be another defensive asset.…My only concern is whether they did enough to address their issues against a team like Orlando, who used Dwight Howard and a killer pick-n-roll game to exploit Cleveland's D.…James' free agency is going to hang over this team all season. I think the players will be insulated from the distraction, but don't think for a second that it won't be a near-constant topic of conversation whenever the Cavs play.

The Eastern Conference Playoffs

First Round

  • #1 Cleveland over #8 Charlotte
  • #4 Toronto over #5 Atlanta
  • #3 Orlando over #6 Indiana
  • #2 Boston over #7 Detroit

Semifinals

  • #1 Cleveland over #4 Toronto
  • #2 Boston over #3 Orlando

Finals

  • #1 Cleveland over #2 Boston

NBA Finals

  • Cleveland over LA Lakers
Outcome Probability
Cleveland in 4 12.3%
Lakers in 4 2.4%
Cleveland in 5 23.4%
Lakers in 5 5.0%
Cleveland in 6 18.2%
Lakers in 6 10.5%
Cleveland in 7 19.0%
Lakers in 7 9.1%

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13 Responses to “2009-10 Eastern Conference Preview”

  1. khandor Says:

    Neil,

    Would you be interested in making a guest column wager of sorts on the Raptors finishing in one of the Eastern Conference's top 4 spots this season?

    i.e. You've got the Raptors in the #1-4 spots. I've got the Raptors in the #5-15 spots.

    Loser does an article on their own site as a promo for the Winner, plus gives the Winner a guest spot for an article of his choosing on the Loser's site.

    Deal, or no deal?

    [From my perspective, it looks as though your "system" might be off in terms of predicting accurately where a few of these teams will most likely finish in the standings this season, e.g. Was, Chi, Mia and Tor.]

  2. Josh Engleman Says:

    Instead of putting the offensive and defensive ranks, would you be able to also put the ORTG & DRTG?

  3. David Lewin Says:

    Neil,

    Do you think you could post the minutes distribution that was used in generating these projections?

  4. Jason J Says:

    Very interesting results and great write up, Neil.

    A few thoughts...

    I have a feeling, as long as he's healthy, Wade keeps the Heat in the playoffs. A player who can create good shots late in games tends to get you those close ones.

    Detroit's chemistry is real concern, I think. They don't have a single starting caliber center on the team. Their four guards all need a lot of touches to be effective. Their starting forwards weigh less than the Olsen twins. There's talent, but it looks like they are a move away from fitting it together.

    Cleveland may be the most talented team in the East (debatable) and will probably win the most reg season games because they have such great depth up front and LeBron is never hurt, but until I see any combination of their bigs handle a pick and roll, I'm unconvinced they can beat an elite team. Nelson and Rondo come off those screens really hard, and Dwight and KG are Dwight and KG, and both the Magic and Celts can surround those players with shooters. That'll be tough to handle.

    I'm high on the Raps this season too, but I think top 4 might be wishful thinking. I still don't see enough front court depth or rebounding, and Hedo starts the season out of shape.

  5. Neil Paine Says:

    Josh: The rankings were generated w/ OWS and DWS, so there really aren't any ratings to post.

    Dave: Sure...

    Sorry, the playing time table was too long, so I removed it. We'll try to post it later. --Ed.

  6. David Lewin Says:

    Neil,

    It appears your post got cut off a bit there. Care to post the rest of the league (Jason Smith on down)? And, also would you mind describing how these minutes allocations were generated? Was it the same simple projection system type method then forced to the 60-30-10 distribution?

  7. Neil Paine Says:

    OK, I put them in a separate post, sorry about before:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=3760

    I used this Ed Kupfer formula to project games played, then started with a weighted average of the past 2 years' MPG as a baseline and adjusted up or down based on the team's depth charts. All team minutes had to add up to 19,803 MP (48.3*82*5). I admit that last part is subjective, but you and I both know there's no good way to project playing time. Whatever you do, you're going to screw up somewhere.

  8. Jared Ras Says:

    I'm going to bookmark this to see how wrong these are at season's end. No offense, but I don't take any predictions seriously; at least you have some statistical base, but no projectors ever recap their projections once all is said and done, which speaks to either a lack of confidence, lack of accuracy, or they just don't care.

  9. Larry Says:

    No way are the Bulls 11th. We are much better than Indiana who you have as 6th.

  10. Cameron Stewart Says:

    Neil, are you smoking something? Cleveland has the most talanted team?! Are you kidding me?! Lebron okay, SHAQ! The mans about 100 years old, he's well past his time as is Big Z! Apart from Lebron and maybe Mo Williams their a pretty lackluster team. Honestly you must be getting paid by the Cavs. Orlando, young and talanted, cavs...man alive, poor poor predictions

  11. khandor Says:

    Washington marches into Dallas and emerges with a W, sans Messier Jamison. Those expecting Mr. Blatche to NOT put up improved production numbers this season haven't been watching closely enough this off-season, when Ernie Grunfeld made the moves to ditch Songaila, Pecherov and Thomas, and then bring in Oberto [while retaining Andray, McGee and McGuire, in support of Haywood and Jamison up-front]. As I mentioned in my initial comment, Was is one of the teams it seems like your "system" might have failed to forecast accurately this season [barring any major injuries, of course].

  12. siukong Says:

    Hmmm ... not even 9 wins separating seeds 4 through 12 (and look at those high/lows - virtually identical for most of them). It seems that once again the playoff race outside of CLE/BOS/ORL will be a crapshoot. With injuries and/or hot streaks, I can see any of those 9 teams ranked 4-12 rising or falling accordingly. Should be interesting.

  13. Hortense Champagne Says:

    I love Sonny With A Chance, I'd have to say my favorite on the show is Chad, I'm hooked on the show! Thanks for your post!