The NBA season tipped off last night. Many publications have NBA previews, of course. But I am going to link to three, which we can revisit later in the season to see how well they did.
Here’s the Wages of Wins/NBA geek collaboration, whose approach, based on Dave Berri’s Wins Produced, I’ve already indicated I am generally partial to. I am a Knicks fans, so naturally I pay particular attention to them. Last year, WP predicted that the Knicks would win more than fifty games and challenge Miami for the Eastern Conference title. No one else, as far as I saw, was as bullish on the Knicks as WP, and they did very well, as the Knicks won a surprising (to most) 54 games, second most in the conference, and the division title, before faltering in the playoffs. This year, contrary to lots of other folks, WoW is pretty down on them, projecting them to win 35 games – the 21st best team in the NBA (or the tenth worst). By contrast, SI’s preseason power rankings have the Knicks 11th, and ESPN.com also has them in that spot.
There’s also quite a difference of opinion about the Lakers. WP projects them as the very worst team in the NBA. They come in the 19th slot on SI’s rankings, and 20th, according to ESPN. So , no one likes them, but WP *really* doesn’t like them. Likewise the Pacers, a team many consider a likely challenger to the Heat in the East. SI considers the Pacers the fourth best team in the league to start the season. ESPN says they’re the sixth best, but the WoW/NBA Geek folks say they’re just the 16th best.
At or near the top, everyone likes the Heat, Spurs and Clippers, but WP projects the Rockets to win the most games in the NBA, while ESPN and SI both regard the Heat as the best team in the league heading into the season.
Injuries and other surprises will derail some of these predictions, of course. But it will be fun to come back to these down the road.