It’s progress, I guess.
Up to 27.3 from 21. That’s 6.3 more wins for the Phoenix Suns in 2018-19.
The worst team in the NBA from last season is now projected, by ESPN at least, to be better than TWO other teams in 2018-19, up from 30th in wins to 28th in wins. Only the Kings (25.9) and Hawks (25.4) project to win fewer than the Suns’ 27.3.
Think that’s overly harsh?
Not to stat guys like Pelton. Kevin Pelton doesn’t use his intuition to rank teams. He uses stats, and the only ones available are historical. So of course the career RPM (Real Plus Minus) of all the players on this young roster are crappy. Like, disgustingly crappy. Not one player on the team has played on an NBA winner recently, except Trevor Ariza who was a role player. It’s probably Ariza who even got the Suns those extra wins in the projector model.
So don’t kill Pelton. He’s only the messenger.
The same predictor model pegs the Mavericks at winning 32 games (+8 from last season), the Lakers at winning 41 (+6).
The Lakers’ write up is telling to me, and tells you all you need to know about advanced stats — they are heavily based on who’s around you. The Lakers’ LeBron James RPM is projected to fall almost 50% from plus-5.0 to plus-2.7 simply because of the team around him.
The Suns have had zero success in recent years, so no prediction model will tell you differently until and unless they actually start winning games.
I’m excited about coach Igor Kokoskov. Pelton, of course, is not excited because Igor doesn’t have any stats.
Pelton is not alone in his prediction. Bovada pegs the Suns with the worst odds in the league at winning a championship (50,000:1). Action Network has them winning 27.5 games.
But before you throw out the entire prediction modeling concept, consider this:
If the Suns can’t win in the first half at a 35+ win pace, there is ZERO EVIDENCE that the team will keep trying to win games in the second half. So if they’re winning at a 30-win pace in February, you can’t bet good money that they will find a way to finish with less than 30 wins by the end of the season.
The Suns have their own first round pick coming, with no encumbrances, so why not try to maximize it.
The lotto formula is changing a bit next year, but only to dis-incent teams from shooting for #1. It’s better than ever to have a pick in the 3-8 range in terms of odds to jump to the top.
The 2019 Draft is currently looking a lot like the 2017 draft did — a ton of small forwards and power forwards, but not a lot of real big men. The first center doesn’t come up till #10 on the early mock drafts.
The Suns won’t want any shooting guards or small forwards, unless something bad happens, but they could really use a power forward and a point guard.
Zion Williamson, anyone? Cam Reddish? Both are freshman power forwards for Duke, who will likely play the 285-pound Williamson at center. Or maybe Sekou Doumbouya?
Or there’s Darius Garland as a point guard, in case the Suns don’t want to ride the Knight train another season. He’s the ONLY point guard listed in the top 20, per ESPN/Draft Express, at this time.
How many wins will the Suns have next year?
This poll is closed
less than 25
More than 35