With the absence of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson's torn ACL and so many changes to multiple teams, the Western Conference is more wide open than ever for the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season.
The Warriors' time ruling the West might have come to an end, too. Golden State lost Durant to Brooklyn and will miss Thompson's two-way play for multiple months. For these reasons, ESPN's real-plus minus has the Warriors finishing the regular season closer to the No. 8 seed than the No. 1 seed.
The projection system predicts the Warriors to be the No. 6 seed in the West. Since RPM debuted after the Warriors' first title under coach Steve Kerr, the equation has projected the Warriors to win at least 60 wins. Not anymore.
Golden State's new-look squad is projected to have just 46.5 wins by ESPN's RPM. The Warriors have won at least 57 games in each of Kerr's five years coaching the team.
According to the projection system, the Warriors will have fewer wins than the Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz and Lakers. It has the Mavericks and Blazers rounding out the top-eight seeds, with the Kings barely missing the playoffs.
This would set up a Warriors-Clippers matchup in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The two teams opened up the playoffs this past season, and the Clippers surprisingly pushed the Warriors to six games. But the Clips revamped their roster this offseason, adding stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
By the time the playoffs roll around, the Warriors should have Thompson back and well understanding of each other with many new faces playing together.
If this is how the first round of the playoffs turn out, we could be in for a treat right away.