Dubs eighth in West? Why ESPN's analytics model projects mediocrity


ESPN's regular season win total projections for the 2022-23 NBA season are in, and the Warriors appear to be longshots to repeat as champions according to the stats-based model.

Formulated by Kevin Pelton using different projections based on box score stats and other factors, ESPN has the Warriors finishing as the eighth seed this season with 41.9 wins. 

Ahead of them are the Phoenix Suns (49 wins), Denver Nuggets (47.9), New Orleans Pelicans (47.6), Memphis Grizzlies (46.1), Minnesota Timberwolves (45.7), Los Angeles Clippers (43.6) and Dallas Mavericks (43.1). 

As for Golden State, Pelton wrote that the Warriors' two down years prior to winning the 2022 NBA Finals threw off those stats-based projections.

That's why FiveThirtyEight predicted the Warriors to win 37 games last season and still listed them as massive Finals underdogs against the Boston Celtics.

Of course, neither of those projections panned out: The Warriors won 53 regular-season games en route to winning their fourth championship in eight years.

To that end, Pelton notes that the aforementioned accomplishments give the Warriors a boost in projected win totals. Ultimately, Pelton feels that the Warriors will surge past the projections, even after losing Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II. 

"Despite these losses, I expect Golden State to outperform this projection and be back near the top of the West," Pelton wrote. 

Pelton also explains that the win total predictions are based on average health luck -- three-year, luck-adjusted Regularized Adjusted Four Factors to estimate how many games will be lost --  meaning that these totals could be off depending on how the injury bug bites specific teams.


As a result, the average totals will be "inevitably" closer to .500 than what the actual standings say at the end of the year.

RELATED: Can Warriors' second unit be better than last season?

Despite the return of Andre Iguodala and the signing of "critical" free agents such as JaMychal Green and Donte DiVincenzo, the Warriors already are looking like underdogs this season. 

But as long as Steph Curry remains great, Golden State has the engine that can help them blow past any projections. 

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