Projecting NBA records using each team's relative preseason performance
I used each Team's Win Score and their Opponent Win Score in the preseason to project their record in the regular season. But instead of comparing those two numbers against the NBA average, as I normally would, I compared those two numbers against the cumulative averages of each team's opponents. In that way, the projections are "strength of schedule" neutral. I call this method "Team Win Score Over Average".
Some of the results are patently ridiculous. For instance, I will eat my shoes if the Lakers finish with a 43-39 record, and I am dubious that the Pistons or Cavaliers will finish below .500. I would also doubt that the Denver Nuggets will win 61 games as their preseason performance suggests.
That said, here are some extrapolations I think you can make:
1. Watch out for the New Orleans Hornets. They finished first by a wide margin in both the Straight Efficiency Rankings and the schedule neutral TWSOA Rankings.
2. I also think Orlando will be tough, Indiana will be better, the Trailblazers will be much better, the Timberwolves will be better, the Heat will be better, and the Hawks will continue to build on last season's finish despite the loss of Josh Childress.
3. I also think the Pistons might come back to the pack a bit, and I am not convinced yet that the Sixers are going to be quite as tough as people believe.
4. I have no idea what to make of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought they would make a move toward the top this season. They may underperform again during the season, and then come on strong in the playoffs. I don't know.