B/R NBA Re-Draft: Full Results, 2K Projections and Awards
Welcome to a new NBA, basketball fans.
Over the past week, Bleacher Report has unveiled the results of our 30-team, 360-player re-draft. If you've missed out on any of the previous installments, now's your chance to get caught up.
- Round 1: Franchise Cornerstones
- Round 2: Top Tandems
- Rounds 3-5: Starting Lineups
- Rounds 5-12: Who's Got The Best Roster?
In order to review each roster in its entirety, that last link will be your best friend. As far as answering the question of who's got the best roster? That's what we're here to figure out.
How the Simulation Works
Once our rosters were in place, we put all 30 teams through the wringer that is an NBA 2K simulation. Think we stopped at one time and called it a day? Think again.
Our process included 50 separate single-season simulations using the squads that each de facto general manager put together. This created a better sample size and made sure outliers were less impactful on the final results.
Along the way, we tracked things such as projected season stat leaders, major award winners, total estimated wins, and championship odds. Here's how each of those categories was calculated:
Stats Leaders: After each simulation, we noted who won major stat categories. By the time all 50 sims were complete, we took each winner and divided the number of times he won by the total number of simulations. For example: If your favorite player won the scoring title 25 times out of 50, we're giving him a 50 percent shot at taking home that honor.
Major Awards: The same process goes for this one. If your favorite reserve player won Sixth Man of the Year 13 times, we'd divide 13 by 50 and come up with a 26 percent probability he earns that accolade in our league.
Championship Odds: Starting to see a pattern? If your favorite team won a championship with its new roster 10 times out of 50 simulations, we're giving it a 20 percent chance of taking home the Larry O'Brien Trophy. (This is also how we came up with postseason appearance odds.)
Projected Win Totals: We took each win total over 50 simulations and calculated the average. We also tracked average seeding to add additional context—after all, a 43-win season can mean the playoffs one year and the lottery the next—but will use projected win totals when ranking each team from here on out.
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (94 percent)
- James Harden, Dallas Mavericks (6 percent)
As we begin with our first award, we could do a lot to make this a dramatic presentation. We could explain how the points-per-game average between No. 1 and No. 2 was only within a point or so on multiple simulations. We could even break down the history behind this star-powered 1-2 matchup.
But we're not going to mince words here, folks.
Russell Westbrook walked away with this one, coming out of our simulation with a projected 29.3 points per contest—and an even more impressive 94 percent chance of snagging the scoring title.
- Hassan Whiteside, Charlotte Hornets: 60 percent
- Andre Drummond, Phoenix Suns: 30 percent
- DeAndre Jordan, Portland Trail Blazers: 10 percent
While the rebounding battle in 2K Land was closer than the scoring contest, that's more of an indictment of the latter than a testament to how competitive this really was.
Out of 50 simulations, Hassan Whiteside managed to walk away with 30 rebounding titles. It was Andre Drummond who was able to snag the highest single-season rebounds-per-game number (15.8), but the newest center for the Phoenix Suns only managed to win half as many rebounding championships when it was all said and done.
- Hassan Whiteside, Charlotte Hornets: 68 percent
- Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: 26 percent
- DeAndre Jordan, Portland Trail Blazers: 6 percent
Another category, another Hassan Whiteside favorite.
As dominant as Whiteside's projections were when it came to the careful craft of collecting caroms, the brutal business of blocking buckets was even more in his favor.
Throughout our process, Whiteside swatted away the competition to the tune of 34 block championships and a projected 2.9 blocks per game. That number, as it stands, would be good enough for fifth all-time.
- Kawhi Leonard, Indiana Pacers: 76 percent
- Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers: 14 percent
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Sacramento Kings: 10 percent
We have to admit, we were really hoping an underdog would come out of left field to take this one so we could talk about how he really stole this competition...
Alas, no such luck. We'll just have to go with the default plan, which is talking about how awesome Kawhi Leonard has been, is and will continue to be.
Simply put: The Claw continues to earn his nickname. Between his 6'7" size and incredible instincts, it's become virtually impossible to find a true comparison to him on the perimeter. In our simulation, Leonard dominated the field by collecting 2.1 swipes per contest.
Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo tried their best to clog lanes and pick pockets, but it was the newest member (and onetime-almost member) of the Indiana Pacers who ran away with the label of title favorite. He won the award a total of 38 times during our 50 simulations.
- Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets: 42 percent
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 34 percent
- Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers: 16 percent
- John Wall, Boston Celtics: 8 percent
Damian Lillard has never been known as a pass-first point guard. His averages during the 2017-18 season (27.0 points and 5.9 assists) show he's no doubt well-rounded, but scoring is the name of the game as far as the Weber State product is concerned.
As it turned out, something clicked when he joined Kevin Love and the Houston Rockets.
From the outset of the simulation, Dame D.O.L.L.A. was dropping some serious dimes. He regularly collected more than 10 assists per night, and he did this while routinely projecting to score at least 25 points per contest.
When it comes down to it, there's really just one thing to say.
Leave it to Mike D'Antoni to unlock another level from his franchise point guard.
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 42 percent
- Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets: 26 percent
- James Harden, Dallas Mavericks: 20 percent
- Klay Thompson, Memphis Grizzlies: 10 percent
- CJ McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans: 2 percent
Throughout our simulation, five different players projected as winners of the three-point crown. That's more than any other individual stat we tracked, but in the least shocking news of this entire project, Chef Curry cooked up something fierce, averaging 45.2 percent of his shots from deep and winning the award 21 total times.
Advanced Stats All-Stars
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 100 percent
- James Harden, Dallas Mavericks: 96 percent
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Sacramento Kings: 94 percent
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 88 percent
- Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers: 88 percent
- Brandan Wright, Atlanta Hawks: 84 percent
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 96 percent
- Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers: 94 percent
- LeBron James, New York Knicks: 93 percent
In today's age of basketball analytics, advanced metrics have created a real divide amongst fans. If you love stats that go beyond a box score, those who use them are geniuses calculating the game at an exciting, modern-day level.
If you loathe them, the media guys and gals who throw them in your face are nerds who've never picked up a basketball.
But while few are ambivalent about what they have to offer, there's one very simple thing we can all agree on: They exist, and they're coming at you this very moment (in small quantities, to avoid scaring the nonbelievers).
The following stats indicate which players are projected to land in the top three of three popular advanced stats, as well as their chances of doing so.
True Shooting Percentage
Estimated Wins Added
Most Improved Player
- Greg Monroe, Golden State Warriors: 50 percent
- Myles Turner, Brooklyn Nets: 26 percent
- Jusuf Nurkic, Oklahoma City Thunder: 20 percent
- D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: 4 percent
Greg Monroe is a moose in a league infatuated with unicorns. His style of play is considered throwback by those willing to put it nicely, but maybe this whole time he just needed a change of scenery.
Also earning recognition for MIP chances were Myles Turner, Jusuf Nurkic and D'Angelo Russell. While these three are far more likely to earn the award in reality, Monroe got himself a little Warriors magic going on and swept the trophy right out from under their feet in 25 of our simulations.
Defensive Player of the Year
- Hassan Whiteside, Charlotte Hornets: 56 percent
- Anthony Davis, Atlanta Hawks: 22 percent
- Andre Drummond, Phoenix Suns: 12 percent
- Joel Embiid, Brooklyn Nets: 8 percent
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Sacramento Kings: 2 percent
Another Hassan Whiteside sighting!
As far as our simulation goes, it was clear it had an obvious love for Whiteside's blocks. In fact, it set a heavy priority on finding blocks, as evidenced by the absence of guys like Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul.
This whole concept, though, makes the the omission of Rudy Gobert a bit of a mystery. Nonetheless, four great block-collectors and one emerging (emerged?) swatter make the cut.
Sixth Man of the Year
- Bogdan Bogdanovic, Detroit Pistons: 70 percent
- Frank Kaminsky, Orlando Magic: 14 percent
- Milos Teodosic, Atlanta Hawks: 10 percent
- Lauri Markkanen, Houston Rockets: 4 percent
- Lance Stephenson, Brooklyn Nets: 2 percent
When the Detroit Pistons GM was defending his 12-man roster in our final re-draft installment, he broke down how Paul George was going to win his first MVP. He said LaMarcus Aldridge and Derrick Rose would return to the All-Star Game. Then he dropped the mic: "And while we're at it, Bogdan Bogdanovic, go get your Sixth Man of the Year Award."
If we're being frank here, and pardon the spoilers: Two-thirds of those things did not happen. One, however, happened in a very big way.
Bogdan Bogdanovic got his Sixth Man trophy.
Rookie of the Year
- Markelle Fultz, Boston Celtics: 52 percent
- Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers: 48 percent
Well, it's about time. Finally we have a renewed Lakers-Celtics rivalry brewing!
OK, maybe not quite yet. After all, these two teams were on nearly exact opposite ends of the success spectrum in this simulation.
But if the competitive ROY race between guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball is any indication, this interconference hatefest is bound to resurface sometime soon (at least in this fantasy league).
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 86 percent
- LeBron James, New York Knicks: 8 percent
- James Harden, Dallas Mavericks: 6 percent
In an ideal league, the race for MVP is going to be close. It's going to spark debate, it's going to be controversial, and it's going to have a plethora of competitors who each have their own valid reasons for deserving the award.
News flash, folks: This is no ideal league.
This is Russell Westbrook's league.
Throughout our 50-time single-season simulation, Westbrook projected to average 29.3 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.9 assists. So no, he did not average a triple-double for the second year in a row. But what's astounding is that the simulator gave him a 60 percent chance at doing it based on 30 trip-dub seasons out of 50 simulations.
This all goes to say: Sorry, field. This was Westbrook's to lose the whole way.
Bottom 5 Eastern Conference Teams
15. Brooklyn Nets
Projected Wins: 26.26
Average Seed: 14.58
In our simulation, the Nets took a page straight out of the book of, well, the Brooklyn Nets.
In 50 simulations, the squad comprised of Joel Embiid, Myles Turner, D'Angelo Russell and a healthy mix of veteran guards found itself in the bottom five of offensive efficiency more than any other franchise. It was also a bottom-10 team in defensive efficiency and (also in Brooklyn style) tied with the New York Knicks for most visits to the top five in team pace.
The bigger problem, though, was keeping its franchise center on the court. Joel Embiid averaged 17.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, but he also only managed to stay healthy for 65.7 contests a season.
14. Toronto Raptors
Projected Wins: 31.46
Average Seed: 13.10
When the Raptors drafted their starting five, their GM stated, "We may not win a ton of games, but compared to some of these other teams (*cough* Jazz *cough*), we'll be entertaining as hell."
For starters, we'll say right upfront that the Jazz will get the last laugh here. But as for the Raptors, their young core of Devin Booker and Ben Simmons proved to be more potential than production, just as advertised.
On the year, Booker projected to post 21.9 points, while Simmons put together a cool 13.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per night. The issue at hand, however, was that the team's second-highest scorer, on average, totaled just 13.7 points per contest.
All in all, we'll keep watching in fear of missing that one outing where Simmons collects 30 assists and Booker's 71 points. It's going to happen, and the F.O.M.O. is real.
13. Chicago Bulls
Projected Wins: 35.54
Average Seed: 11.26
Here's the bad news for the Chicago Bulls: They weren't very good. Throughout our process, this group averaged the third-fewest points per game in the conference. If you want to blame that on their pace being bottom-five for well over half of the simulations, you might want to consider the fact that they were also constantly in the bottom five of three-point percentage and offensive rating.
But here's the good news: They were wise enough to pick Nikola Jokic, who became a first-team All-NBA center. Dennis Smith's rookie season wasn't quite as impressive as some think it will be in the real world, as he rarely found himself on the All-Rookie first team. But slotting him in a lineup with Jokic (not to mention Eric Gordon, Jae Crowder and Dario Saric) should translate to a whole lot of butts in a whole lot of seats.
12. Washington Wizards
Projected Wins: 38.18
Average Seed: 10.01
The Wizards entered our re-draft banking on the quick development of their youth. They knew they had Karl-Anthony Towns as a crutch, giving them plenty of confidence running with Julius Randle and TJ Warren in their starting frontcourt.
The problem? Potential doesn't always equal production. This group had the veteran depth to compete—but try telling that to the simulator.
11. Orlando Magic
Projected Wins: 38.48
Average Seed: 9.58
Gordon Hayward is headed east in the real world to play alongside an ultra-talented guard this coming season. In 2K World, the same can be said, except replace Boston with Orlando and Isaiah Thomas with Bradley Beal.
Although this team had a few second-round runs in our postseason simulations, those proved to be outliers. The team missed the playoffs more times than not, proving the magic just couldn't last for this sub-.500 team.
Middle 5 Eastern Conference Teams
10. Miami Heat
Projected Wins: 39.47
Average Seed: 8.56
Although the Miami Heat are projected to be less than one game better than the Orlando Magic, they finished our simulation 6 percentage points ahead of them when it came to their chances of making the playoffs.
We'll break down all playoff percentages here in a bit, but know right now that we're 100 percent in on the Mike Conley-Marc Gasol pairing under Erik Spoelstra.
Under a new coach in a new system, Conley finally seemed to get the love he's lacked as a so-called underrated superstar. This process showed there was no questioning his stardom, as he became an All-Star for the first time, as well as a regular first-team All-NBA member over the 50 simulations.
9. Milwaukee Bucks
Projected Wins: 39.72
Average Seed: 8.38
The Milwaukee Bucks had an up-and-down experience here. Despite being just ninth in the conference in projected wins, they managed to make the playoffs in 74 percent of the simulations—a number that would rank ahead of the next two teams on this list.
How does that happen? Plenty of good seasons (some of which landed them in the NBA Finals) and a whole lot of bad seasons (which saw them place bottom-three in the conference).
Fun fact: Throughout this experiment, the top starter on this squad (usually Khris Middleton) averaged 16.9 points per night. Funner fact: That was just 4.6 points per game more than its lowest-scoring starter over the course of all 50 simulations.
8. Charlotte Hornets
Projected Wins: 40.48
Average Seed: 8.40
In Part 3 of our re-draft, Charlotte's GM stated, "These Hornets are going to play fast, launch a ton of threes and make it difficult for opposing offenses to get clean looks at the rim."
The simulation sort of listened.
Throughout our process, this group did in fact shoot well from deep and play at a fast pace (often in the top five or 10 in both categories). Where the simulation had selective hearing was in the volume of threes. It wasn't rare for this group, led by DeMar DeRozan, to be a bottom-tier squad in three-pointers made and attempted.
We're thinking it's time for this GM take on head coaching responsibilities as well, with guys like Patty Mills, Buddy Hield and Nick Young itching for more shots.
7. Detroit Pistons
Projected Wins: 41.13
Average Seed: 8.16
Like the Hornets before them, the Pistons ended our simulation with an even 50 percent chance of making the playoffs. Unlike those same lightnin' bugs, this group found a decent amount of success once it got there.
We won't go too far into the numbers (you gotta keep reading for that), but the Pistons—led by Paul George, LaMarcus Aldridge and a slew of fun guards—found a way to earn the same Finals championship projection as the fourth-best team out East, per projected wins.
Bogdan Bogdanovic proved to be the steal of this draft when he became the only player drafted after the 41st pick (257th) to earn any projections for NBA Finals MVP.
6. New York Knicks
Projected Wins: 44.20
Average Seed: 5.54
Way back in Round 1 of our re-draft, the Knicks GM asked one very simple question to kick off his justification for drafting LeBron James.
"Need I explain?"
Although he went on to break down how LeBron's status is still unmet across the league and how his peers not-so-coincidentally become better while in his presence, we're going to sum it up in four simple words.
The LeBron James Effect.
If you've ever seen LeBron and known he's coasting before the proverbial switch is flipped, you're not alone. Our simulator has apparently seen it too.
Over 50 simulations, James' Knicks failed to project as a team that could earn home-court advantage in the playoffs. And yet when the postseason began, that switch flipped, and his squad turned into a group with top-three odds to take home a conference championship.
Top 5 Eastern Conference Teams
5. Indiana Pacers
Projected Wins: 44.24
Average Seeding: 5.66
The Indiana Pacers—a squad that gets to finally experience what it would be like having Kawhi Leonard in a Circle City uniform—finished slightly better than the Knicks in projected wins. The catch is that as good as The Claw is, he doesn't have The LeBron James Effect.
Leonard finished the simulation process with a projected stat line of 23.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 40.0 percent three-point shooting. Those numbers help lead a starting unit also comprised of Dennis Schroder, Tyler Johnson, Markieff Morris and Clint Capela.
Unfortunately, when the postseason came around, series wins were few and far between. This team did make it to two NBA Finals but also saw plenty of first-round exits despite high seeding.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Projected Wins: 44.30
Average Seeding: 5.74
"Challenge me. Doubt me. Disrespect me. Tell me I'm older. Tell me I'm slower. Tell me I can no longer fly. I want you to."
OK, OK. Maybe these Atlanta Hawks haven't reached Michael Jordan levels of vindictiveness. Maybe quoting him in reference to Joe Ingles, Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, Milos Teodosic, Vince Carter and others is fanatic at best, impious at worst.
But this is a roster filled with guys who consistently fly under the radar and bite when you least expect it. This team has pieces that will be on scouting reports everywhere before the casual fan even knows they exist.
This squad also has Anthony Davis. So there's that too.
3. Boston Celtics
Projected Wins: 46.32
Average Seed: 4.58
In the words of our Boston Celtics GM from Round 2: "I have two point guards! What the hell is my problem?"
The GM continued: "My problem is this is a point guard's league. You need guys at multiple positions who can handle the ball and create shots for themselves."
Those two point guards in question are none other than John Wall and rookie Markelle Fultz. And as it turns out, this GM knew exactly what he was doing.
Throughout our simulation, not only did the Celtics find tremendous success, but their elite backcourt also projected to combine for an impressive 42.8 points, 18.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per night. The more impressive part is that neither Wall nor Fultz carried the bulk of the weight in any category, making this a backcourt tandem we're salivating to see in real life.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Projected Wins: 49.14
Average Seed: 2.96
I know, I know...The Cavaliers are near the top of the East even in a re-draft?!
Well, yes. But these aren't your granddad's Cavs.
These Cavs, anchored by a Chris Paul who projected to average 18.0 points and 10.7 assists per night, is comprised of the versatile Avery Bradley, a (hopefully) still burgeoning star in Harrison Barnes and a 25-year-old Jonas Valanciunas. And don't forget about the always-entertaining Larry Nance Jr. and a potential star in Nikola Vucevic, who needed a change of scenery.
OK, you caught us. This team also has Deron Williams, Kyle Korver and Timofey Mozgov, who have all been with Cleveland at some point in their careers.
But trust us. These Cavs are different, and they find ways to succeed without their King.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
Projected Wins: 49.18
Average Seed: 3.26
We are 99.9999999 percent sure this is not what Sam Hinkie had in mind when he created The Process.
But we're also sure this group and these fans don't care one bit considering the success they're going to find with this roster.
In the words of our Sixers GM from our most recent installment: "Ignore for a moment how amazing it is that every starter is a better-than-average three-point shooter and look at the personalities on this team—Matt Barnes, Tony Allen, Boogie Cousins, Joakim Noah. Imagine these personalities together in a one-year, superteam-less playoffs."
We've seen the future, and it's solar-eclipse-without-shades bright—as far as a one-year, superteam-less league goes.
(Keep reading to see full Eastern Conference title and NBA Finals projections for all 15 of these franchises.)
Bottom 5 Western Conference Teams
15. Minnesota Timberwolves
Projected Wins: 29.30
Average Seed: 14.28
Poor Kristaps Porzingis. He finally escapes the clutches of James Dolan and the New York Knicks, is drafted by a franchise that looks promising on paper and just can't figure out how to come away a winner.
Although Porzingis' star shines bright throughout our simulation (18.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 37.1 3PT%—all career highs), we can't say the same for the Wolves. This group, which was supposed to be defined by breakout talent, length and athleticism, ultimately became a bottom-five team in both points scored per 100 possessions and points allowed per 100 possessions.
When it comes down to it, we're thinking two factors are in play. For starters, this team was hoping for an uptick in production from Brandon Ingram and the other young pups. That probably never happened. But style is also a huge fundamental concern here.
Coach Tom Thibodeau had this squad running a pace that consistently landed it in the bottom five or 10 of the league. Someone should tell him that's not cool, not cool at all.
14. Los Angeles Lakers
Projected Wins: 32.48
Average Seed: 12.88
The Los Angeles Lakers are in the 14th spot instead of the 15th by virtue of a few huge seasons. They managed to make the playoffs in 8 percent of our simulations, and while that's still the third-lowest in the conference, it's a testament to how a young backcourt can shock a league when everything goes right.
In L.A., the duo of Lonzo Ball and Kemba Walker do all the work. And we mean all the work.
Throughout our simulation, Ball put together a projected line of 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.4 assists. Walker contributed 19.8 points and 6.9 assists.
The catch is that while the basic box score looks impressive, both of their usage percentages typically hovered between 29 and 34—numbers comparable to Kemba himself and James Harden.
We know these two love to share the ball. Now they just need to start sharing with other people.
13. New Orleans Pelicans
Projected Wins: 35.40
Average Seed: 11.70
The New Orleans Pelicans GM spoke candidly during our Starting 5 Analysis about needing more defense. Unfortunately, he was spot on.
Through 50 simulations, NOLA gave up an average of 108.6 points per night. And while we'd love to claim that was due to a rapid-fire pace coming from that exciting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and CJ McCollum, the team also projected in the bottom five of both defensive rating and pace more than any team not named the Lakers.
For what it's worth, though, this team can still be exciting, as that backcourt does sound ridiculously fun. Get these guys a shot-blocker and I'll upgrade from quarter-season to half-season tickets.
12. Denver Nuggets
Projected Wins: 36.54
Average Seed: 11.20
"Defense? Where we're going, we don't need defense."
These are the famous (almost) last words from the Nuggets GM in the most recent installment of our re-draft.
Throughout the course of our simulation, the Nuggets projected to give up the second-most points per game out west and the third-most in the league. Carmelo Anthony—hoodie and all—couldn't find a way to make up the difference on offense, and the team, which also had the likes of Jabari Parker, De'Aaron Fox and Seth Curry, only mustered up enough points to average 105.0 per night, putting them in the bottom third of the conference for net margin.
The GM mentions at the end of the re-draft that he'd consider moving Anthony if a quality shooting guard hit the market. If that happens, we'll always have the memories of Mile High Melo 2.0.
At least the guy got his Skylar Grey moment.
11. Sacramento Kings
Projected Wins: 38.18
Average Seed: 10.02
If you thought Giannis Antetokounmpo broke out as a star during the 2016-17 season, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
In our simulation, Giannis projects as averaging 25.4 points per game while also collecting 9.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per night. You know how many players have put up that line in the history of the game? Zero.
No, not Agent Zero. The Greek Freak just projected as the first player ever to put up such ridiculous numbers.
We don't even care about the projected wins here. We're buying our jersey as we speak.
Middle 5 Western Conference Teams
10. San Antonio Spurs
Projected Wins: 38.96
Average Seed: 9.46
Jimmy Butler is very good at basketball. This has been established, and his projected stat line of 21.4 points, 6.1 assists and 5.7 assists per game acts as further evidence should you need it.
Here's the funny thing, though. His estimated wins added took a backseat to Eric Bledsoe. Yes, the same Eric Bledsoe whose EWA was 10.2 points lower than Butler's just a year ago.
Is Butler slipping? Nah. His EWA dropped a bit from 20.5 to 18.7, but we're going to give credit where credit's due (mostly to Gregg Popovich) for watching Bledsoe skyrocket from 10.3 to 18.8.
Only catch is that if you're going to win big, you probably need Butler to be your best player. Oh well. Lesson learned.
9. Golden State Warriors
Projected Wins: 40.58
Average Seed: 8.60
For NBA fans sick of watching Cavs-Warriors over and over again in the Finals, you've already learned there's a good chance Cleveland makes it in our 2K World. But lucky for you (sorry, Dubs hopefuls), there's only a 46 percent chance this iteration of the Bay Area's best even makes it to the playoffs.
All that said, these Warriors can still put on a show. As you've seen in this piece, Steph is (obviously) a lights-out shooter who will likely win a three-point title. Greg Monroe is suddenly a beast again, which means the moose is loose. And as you may know from our full roster breakdowns, this team has enough depth to put on a show for 48 minutes.
No, you may not be elite anymore, Dubs fans. But that's OK. That just means you're like the rest of us again.
(It's not as bad as it sounds, I swear.)
8. Memphis Grizzlies
Projected Wins: 42.38
Average Seed: 7.36
We've now reached the Western Conference squads that not only had an average seeding in playoff position throughout the simulation, but we've also hit the teams that had a 50 percent or better shot at qualifying for the postseason.
As far as Memphis is concerned, this is a group defined by efficient offense. The team averaged 107.6 points per contest behind Klay Thompson and Blake Griffin—the sixth-best mark in the conference—and was constantly floating around the top 10 in offensive efficiency.
Without giving too much away, this squad ended up going deep into the playoffs multiple times.
All right, all right—semi-spoiler alert: If you're looking at the two aforementioned stars, you're looking at one projected Finals MVP.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected Wins: 44.54
Average Seed: 6.14
We've said it before, and we'll say it again.
This is Russell Westbrook's league.
Without going even deeper into his stats than we already have, his impact is clearly felt on this version of the Thunder the same as it is in real life. And that's wild. To think that his video game character needs to live up to his actual self is unheard of.
Jusuf Nurkic was great, J.J. Redick was the perfect complement, and in the words of the GM, this team has "spacing, defense and reserve scoring to surround the core, which is exactly what a modern NBA team needs."
But let's call it like it is. Westbrook is a stud.
You go, Brodie.
6. Phoenix Suns
Projected Wins: 45.53
Average Seed: 5.41
The Phoenix Suns did a very un-Suns-like thing in this simulation.
They slowed it down.
Although this may sound foreign in nature to fans in the desert, it seemed to get the job done. The Isaiah Thomas- and Andre Drummond-led group jumped between bottom-five and bottom-10 status in pace but managed to be the top team in terms of points per 100 possessions in about 20 percent of the simulations.
Top 5 Western Conference Teams
5. Houston Rockets
Projected Wins: 46.27
Average Seed: 5.26
So you know how we just talked about the Suns doing very un-Suns like things? Apply that same discussion to this Houston Rockets group.
Despite still being coached by Mike D'Antoni, the now-Damian Lillard-led group decided to drop the pace to near-bottom-five status and up its efficiency to the No. 1 team in the league in points per 100 possessions.
With Lillard a first-team All-NBA player and Kevin Love averaging 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in most simulations, guys like Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams and Terrence Ross were able to slip into their respective roles and watch the wins pile on in.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
Projected Wins: 46.36
Average Seed: 5.32
The Portland Trail Blazers took a flier on Kyrie Irving and his desire to be the man.
As it turned out, it was a high-risk situation that came with a high reward in the form of second-tier playoff success.
The way this roster was built, three-point shooting was always going to come in low volumes. The team made up for it, though, with high efficiency in both long-range percentages and points per 100 possessions.
The catch here was finding a consistent secondary or tertiary scorer. Sometimes Jayson Tatum was reliable; sometimes he wasn't.
Irving never threatened his career-high usage rate, but he did get his team into home-court advantage range when it came to the postseason. No, he doesn't possess The LeBron James Effect we discussed earlier, but he's the right guy for this system.
3. Utah Jazz
Projected Wins: 46.52
Average Seed: 5.02
Remember earlier when we said the Brooklyn Nets took a page straight out of their own book? The Jazz followed suit.
This squad, while never being confused for flashy, is—as the GM put it in our most recent publication—"all-in on the defense-always philosophy." It landed itself in the top five of defensive efficiency more than every team not named the Cavaliers or Bucks, and it rallied behind the production of its best player, Rudy Gobert.
All that said, wanna hear the kicker? What makes this team so dangerous is that it somehow found a way to be a top-five three-point squad as well.
Thinking about meeting these guys in the playoffs? Good luck.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
Projected Wins: 48.42
Average Seed: 3.86
Out of all 30 NBA teams, only one managed to walk away from the simulation with a 100 percent success rate at making the playoffs. These Los Angeles Clippers pulled off that incredible feat...and then did absolutely nothing in the postseason.
Usually this is the part where we tease what their success looked like in the playoffs, but we'd be cruel to lead you on like that. In 50 simulations, the Clips made the playoffs a remarkable 50 times, had the third-highest projected win total in the league and averaged the second-best seed out west. And then they didn't advance past the Western Conference Finals once despite making it there several times.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, Clips fans, but it feels like we've been here before. At least this time you had Kevin Durant putting up 24.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists per night.
1. Dallas Mavericks
Projected Wins: 48.42
Average Seed: 3.58
Remember when the James Harden-Dwight Howard experiment famously—almost alluringly—exploded before our very eyes in Houston?
These Dallas Mavericks sure don't.
Throughout our process, the Mavs consistently threatened for the top seed out West. They won conference championship after conference championship and nearly escaped with a perfect playoff projection.
As far as Harden is concerned, he put up 26.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists and shot 42.9 percent from deep. Howard, of course, wasn't nearly as impressive, but his per-36 numbers (15.8 PTS, 15.0 REB, 1.9 BLK) were comparable to last year's showing.
If chemistry is concerning to you, try to forget about everything that happened in Houston. This team figured it out—or at least learned how to hide it really, really well.
Full Eastern Conference Playoff Odds
Here's what every Eastern Conference team's playoff chances looked like in our simulation:
- Brooklyn Nets: 0 percent
- Toronto Raptors: 6 percent
- Chicago Bulls: 12 percent
- Washington Wizards: 32 percent
- Orlando Magic: 34 percent
- Miami Heat: 40 percent
- Charlotte Hornets: 50 percent
- Detroit Pistons: 50 percent
- Milwaukee Bucks: 74 percent
- New York Knicks: 76 percent
- Atlanta Hawks: 84 percent
- Indiana Pacers: 88 percent
- Boston Celtics: 88 percent
- Philadelphia 76ers: 90 percent
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 96 percent
Full Western Conference Playoff Odds
Here's what every Western Conference team's playoff chances looked like in our simulation:
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 0 percent
- Denver Nuggets: 2 percent
- Los Angeles Lakers: 8 percent
- New Orleans Pelicans: 10 percent
- Sacramento Kings: 16 percent
- San Antonio Spurs: 34 percent
- Golden State Warriors: 46 percent
- Memphis Grizzlies: 54 percent
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 78 percent
- Houston Rockets: 80 percent
- Portland Trail Blazers: 86 percent
- Phoenix Suns: 90 percent
- Utah Jazz: 90 percent
- Dallas Mavericks: 98 percent
- Los Angeles Clippers: 100 percent
Full Eastern Conference Championship Odds
New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland round out the top three contenders out East, having gone to seven, 13 and 13 NBA Finals, respectively.
Here's a full look at which Eastern Conference teams ended our simulation with the best chance at winning a conference championship:
- Miami Heat: 2 percent
- Milwaukee Bucks: 2 percent
- Indiana Pacers: 4 percent
- Detroit Pistons: 6 percent
- Atlanta Hawks: 10 percent
- Boston Celtics: 10 percent
- New York Knicks: 14 percent
- Philadelphia 76ers: 26 percent
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 26 percent
Full Western Conference Championship Odds
Houston, Utah and Dallas round out the top three contenders out West, having gone to eight, 10 and 12 Finals, respectively, throughout our 50 simulations.
Here's a full look at which Western Conference teams ended our simulation with the best chance at winning a conference championship:
- San Antonio Spurs: 2 percent
- Golden State Warriors: 2 percent
- Memphis Grizzlies: 6 percent
- Phoenix Suns: 8 percent
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 10 percent
- Portland Trail Blazers: 12 percent
- Houston Rockets: 16 percent
- Utah Jazz: 20 percent
- Dallas Mavericks: 24 percent
Full NBA Championship Odds
The Boogie-led Sixers came away from our simulation as the official title favorites, with the Mavs, Cavs, Knicks and Jazz not far behind.
Here's a look at all teams across the Association that boast at least a two percent shot of winning an NBA title:
- Miami Heat: 2 percent
- Detroit Pistons: 2 percent
- Atlanta Hawks: 2 percent
- Memphis Grizzlies: 2 percent
- Phoenix Suns: 4 percent
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 4 percent
- Houston Rockets: 4 percent
- Portland Trail Blazers: 6 percent
- Boston Celtics: 6 percent
- Utah Jazz: 10 percent
- New York Knicks: 10 percent
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 14 percent
- Dallas Mavericks: 14 percent
- Philadelphia 76ers: 20 percent
Finals MVP Odds
As the math goes, the more NBA championships you have, the more NBA Finals MVPs you obtain. The Sixers, however, are doing it in unique fashion by becoming the only squad to have more than one player walk away with a shot at a trophy.
Here's a look at who has the best chance out of all 360 players to take home the hardware:
- Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns: 4 percent
- Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets: 4 percent
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 4 percent
- John Wall, Boston Celtics: 6 percent
- Kyrie Irving, Portland Trail Blazers: 6 percent
- Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: 10 percent
- LeBron James, New York Knicks: 10 percent
- Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers: 14 percent
- James Harden, Dallas Mavericks: 14 percent
- DeMarcus Cousins, Philadelphia 76ers: 18 percent
(Note: Anthony Davis, Mike Conley, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Blake Griffin and Andrew Wiggins all finished the simulation with a 2 percent chance of winning a Finals MVP.)