2010-11 NBA Predictions: Why the Oklahoma City Thunder Will Be No. 2 in the West

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2010-11 NBA Predictions: Why the Oklahoma City Thunder Will Be No. 2 in the West
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Over the last few weeks, ESPN has been rolling out it's annual forecasts for the upcoming NBA Season. This year, stat guru John Hollinger has projected that Oklahoma City will go 49-33 (2nd in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference). In the latest Basketball Prospectus, they're projected to go 48-34 according to the SCHOENE system they use over at Basketball Prospectus. What then can we expect from the Thunder this season?

It's important to keep in mind that these are statistical projection systems. As the guys at Basketball Prospectus explain, "The APBRmetrics message board tracked the accuracy of several statistical projections during the 2009-2010 season, with SCHOENE placing second in terms of root mean squared error - the average squared error of the projections". Ideally, you'd want a standard error of 0 (meaning no error). That would indicate that your projection system would perfectly predict actual performance.Thus, minimizing the error (i.e. trying to get it as close to 0 as possible) is what projection systems are all about. SCHOENE's root mean-squared error (RMSE for short) was 9.44 (2nd) vs. Jon Nichols Component Score System which had an RMSE of 8.73. While these were the two best systems on a relative basis, there is still alot of error in the system, which the folks at BP readily admit. Sorry for the stat primer.

The bottom line is that as great as statistics can be at providing a model for a set of observations, sometimes you just have to use your eyes and go with what you know.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers - the class of the NBA. I fully expect them to repeat as NBA Champions.
  2. Dallas Mavericks - perennial overachievers in the regular season; fizzle out in the playoffs.
  3. Phoenix Suns - same as the Mavericks. Don't play any D.
  4. Denver Nuggets - not as good as OKC (in my opinion) even with Melo.
  5. Utah Jazz - another team that's good year in and year out but never takes the next step.
  6. Portland Trailblazers - probably took a step back last year. Young but still finding its way.
  7. San Antonio Spurs - always dangerous if healthy, but when are they ever healthy anymore?

I don't see any of the 8 teams who finished out of the playoffs last yaer: Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, LA Clippers, Golden State, Sacramento or Minnesota making a jump into the playoffs this year.

And now....the Top 5 reasons why the Oklahoma City Thunder will win the 2 seed in the West this season....

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