Updated Win-Loss Record Predictions for Every NBA Team Heading into March

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIFebruary 27, 2013

Updated Win-Loss Record Predictions for Every NBA Team Heading into March

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    The updated win-loss record predictions for every NBA team heading into March projects how each team will finish the regular season. 

    With the All-Star break in the rear-view mirror and the trade deadline concluded, teams around the NBA are now locked in on the final two months of the season.

    While much of the work has been put in already to determine who finishes where in the 2012-13 campaign, there are still more games to be won.

    Who wins exactly how many will eventually decide which teams advance to the playoffs or not by the slimmest of margins. 

Eastern Conference No. 15: Orlando Magic

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    Record Prediction: 19-63

    The J.J. Redick trade will eventually sink the Orlando Magic to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. 

    Beno Udrih will help the Magic's second unit and has looked good so far in Orlando. I continue to be encouraged by the future development of Andrew Nicholson and his 8.2 points per game this season, and Arron Afflalo can score on anybody in the league.

    But after starting much stronger than anybody expected this season, the Magic will eventually finish where everyone expected them to after dealing Dwight Howard

Eastern Conference No. 14: Charlotte Bobcats

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    Record Prediction: 21-61

    Michel Kidd-Gilchrist has been in double figures for three of his last four games, averaging 11 points per night in those three games.

    As the season winds down, I expect Kidd-Gilchrist to average at least 11.9 points for the stretch run and move his scoring average up from 9.1 at the moment to just over 10 points per game on the season.

    Other than also focusing the rest of my energy on Kemba Walker after that, there isn't much more to get excited about as the Charlotte Bobcats conclude another season. 

Eastern Conference No. 13: Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Record Prediction: 27-55

    The Cleveland Cavaliers added an NBA-caliber bench by acquiring Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington in a pre-deadline trade last month.

    To go along with an improving C.J. Miles, the Cavaliers are getting better. After giving the Miami Heat all they could handle in South Beach on Sunday, the Cavs went into Chicago to beat the Bulls without Kyrie Irving on Tuesday.

    But while Tristan Thompson has taken a major step forward this season and Dion Waiters continues to improve, the Cavaliers will not have enough to finish with any more than 27 wins. 

Eastern Conference No. 12: Detroit Pistons

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    Record Prediction: 28-54

    Jose Calderon has averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 assists since being acquired from the Toronto Raptors 11 games ago. 

    More than that, though, he is an NBA veteran that can help second-year guard Brandon Knight both this season and beyond.

    Despite losing their last three starts, the Pistons' young frontcourt should blend well with these guards as they have more time to gel collectively over the final two months of the season. 

Eastern Conference No. 11: Washington Wizards

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    Record Prediction: 29-53

    The Washington Wizards have won three straight and seven of their last 10. 

    They're 13-9 in the 22 games that John Wall has played this season, which is why Wall's value extends much past the 14 points he's averaged.

    Wall has been among the most effective facilitators in the league with 7.5 assists so far in the games he's played.

    Bradley Beal has been the biggest beneficiary of that, too, averaging 20.2 points himself over the last six games through Tuesday. 

Eastern Conference No. 10: Philadelphia 76ers

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    Record Prediction: 33-49

    Whether Andrew Bynum returns or not, the dream is over for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

    At least for this season it is. 

    Jrue Holiday emerged as a deserved All-Star and is an extremely exciting young guard to build your team around. In order to make some major noise, however, the Sixers needed Andrew Bynum.

    That much is obvious, and the primary reason that Philadelphia finishes no better than 10th in 2012-13. 

Eastern Conference No. 9: Toronto Raptors

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    Record Prediction: 38-44

    Energized by the Rudy Gay trade, I expect the Raptors to make it interesting for the final playoff spot coming down the stretch. 

    In the end, I don't think the Raptors will have enough to move past the Boston Celtics though, despite the way they've played since adding Gay. 

    Toronto is now an athletic group that can put multiple scoring threats on the court at the same time. They will need to do better than a 6-4 record over their last 10, however, if they hope to make up the ground they lost earlier this season. 

Eastern Conference No. 8: Boston Celtics

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    Record Prediction: 40-42 

    In true Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett fashion, I am predicting the Celtics will still qualify for the postseason despite the devastating injury to Rajon Rondo prior to the All-Star break.

    The Celtics' rebounding rate is a league-worst 47.6 this season, but they'll find a way to the playoffs on the strength of Pierce and Garnett specifically. 

    They will promptly lose in the first round to the Miami Heat once they get there, though, but it doesn't make the regular-season push any less noble. 

Eastern Conference No. 7: Milwaukee Bucks

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    Record Prediction: 41-41

    After he was first traded from the Orlando Magic, it was difficult to imagine how J.J. Redick harmoniously shoot while sharing the basketball with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.

    For some reason I can't specifically pinpoint, however, I expect it now to work.

    At least for the next two months of the season I think it will.

    What Redick also brings to this group, besides that scoring punch, is a perimeter defense that Jennings and Ellis don't necessarily specialize in.

    The Bucks will leap-frog the Boston Celtics and secure the seventh-seed because of what Redick will bring. 

Eastern Conference No. 6: Brooklyn Nets

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    Record Prediction: 46-36

    The Brooklyn Nets have won six of their last 10 and currently own the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

    By the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign, I expect their defensive deficiencies to catch up with the Nets as they're passed by Chicago and Atlanta in the standings. 

    They'll do enough to drop no lower than sixth, however, and will present a tough matchup for whoever they eventually see in the postseason. 

Eastern Conference No. 5: Chicago Bulls

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    Record Prediction: 48-34

    The Chicago Bulls just lost at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

    That's never good, nor is it encouraging that Derrick Rose's return has still not happened yet.

    With that timetable unknown at this point, it will be a difficult challenge for Chicago to hold off the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Whether Rose ultimately returns or not, however, I expect them to be able to do so by playing the defense that has the Bulls ranked as the fourth-most efficient unit on that side of the floor this season. 

Eastern Conference No. 4: Atlanta Hawks

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    Record Prediction: 49-33

    I'll never be convinced that Danny Ferry's plan was to hold onto Josh Smith this season and allow him to lead his Atlanta Hawks to the four seed in the Eastern Conference, but that's what will inevitably happen.

    After not being moved at the trade deadline, despite widespread speculation, Smith and the Hawks are now in a position to secure home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    After winning their last three straight, that's exactly what I expect to happen in the ATL.

    Even if that wasn't quite the plan two weeks ago. 

Eastern Conference No. 3: Indiana Pacers

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    Record Prediction: 52-30

    The Indiana Pacers are the best defensive unit in the NBA this season.

    They are given up the lowest total of points collectively on the year at 89.58 per night while also grading out as the league's most efficient defense with a rating of 95.3.

    But while those numbers will bode well for Indiana in a seven-game series this season, it will not be enough to keep off a late charge from the Knicks.

    Unless, of course, Danny Granger can return to the lineup more seamlessly than I'm expecting and combine with Paul George to improve that side of the ball as well. 

Eastern Conference No. 2: New York Knicks

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    Record Prediction: 54-28

    At a rate of 28.4 points per game this season, Carmelo Anthony is second behind only Kevin Durant for the league's top scoring honors.

    While I don't expect Anthony to catch KD for the scoring crown, I do expect him to lead his New York Knicks team past the Indiana Pacers for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed come playoff time.

    Mike Woodson's group has turned the isolation basketball that Anthony excels at into a collective attack that ranks third in the league with an offensive efficiency rating of 108.3.

    After splitting their last 10 games, look for the Knicks to go on a run heading into March. 

Eastern Conference No. 1: Miami Heat

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    Record Prediction: 60-22

    The Miami Heat's season begins in the playoffs, and they are just getting prepared for that title run now.

    Beware, everyone.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, LeBron James is on a quest this month to be the first player to shoot 64 percent for a calendar month since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did in March of 1983.

    Abdul-Jabbar, for as great as he was, played center, while James is scoring from all over the floor.

    At a rating of 110.9, the Heat are the NBA's most efficient offense this season. They've also won 12 straight through Tuesday and will close out the year with the Eastern Conference's best record.  

Western Conference No. 15: Sacramento Kings

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    Record Prediction: 25-57

    From relocation reports to losing, the Sacramento Kings have been a disaster this season.

    They have lost six straight through Tuesday and eight of their last 10 overall.

    The Kings will finish as the Western Conference's worst team in 2012-13 because of all that, despite their employment of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. 

    Two guys who hopefully another NBA team spring out of there before next season begins. 

Western Conference No. 14: Phoenix Suns

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    Record Prediction: 26-56

    The Phoenix Suns now employ each of the NBA's Morris twins.

    That much is cool, and I'm sure the Morris family appreciates the opportunity to buy out one team shop now as opposed to collecting their gear from two. 

    But despite that convenience, as well as the the intrigue, this season will result in only more losing for the Suns over the next couple months. 

    There might need to be a complete overhaul this summer too if that's going to change heading into 2013-14. 

Western Conference No. 13: Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Record Prediction: 28-54

    Since he's returned from the devastating ACL injury suffered last season, Ricky Rubio has improved from 5.4 points and 5.7 assists during the month of January to 12.8 points and 9.2 assists this month.

    That much, in a season cluttered by one devastating injury report after another, is at least encouraging for Minnesota Timberwolves fans.

    Besides that, and maybe the play of Nikola Pekovic, this year is one that Timberwolves fans hope to collectively forget as quickly as possible.

Western Conference No. 12: New Orleans Hornets

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    Record Prediction: 30-52

    Prior to finishing with six points and four rebounds in his last time out against the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony Davis had been on a five-game run where he averaged over 15 points and eight rebounds. 

    Heading into year two, as the New Orleans Hornets or Pelicans continue to build around him, look for Davis' numbers to be up over that threshold moving forward.

    Despite the injuries and inconsistencies at times this year, I still believe Davis will be a special player in this league.

    In the meantime, however, he'll do enough this season to keep his team out of the conference cellar. 

Western Conference No. 11: Dallas Mavericks

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    Record Prediction: 37-45

    If Dirk Nowitzki had been healthy all season, things could look a lot differently in the Western Conference.

    Since his return, Nowitzki has averaged 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. During the month of February, specifically, he's upped each of those averages to 18.9 and 9.0 respectively.

    Unfortunately for Dallas, however—currently six games under .500—there is too big of a hole to dig out of at this point to hope for much more than an 11th-place finish in 2012-13.

Western Conference No. 10: Portland Trail Blazers

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    Record Prediction: 39-43

    The lack of support from the second unit has ultimately been the demise of the Portland Trail Blazers this season.

    Headlined by the All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and front-runner for Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, the Blazers' starting five is talented enough to compete with anybody.

    When they go to the bench, however, there simply is not enough firepower to keep this team in games. 

    Through Tuesday, the Blazers have lost seven of their last 10, and I expect a couple more stretches like that before this season concludes. 

Western Conference No. 9: Utah Jazz

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    Record Prediction: 41-41

    I apologize, Jazz fans, but I am predicting the worst possible end of the season for you guys.

    After not trading the expiring contracts of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap at the deadline, I am projecting the Jazz to finish one game back of the Los Angeles Lakers for ninth place in the Western Conference. 

    In a season that's been tumultuous while stable, the Jazz are losers of two straight through Tuesday and five of their last 10.

    Jefferson and Millsap should be enough to right the ship now that the trade talks have subsided—and help get their team back into the playoffs—I just don't think it happens this year. 

Western Conference No. 8: Los Angeles Lakers

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    Record Prediction: 42-40

    In a recent interview with Jack McCallum from Sports Illustrated, Kobe Bryant predicted his Los Angeles Lakers would make the playoffs this year.

    As a general rule, when I read something like that, I tend to error on the side of counting on Kobe.

    For as epically disappointing as this season's been for the Lakers, I do expect Bryant to will his team into the postseason. 

    I don't expect L.A. to get out of the first round, however, but I do think they will do enough over the final two months of the year to get their record just over .500 and secure the eighth seed in the process. 

Western Conference No. 7: Houston Rockets

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    Record Prediction: 45-37

    James Harden is the NBA's fifth-leading scorer this season at 26.4 points per game. 

    His Houston Rockets teammate, Omer Asik, is also tied for third in rebounding at 11.5 boards per night as well. 

    More than the individual accomplishments of two marquee free agents that Houston acquired this past summer, though, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey should win Executive of the Year this season for putting a team together that's now a lock for the 2012-13 playoffs.

    As opposed to clinging onto the eighth seed they currently own, too, I also expect Houston to make a push towards the seven spot by the end of the year. 

Western Conference No. 6: Golden State Warriors

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    Record Prediction: 48-34

    The Golden State Warriors have now lost seven of their last 10 games through Tuesday.

    But while they've slipped to the sixth-best mark in the Western Conference in recent weeks, expect them to hold onto that position at least as the regular season concludes.

    The Warriors won't fall any further, and I expect them to start playing better basketball by the time the postseason comes calling. 

    They won't catch the Memphis Grizzlies for the fourth-best record out West in the meantime, but there also isn't anyone in the Warriors' rear-view at this point who could legitimately move past them.

    This includes the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and anyone else.

Western Conference No. 5: Denver Nuggets

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    Record Prediction: 51-31

    The Denver Nuggets are attacking the opposition in waves.

    Their lineup currently includes nine players averaging at least eight points per game, many of whom are capable of leading the team in that category on any given night. 

    The Nuggets are currently the fifth-most efficient offensive in the NBA through Tuesday with a rating of 107 as a result, and they are also averaging the third-most points as a team at 105.45

    Beyond the scoring numbers, however, the Nuggets are also a team that's defending collectively and attacking the glass on a regular basis. They will be a team that nobody wants to see come playoff time. 

Western Conference No. 4: Memphis Grizzlies

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    Record Prediction: 55-27

    Maybe the Rudy Gay trade won't hurt the Memphis Grizzlies' chances of competing for a conference championship this season after all.

    Since making the deal that brought Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye to Memphis in exchange for the the Grizzlies' leading scorer, Memphis has gone 8-3.

    They've won seven straight through Tuesday, specifically, and their rebounding rate of 52.5 currently grades out as the second-best number in the league. 

    Zach Randolph has been leading the way on the glass all year with 11.7 boards per game—the NBA's second-highest total—and he will combine with Marc Gasol to be the biggest reasons Memphis finishes the regular season fourth in the Western Conference.

Western Conference No. 3: Los Angeles Clippers

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    Record Prediction: 58-24

    Chris Paul is the NBA's leader in steals this season at 2.49 per game. He's also second in assists behind only the injured Rajon Rondo at 9.5 per night as well.

    In the process of accomplishing both, Paul has stolen the best-team-in-Los Angeles title for his Clippers this season while elevating the play of his teammates around him.

    The Clippers have been among the best four teams in the Western Conference all season and should finish in the top three by the time the regular-season schedule concludes.

    The league's most talented reserve unit, led by Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe—in addition to Paul—could be the deciding factor in helping to finish that race with momentum heading into the playoffs.

Western Conference No. 2: Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Record Prediction: 61-21

    Averaging a league-best 106.57 points per game as a team through Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the NBA's most prolific offense this season.

    Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the two most explosive teammates as well—averaging a combined 51.7 points between them—and in the end I expect the Thunder to find their way back the NBA Finals this summer.

    During the regular season, however, their bench will not be consistent enough to move OKC past the San Antonio Spurs for the league's best record.

    The Thunder will have to settle for the two seed in the Western Conference playoffs as a result.

Western Conference No.1: San Antonio Spurs

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    Record Prediction: 63-19

    The San Antonio Spurs are owners of the NBA's best record through Tuesday at 45-13.

    As the regular season winds down, I expect the Spurs to continue to lean on their championship experience and manage their way to the league's best record by season's end as well.

    While scoring 21.1 points and dishing out 7.6 assists—totals good enough for 10th and 7th in the NBA respectively—Tony Parker deserves all the MVP consideration that's coming his way.

    He ultimately won't win the award, but the work Parker continues to put in will have his team in a position to head back to the Western Conference finals again this postseason.