All three players factor into any season-long evaluation – including won-loss record and net rating – for those teams. But Korver (trade), Davis (season-ending injury) and Nogueira (fell out of rotation) won’t factor into those teams’ first-round series.
So, to account for rotation changes like that on every playoff team, I’ve found how many points per 100 possessions teams score and allow when five players projected to be in the postseason rotation are on the floor together.
This is hardly a perfect measure. Teams rarely announce their playoff rotations, so we’re left with my predictions of which players will receive regular playing time. The minutes distribution among players in the adjusted rating can vary from what it’ll be during the playoffs. This doesn’t take into account opponent quality. Some teams have larger samples than others.
But I find it useful, another data point among the many necessary to evaluate the upcoming playoffs. It shows how the players we project to see on the court for the next few months have played together, without someone else affecting the chemistry.
Here’s each team’s offensive, defensive and net ratings adjust from the regular season to counting only lineups that include five players projected to be in the play rotation (using nbawowy! to calculate):
3. Toronto Raptors
- Offensive rating: 113.1 to 116.8
- Defensive rating: 108.9 to 106.6
- Net rating: +4.2 to +10.2
8. Chicago Bulls
- Offensive rating: 107.8 to 116.0
- Defensive rating: 107.3 to 109.6
- Net rating: +0.5 to +6.4
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Offensive rating: 114.4 to 118.0
- Defensive rating: 111.1 to 112.1
- Net rating: +3.3 to +5.9
4. Washington Wizards
- Offensive rating: 111.7 to 116.5
- Defensive rating: 110.0 to 110.7
- Net rating: +1.7 to +5.8
1. Boston Celtics
- Offensive rating: 112.4 to 114.4
- Defensive rating: 109.8 to 109.2
- Net rating: +2.6 to +5.2
6. Milwaukee Bucks
- Offensive rating: 110.1 to 111.2
- Defensive rating: 110.3 to 107.4
- Net rating: -0.2 to +3.8
7. Indiana Pacers
- Offensive rating: 109.3 to 110.3
- Defensive rating: 109.5 to 108.2
- Net rating: -0.2 to +2.1
5. Atlanta Hawks
- Offensive rating: 106.5 to 108.0
- Defensive rating: 108.2 to 106.3
- Net rating: -1.7 to +1.7
1. Golden State Warriors
- Offensive rating: 116.6 to 121.7
- Defensive rating: 104.9 to 102.9
- Net rating: +11.7 to +18.8
4. Los Angeles Clippers
- Offensive rating: 113.5 to 120.7
- Defensive rating: 108.8 to 107.0
- Net rating: +4.7 to +13.7
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Offensive rating: 109.4 to 113.8
- Defensive rating: 108.6 to 104.2
- Net rating: +0.8 to +9.6
3. Houston Rockets
- Offensive rating: 115.5 to 118.5
- Defensive rating: 109.7 to 109.5
- Net rating: +5.8 to +9.0
2. San Antonio Spurs
- Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.4
- Defensive rating: 104.2 to 106.9
- Net rating: +7.5 to +8.5
5. Utah Jazz
- Offensive rating: 110.7 to 112.5
- Defensive rating: 106.4 to 107.2
- Net rating: +4.3 to +5.3
7. Memphis Grizzlies
- Offensive rating: 108.8 to 114.3
- Defensive rating: 108.1 to 109.3
- Net rating: +0.7 to +5.0
8. Portland Trail Blazers
- Offensive rating: 111.2 to 121.0
- Defensive rating: 111.7 to 116.1
- Net rating: -0.5 to +4.9
- All 16 teams improve with the adjustment, which is logical. When teams tighten their rotations, they’re left with only better players.
- The Clippers (nine points per 100 possessions better) make the biggest jump.
- This model predicts two first-round upsets: Bulls over Celtics and Thunder over Rockets. In fact, Chicago (Wizards or Hawks) and Oklahoma City (Spurs or Grizzlies) also rate ahead of either potential second-round foe.
- The Warriors were better than everyone else in the regular season, and that advantage is only amplified with the adjustment. And I set their playoff rotation 11 deep, more players than any other team. If they need to pare down, they’d get even more dangerous.
- I projected 10 players in the Cavaliers’ rotation. If they tighten that, they too could get better.
- Are the Raptors the top team in the East now? They played very well after the trade deadline with Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker providing toughness – all while Kyle Lowry was out. Now that Lowry is healthy, this could be a complete team, which the adjustment indicates. However, because of the mismatched availability (Lowry in the first of the season, Ibaka and Tucker in the second half), Toronto’s sample size is relatively small.
- Likewise, I’m not convinced the Bulls’ adjusted rating is reliable. It too stems from a relatively small sample, and because all Taj Gibson lineups are removed, time after the trade deadline weighs heavily. So, that includes Nikola Mirotic‘s hot stretch and Rajon Rondo‘s resurgence – which both came with Dwyane Wade out. Now that Wade is back, can Chicago put everything together the way these numbers suggest?
- The Wizards would’ve rated better, just ahead of the Bulls for second in the East, if Ian Mahinmi were healthy.
- I don’t know whether the Bucks will use Michael Beasley, Mirza Teletovic or Spencer Hawes as their backup stretch player. I guessed Beasley, who conveniently produces the middle mark in adjusted net rating among the three.
- The Clippers would have fared a little worse, though still would’ve ranked second in the West, if I included the injured Austin Rivers. That’s not because Rivers is bad, but because excluding any lineups that include him emphasizes L.A.’s powerful starting lineup.
- I gave the Thunder a narrow eight-man rotation that includes neither Doug McDermott nor Alex Abrines. If Oklahoma City needs one of those wings – and it might – its adjusted net rating would suffer.
- Deep teams like the Celtics and Spurs aren’t rewarded here. When gluing lesser players to the bench in a stretch of the season with no back-to-backs, other teams can catch up.