Bucks still elite and Warriors-Nuggets looks like high-level series when adjusting for postseason rotations

Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic, Stephen Curry in Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
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James Harden played 1,627 minutes for the Nets this season. Lonzo Ball played 1,212 minutes for the Bulls. Rudy Gay played 1,038 minutes for the Jazz.

But Harden (traded) and Ball (injured) won’t play for Brooklyn or Chicago in the playoffs. Gay might not crack Utah’s postseason rotation.

So, how much should it matter when predicting the playoffs how the Nets played with Harden, the Bulls with Ball and the Jazz with Gay?

In an attempt to measure the competency and chemistry of the players we’ll actually see on the floor this spring/summer, I measured team performance when the entire five-man lineup was comprised of players projected to be in the postseason rotation.

These numbers shouldn’t stand alone and have shortcomings (including varying sample size, opponent quality and apportionment of minutes among postseason-rotation players, as best as those can be predicted). But they can be useful data points among the many that should be considered when evaluating teams.

Here are each team’s offensive, defensive and net ratings from NBA WOWY adjusted from the regular season to counting only lineups that include five players projected to be in the postseason rotation:

Eastern Conference

2. Boston Celtics

    • Offensive rating: 113.9 to 123.7
    • Defensive rating: 106.5 to 110.2
    • Net Rating: +7.4 to +13.5

3. Milwaukee Bucks

    • Offensive rating: 114.4 to 116.0
    • Defensive rating: 111.2 to 102.8
    • Net Rating: +3.2 to +13.2

4. Philadelphia 76ers

  • Offensive rating: 113.3 to 112.8
  • Defensive rating: 110.6 to 104.9
  • Net Rating: +2.7 to +7.9

7. Brooklyn Nets

  • Offensive rating: 113.1 to 114.5
  • Defensive rating: 112.2 to 106.6
  • Net Rating: +0.9 to +7.9

1. Miami Heat

  • Offensive rating: 113.2 to 114.1
  • Defensive rating: 108.5 to 106.4
  • Net Rating: +4.7 to +7.7

9. Atlanta Hawks

  • Offensive rating: 115.1 to 118.7
  • Defensive rating: 113.5 to 111.1
  • Net Rating: +1.6 to +7.6

5. Toronto Raptors

  • Offensive rating: 113.3 to 112.8
  • Defensive rating: 110.6 to 106.9
  • Net Rating: +2.7 to +5.9

8. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 111.4 to 116.9
  • Defensive rating: 109.2 to 112.7
  • Net Rating: +2.2 to +4.2

10. Charlotte Hornets

  • Offensive rating: 113.7 to 118.0
  • Defensive rating: 113.2 to 114.3
  • Net Rating: +0.5 to +3.7

6. Chicago Bulls

  • Offensive rating: 112.8 to 110.7
  • Defensive rating: 113.2 to 115.5
  • Net Rating: -0.4 to -4.8

Western Conference

3. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 111.8 to 116.1
  • Defensive rating: 106.2 to 103.4
  • Net Rating: +5.6 to +12.7

1. Phoenix Suns

  • Offensive rating: 114.6 to 118.2
  • Defensive rating: 107.0 to 108.2
  • Net Rating: +7.6 to +10.0

6. Denver Nuggets

  • Offensive rating: 113.6 to 121.0
  • Defensive rating: 111.3 to 112.1
  • Net Rating: +2.3 to +8.9

2. Memphis Grizzlies

  • Offensive rating: 114.6 to 118.5
  • Defensive rating: 108.9 to 110.3
  • Net Rating: +5.7 to +8.2

5. Utah Jazz

  • Offensive rating: 116.5 to 117.2
  • Defensive rating: 110.4 to 110.1
  • Net Rating: +6.1 to +7.1

9. New Orleans Pelicans

  • Offensive rating: 111.3 to 120.8
  • Defensive rating: 112.2 to 113.8
  • Net Rating: -0.9 to +7.0

8. L.A. Clippers

  • Offensive rating: 109.3 to 115.0
  • Defensive rating: 109.2 to 108.7
  • Net Rating: +0.1 to +6.3

4. Dallas Mavericks

  • Offensive rating: 112.0 to 112.3
  • Defensive rating: 108.6 to 106.8
  • Net Rating: +3.4 to +5.5

7. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Offensive rating: 113.9 to 114.5
  • Defensive rating: 111.3 to 111.9
  • Net Rating: +2.6 to +2.6

10. San Antonio Spurs

  • Offensive rating: 112.1 to 102.5
  • Defensive rating: 112.0 to 103.9
  • Net Rating: +0.1 to -1.4

Observations

  • These adjustments to each team’s ratings cause less upheaval than prior years.
  • The Celtics aren’t as good defensively without Robert Williams, but they can still crank it up offensively
  • The Bucks have been excellent with their top players. Within a relatively pedestrian season for a defending champion, Milwaukee still demonstrated an elite upside.
  • The Warriors are a bona fide title contender when healthy.
  • The Suns haven’t surged to quite as high a level as other champion contenders when using only their top players. But Phoenix – the NBA’s best team all season – doesn’t necessarily need to unlock a higher level to reach its goal.
  • The Nuggets, who’ve been searching throughout the season for bench players who can help, might have found enough usable units. Despite key injuries, the starting lineup is strong with Nikola Jokic. Golden State is a tough first-round matchup, though (as Denver is for the Warriors).
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the Grizzlies – maybe the NBA’s deepest team – trim (or don’t) their rotation for the playoffs.
  • The 76ers’ projection includes Matisse Thybulle, as he’ll be eligible for at least half the games. Philadelphia rates similarly overall – better offensively, worse defensively – without him.
  • With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are just as dangerous as you think.
  • Other play-in teams – the Hawks, Pelicans and Clippers – might be formidable, too. Atlanta rated well by this system last year, too. Not only has New Orleans been better since trading for C.J. McCollum, this team is ripe to improve with a tightened rotation. Paul George obviously lifts L.A.
  • The Maverick’ projection includes Luka Doncic. Needless to say, they’re worse off if he can’t play.
  • Slumping to the finish without Ball, the Bulls now have yet another indicator they’re in rough shape entering the playoffs.