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October 11, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Pelton

Kevin Pelton
  (1:04 PM)

Hey everybody, thanks for joining me on a rainy Friday morning here in Seattle to talk about the NBA. Some surprising projections from SCHOENE today in our team forecasts to discuss, plus the start of the preseason, Gameday visiting the UW campus and so much more. Let's begin!

jason (dc)

vegas has the heats chance of winning the southeast at 1/100, which is a 0.1% return on investment, or roughly what you'd get putting your money in a regular savings account. would you rather have your money in the bank or on the heat?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:07 PM)

Our SCHOENE-infused simulator actually sees the Heat losing the Southeast 8% of the time, which seems way, way too high. But I'm reading the book Black Swan right now, so I'm a little averse to "sure things." I guess I'd choose the bank over the outside chance of massive, unprecedented injuries.

Frank (DC)

Is Eric Gordon due for a breakout year? (He's on my Fantasy Team)

Kevin Pelton
  (1:08 PM)

He's going to have to get healthy and on the floor first. And with more competition for minutes and shots ... I hope you got him in a late round.

Terry Koens (Hillsboro)

Will you be producing a SCHOENE file similar to what was produced at Basketball Prospectus? If so how can I obtain it, I found it very useful in the past. Thanks

Kevin Pelton
  (1:09 PM)

We're not sure how the SCHOENE projections will be used for fantasy purposes, but it's unlikely it will be the same kind of downloadable format as at Basketball Prospectus because that becomes more difficult to manage at a bigger site like ESPN.com.

rah-steam (hackensack, N.J.)

Why doesn't Golden State get the respect it deserves from the media. Let's not forget the playoff games they won with an injured roster. If they stay healthy why can't they finish in the top 4 of the west?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:10 PM)

In order: San Antonio, the Clippers, Houston and Oklahoma City. That's the short answer why.

Keanu (Honolulu)

Hey Kevin, what rookie based on what you seen so far in preseason has been the most impressive?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:11 PM)

I still haven't seen anywhere near all of the rookies in key roles, but so far I would have to say Michael Carter-Williams making 3-pointers on a consistent basis against Oklahoma City was most impressive to me.

PaweÅ? (Poland)

Is Hornacek the GOAT Summer League and Preseason coach?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:12 PM)

Whoa, still a long ways to go to match the Warriors' summer league + preseason winning streak that finally ended last Saturday.

Nafis (SF)

How do you think Rose has looked so far?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:13 PM)

I caught the first half of his first game back against Indiana, and other than rust he looked like Derrick Rose. I don't think there's particular reason to worry at this point.

Stan (new york, ny)

Where can I find a good FAQ on the SCHOENE process or definition?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:13 PM)

Why, right here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9797404/explaining-schoene-projection-system

Kevin Pelton
  (1:14 PM)

If you're really married to the FAQ format, this is from last season, but most of it is still valid (especially the self-aware SCHOENE jokes): http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2418

Rob Mahoney (TX)

I still have my doubts about this cream-cheese-on-a-bratwurst thing. How can I be sure that you and the rest of the Seattleites aren't selling some elaborate hoax?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:15 PM)

Well, since cream cheese isn't made here, we really have nothing to gain from a hoax. If we start advising you to put Windows 8 or a 787 on your bratwurst, then get suspicious.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:16 PM)

This is what the esteemed Mr. Mahoney is referring to, by the way: https://kcpelton.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fabulous-peltoncast-no-5/

Jason J (NYC)

What are you thoughts on Kirk Goldberry's columns this week about ShotScore as a measurement for player shooting efficiency?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:17 PM)

Looking forward to seeing more on the shot selection aspect. As I noted on Twitter the other day, a player's effectiveness from the field can be separated into two components -- the value of their average shot, and their ability to over- or underperform that value. Kirk started with the latter, and has indicated he's planning to post something on the former that will give the fuller picture.

Kris (MPLS)

Are you buying or selling the Nets?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:18 PM)

Probably neither buying nor selling. I think conventional wisdom on them is about accurate, though people might be slightly understating their potential in the playoffs if Garnett can ramp up his minutes after coasting through the regular season.

Rick (TX)

Do you think D'Antoni makes it through the year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:19 PM)

Not sure how much the Lakers have to gain from a change with this roster. Red Auerbach would have a tough time getting this group to the playoffs.

Dick Motta (Muncie, IN)

Will you be updating your Bulls projections now that you see Rose is back to his normal self?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:21 PM)

I did not apply any adjustment to Rose's projection as I did for players coming back from an ACL rupture suffered last season under the assumption that he's had more time to shake off any rust. So the only way it affects their projection is that he's expected to miss many games during the regular season -- as he did in 2011-12, pre-ACL injury. So no, but the Bulls' playoff projection -- which assumes health for everyone -- is higher than their projection during the regular season.

Mike (Gary)

Do you think the Heat will win more games than the Lakers and C's combined? A certain town has the Lakers and C's as a 1 game favorite...

Kevin Pelton
  (1:22 PM)

I would probably say, conservatively, no. I'd figure them for somewhere around 60 and I'm not certain Miami will get to that mark with a deeper group of contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Heisenberg (NY)

can you rank your top 5 most fun to watch teams?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:23 PM)

Hard to say without seeing most teams yet this season. I will say, as I did on Twitter, that the Celtics' second unit was surprisingly entertaining. They were pressuring the ball and getting out in transition. I'm curious to see if that could translate to the regular season.

ted (cape cod)

Are you buying what Bill Simmons is saying that Boston will trade Rajon Rondo?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:24 PM)

When it comes to the Celtics, he's got a lot better sources than I do, so no reason to disagree.

kris (huntington beach, CA)

Based on Dwights down year last year, Gasol sliding into his more natural position at center, and the addition of Kaman, couldn't you say that Lakers will actually get the same production out of the center postion as a whole this year compared to last?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:25 PM)

Offensive production? Possibly. Factoring defense? Doubtful.

Russell S (North Carolina)

Brighter future long term: Lakers or Celtics?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:26 PM)

I think the Celtics' path back to contention is clearer given their ability to stockpile assets through the draft. At this point, the Lakers are basically counting on striking gold in free agency, and with the recent trend toward elite players (including Dwight Howard) favoring the chance to win over pure market-driven consideration, I'm not sure that's going to happen.

Tim (Orlando)

What team has the highest chance to be really good or really bad depending on how things fall during the course of the season?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:26 PM)

Nate Duncan of Hoopsworld had a good piece on this yesterday: http://www.hoopsworld.com/the-most-volatile-nba-teams-in-2013-14?utm_source=feedly

Kevin Pelton
  (1:28 PM)

I agreed with 2 of his 3 teams, and would probably replace Washington with Detroit as my third. How well Maurice Cheeks manages playing the Smith/Monroe/Drummond front line could be the difference between an elite team and a lottery one, as I see it.

Nathan (Iowa)

In your SCHOENE projections, how many minutes does the Smith-Monroe-Drummond combination play together.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:32 PM)

I don't explicitly project lineup combinations, but the way it played out I have Josh Smith playing about 675 minutes at small forward -- or about 14 minutes per game. So that's the most I would possibly project.

Eli (Orlando )

What is replacement level complimentary bread? Olive Garden?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:34 PM)

I think complimentary bread is pretty much replacement level as a category. So it'd be more interesting to discuss what's best among it, with Olive Garden's breadsticks and Red Lobster's cheddar biscuits among the options. I'm partial to the Spaghetti Factory's loaves, myself.

Nick (Charleston)

Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes seem incredibly overrated at #60 and #76. Where would you rank them? (David Lee and Bogut seem a bit overrated too, given that this is supposed to take health concerns into consideration).

Kevin Pelton
  (1:36 PM)

Would agree, and say Barnes more so than Thompson. I rated Thompson a 6, which puts him between 56 and 101, and he's probably toward the back end of that group. On a typical team he's the third-best player. Barnes rated below replacement during the regular season as a rookie, so putting him in the top 100 seems awfully optimistic even in the wake of his playoff run. I had him as a 5, which is the group between 102 and 177.

Kevin (Chicago)

What teams do you feel have the best chances to over- and under-perform their SCHOENE projections for the season?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:38 PM)

Of the projections we've released so far, obviously Detroit and Minnesota have the best chances of underperforming. Realistically, I think they're both more likely to finish in the mid-40s in wins, which would still be better than conventional wisdom has it. Of the teams we haven't released, Golden State and New York stand out as teams with a good chance of overachieving. And of the teams we have done, I think Chicago has the best chance of overperforming if as mentioned earlier Rose plays 80 games.

Mike (Gary)

Can you recall any skits/moments from Squatch's history that would have been Craptor award worthy?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:39 PM)

Squatch's skits never failed, so it would have been impossible for him to win a Craptor!

Bunny (Colorado)

Is it just me? I feel as if Denver is about to take a huge step back. Our Defense will be atrocious, the starting big men are athletic but unskilled. I like Fareid and Lawson but after that.........................

Kevin Pelton
  (1:39 PM)

It's definitely not just you.

Dan (LA)

Now that there's (kinda) actual basketball again, who's the penultimate replacement level player likely to see regular, if marginal, playing time this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:40 PM)

I would say I view replacement players as a class, so there's not any one that stands out as most replacement-y, necessarily. Although I liked to joke that the example was when I asked Brian Cardinal during his breakout season in Golden State whether there was much interest in him over the summer, and he said his friends and family were interested in him.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:41 PM)

That's from one of my all-time favorite features to write: http://www.sonicscentral.com/hoopsworld/012704.html

Jason (las vegas nv)

Cheesecake Factory wheat bread, perennial all-star.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:41 PM)

See I don't hang with enough NBA players so it's been years since I've been to the Cheesecake Factory.

Keith (CA)

Did Jimmer Fredette accidentally spit in Mike Malone's face or something? What's up with the DNP in PRESEASON!!!

Kevin Pelton
  (1:43 PM)

Well, I wouldn't read too much into not playing in a particular game in the preseason because the rotations and coaches' goals fluctuate so much from game to game. But it's obvious looking at the roster that his best-case scenario is fifth guard, and Ray McCallum probably pushes him to sixth. The Kings have too many decent-but-not-good players, and Jimmer badly needs a trade.

Jeff (Boston)

Too early to tout Evan Turner's progression this season?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:43 PM)

By about 25 regular-season games, yes.

Ken (LA)

Viewing the Pacers preseason games I'm pretty worried. Chicago ran over their starting unit with their second string and Houston dominated them also. Is this cause for concern?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:44 PM)

Not really. There's some predictive power to the preseason, but not much.

Josh (Chicago)

I don't think the Clippers are real contenders, if you don't have Lebron James on your team, then you must have a good defense frontcourt. Maybe Blake and DJ could turn into a have decent defensive duo, but there is no way this team is better than Bulls/Indiana/Spurs/Thunder with Jamasin and Mullens as their back bigs, nooo way.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:44 PM)

No love for Ryan Hollins?

kris (huntington beach, CA)

If Durant can keep the Thunder near the top in the west without Westbrook, coupled with the voter fatigue for Lebron, do you think KD would win the MVP this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:46 PM)

Certainly possible. I thought there was a chance of that last December, before the Heat's winning streak quashed any chance of anyone but LeBron being MVP (or even, aside from my man Gary Washburn, getting a first-place vote).

Angel (New York)

So far in 2 games Ellis is 9-17 (53%FG), 3-5 (60%3PG), 15 assist, 24 pts. All without pass first PG in Calderon. He's looked great with Dirk and Dallas' system. How optimistic should us Mavs fans be?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:46 PM)

So we're into the "it's the preseason" portion of today's chat?

Jed (AZ)

Does Phoenix rank among the 5 worst franchises in the NBA right now? They should get the front office red noses and some huge orange shoes to wear. They were smart to let Amare go but everything else has been a complete disaster.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:47 PM)

I seem to get one of these questions a week. Phoenix fans really need their hatred for Robert Sarver validated, apparently. The previous Suns front office, with Lance Blanks evaluating talent, certainly qualified for that group. But Ryan McDonough is highly regarded and hasn't done anything to lose that reputation since taking over. Give him some time.

Mitch (Atlanta)

How high does Favors jump in NBA rank if he meets your projections this year at 16 ppg and 10 rpg?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:49 PM)

Has he come up yet? I don't remember seeing him. But he'd certainly be top 50, and maybe top 30.

mike b (Houston)

I love Parsons' game. But in the course of this offseason, has he gone from under rated to over rated?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:50 PM)

He's got a little bit of the old Joe Dumars "so underrated he's overrated" thing going on. Parsons is a nice complementary piece, and one of the best contracts in the NBA, but he doesn't belong with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the discussion about the best young small forwards in the league.

Ryan (Ogden)

Who do you think will have the biggest NBARank jump by the end of the season?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:53 PM)

Tough to say without a complete list in front of me, but looking at the bottom of the list Luigi Datome (397) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (376) are two guys with the potential to maybe move up a couple hundred spots.

Jason J (NYC)

If Prof. Hollinger, Prof. Berri, Dean Oliver, Neil Payne, and you entered a hot-dog eating contest, who would have the highest hot-dog consumed per minute rate? Are any of you aware that in a hot-dog eating contest volume is more important than efficiency?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:54 PM)

I don't know if I've properly scouted my competition, but since Hollinger is a vegeterian I think we can safely rule him out.

Len (MI)

I hope you were talking about Dumars as a player and not an executive. Why has he lasted this long as a GM? The track record is almost as bad as I Thomas in NY.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:55 PM)

Whoa, let's not say things we might regret. Dumars built a championship team and was regarded as one of the very best GMs in the league at one point, and that certainly can't be said about Isiah. It's been a rough go but if you scroll over to the NBA homepage you'll see that I think this incarnation of the Pistons will lift his reputation once again. If not, as Amin Elhassan wrote today, he's certainly on the hot seat: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9806817/nba-joe-dumars-general-managers-hot-seat

Adam (My Couch)

Can you assign tiers for WARP for individual players? Like 5+ is starter, 10 is possible All-Star, etc?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:58 PM)

10 WARP is about the cutoff for All-Stars, yeah. I think there's a similar number of players who meet that standard (somewhere around 25). 5 is a fairly median starter.

Brandon (Utah)

Favors was 68th, the highest Jazz man.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:59 PM)

I had him as a 7, so in the 18-55 range.

MKE (WI)

What would a succesful season be for Giannis Antetokounmpo?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:00 PM)

Flashes of brilliance. I'm OK with him making mistakes, like his seven turnovers last night, if they're in the service of trying to do what will eventually become positive things. My plan for this afternoon is to watch some Synergy film of that game to get a better look at him.

Jeff (Boston)

Spencer Hawes or Tony Wroten -- best Washington alumni on the Sixers?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:00 PM)

Definitely Hawes.

Allen (PA)

Is the only plan in Phila to get the most balls for Wiggins? Will they challenge the record for the least wins?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:01 PM)

It is! I don't think they'll be quite that bad because I think Brett Brown will put together a hard-working, competent defense. But man are they going to be bad offensively.

Bernie (D)

The NBA is all about trends and swings.........That being said, what is the tasty NBA trend of today's game?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:01 PM)

3-pointers in general and corner 3s specifically.

S-Willy (California)

Hi Kevin, do you ever participate in any fantasy basketball leagues? Not too brag (well, not too much!), but I?ve won my league, BoyzTown, three years running! Best wishes to you for a long season of analysis!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:02 PM)

The funny thing about people being interested in my fantasy projections is I haven't done a basketball league the last two or three years. I'm the classic guy who loses interest in February and stops setting his lineup.

Jason J (NYC)

When you say, "...the value of their average shot, and their ability to over- or underperform that value," is that an attempt to factor accuracy and precision? That is hard science!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:03 PM)

Well, that's what Kirk Goldsberry is starting to do. As he noted, eventually we may be able to factor in how closely the shot is contested in addition to just where it's attempted, but no matter how you create that baseline expectation, that's always going to be the formula for shooting performance.

Bilbo (The Shire)

Looking at the Schoene projections one thing that I found interesting was the projected wins for teams. It seems that several of the top teams already stated might be a bit under-projected in terms of wins. Is that because Schoene over-estimates bad teams a bit? Or some other reason. Thanks!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:04 PM)

Like all projection systems, SCHOENE tends to regress heavily to the mean. In this case, it may regress a bit too heavily to the mean, which would mean slightly underprojecting the best teams and overprojecting the worst teams.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:05 PM)

One other factor is, of course, that teams aren't static in quality. Bad teams tear down a bit over the course of the season and good teams add to their rosters -- this was really important last year with Birdman in Miami and Kenyon Martin in New York. John Hollinger made an adjustment to his projections to account for this, but because of the way SCHOENE holistically projects both players and teams, I don't think there's a good way for me to do it.

John (Nashville)

Jimmer and a second round pick for Derrick Williams

Kevin Pelton
  (2:06 PM)

I don't know if Minnesota is a much better destination for Jimmer, since he'd have to beat out Alexey Shved to be on the fringes of the rotation.

Andrew (Houston)

Would you start Lin or Beverley?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:07 PM)

I would probably start Beverley because he's better as a spot-up shooter and defender, and those skills will be emphasized playing alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden in the starting lineup.

Brian (NJ)

Do you think a Gasol trade happens this year? Would probably have to be Gasol to a contender for a young prospect + a large expiring right? How about Gasol to the Warriors for Barnes and Bogut?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:07 PM)

I can't see anything making sense both for the Lakers and the team acquiring Gasol. In this case, that seems like way too much for the Warriors to give up unless Bogut is lost for the season -- and probably still too much then.

Brent (Fort Wayne, IN)

You mentioned Ian Clark in your last chat as a possible breakout undrafted player. Still feel that way upon seeing Ty Corbin starting Richard Jefferson?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:09 PM)

Well, remember, when we're talking about breakout undrafted players the chances of any of them actually doing it are pretty low. I can't remember if I mentioned them, but the Sixers' undrafted wings (Khalif Wyatt, Rodney Williams) also have a chance given how wide-open that rotation is.

Tom (Chicago)

What non-top5 player would have the best chance at a surprise MVP this season?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:09 PM)

Is James Harden top 5?

Jay (Orlando)

Who is your choice for ROY?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:09 PM)

Give me the preseason to make up my mind, but probably Oladipo.

j (sea)

get the peltoncast on itunes!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:10 PM)

It's on there: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fabulous-peltoncast-seattle/id711263925

Joe (Maryland)

Anthony Bennett was taken #1 but I seriously doubt he gets Rookie of the Year. I think it'll come down to either Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. Thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:11 PM)

I think it would probably take a Marcus Thornton trade for McLemore to seriously contend. Given the minutes they're likely to play, Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams are stronger competition. And I'd throw in Kelly Olynyk as another guy who could start and maybe play big minutes.

Ryan (Ogden)

Is it possible for two players that average 10 points and 10 rebounds to co-exist?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:12 PM)

Having multiple quality rebounders means they take some away from each other, but that doesn't mean they can't coexist.

Chance (Chicago)

SCHOENE has loved Minnesota the last couple years. Do you believe this season's projection is more reasonable than last season's?Also, did you tweak your system at all to account for older players aging more gracefully than in decades past?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:14 PM)

As I go into in the Minnesota preview (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/preview2013/story/_/page/min-1314forecast/minnesota-timberwolves-outlook), last year's projection would actually have been pretty accurate if 1.) I knew the Timberwolves were going to be as devastated by injury as they were and 2.) Alexey Shved was correctly projected. Obviously the injury factor could happen again, but this year I think the larger question is whether their defense is a bit overprojected.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:15 PM)

Did not make any tweak to that part of the aging factor. It's a challenge of using past history to project the future.

Mike (Gary)

What's the variance in these SCHOENE win total projections?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:18 PM)

It's not explicitly built in, but last year the average difference was 6.4 wins.

kris (huntington beach, CA)

Do you think the addition of Rambis to the Lakers coaching staff, and bringing in a bunch of young athletic wings will make the Lakers defense better or worse then last year?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:18 PM)

I don't think that will overcome the drop from Dwight Howard to Pau Gasol/Chris Kaman in the middle.

Oulkmag (Europe)

True or false: Blazers currently lack a viable long-term center on their roster to go with their current core

Kevin Pelton
  (2:19 PM)

I'm higher on Lopez than most, but I wouldn't call him a long-term solution. And I don't think Meyers Leonard is that player, so no.

Chuck Berry (Gong Show)

Boozer, Mirotic, Bobcats 2016 1st, Bulls 2014 1st for Al Horford. Who hangs up first? Atlant or Bulls?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:20 PM)

I don't think either team would do that right now. Chicago is in the beneficial position of being able to sit and wait on whichever PF asks out among the Aldridge, Love and perhaps Horford group and doesn't really need to be in a hurry to give up all its assets. Although the Bobcats pick might be slightly overrated at this point.

Jeff (Tampa, FL)

Freshmen with more pressure on him to win a title, Jameis Winston or Andrew Wiggins?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:21 PM)

Probably still Wiggins, as evidenced by the SI cover.

Billy the Kid (Wild West)

Whose bench do you like better between New Jersey Nets and Indiana? Why? I think that might be the determining factor of the opponent of MIA this postseason.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:23 PM)

Tough to say because they're built so differently. The Nets will probably mix and match starters and reserves a great deal, whereas Frank Vogel has preferred to play his five reserves together (at least during the regular season). The latter strategy should be a lot more effective this year, but we still need to see how Danny Granger comes back.

Brandon (Utah)

I saw more energy on defense from Utah's starting five in the first preseason game this year than I have from our starters in any regular season game all last season. If the defensive intensity lasts through the season, could the Jazz actually be better than awful, like they've been predicted to be?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:23 PM)

Are they projected to be awful? They're certainly not projected to be good, but I don't think anyone is projecting a win total in the low 20s or anything.

Josh (Seattle)

Anthony Davis has had a couple of big preseason games. Does he break out as a superstar this year at age 20? Thanks.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:24 PM)

If I was going to predict someone besides a Jazz player for Most Improved, it would be Davis. He's sort of flown under the radar in the NBA, but now he's starting to get the "Hey, why has this guy flown under the radar?" buzz.

Rick (TX)

Do you see any players from the current crop of international NBA players becoming the first foreign-born NBA head coach?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:25 PM)

Would Patrick Ewing count? I would love to see Dirk in that role, but I'm not sure he'd be interested. Oh, and Manu already draws up late-game plays that work, so he could be great.

Andrew (Tulsa OK)

Love your stuff Kevin. I asked this question over twitter a couple of days ago and you recommended I ask it over this chat so here we go. Who would be the starting 5 for players who make under 2 mil a year who are NOT on rookie contracts. Im guessing Lance Stephenson is your starting shooting guard?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:29 PM)

Yes, glad you brought this over. PG Patrick Beverley ($788,872) / SG Lance Stephenson ($1,005,000) / SF Chandler Parsons ($926,500) / PF Gustavo Ayon ($1,500,000) C Chris Andersen ($1,399,507)

Kevin Pelton
  (2:30 PM)

The bench would be pretty good. Lots of PGs: Isaiah Thomas, Pablo Prigioni, Devin Harris, Toney Douglas, Darren Collison. Would want Francisco Garcia, Andray Blatche, Mike Miller and Metta World Peace too (assuming amnesties are OK).

Jay (IN)

Hill, Hibbert, George, and Stephenson are just 27, 26, 23, and 23 respectively. How good a position are the Pacers in to be a contender going forward, cap and talent-wise?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:31 PM)

The big question is how you ultimately replace David West without the likelihood of cap space or high first-round picks anywhere in the next few years. That's the biggest concern the Pacers are going to have to manage.

Ed (Queens Village)

What chance do you give UW of upsetting Oregon?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:32 PM)

I put it around 30%, which may sound like a homer projection but Sagarin predictor actually has the teams reasonably close, especially when home-field advantage is factored in: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/ncaaf/sagarin/2013/teams/

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Do the Bulls get enough production out of the SG position this year to seriously challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference crown?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:34 PM)

I would say yes. I mean they won 60 games with Keith Bogans starting at SG ...

Bilbo (The Shire)

Speaking or the Bobcats pick that the Bulls own and how it might be overrated. Through WARP and what not, what would you project the Bobcats team to look like in 2015/16. assuming a decent lottery pick in 2014 and potentially two late lotto or mid 1st draft picks in 2014 also. Factor in whatever their 2015 1st might be and then if for whatever reason they aren't a playoff team in 2016 the ability to sign a player to a one year deal as a stop gap given their cap space. Tl;dr barring a horrible selection of players in the future drafts and horrible player progression, there is no way that the 2016 pick that the Bulls might get unprotected (or potentially sooner) is not in the middle of the 1st, right?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:35 PM)

Or they get it before it becomes unprotected.

Ahmad (Montreal)

Do you think Toronto will tank again this year or try to make the playoffs? And will Rudy Gay be traded before the Feb trade deadline?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:36 PM)

I think they'll try to make the playoffs, then consider a selloff it that looks unlikely. My bolder prediction: I think Masai Ujiri will try to get value for DeMar DeRozan's contract if possible.

Eric (South Bay)

Re Gasol trades that work - how about Gasol (expiring) to the Celtics for Rondo and a bad contract like Courtney Lee? Boston gets to go into tank mode and get out of another bad deal - Lakers build around Rondo and Free Agent x next year?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:36 PM)

I don't think that's enough value for the Celtics for Rondo. They should be able to unload a contract with him and still get value in return the Lakers couldn't offer.

jason (dc)

okafor's expiring deal + some combination of booker, seraphin, singleton, and a 1st round pick for gasol. who hangs up first and would this push the wizards into the top 4 of the east?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:38 PM)

Interesting. Looks like the Wiz could do Okafor + Vesely and still stay (barely) under the tax line. I don't see that pushing them into the top four in the East, though. It probably guarantees a playoff spot but doesn't make a series win likely.

steve(bugysgod) (battle creek, mi)

NBArank has Pekovic, AL Jeff and David Lee ahead of Drummond. I think you would have Drummond higher than all those correct?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:39 PM)

Yeah, I think so.

j (sea)

any chance the following former Huskies get an(other) NBA taste? Will Conroy, Tre Simmons, Justin Dentmon. And, any chance Justin Holiday can stick around?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:40 PM)

Holiday seems to have a chance in Utah, yeah, especially with some of their wings (Rush, Williams) coming back from injuries. Conroy has hung them up as I understand it and is looking to get into coaching or scouting (he did some work for the Timberwolves front office last year). Simmons is probably overseas for good. Dentmon remains right on the fringe and a 10-day callup possibility.

Brian (NJ)

What about Dwight Howard for surprise MVP? If he puts up a big season and the Rockets grab a Top 2 seed he is going to get a lot of credit.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:41 PM)

John Hollinger's "New Guy" theory would suggest he gets the credit, but given the dismal state of his reputation and the likelihood Harden will score more, I think he's the better MVP candidate.

Michael (B-town)

The SCHOENE projection for the Pacers was interesting...was the fewer-than-expected number of wins primarily due to the question of Granger's effectiveness?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:42 PM)

Partially it's what I mentioned before, that good teams get regressed to the mean. So I think the more interesting observation is that Brooklyn, Chicago and Indiana are all basically tied behind Miami. But Granger's projection is pretty pessimistic, and if he's healthy and effective, that's the Pacers' upside to emerge from this group.

Adrian (Greenville, TX)

Am I the only one who doesn't buy Hibbert being the playoffs Hibbert everyone is fixed on?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:43 PM)

No ... I think he'll settle somewhere in between the Hibbert we saw in the playoffs and the one who underachieved in the regular season, possibly because of his wrist injury. So more like 2011-12 Hibbert.

Dan (WI)

If you were in charge of the Wolves, would you pick up Derrick Williams' 2014-15 option?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:44 PM)

Probably not. That's a lot of money to guarantee a guy without a clear role in the rotation.

CC (Atlanta)

Any chance the Hawks make the playoffs?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:44 PM)

Sure!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:44 PM)

Better than that, even. More on them next week.

Starting 5 <$2M (NYC)

Isn't Parsons still on his rookie deal?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:45 PM)

I assumed rookie contract to mean the ones assigned to first-round picks. Otherwise, Lance Stephenson is also still on his contract signed as a rookie.

Andrew (MI)

Outback bread is above replacement for sure!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:47 PM)

Would you believe I've never been to Outback? No reason not, just never have.

Mike (MN) [via mobile]

Been hearing good things about Shabazz so far (lost ten lbs, working hard, crashing boards) . Any chance he can help this year in rotation and have you seen any of his pre season?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:47 PM)

Haven't seen him yet, but sure! He was the No. 1 prospect in last year's prep class for a reason, and not just because of his (inaccurate) age.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:48 PM)

By the way, brainstorm: The "any chance" rule should be renamed the "Dumb and Dumber" rule -- so you're saying there's a chance!

Michele (Indiana)

Is there any chance that Steven Adams will give "real contribution" this season? I think is already better than Thabeet...

Kevin Pelton
  (2:49 PM)

Sure! And in this case my biggest hesitance is whether Scott Brooks will give him that opportunity.

David (San Francisco)

It looks like Memphis is projected to lose at least 5 more games this season. What's driving their decline?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:50 PM)

Well, again, regression to the mean is a factor in the raw win totals. But beyond that, stay tuned. There's a reason we're doing 2,000-word previews of these teams!

Matt (DC)

What is the formula for SCHEONE? Does it operate like a Risk-Return Value, with variance and standard deviation?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:52 PM)

No, there's not a separate level of riskiness or variance assigned to each projection.

Mark (Milwaukee)

Bucks have the potential to put out a freakishly long-armed group on the floor in Sanders, Henson, and Giannis. Would it make sense to plan to go big at the guard positions in the future too and just be an absolute menace on the defensive end?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:53 PM)

I think that's part of the logic behind acquiring Brandon Knight. Ultimately he could potentially be there George Hill in that sort of lineup.

Nathan (Iowa)

Obviously it was just 1 game, but do we make anything of Oladipo's assist total? I'm a huge Indiana fan and I just did not see any semblance of playmaking from him.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:53 PM)

I think that's why we do make something of it -- because it was so far outside the expectation based on his college career that it suggests we have to update our mental projections in a Bayesian sense. But we'll add more information with each game he plays this preseason.

Mike (Gary)

Jason Collins? You think he gets signed later in the season bc of injuries or is he done?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:54 PM)

We've looked at this in past chats, and it will be tough given the limited number of teams that really need a veteran defensive specialist at center and the number of guaranteed contracts on those teams.

Sam (Orlandipo)

Could Tobias Harris eventually crack that Kawhi Leonard/Paul George tier? He picked up right where he left off last season with 17 points and 9 boards vs the Hornets on Wednesday.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:56 PM)

I think it's going to be tough for him to be enough of a contributor at both ends to really join those guys. I also tend to think he's more effective at PF, though a Harris-Harkless frontline is fairly positionless.

MikeBenson (Des Moines, WA)

Does Seattle get a team via Expansion or Relocation? And in how many years from now?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:58 PM)

Yes. Really, the answers to the two questions are inextricably linked. The NBA is waiting to see what happens in Milwaukee, where they need a successor venue by the end of their lease in 2017. If the Bucks figure out a solution, then the NBA will probably begin seriously considering expansion.

Brian (NJ)

How much of "Hibbert in the playoffs" was because 1) Chandler was playing hurt and 2) the Miami frontline was super small?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:59 PM)

Some of it, certainly, but the Spurs had that same benefit against Miami and didn't dominate the paint quite the same way.

adam (nj)

any sense for what type of contract lance stephenson will get? or how much indiana realistically would pay him?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:59 PM)

I would guess something slightly above the mid-level exception, but there's a lot of variability in that based on how he plays this season.

Timmay (NYC)

How many wins does Corbin need this season to match Jerry Sloan's coaching miracle from 03-04 (when he steered a Matt Harpring-led team from an 8 win projection to a winning record)?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:03 PM)

Probably needs at least a playoff spot, though that 8-win projection (here on ESPN.com by my friend Frank Hughes) was always a bit tongue in cheek. Although I picked them for 17 wins. Yikes.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:03 PM)

Maybe 55 wins.

Adrian (Greenville, TX)

Do you see a Monroe/Drummond frontcourt being sustainable long-term financially and skill-wise, and will their presence give Josh Smith even more excuses to chuck up bad shots?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:04 PM)

As already mentioned, Josh Smith won't be playing that much SF, and he played a lot of the position already in Atlanta. So I don't think it's a huge factor. And, so long as they're beyond the arc, I don't know if they're actually bad shots. You have to at least try to force defenses to play you honestly in that situation. It's the long 2s off the dribble that are really killers.

Ernie (DC)

RE: Okafor &#x26; Vesely for Gasol...Don't you think the Mamba would utterly destroy the confidence of an already fledgling Jan Vesely?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:04 PM)

I don't think that will be much of an issue for the Lakers.

Dave (nj)

Do you think the updates to your projections this year could get the variance under 5 wins on average?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:07 PM)

They have performed better (and worse) at other times. It's hard to predict about predictions!

Jeremy (NJ)

re jason collins- woodson said knicks showed interest in him earlier this summer. is he better than aldrich/powell/these other guys the knicks brought in? tyler seemingly lost his spot with the injury.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:08 PM)

Again, kind of hard to answer because it depends on goals. If the Knicks think they might play Indiana in a playoff series and need a Hibbert stopper, yes. If they're looking for a long-term backup for Tyson Chandler, Aldrich's potential makes him teh most useful.

jason (dc)

so if gasol wont make the wiz a top 4 team in the east, what will? anything aside from john wall playing at an mvp level

Kevin Pelton
  (3:08 PM)

Trading for LeBron? I don't think there's any way to do it this year, nor should that really be the goal.

Dan (WI)

What do you think of Biyombo's progress? By RAPM, he's a net positive (+0.2) and very good defensive player ( 2.3), but it seems like most people write about him as though his offensive problems outweigh his defensive contributions.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:09 PM)

This is perhaps unfair, but it's hard for me to see the anchor of the No. 30 defense in the league as that valuable defensively.

Adrian (Greenville, TX)

Are there any former Sonics players/coaches/personnel you'd like to see involved in the front office if/when a new team arrives in Seattle? I think Karl would be nice.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:10 PM)

I think Gary Payton will probably have some kind of a role, but generally I'd rather the new organization favor the best person for key jobs (GM/head coach) rather than nostalgia. Karl, if he's still on the market, might be that guy given he was my Coach of the Year pick a year ago. Nate McMillan also might qualify.

Matt (DC)

Wouldn't the Wizards almsot be better served not making the playoffs with the chance to add another big piece in the draft, esp with Wall signed long-term now?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:11 PM)

I would say probably not because making the playoffs would signal to prospective free agents that the Wizards are a team worth joining, and that might be more important than the draft, since we're talking about a difference of only a few spots in all likelihood.

Nathan (Iowa)

Huge Euroleague fan here! Throw me a bone on the guys that could have the biggest impact on the league should they come over. Mirotic is #1, right?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

Nemanja Bjelica, whose rights are held by the Timberwolves, rates nearly as well as Mirotic. And like many people I've been hoping for years that Bo McCalebb would take a shot at the NBA.

fan (denver)

Has there ever been a worse starting backcourt than the Junior Harrington, Vincent Yarborough pairing the Nuggets ran with down the stretch while tanking for LeBron? Philly should take notes. That's how to tank.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

Absolutely not.

Bob (Chicago)

What do you make of some of ESPN writers saying LeBron would beat Jordan 1-on-1 in a rout?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:13 PM)

I don't think it would be a rout ...

john (chicago)

kevin,don't abide commenters mis-using the word "penultimate."john

Kevin Pelton
  (3:13 PM)

Well, I dunno, there could be a second-to-last replacement-level player?

Mike (Gary)

Say Seattle gets a team. Who do you want as a GM that's available? A former "known" quantity or someone from Elhassan's list? (Sheppard, Schlenk, Griffin, Perry, Lloyd)

Kevin Pelton
  (3:14 PM)

I would definitely prefer to see an up-and-comer rather than a retread. That worked well, obviously, with Sam Presti only Seattle didn't get to reap the benefits.

RC (Atlanta)

Always wondered if the St. Louis Spirits owners the Silnas brothers just offered the nba to let them reactivate their franchise in exchange for their sweetheart no strings tv deal? Pair a St. Louis franchise with a Seattle expansion team see problem solved lol

Kevin Pelton
  (3:15 PM)

The fact that it hasn't happened in nearly four decades seems to indicate it probably never will, but who knows if their lawsuit seems likely to increase their earnings?

Matt (DC)

The Wiz need the strengthen their scoring punch off the bench considerably to ascend up the East. Agree?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:15 PM)

Jordan Crawford might be available ...

Jason J (NYC)

If someone is going to beat Miami this year, how important will homecourt advantage be?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:17 PM)

I have a hard time seeing someone beating Miami at home in a Game 7, but I don't think that means they necessarily have to claim home court to pull the upset. The Pacers could theoretically have closed out the series in Game 6 had they swept at home.

Jason J (NYC)

Is a large variance in a player's production seen as a good or bad thing? Meaning, if Kobe averages 30 points over 5 games with a 60 point game, and 3 22 point games and a 23 point game, is that inherently better or worse than LeBron averaging 30 points over 5 games and getting exactly 30 each night? It seems like getting the volatility could work for or against a team, especially in a playoff series.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:18 PM)

In general, as Dean Oliver has written about extensively, variance is good for underdogs and bad for favorites. But coaches like to have known quantities because there are so many things outside their control that they want to have as much in their control as possible. It's a disconnect between theory and practice.

Ryan (Rochlin, IL)

How does it feel to be peppered with so many questions?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:18 PM)

It's nice to not have a bright light in my face while doing it.

Chance (Chicago)

Will you post projections for pace for each team anywhere at some point before the season starts? If not, which teams do you think make the biggest move up/down in pace? Thanks.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:20 PM)

For nearly all teams, I just use last year's pace. The changes I make are basically exclusively in the case of coaching changes, when I generally use the pace of the former team. Denver may play quite a bit slower under Brian Shaw, while Boston could increase its pace -- not because that's how Brad Stevens really likes to play as much as in response to having such a young bench that is unlikely to score much in the half court.

Devaughn (Phila)

Is this Royce White thing going to work?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:21 PM)

If the criteria is "getting Philadelphia the rights to an intriguing international player" (Furkan Aldemir), yes. If the criteria is getting something of value from White, probably not.

cw (madison)

is an overall player rater like WARP or PER or WP trying to do too much. Seeing that a basketball team has different jobs needed to be filled--ex. 3 pt shooter, rebounder, perimeter defender, low post scorer, penetrating pg--wouldn't it be more usefull to rate the players on those skills? That way Tyson Chandlers 18 PER would be differentiated from Jose Calderon's 18 PER.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:23 PM)

I wouldn't say those are mutually exclusive. I do rate players on the key skills that can be quantified, and used that information a lot with the Pacers. But you probably want the overall assessment as well. For example, even if you're looking for a 3-point shooter, someone who can do that and rebound or pass is often more valuable than the complete specialist.

Matt (DC)

Been down that road, Pelton. What about a guy like Goran Dragic?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:24 PM)

Dragic specifically is too pricey for a backup PG, I'd say. To me, the need is post depth, especially in Okafor's absence, more than scoring per se.

Ed (Queens Village)

Should Finals be 2-3-2 or 2-2-1-1-1?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:25 PM)

Personally, I prefer 2-3-2 because it potentially affects my travel/coverage. From an objective standpoint I really just don't think it matters enough for me to care.

Shane (Boston)

If you're the Celtics, would you tank the season to try and get Wiggins?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:27 PM)

That's a surprisingly complicated question, because we have to define tanking (I take it to mean intentionally trying to lose games). I don't know if I would limit Rondo's minutes or push back his return specifically in the name of losing more games, but if we're talking about playing young players extended minutes instead of the Brandon Basses of the world, yes.

Dave (NY)

Are you saying LeBron would beat Jordan?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:27 PM)

I think current LeBron, with his improved jumper, would probably be the favorite given his size advantage. But I also don't really care.

Chance (Chicago)

WARP looks somewhat pessimistic in the player forecasts on Nash and Gasol given last year's injuries and their old playing age. Is it possible they play closer to their WARP from two years ago assuming better health and a return to more natural offensive roles that better match their skills?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

Sure! But I don't know if, at least in Nash's case, we should expect better health. Injuries are part of the aging process. So better health is possible but shouldn't be assumed.

MKE (WI)

What percentage of players genuinely approach the season expecting to compete for a title? Coaches? Management?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

Never underestimate the capacity for self-deception among players (and any humans, for that matter, it's just most of us don't deal with the same kind of objective outside expectations players have).

Brent (Fort Wayne)

How many minutes a game do you see Kirilenko getting this season?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:30 PM)

I projected him for 25 minutes a night, but Jason Kidd could easily find more than that.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:32 PM)

Alright, everybody, nice little 2.5-hour chat this week. Thanks for your questions and I'll see you again next Friday when we'll be 2/3 of the way through SCHOENE's projections and Insider's team forecasts for the upcoming season.