Using Point Differential To Project the 2018 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference

Click here for the breakdown for the East.

OK, now that we’ve projected the East standings, let’s go ahead and do the same thing for the West. As a reminder, the methodology assumes that the factors (injuries, intangibles, player skill, all the normal variances of an NBA season) are going to remain constant, because we can’t predict how that stuff will shake out; we can only use the actual game results to extrapolate to the rest of the season. This is not a comprehensive crystal ball game. It’s a statistical test, no more, no less.

Now then, the West standings through games of January 7:

Team

W-L (Pct)

GB

PtDiff

GSW

32-8 (.800)

+9.8

HOU

27-11 (.711)

4

+7.7

SAS

27-14 (.667)

5.5

+3.2

MIN

25-16 (.610)

7.5

+2.8

OKC

22-18 (.550)

10

+3.6

DEN

21-18 (.538)

10.5

+1.8

POR

21-18 (.538)

10.5

+1.1

NOP

19-19 (.500)

12

-0.3

LAC

17-21 (.447)

14

-0.7

UTA

16-24 (.400)

16

-0.8

PHX

16-26 (.381)

17

-6.4

SAC

13-25 (.342)

18

-8.6

DAL

13-28 (.317)

19.5

-2.4

MEM

12-27 (.308)

19.5

-3.7

LAL

12-27 (.308)

19.5

-4.8

It looks remarkably like the West may be at a point where we can call the top ten. What’s interesting is at the other end; Phoenix and Sacramento are a couple of games clear of the worst of the worst, but are they going to sink below the level of the Lakers?

Let’s run the numbers, with projected records give or take a win for rounding.

Team

Current Record

Projected

Total Record

GSW

32-8

35-7

67-15

HOU

27-11

33-11

60-22

SAS

27-14

25-16

52-30

MIN

25-16

24-17

49-33

OKC

22-18

26-16

48-34

DEN

21-18

24-19

45-37

POR

21-18

23-20

44-38

NOP

19-19

22-22

41-41

LAC

17-21

21-23

38-44

UTA

16-24

20-22

36-46

DAL

13-28

17-24

30-52

MEM

12-27

16-27

28-54

PHX

16-26

11-29

27-55

LAL

12-27

15-28

27-55

SAC

13-25

9-35

22-60

(Note: Phoenix projects to 27.4 wins; the Lakers project to 26.6, so those otherwise identical projected records are a bit deceptive.)

The moral of the story here seems to be that the Suns and Kings are headed for a fall, and that point differential makes the Kings, despite their 12th-place current position, by far the worst team in the entire league, headed for the pole position in the lottery.

Which also brings to mind the fact that we haven’t accounted for tanking, but then again, you’d think that the worse the team, the better they’d be at losing without obviously throwing games.

In any event, the Warriors look headed for 67 wins…the same count as in 2015 and 2017…their two championship years.