‘The Full 48’ Podcast: ESPN’s Kevin Pelton Talks NBA Projections, Kyrie and More

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton joins Bleacher Report’s Jordan Brenner to discuss his team projections ahead of the 2017-18 NBA season on the latest edition of The Full 48, as well as the advanced statistics that go into his anticipated win totals.

The two also break down what Avery Bradley’s departure means for the Boston Celtics, the Chris Paul Effect on the Los Angeles Clippers and the futures of Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony.

Subscribe to The Full 48 on iTunes here.



On Only Projecting 4 Teams with 50 Wins Next Season (Warriors—62.1, Rockets—55, Spurs—52.6 and Timberwolves—50.1)

That’s not uncommon with projections. To try to minimize errors, you’re going to have teams really compressed at both extremes in terms of the highest win totals and the highest loss totals as well. … If you think of it as if we played the season out a thousand times, which is sort of what you’re trying to do with the simulation, on average only four teams would get to 50 wins. But more teams would get to that in any given season, which is how it obviously gets played out in real life.


On the Celtics Parting Ways with Avery Bradley

He’s certainly the kind of guy I think they’re gonna miss in the playoffs when his two-way ability really becomes so important, and then the question is going to be: Is Marcus Smart able to make enough plays, make enough shots to stay on the court in big situations?


On Cleveland Being a Projected 49.4-Win Team Next Season

One thing we should mention here is that this isn’t yet adjusted for schedule…but 51 wins for Cleveland last year and given their age—the oldest projected rotation, when you weigh by minutes, in the NBA based on the projected math I’ve gotten for this projection—it’s not surprising I’d think they slide a little bit from there.


On Biggest Surprises When Projections Were Complete

Clippers (48.9 wins): Even though they lost Chris Paul, and he was one of the leaders in the NBA in RPM last season, they really upgraded their depth by getting several rotation players for him. … You’re talking about the Clippers now going nine or 10 deep, whereas in the past it’s been such a struggle for them whenever their starters haven’t been on the court. I think that’s why they came out better than I expected.

Sixers (33.2 wins): I expected a much bigger leap for them with their solid offseason. I think partially that reflects the fact that, as I noted, rookies typically don’t come in and play that effectively to help their teams win right away that much anymore. … I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see them flirt with .500 or make the playoffs despite this projection.

Raptors (43.4): One factor there was that Patrick Patterson always rated well by RPM—the team tended to play well when he was on the court as part of that second unit.


On Cavs’ Difficulty Finding a Deal for Kyrie Irving

I certainly would not be surprised at this point to see Kyrie in a Cleveland [Cavaliers] uniform come the start of training camp and opening night.


On Prospect of Carmelo Anthony Being a Knick on Opening Night

I think he is, and I think ultimately there probably is not a deal to be found for him, and I think he probably ultimately is going to get bought out.


On Why There Are Still So Many Bigs Left on the Free-Agent Market

No one really has the cap space left. The only team that has more than about $7.5 million in cap space at this point [are the] Philadelphia [76ers], and that seems to be earmarked for them to renegotiate and extend the contract of Robert Covington when he becomes eligible for that in November.

No one is really capable of making these guys a market offer at this point.

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