ESPN insider has been updating their player analysis for every team and the Blazers profile came out yesterday. This year it includes projected Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) for any player expected to get at least 250 minutes of court time over the full season.
Here is a detailed explanation of WARP and how it's calculated. The essential idea is to quantify a player's impact above that of a "replacement level player" i.e. a D league call up or unsigned NBA vet. Two things to keep in mind: strong defensive players will usually be underrated as defense is difficult to quantify with box score stats. And, total minutes played matters, a player can't contribute to wins if they aren't on the court.
From the WARP explanation:
Generally speaking, a team's total WARP plus the 10 replacement level wins will be similar to its final win total.
The total projected WARP of all the Blazers players came out at 39.9. Adding the 10 replacement level wins, which is the number of wins a team of all replacement level players would get, puts the projection up to 49.9 wins. I assume most folks see that as an optimistic projection. However, Pelton makes this special note in his detailed explanation of WARP:
These [win totals] tend to differ more for teams that are very good or very bad on defense, because not all of the team's defensive performance is credited to its individual players.
The Blazers were 26th in the league in defense efficiency (109.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). The league average was 105.6 and the league best Pacers were at 99.8 last season. Needless to say, the Blazers defense will be the crucial component in this season's success. If that projection is reasonably accurate and the defense improves like we all hope, the Blazers could surprise some folks. Personally, I may have been underrating this squad.
Here are the Blazers' WARP projections for the upcoming season:
Other '13-'14 WARP projections for reference:
Paul: 16.6, Harden: 16.2, Lebron: 22.9, Love: 14.8, Howard: 11.0
Curry: 14.1, Wade: 11.4, Durant: 18.9, Griffin: 11.6, M Gasol: 7.6
(not necessarily the top 2 by WARP at each position)