Advanced plus/minus analytics and predictions show the Blazers will make it to the postseason, according to Hardwood Paroxysm's Nylon Calculus blog.
Dubbed "Basketball Numbers for the People," Nylon Calculus took a peek at two main statistics: Box Plus/Minus—an adjusted per-100-possessions stat that looks at the point impact of a player while they're on the floor—and Real Plus/Minus—an ESPN-created stat to find the adjusted impact a player had while they were on the floor.
In short, with five players on the floor, which one(s) of the group will have the most impact individually? And put together, what's the outcome?
When Nylon Calculus' Nathan Walker blended both these statistics to then predict how each NBA team would do, the Blazers were on the positive end of it.
In fact, according to Walker, the use of both stats shows a number of things. First, based on usage and roster turnover, he expects Damian Lillard to take on a 2015 Russell Westbrook-esque role: doing anything and everything on the court. Additionally, he predicts both C.J. McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu to be higher net positives over 100 possessions.
The boldest stat of all is his win prediction: Walker believes the Blazers will finish with 16 more wins than Las Vegas predicts, slotting the Blazers as the 7th seed in the West.
He follows up that statement saying the Blazers have just 5% of the roster below "replacement level," as well as the following:
Ok, please don't leave the Nylon Calculus website never to return. This one's the weirdest I know, but stick with me. Yes, Wes Matthews was good. LaMarcus Aldridge was very good - and I'm not sure my Box Plus-Minus projections entirely capture how much he contributed to Lillard's rating. But one thing is for sure - Lillard is a high-usage point guard who both puts up stats and doesn't have a bad defensive +/-.
Whether the Blazers can be true playoff contenders obviously remains to be seen. But Walker's notes of the above-replacement-level players and the leap Lillard could make in 2015-16 are clearly worth noting.