ESPN analyst Kevin Pelton has projected the Portland Trail Blazers at 43.8 wins for the 2017-18 regular season. The prediction comes as part of a compilation of win totals for all 30 NBA teams. If Pelton’s relative order holds true, Portland would not participate in the 2018 NBA playoffs.
10. Portland Trail Blazers
Projected wins: 43.8
This projection is for nearly three more wins than the 41 the Blazers actually had last season, but if things play out exactly as RPM forecasts (they won't), that wouldn't be enough to get Portland to the playoffs. Such is the challenge of the Western Conference this season, with at least 10 legitimate postseason contenders.
Besides the consensus playoff participants—the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets—Pelton also ranks the Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the Trail Blazers.
The Pelicans lie closest to the Blazers in the Western Conference with a projected win total of 44.2. The Jazz, with 44.7, are also projected within a single game of Portland.
Pelton forecasts a large divide between the Warriors and everyone else in the conference. Significant gaps define a second tier, consisting of Houston and San Antonio, and a third comprising Minnesota, OKC, LA, and Denver. Portland, Utah, and New Orleans are left fighting for the 8th playoff spot.
Pelton projects the 11th-place Dallas Mavericks at 34.6 wins, over nine games below Portland, leading a group of also-rans ranking nowhere near the Top Ten.
Pelton has the Boston Celtics winning the Eastern Conference with a win total of 49.4, edging out the Cleveland Cavaliers at 49.2.