The new NBA season is almost here and there are some exciting matchups to look forward to. In this article expected win projection is used to analyse the key regular season matchups from the Eastern and Western conferences.
How to look at the key matchups
The NBA preseason is close to being finished and we have seen the revamped rosters for almost all 30 teams across both the Eastern and Western conferences.
An interesting point to take note of so far is that all teams are pushing the ball to create quick-plays on offence.
Agility, speed and quickness are the three key areas that coaches and players alike have been emphasising as they try to find a pace that will allow themselves to gain an edge over their opponents.
With the above remarks to be kept in mind I ran thousands of simulations to analyze the regular season matchups and added in some roster depth information into the equation as well.
The best and most common measurement for determining a team’s productivity in NBA terms is:
Expected Winning Percentage
= (Points Scored)16.5/[Points Scored)16.5 + (Points Allowed)16.5)]
The above formula gives an expected winning percentage using the ratio of a team’s wins and losses and is related to the number of points scored and allowed. I took last season’s statistics as well as the preseason games played and simulated probabilities accordingly.
When looking into the most critical matchups across the regular 2018 – 2019 NBA season the following matchups were critical compared to the rest of the schedule.
Los Angles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers roster depth chart
Point guards: Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, Joel Berry II.
Shooting guards: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, Sviatoslav Myhkailiuk, Jeffrey Carroll.
Small forwards: LeBron James, Lance Stephenson, Isaac Bonga.
Power forwards: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Michael Beasley, Travis Wear, Johnathan Williams.
Centers: JaVale McGee, Moritz Wagner, Ivica Zubac.
Golden State Warriors roster depth chart
Point guards: Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook, Tyler Ulis.
Shooting guards: Klay Thompson, Jacob Evans, Damion Lee, Kendrick Nunn.
Small forwards: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Danuel House, Marcus Derrickson.
Power forwards: Draymond Green, Jonas Jerebko, Kevon Looney, Alfonzo McKinnie.
Centers: DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Bell, Damian Jones.
The move that LeBron James (LBJ) has taken from the Cavs to the Lakers has been the most pivotal one, shifting league dynamics and strength between the Eastern and Western conferences. It should therefore not go amiss that the current back-to-back Champions will not just be in the same conference but in the same division as LBJ (Pacific Division).
What does this mean in terms of their matchup? Six exciting games across the regular season!
Above are the roster depth charts for both teams after free agency and trades. The Lakers have not just created space for LBJ they also have added veteran leadership by bringing in Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley which are all solid moves on their part.
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On the other side of the California coastline the Golden State Warriors have made their own summer pretty interesting by adding the likes of Jonas Jerebko, DeMarcus Cousins have been good moves as well.
While many focus on the fact that player movement has been vital, to me the actual story of this matchup lies between the head coaches.
Luke Walton finally has the optimal roster in Los Angeles whilst Steve Kerr has managed to get the big man rotation solidified. Kerr has not only added a final all-star player to his Golden State roster but has managed to secure a solid rotation player in Jerebko.
While both teams have lots to work on in terms of rookie and sophomore players it will not just be fun to watch these two teams clash and try to find themselves as the likely first and second seeds in the Western Conference.
In terms of Expected Win percentagespercentages GSW ended up getting +60 wins whilst LAL ended up getting +55wins.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
Boston Celtics roster depth chart
Point guards: Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, Brad Wanamaker, Walt Lemon Jr.
Shooting guards: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, P.J. Dozier, Jabari Bird.
Small forwards: Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye.
Power forwards: Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Guerschon Yabusele.
Centers: Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, Robert Williams.
Toronto Raptors roster depth chart
Point guards: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Kay Felder, Jordan Loyd.
Shooting guards: Danny Green, CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson, Lorenzo Brown.
Small forwards: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Deng Adel.
Power forwards: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Eric Moreland.
Centers: Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe, Chris Boucher.
This matchup actually excites me just as much if not more than Lakers vs Warriors. This is because both Irving and Hayward will be healthy (fingers crossed) and the fact that the young core of Boston are equipped to do the most damage to any opponent across the league this season so far.
Looking at the matchup these two teams will be playing against each other four times and, like the Western conference matchup, are in the same division as well (Atlantic Division).
- Read: NBA win projections
Aside from being healthy, Boston were one of the few teams that did a “reload” of their roster bringing back a majority of their players.
I feel their most critical addition has been Brad Wanamaker (guard) coming in from last year’s Euroleague finalist Fenerbahçe Doğuş. While a seasoned player he brings not just scoring threat but tremendous work rate to the backcourt as a rotation player behind the young core of the Celtics.
The Raptor's roster improvements are bound to give them the upper hand in the Eastern conference.
When we look at the team that has been in the middle of the most talked about trade conversations, aside from LBJ’s move to LA, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were the two players that stand out amongst theplayer movements that occurred in the Eastern conference.
Toronto parted ways with DeMar Derozan, the face of the franchise for the last several seasons. This was by far the toughest move for the Raptors to manage but the fact that they got a good improvement to their roster ensures the outcome was definitely positive.
Their EWP has gone up by +13 games in comparison to last season and, while their coaching staff changes have been questionable to say the least since they let go of Dwayne Casey, the roster improvements are bound to give them the upper hand in the Eastern conference. Their matchup against the Celtics is one no NBA fan should miss.
Key NBA matchups: Conclusion
Ubnderstanding the EWP formula and how it is calculated allows bettors to analyse the expected win projections a team can tally up to help them to improve their betting in the long run.
For those that want to dig deeper into the data sets and explore further calculations feel free to make use of https://www.bigdataball.com/nba-datasets/ I frequently make use of their material as a special adviser.
As a final word; I also highly recommend to anyone that is curious about roster movements to frequently check out team roster depths. Whilst there are several key sites on the net that deal with depth charting of NBA rosters by far the most viable roster movement and tracking can be found through ESPN.