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2015-16 NBA Standings Projection

This year's projections of the potential NBA standings are done and it's time to unveil them. Hold on to your hats!

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official; the preseason is over and the season is ready to kickoff. Roster moves have been made, the 15th player has been named, and each franchise begins this upcoming season anew with an invigorated sense of championship potential. Well, almost each franchise. We know better than to take you seriously, Philadelphia 76ers. As I have done in years past, I picked every single game for the season and tried to do standings projections based on said picks. No, it’s not 100 percent accurate. Yes, I have missed on quite a few teams in the past. The Charlotte Hornets from last season immediately come to mind. But, hey, this is a new year and a time for new predictions. While it’s sort of hard to get close to a team’s projection, it isn’t exactly out of the realm of possibility. Some teams you just know are going to be good, but others surprise you.

Last season, the nail was hit firmly on the head in regards to a few teams. The Los Angeles Lakers were projected to win 24 games, but they only won 21. Still, a three win difference isn’t exactly huge. It’s pretty minuscule. The New Orleans Pelicans were projected at 44-38 and finished at 45-37 while the Washington Wizards went 46-36 despite a 45-37 projection. One win of difference is as close to "on the nose" as you can get without hitting the actual number. Among the other close calls, the Brooklyn Nets finished up at 38-44, which was just two wins off of their projection (40-42). One team who was hit perfectly was the Dallas Mavericks. They went 50-32 last season and that’s exactly what their projection was. The Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors each finished one win off of their projection. The new projections are done, though. So, let’s break them out.

One final thing, though, before we actually get to the projections. As always, remember that a team will almost always win more home games than road games. Also, teams on the back end of a back-to-back are definitely far more likely to lose those games than they are to win them. Of course, with that last caveat, it’s great to keep in mind that level of competition also matters on those second games. With that said, let’s get to the projections.

San Antonio Spurs (59-23)
Atlanta Hawks (56-26)
Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23)
Cleveland Cavaliers (55-27)
Golden State Warriors (59-23)
Chicago Bulls (51-31)
Los Angeles Clippers (58-24)
Washington Wizards (47-35)
Houston Rockets (58-24)
Toronto Raptors (46-36)
Memphis Grizzlies (54-28)
Miami Heat (45-37)
Phoenix Suns (44-38)
Indiana Pacers (44-38)
New Orleans Pelicans (42-40)
Boston Celtics (43-39)
Sacramento Kings (41-41)
Detroit Pistons (38-44)
Utah Jazz (41-41)
Milwaukee Bucks (36-46)
Dallas Mavericks (34-48)
New York Knicks (34-48)
Denver Nuggets (32-50)
Charlotte Hornets (27-55)
Los Angeles Lakers (23-59)
Brooklyn Nets (25-57)
Portland Trail Blazers (21-61)
Orlando Magic (22-60)
Minnesota Timberwolves (20-62)
Philadelphia 76ers (16-66)

First things first, the top of the Western Conference is the ear cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs. We’re talking bloodbath levels of insanity. While six teams with 54+ wins apiece seems crazy, the fact there are five teams with at least 58 wins has to be bordering on insanity. There’s no way that’s how it shapes up, but that’s how the projection came out. Conversely, there are ten Western Conference teams that go at least .500 in this outlook.

While ten teams being at least .500 seems even crazier than five having at least 58 wins, a lot of these teams project to be at that level. The Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans snag the final two playoff spots here, but the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz are right on their heels. Naturally, the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers take massive steps back because of who they’ve lost in free agency and – well – who they didn’t get in free agency.

In the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks retain their top seed from last year despite losing DeMarre Carroll to the Toronto Raptors. The schedule is pretty favorable for the Hawks at times and the loss of Carroll shouldn’t hurt them too much considering the level of talent they added all-around. The Cleveland Cavaliers finish second in the conference, but that’s primarily due to what should be a slow start with the slew of injuries they have right now.

The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers reach the playoffs a year after missing out while the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets each have their own problems that force them to be on the outside looking in. We get yet another Wizards-Raptors first round series, so that should be a doozy considering what has transpired in the past between the two sides. Also, we get another chapter in the ongoing LeBron James and Indiana Pacers rivalry.

For the Western Conference playoffs, we are treated to a first round matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Anthony Davis' New Orleans Pelicans squad, which would be interesting since New Orleans should finally be around full strength by the time the postseason rolls around. On top of that, we’d get Warriors-Grizzlies and Clippers-Rockets, as well as Thunder-Suns. All of those series would be highly entertaining. Two of them would be second round rematches from this past season.

Predicting how the playoffs unfold is nearly impossible. Nearly everyone is onboard with a Cavaliers appearance out of the East and either Thunder or Warriors out of the West. While those seem like equally logical and rational conclusions, we just don’t know. After all, no one saw the Houston Rockets sneaking into the two seed last season and getting to the Western Conference Finals. And certainly very few people saw the Atlanta Hawks doing what they did.

All of this is just merely a projection of what could happen, not what will happen. Basically, it’s just a method of judging a team’s overall talent level, combined with what their injury issues are as of this moment, and running it against their schedule since the schedule can tell us a lot about teams and how they might perform in the long run. It just so happens that some teams – i.e. Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, etc. – come out on the short end of the stick here.

Not every team can have a winning record. Some teams have to undergo the fate of being subpar. That’s just the nature of the business. If there were a team to pick for a championship, it’d likely be the Cleveland Cavaliers due to their overall talent level, lack of competition out of the Eastern Conference, and potential health by the time the playoffs come calling. After that, who knows? It’s all a crapshoot. It’s going to be a wonderfully amazing season and we can’t wait for it. Best of luck to everyone involved. Well, not "luck." Fortune. We’ll go with fortune just so we don’t offend anyone. (Sorry, Golden State!)