ESPN’s Real-Plus Minus has the Thunder at 45.6 wins this season, per Kevin Pelton. That’s good for sixth in the West.
Here’s what Pelton says:
Even without Durant, RPM forecasts the Thunder in the mix for home-court advantage in the West thanks to star point guard Russell Westbrook and a deep cast of young role players.
Sounds good to me. I came up with 49 wins in my first run through of the schedule, and you could easily convince me they’re gonna win more, or that they’re gonna win less. Basically what I’m saying here is, this year’s Thunder team is real hard to predict.
The teams in front of OKC: Warriors (66.8 wins), Spurs (54.5), Jazz (47.6), Clippers (46.3), Rockets (45.8). The Thunder are just ahead of the Blazers (44.5), Nuggets (40.4) and Grizzlies (39.4).
And if you’re wondering about RPM:
RPM was developed by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi to estimate a player’s on-court impact on team performance, measured in net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions. RPM takes into account teammates, opponents and additional factors. When used along with playing time projections, it’s proved to be a very accurate predictive tool overall.
As Pelton notes,
Last season, these projections correctly forecast that the Portland Trail Blazers would be more competitive than expected, the Boston Celtics would maintain their second-half success from the year before and the Milwaukee Bucks would fall out of the playoffs. (They also missed on other teams, including the Toronto Raptors emerging as a top threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference and the Houston Rockets limping along near .500.) Two years ago, RPM foresaw the rise of the Golden State Warriors.