A Unique New Sports Analysis Called “PACE Rankings” – Featuring the First NBA Edition

Mike Hallihan
Mike Hallihan November 18, 2021
Updated 2022/01/26 at 6:02 PM
Edited in Prisma app with Lemur

Close your eyes for a second. What do you see? Wait, I’ll tell you. You see Power Rankings of various shapes, sizes, and sports, attacking you from a plethora of websites and publications, and from a never-ending sea of pundits, experts, and personalities. They’re literally everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, these rankings can be fun, but in 2022 (almost), the concept of arbitrarily deciding which teams hold “power” is sort of, ummm, played out. Power Rankings have become a little too subjective, a little too random, a little too unscientific. The order essentially comes down to that individual person’s taste or tolerance for certain teams, as well as their own personal definition of what “power” means to them. But maybe you’re still into that kind of thing.

Let me throw a fresh take at you.

As an example, and perhaps some foreshadowing, let’s quickly highlight the Los Angeles Lakers, who are currently 8-8 and struggling mightily without LeBron James. Now, where would we guess they landed in most Power Rankings coming into this week? We’ll do a brief spot check:

  • ESPN: 11th
  • NBA.com: 13th
  • Sports Illustrated: 14th
  • CBS Sports: 14th
  • Bleacher Report: 15th
  • Intermission’s PACE: 25th (spoiler)

I call BS. All of these insanely-popular outlets still have them inside their Top 15. The record isn’t horrifying, but what keeps the Lakers afloat in these rankings of “power?” Is it the star-studded roster? The polarization? Is it the impending return of LeBron? Maybe it’s all of the above. I do agree that the Lakers are still a better-than-average team and will get things figured out before April. But what I really want to know, in a more scientific way, is how they are performing right now, in comparison to how they were expected to perform before the season began. I want to know which teams are playing over their heads, which ones are on par with their expectations, and which ones are struggling.

This specific inquiry, for all 30 teams, was the basis of an idea and creation that I’ve coined the PACE Rankings. Translation: Performance Against Created Expectations.

I wanted to try something fresh and a bit unique, but based on facts. And what’s more factual than WINS, LOSSES, and the pace at which incur them? The answer is nothing. What I’ve built is far from rocket science, nor does it require some complex algorithm. It’s simple and easy to capture. There is no arbitrary placement of teams in a list. These rankings measure how each team is performing at any moment in time and illustrate the narrative of win-loss trajectories. Because in the end, winning is what ultimately matters.

There are a few elementary layers involved and some necessary explanations to help understand the thinking behind PACE. However, to save you some scrolling, I have packed all of the information and rationale into tidy little FAQ-style nuggets below (clickable accordion boxes) to explain how it all comes together. Although opening the boxes is optional, I highly recommend clicking on ALL of the five boxes for this very first run. It’s educational, I promise.

* Click on each box to expand the full details.

What exactly is “PACE?

I’m glad you asked. PACE is an acronym for Performance Against Created Expectations. Essentially, it’s measuring the performance of each team relative to their preseason created expectations. “Created” in the sense that oddsmakers are ultimately creating the expected regular season win total of each team based on a multitude of factors, including past performance, offseason movement, current rosters, injuries, scheduling, and whether or not you have LeBron James, to name just a few. But those win totals (especially for gambling purposes) have to come from somewhere, right? And the word “pace” carries a double meaning here. Neat. For these rankings, we’re talking strictly about professional teams winning games.

P – Performance: This is the winning. Streakiness will obviously move teams up and down the spectrum, but being consistent (or slightly better) will give teams a positive and stable ranking for overall performance for the 2021-22 season.

A – Against: Ultimately, this is a comparison between the expected (preseason) win total before the season against the current pace (winning percentage) at which the team is currently winning. Of course, it’s also a comparison of teams throughout the league and the movement up and down as the season progresses.

C – Created: There are no direct statistics or magic formula that lead to the created over/under win total number set before the regular season starts. There are many factors that go into oddsmakers settling on a final number. These numbers can always move — depending on when you’re staring at them — right up until opening night tipoff. But alas, these expectations are indeed “created” by individuals and/or teams.

E – Expectations: Simply, this is how we/they feel about each of the teams and what they’re expected to do in the upcoming season. The fun part is, as you’ll notice sprinkled within the rankings, there are always surprises, both good and bad. Teams that are doing far better, or far worse, than we/they thought they would. As a hypothetical NBA example, the Orlando Magic are certainly not expected to win a 60 games and the title this season. They’re expected to suck. They’re preseason win total was set at 22.5 games. If they happen to win a few more games than expected, and carry a pace that has them winning, say 30 games, by the end of the season, they’ll show up in the more favorable part of these rankings with a PACE Factor of 7.5. Did you catch that math? 30 wins – 22.5 expected wins = 7.5. This factor will rise or fall with every single win or loss and can be measured at any point in time in the season. If the above scenario were to hold true, the Magic would have significantly outperformed their cruddy preseason expectations. On the other hand, if a title favorite like the Brooklyn Nets are tumbling along at a pace that projects 40 wins at season’s end (as opposed to their preseason expected number of 55.5), they’ll be found near the bottom, with a PACE Factor of -15.5. Make sense?

How does PACE work?

This one nugget of information is very important: The PACE Rankings are not designed to simply spell out who the league’s best overall teams are. Nor do they just list the teams with the best records from top to bottom. If you’re looking for that, head over to any website’s “NBA Standings” page. And if you’re interested in someone’s subjective perspective on the league’s most “powerful” teams, there’s plenty of those kind of rankings out there.

The PACE Rankings will illustrate each teams’ win-based performance at a moment in time, relative to their preseason expectations coming into the season.

That is the critical differentiator here. It’s Expectations vs. Reality. And while the numbers are purely based on wins, winning percentage, and win pace, it’s the oddsmakers that set that initial number and are the ultimate gatekeepers to each team’s performance within the confines of these rankings.

How is the PACE Factor calculated?

Straightforward math here. Teams are ordered #1 through #30 based on the difference between the number of games they’re projected to win at their current pace versus the number that was set as their preseason expected win total. I’m calling this the PACE Factor. Here’s a quick formula for the more visual people:

(Current Win Percentage x 82 games) – Preseason Expected Win Total

What statistics are utilized?

The abrupt answer is WINS. But here’s a quick rundown of the numbers included in each of the team capsules:

Current Record: The team’s current win-loss record at the time of publication.

Win Percentage: The team’s current percentage of games won versus number of total games played. You may also see this referred to as “pace” or “win pace.”

Projected Win Total: This is the team’s current Win Percentage multiplied by 82, which is the number of games in the NBA regular season. This number fluctuates with every win or loss and forecasts/projects out how many total wins each team should have at the end of the 2021-22 regular season.

Preseason Expected Win Total: This is the preseason over/under win total for each team that was set by the oddsmaker before the season started on October 19, 2021. For these rankings, Odds Shark was the website of choice. This is the only static number used in the rankings. Next season and beyond, an aggregate of several oddsmaking sites will be considered, as this number is critical to the exercise.

PACE Factor: This is the factor that is used to rank the teams from #1 through #30. This is the difference between the Projected Win Total (at a given time) and the Preseason Expected Win Total.

Optics & Considerations

Frequency: New editions of the PACE Rankings will be published on a weekly basis, most typically on Mondays.

Commentary: Providing commentary certainly takes work, and I’m of the ‘quality over quantity’ perspective for these rankings. The format is simple: Bolded team names include a comment within its capsule, while un-bolded will have simply the team information and statistics. Comments will range based on capacity and level of significant happenings for each team during that given week.

Floors and Ceilings: Consider that those teams with the higher win total expectations have significantly less room for error, while teams that have low expectations have much more room to perform better than they’ve been originally estimated. For example, a team like the Utah Jazz doesn’t have a lot of room to win more than their expected 53.5 games, so their ceiling is more limited. Them staying on pace (close to a 0.0 PACE Factor) is still very impressive and anything in the “green” is excellent for this team in terms of overall performance. Meanwhile, a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers, expected at only 27.5 wins, have a low floor, so in turn, have much more room to put together a surprising season and exceed expectations.

The beauty of these rankings is that it can be applied to any of the major four professional sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). This however, is the very first edition of the NBA PACE Rankings. For this first launch, there are comments for all 30 teams. In subsequent editions going forward, only select teams will have commentary within their team capsules each week based on outcomes, movement, and noteworthy happenings. However, ALL teams will have updated records, win percentages, projected win totals, and PACE Factors. If you have feedback, mash the ‘Click to Comment’ button at the bottom and bring it.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

* Click on each box to expand the team capsule. Bolded team names include commentary.

1. Washington Wizards » 24.1

Current Record: 10-4
Win Percentage: .714%
Projected Win Total: 58.6
Preseason Expected Win Total: 34.5
PACE Factor: 24.1

  • The Wizards have absolutely burst into flames out of the gate. Given they were expected to be but a middling play-in team, the 10-4 start (and 5 of 6) has put them on a pace to win 59 games and has produced the league’s highest PACE Factor. The Kuzma-Harrell-Caldwell-Pope package that was recouped for unloading Russell Westbrook looks like pure genius right now. And all of this without Bradley Beal hitting his top gear yet. Is it sustainable? Not likely. But are you not entertained?!
2. Golden State Warriors » 22.3

Current Record: 12-2
Win Percentage: .857%
Projected Win Total: 70.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 48
PACE Factor: 22.3

  • The 2021-22 Warriors currently have the best record in the league, but are they going to win 70 games? Of course not. But they have already reached 25% of their preseason expected win total of 48, and the season is only a month old. Steph Curry is your league MVP right now, especially after punking the Nets on Tuesday night. It looks like Jordan Poole is serious about making a run at Most Improved Player. Andrew Wiggins is locked in. All of this, and the Klay Thompson return is getting CLOSER. The Dubs have surpassed all expectations to this point and have the look of the best team in The Association so far.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers » 18.6

Current Record: 9-7
Win Percentage: .563%
Projected Win Total: 46.1
Preseason Expected Win Total: 27.5
PACE Factor: 18.6

  • If there’s one team that might be just a fraction more surprising than the Wizards, it’s this Cavaliers squad. Left for dead with an expected win total of 27.5, Cleveland has already won a third of that total. Evan Mobley is at the forefront of the Rookie of the Year race, Jarrett Allen has been worth every penny, Ricky Rubio looks revitalized, and Darius Garland continues to grow. This hot start, and they’re currently without Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen. It seems improbable, but the Cavs have had a very effective jumpstart to the 2021-22 season.
4. Phoenix Suns » 12.9

Current Record: 11-3
Win Percentage: .786%
Projected Win Total: 64.4
Preseason Expected Win Total: 51.5
PACE Factor: 12.9

  • The 2020 Western Conference champion Suns started the season 1-3, then absolutely flipped the switch. Now, they currently own a 10-game win streak and a pace that has them winning 64 games. Impressive stuff behind the ageless Chris Paul, who once again leads the team in assists and steals. The Suns being 11-3 really speaks to the depth of this team, considering Deandre Ayton has only played in roughly half of their games.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder » 12.1

Current Record: 6-8
Win Percentage: .429%
Projected Win Total: 35.1
Preseason Expected Win Total: 23
PACE Factor: 12.1

  • I know what you’re thinking: The Oklahoma City Thunder at #5?! You better believe it. Though they’re only 6-8, the youngest team in the league is playing and projecting well over their heads. These kids are a prime example of that low floor (only 23 expected wins) that I mentioned earlier. They don’t have a hope in hell to make the playoffs, but they’re a little bit fun. They also have some Canadian blood (I’m a bit biased) in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort, leading the way.
6. Chicago Bulls » 11.2

Current Record: 10-5
Win Percentage: .667%
Projected Win Total: 54.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 43.5
PACE Factor: 11.2

  • Zach LaVine is a stud. Lonzo Ball is also a stud, now that he completely transformed his jump shot. Nikola Vucevic is a very dependable big. But DeMar DeRozan. This guy. Wow. At this point in his career, he might be the most underappreciated star in the league. Honestly, with the Bulls start, DeMar should be getting some MVP buzz behind Steph and KD. Going home to California, he absolutely TORCHED the Clippers and Lakers on back-to-back nights. Here was his combined numbers for the “Staples Center” series: 73 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, +31, and slashed 69/50/94% in the two games. Ridiculous. And the Bulls left Hollywood 2-0.
7. Los Angeles Clippers » 8.2

Current Record: 9-5
Win Percentage: .643%
Projected Win Total: 52.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 44.5
PACE Factor: 8.2

  • What an incredible turnaround for Ty Lue’s squad, who recently had their 6-game win streak snapped by the equally-impressive Chicago Bulls and have already started another one. Going from 1-4 to 9-5 over the course of the last two weeks is what I would call “trending upward.” Paul George (27.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.2 steals) is making an MVP push while carrying this team to a very healthy PACE Factor.
8. Charlotte Hornets » 7.6

Current Record: 9-7
Win Percentage: .563%
Projected Win Total: 46.1
Preseason Expected Win Total: 38.5
PACE Factor: 7.6

  • Perhaps an expected win total of 38.5 games for the Hornets was a little on the “pessimistic” side. It’s still early, but Miles Bridges (21.3points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals) might be outmuscling his own teammate LaMelo Ball for the Most Improved Player award. Team owner and consensus G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan certainly seems to be giving a damn about Buzz City so far this season.
9. Miami Heat » 6.7

Current Record: 10-5
Win Percentage: .667%
Projected Win Total: 54.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 48
PACE Factor: 6.7

  • The Kyle Lowry addition was the big splash for Miami (and rightfully so) during the offseason, but it’s the emergence of Tyler Herro (21.7 points) that’s been perhaps the most impactful story for the 10-5 Heat so far. The Heat are well-rounded and currently in the Top 7 in points (6th), rebounds (2nd), assists (7th), and opponents points per game (6th). That equals good.
10. Denver Nuggets » 4.7

Current Record: 9-5
Win Percentage: .643%
Projected Win Total: 52.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 48
PACE Factor: 4.7

  • Do you remember reigning MVP Nikola Jokic? Well he’s still around and actually posting a better collective stat line than he did last season, even though that seemed near impossible. And did we witness a Nuggets identity change while waiting for Jamal Murray to return? Once an offensive power, they’ve improved their defense to the point of leading the entire league in Opponents Points Per Game (98.9).
11. Dallas Mavericks » 4.2

Current Record: 9-5
Win Percentage: .643%
Projected Win Total: 52.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 48.5
PACE Factor: 4.2

  • Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis catch most of the attention for the Mavs, but it’s also the quality role players and energy guys they’re surrounded by like Jalen Brunson, Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, and Dorian Finney-Smith that have this team at 9-4 and comfortably outpacing their preseason expected win total.
12. Toronto Raptors » 1.8

Current Record: 7-8
Win Percentage: .467%
Projected Win Total: 38.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 36.5
PACE Factor: 1.8

  • The Raps are a tricky team to peg. Even though they’re back home in Toronto, they have only a 2-6 record at Scotiabank (I happened to witness the Pistons collapse in person). The 5-2 road record is impressive, and the home wins should eventually come, especially with Pascal Siakam back to good health. The Scottie Barnes hype is legitimate. And fun fact: Toronto is the only team in the league to have five players averaging at least 16 points per game (Anunoby, VanVleet, Siakam, Barnes, Trent Jr.).
13. New York Knicks » 1.2

Current Record: 8-7
Win Percentage: .533%
Projected Win Total: 43.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 42.5
PACE Factor: 1.2

  • The success of the Knicks so far has been primarily based on a collective effort, rather than a single player standing out (even Randle’s scoring has dipped). But to single one guy out, do you know who has the sixth best Net Rating (16.5) in the entire league? That’d be one Derrick Rose, who’s fit so nicely within this Knicks roster. Must be the Thibs factor.
14. Brooklyn Nets » 0.9

Current Record: 11-5
Win Percentage: .688%
Projected Win Total: 56.4
Preseason Expected Win Total: 55.5
PACE Factor: 0.9

  • Here’s where the PACE Rankings deliver the hard truth. The Nets have one of the best records in the league, yet they’re only ranked 14th? Correct. Because their current 11-5 record puts them at a pace to win approximately one game more than was expected. Like it was mentioned at the top of the article, those teams with higher expectations have less room for error. Though, as the league course-corrects to a degree, a PACE Factor close to 0 could look really good in a few weeks. Overall, the Nets are pretty damn solid, even though that Warriors beatdown at home stings.
15. Memphis Grizzlies » -0.5

Current Record: 7-7
Win Percentage: .500%
Projected Win Total: 41.0
Preseason Expected Win Total: 41.5
PACE Factor: -0.5

  • Ja Morant (25.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 49.3 FG%) is playing on another level right now. It’s been fun to watch him grow and lead this team, who are right on par with their preseason expectations. With the return of Dillon Brooks, this team could surprise and make a push for that #6 seed down the line. At this point, I’d consider them a play-in game lock, at a minimum.
16. Orlando Magic » -0.6

Current Record: 4-11
Win Percentage: .267%
Projected Win Total: 21.9
Preseason Expected Win Total: 22.5
PACE Factor: -0.6

  • The Magic are bad. Even at pathetic expected win total of 22.5 games, they’re still underperforming. The one bright spot for Orlando has been Cole Anthony, who’s putting up All-Star numbers: 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 39.4 3PT%. Could you even name five players on this roster?
17. Utah Jazz » -0.8

Current Record: 9-5
Win Percentage: .643%
Projected Win Total: 52.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 53.5
PACE Factor: -0.8

  • Yes, the Jazz came into the season with lofty expectations, but 9-5 seems almost disappointing for this team, doesn’t it? They’ve been exceptionally healthy and their stars are playing well, but somehow they’ve lost 4 of 6 games. I still expect the Jazz to float to the top of the conference with time, but within the PACE Rankings, they’re a middle-of-the-pack team right now.
18. Detroit Pistons » -2.1

Current Record: 4-10
Win Percentage: .286%
Projected Win Total: 23.4
Preseason Expected Win Total: 25.5
PACE Factor: -2.1

  • It’s no shock that the Pistons have been awful. But it is surprising that #1 overall pick Cade Cunningham has come out of the gate so slowly (I know it’s only been 8 games for him). Even on a bad team, you’d think these numbers would be better (at 30.0 minutes per game): 13.7 points, 3.9 assists, 34.6 FG%, 25.8 3PT%, 3.3 turnovers, 9.5 PER. However, it’s a tiny sample size and it would be smart to assume Cade will figure it out sooner rather than later.
19. Portland Trail Blazers » -3.5

Current Record: 8-8
Win Percentage: .500%
Projected Win Total: 41.0
Preseason Expected Win Total: 44.5
PACE Factor: -3.5

  • I’m not saying it’s the only factor, but there might not be a player in the league that’s been more negatively impacted by the new “rules” than Damian Lillard, who’s having a dreadful shooting season so far (38/23/86%). As well — and this won’t come as a surprise, as it’s happened to many players — his free throw attempts have fallen off a cliff. His free throw attempts per game in his last five seasons: 7.3, 7.4, 6.4, 7.8, and 7.2. This season? 3.5. I know Dame can get his groove back, but it’s certainly one of the reasons the Blazers have been inconsistent so far. The also don’t play any defense.
20. Sacramento Kings » -3.7

Current Record: 6-9
Win Percentage: .400%
Projected Win Total: 32.8
Preseason Expected Win Total: 36.5
PACE Factor: -3.7

  • In typical Kings fashion, the team ranks 4th in points per game, but 25th in opponents points per game. So they score, but they don’t play a lick of defense. Harrison Barnes (20.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and shooting 49/43/87%), who’s been around for 9 years, is having an inexplicable breakout season? Strange timing, but the Kings will take it, as they try to climb back to .500.
21. Minnesota Timberwolves » -6.2

Current Record: 5-9
Win Percentage: .357%
Projected Win Total: 29.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 35.5
PACE Factor: -6.2

  • Clearly the oddsmakers were favoring the Timberwolves to make a “leap” this year to get to 35-36 wins. While there’s still time, the team has struggled to score the ball. Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell account for 61.5% (64.0 of 104.1) of the points scored. Someone else has to step up.
22. Philadelphia 76ers » -6.8

Current Record: 8-7
Win Percentage: .533%
Projected Win Total: 43.7
Preseason Expected Win Total: 50.5
PACE Factor: -6.8

  • Even though his numbers are down across the board this season, the Sixers miss Joel Embiid dearly (especially on the glass, where they rank 30th in rebounding). They’ve now lost 5 games in a row, which 4 of them were to conference opponents, and sit 0-4 in the division. And while I even hate to mention it, the Ben Simmons saga is still getting uglier by the day, as the team just fined him again, this time for missing their upcoming road trip. Philly is a mess right now.
23. San Antonio Spurs » -7.1

Current Record: 4-10
Win Percentage: .286%
Projected Win Total: 23.4
Preseason Expected Win Total: 30.5
PACE Factor: -7.1

  • Sadly, the Gregg Popovich Era is running on fumes now. Though they might produce an All-Star this season in the underrated Dejounte Murray (18.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 2.1 steals). The youth movement is real in San Antonio, and Pop will spend the ’21 season developing the young guys for future generations.
24. Boston Celtics » -8.2

Current Record: 7-8
Win Percentage: .467%
Projected Win Total: 38.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 46.5
PACE Factor: -8.2

  • I didn’t buy the hype before, and I’m definitely not buying it now on the Celtics. I think some of the smartest analysis given this season was when Marcus Smart commented on how teams prepare for the Celtics and their two superstars (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown). It was authentic and accurate. The Celtics rely far too much on their young duo and lack depth. I’m not surprised at all that they’ve struggled.
25. Los Angeles Lakers » -11.5

Current Record: 8-8
Win Percentage: .500%
Projected Win Total: 41.0
Preseason Expected Win Total: 52.5
PACE Factor: -11.5

  • I mean, an entire book could be written on the Lakers and their struggles after 16 games. But it was probably best summed up by Anthony Davis a couple of nights ago, after an embarrassing loss at home to the Bulls: “We suck. We’re not winning a championship the way we’re playing.” LeBron needs to get back as soon as possible. Russ needs to stop turning the ball over. Dwight and DeAndre need to start playing defense. All of that and more. And the road won’t get easier, as the Lakers have already played 12 of their first 16 games at home in the soon-to-be-named Crypto.com Arena. With that, their -11.5 PACE Factor and 25th place ranking seem rather appropriate.
26. Atlanta Hawks » -11.6

Current Record: 7-9
Win Percentage: .438%
Projected Win Total: 35.9
Preseason Expected Win Total: 47.5
PACE Factor: -11.6

  • The Hawks, several months removed from appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals, have been one of the most disappointing teams so far in 2021. While Trae Young is heating up, the supporting cast has been average to below average. Cam Reddish (40.1%), Danilo Gallinari (37.6%), Lou Williams (37.5%) and Delon Wright (35.3%) need to shoot the ball better.
27. Indiana Pacers » -11.8

Current Record: 6-10
Win Percentage: .375%
Projected Win Total: 30.8
Preseason Expected Win Total: 42.5
PACE Factor: -11.8

  • I’ll be the first guy in line to say that I thought the Pacers would be better than this. Especially with Rick Carlisle now at the helm. Speaking of, he absolutely needs to find a way to get Domantas Sabonis more than 12.7 shots per game. The guy is shooting 57.6% from the field and is arguably their best player. Even rookie Chris Duarte (who looks like a keeper) is taking 12.9 per game. Malcolm Brogdon is in All-Star form, so if Sabonis is more involved, this team should rise. I do love the depth here.
28. Milwaukee Bucks » -17.2

Current Record: 7-8
Win Percentage: .467%
Projected Win Total: 38.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 55.5
PACE Factor: -17.2

  • The defending NBA champions are in rough shape. Not helping is the fact that their preseason expected win total is 55.5, tied for highest in the league. At 7-8 (only 2-4 at home), they’re on pace for 38 wins. Is it a concerning sign when your third leading scoring is Grayson Allen? Maybe. They need Khris Middleton and his versatile game back desperately. With better health looming, I expect a major run to come from the champs soon.
29. Houston Rockets » -21.0

Current Record: 1-14
Win Percentage: .067%
Projected Win Total: 5.5
Preseason Expected Win Total: 26.5
PACE Factor: -21.0

  • You know what’s hard to do? Be expected to win 26.5 games, and be on a pace that’s UNDER that total by 21 games! Houston has now lost 13 games in a row with no sign of relief coming up as they hit the road for three games. Say your prayers for rookie Jalen Green, who has struggled so far with this young team: 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, -14.1 +/-, 36.5 FG%, 27.9 3PT%. And how the hell is Eric Gordon still on this roster?
30. New Orleans Pelicans » -27.8

Current Record: 2-14
Win Percentage: .125%
Projected Win Total: 10.3
Preseason Expected Win Total: 38
PACE Factor: -27.8

  • NOLA = UGLY. The Pelicans have the worst PACE Factor by a New Orleans country mile. Does Zion Williamson really mean that much to the teams’ success? Poor Willie Green. Poor Brandon Ingram. Poor Jonas Valanciunas (who’s quietly putting together yet another solid double-double season: 19.0 points, 12.9 rebounds, 51/55/87%). Zion is now participating in 5-on-5 drills, so the return is coming. But there’s just not enough talent on this roster to catch up and produce a green PACE Factor this season.

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