Which teams are the most talented?

Using #NBArank, we measure the 'true talent' of every team in every division

Updated: October 23, 2012, 2:42 PM ET
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
KGAP Photo/Elise AmendolHow does Kevin Garnett and the Celtics' "talent" measure up to the rest of their division?

Yesterday, I took a look at the amount of inherent talent on the rosters of each past NBA champion, comparing them to the talent that the Miami Heat were theoretically working with when they won it all last season. But now it's time to turn our attention to the upcoming 2012-13 season, applying the same general idea to determine just how much raw talent is on hand for each squad this year.

When looking at historical rosters, we needed to use Win Shares to gauge how talented each team was in each season, but for current teams we can get a more accurate view of their aggregate ability by using ESPN's #NBArank poll data, which employed the wisdom of crowds (a surprisingly informative method of information-gathering) and therefore can account for variables that sometimes trip up purely mathematical systems, including predictions regarding the performances of rookies.

What follows is a round-up of how each division looks "on paper." The player ratings were determined by NBArank -- with some educated guesses for players who weren't included on the ballot -- and a team's rating is simply a weighted average of its players' ratings, where starters are given more weight than backups, who in turn are given more weight than 11th/12th men. Note as well that "starters" mean players receiving starter-level minutes, not necessarily the five players who are on the floor for the tip-off every game (for instance, James Harden is listed over Thabo Sefolosha in OKC).

So just who has the most "talented" roster in each division?


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Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.