- Bradford Doolittle
The offseason strategies of the 30 teams across the NBA are coming into focus as the rosters churn on what seems like an hourly basis. Every summer, there are teams that seem to be "going for it" when the "it" in question might be a .500 record. Other teams seem more patient than they ought to be, because it appears one or two key moves could vault them into the championship picture.
I assume that the end goal of every NBA organization is to win a championship. That might seem obvious, but too often teams make moves that run contrary to that assumption. Building a title-caliber roster is usually a multiyear process, so the success or failure of any one season can be judged on other criteria. However, you need to be able to step back and look at the big-picture steps a franchise is taking to see how they could eventually lead to title contention.
With most rosters getting at least a mild makeover, it's a good time to assess where each team currently sits, what its approach appears to be and where it's all heading. To do this, I employed the ATH-based projection system of NBAPET, my collection of integrated spreadsheets that serves as a projection, evaluation and tracking model.
In a nutshell, the system uses ATH ratings to generate baseline projections for each player, then integrates the baseline forecasts into 30 team forecasts. Since there are only 1,230 wins to go around, every move affects every other team. So every time a transaction occurs and I update the rosters and balance the minutes, the projected standings change at least a little.
Before you get too excited about the specific team projections, you should be aware that I've left all unrestricted free agents off any roster until they've reached an agreement with their current or new team. Teams that already have their 2013-14 rotation more or less set are going to have a big advantage over teams with a lot of flux.
The projections will change on a daily basis, sometimes significantly. What you read here is an early snapshot of where teams stand at this moment of the offseason and the path each team is taking.
For each team, I've listed whether they appear to be in one of three modes: win now, developing or tearing down. I've also noted where I think they should be. Also, note that I've included all moves that have been confirmed by ESPN, but obviously nothing is official until the league's moratorium ends on July 10.
Click here to read the Eastern Conference Power Moves. Otherwise, let's take a look at the Western Conference, listed in alphabetical order.
Current projection: 17-65 (29th) | Playoff/Title odds: 0%/0% | 5-year WARP: 55.1 (26th)
What their approach appears to be: Win now
What their approach should be: Win now
Plan of action: Before everyone in Dallas heads for the nearest high bridge, keep in mind that unrestricted free agents aren't included in my projections. That describes pretty much the entire Dallas roster. To cobble together a team projection for nine players, I had to include Josh Akognon and Gal Mekel, so the win projection means virtually nothing. It's arguable that if Dallas misses out on Dwight Howard, then the time is ripe for a complete teardown. That's not going to happen with Dirk Nowitzki still around. It's a tough position that the Mavericks are in.
If I were Mark Cuban, then I'd seriously think about repeating last year's strategy of loading up on one-year contracts. Give Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo some court time. It's not sexy, but there is always next summer. Meanwhile, a flexible Dallas roster would be positioned to bring on any All-Star who might come available on the trade market. It's too soon to go this route yet, but it might come to that eventually.
Power move: Have the courage to bank the cap space for next season.
Bradford Doolittle takes stock of all the teams in the Western Conference and offers a move for each one to reach the next level of success.