- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Staff Writer
As we enter the dog days of the summer -- always a calm time in the NBA -- there are a few notable free agents still out there (Greg Oden, Mo Williams and DeJuan Blair come to mind). For the most part, though, we've got a pretty firm idea what the rosters are going to look like when the 2013-14 season tips off on Oct. 29. As the depth charts have filled, so have the forecasts generated by ATH coalesced. ATH is the projection module of NBAPET, my system of integrated spreadsheets for tracking, evaluating and forecasting all things NBA.
With the pieces falling into place, let's take an early stab at ranking players by position, beginning today with point guards. (Although keep in mind that assigning a primary position to a player in today's NBA is often more art than science.) Over the next two weeks, we'll rank players by position according to ATH's forecasted WARP, or wins above replacement level. WARP is perfect for this kind of exercise because it accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context.
Here are the projected top 10 point guards for the 2013-14 NBA season followed by the next five and an overview of how some notable PGs fell outside the top 10.
PG | SG | SF | PF | C
Projected 2013-14 WARP: 15.9
This might be the Year of Chris Paul, if the Miami Heat falter a bit in the regular season or MVP voters grow tired of rubber-stamping LeBron James' name at the top of their ballots. With the Clippers poised to build upon last year's breakout season and challenge for the top seed in the West, it could come down to a Paul versus Kevin Durant battle for the coveted Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Paul has finished in the top five of the voting four times and as high as second. Although ATH sees a near replica of Paul's 2012-13 WARP, it's still a figure that will garner lots of MVP chatter.
And why wouldn't ATH see Paul churning out the same season? At 29, he's squarely in his prime and his individual winning percentages the past two seasons (.740 and .739) nicely illustrate just how consistent he is. Paul doesn't use as many possessions as he did in his top seasons in New Orleans, but every other facet of his game has remained intact. Last season, Paul shot a career-low 32.8 percent from 3-point range, although he offset that by doing more damage inside the arc. He has shot as high as 40.9 percent from deep in his career, and, if he has a fluky good-shooting campaign, it could put him over a .600 true shooting percentage for the first time in his career. In fact, ATH sees a regression in the 3-point rate, bringing Paul up to a .600 TS% on the nose. With so many weapons around him -- Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Reggie Bullock -- it will be up to Paul to orchestrate the most high-powered offensive attack he's been a part of to date.
5dEthan Sherwood Strauss
6dMatt Walks, ESPN.com