Ranking NBA teams by tiers

Title contenders, playoff contenders, and mediocrity contenders all lined up

Updated: October 30, 2013, 1:13 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

Lebron JamesFrederic J. Brown/Getty ImagesAfter 1,000 simulations, the most likely NBA Finals matchup will again be the Spurs and Heat.

As we prepare for the first full slate of games of the NBA season, let's take stock of where each team's roster stands at the outset of the 2013-14 campaign. These are the final offseason projections from ATH, my team projection system based on athletic indicators, aging patterns and trait matching for coaches and players. All transactions and injury news to date are accounted for.

The win totals you see in parentheses after each team reflect a baseline from ATH that is run through a season simulator 1,000 times to account for scheduling factors and to calculate playoff and championship probabilities. Rather than basing a team's playoff strength strictly on projected regular-season win-loss record, I'm now using a revised formula developed after last season that reflects both the shorter rotations we see in the postseason and the disproportionate effect the top players on each team's roster has on its eventual playoff destiny.

The other factor in the new playoff-strength formula is injuries.

Although we don't know who will get hurt during the season, we do know that players like Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari and Carl Landry won't play for a little while. However, right now, we can presume that by the time the postseason comes around, these players will be back on the job. The new formula accounts for this, so the injuries affect the respective seeds for the teams involved but not the formula for determining how they'll do in the playoffs.

The postseason probabilities generated by the simulations are reflected below by serving as our basis for separating the teams in tiers. For the first two groups, the teams are ordered by title odds. The second two groups are ordered by their probability of making the playoffs, while the final group is ordered by projected wins.


To read Bradford Doolittle's full story breaking down the NBA's tiers, sign up for Insider today.