Entering each season, there is always plenty of debate about how new players will fit with their new clubs, as well as analysis regarding how various skill sets will mesh in order to project team performance.
However, one big factor too often overlooked when examining a revamped team is this: Player performance is not static. Some players, and some statistical categories, fluctuate more than others on a year-to-year basis. The player you had last season might not be the player you think you're getting this campaign. That's especially true if he's joining a new team, or being moved into a new role. Much of this explains last season's Lakers.
With that in mind, let's look at some players who, for various reasons, project to put up very different numbers this season than they did last season. We're talking bottom-line, per-possession value here, not players with playing-time fluctuations who will see shifts in per-game averages. Instead, we're looking at rotation players with the largest forecasted change in individual winning percentage, a metric immune to playing time and other mitigating factors.
Here are the three key factors in winning percentage shifts:
1. Year-to-year aging patterns. Younger players get better; older players get worse.
2. A change into a smaller or larger role. A player being asked to do less tends to become more efficient, and vice versa.
3. Statistical regression. It's boring, but player performance tends to move toward established career baselines from one season to the next.
Systems such as my ATH projection and Kevin Pelton's SCHOENE model try to take all of this into account, and also try to fit players into the historical patterns of similar players. The end result is hopefully a reasonable baseline of expectation for each player and team in the season to come.
What follows are ATH's forecasts for the most significant performance shifts in 2013-14. Only players who played at least 1,000 minutes last season and are projected to do the same in 2013-14 were considered.
Projected change: Plus-7.50 percent