ESPN’s Basketball Power Index Say’s Atlanta can Win Title

The Atlanta Hawks have caught the surprise of many with their success this season. ESPN has recently jumped on the bandwagon.

ESPN’s NBA BPI Playoff Odds estimate the likelihood for each team to make the playoffs, win the NBA title and finish in the top three of the NBA lottery.

The BPI Playoff Odds are based on ESPN’s NBA Basketball Power Index (BPI), a measure of team strength developed by the ESPN Analytics team. For more background, see: What is ESPN’s NBA Basketball Power Index?

Each day, the season is simulated 10,000 times, according to BPI and the remaining schedule for each team.

ESPN’s BPI Playoff Odds updated through the end of the regular season.

In an interesting development, I wanted to share some findings from ESPN’s BPI regarding the Atlanta Hawks. One could describe the overall attitude towards the Hawks from the national media usually as depressing, but in this report at least, they put some respect on the Atlanta Hawks name.

Nov 12, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) talks with teammates after a basket during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) talks with teammates after a basket during the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For their latest Basketball Power Index, they project the Hawks record to be 51-31, finish 3rd in the Eastern Conference and have a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. Perhaps most surprising is that the Hawks have a 2.6 percent chance of lifting the Larry O’Brian trophy after it’s all said and done.

The estimated record and final seeding for the playoff’s is definitely debatable. I’d like to see the Mike Budenholzer led Hawks win something closer to 60 wins and earn themselves another number one seed, but ESPN has changed their outlook on Atlanta from their pre season predictions. Many of their projections had Atlanta finishing with a losing record and missing the playoffs.

It’s hard to say how they could actually admit how wrong they were concerning the Hawks, especially so early on. Perhaps they were not sold on the new look starting lineup of the Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder additions, I don’t know. It is clear now though, that they feel a lot better about Atlanta having a successful season after watching the first several games.

What I also found to be interesting, shocking actually, is that the Los Angeles Clipper’s are run away favorites to win the championship. The list shows that the Clipper’s have a 48.4 percent shot of winning it all. The Golden State Warriors finished second in that race, with a 23.2 percent chance of taking the title. Defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers came in third, with just a 12.1 percent chance of repeating as champs.

May 3, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) listens to fans heckle in the final minutes of their 115-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at FedEx Forum. The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

May 3, 2013; Memphis, TN, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) listens to fans heckle in the final minutes of their 115-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at FedEx Forum. The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers are a great team when fully healthy, without question. But for them to actually be favored to be victorious in the NBA Final’s goes against everything that you would expect to see from them in a projection like this. They still have not figured out the small forward position, I guess they still rely on Luc Mbah a Moute to start in that role.

Considering how much they love some LeBron James and super teams in general, it is stunning for the Clipper’s to eclipse them at the top of the championship odds. It could just have happened accidentally throughout all of their simulations, that’s the only sense I can make of it. The Spurs meanwhile, only registered a 6.7 percent chance to be champions. So long story short, good for the Hawks, LA Clipper head scratcher.

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