2012-13 Jazz Season Predictions

October 31st, 2012 | by Spencer Hall

With the first game of the 2012-13 season only a few hours away, it’s time to go on record with predictions. This season we’ll be using a clever breakdown by Geoff Beckstrom (@vegasstats) that shows what games are must-win for the Jazz to finish with a certain number of wins. We’ll check in with Geoff every ten games for a progress update and a preview of the next ten.

Here’s how it works:

The Jazz play every team in the Eastern Conference twice–once at home and once on the road. They play every team in the Western Conference four times, except the Lakers, San Antonio, Dallas, and Golden State, which they only play three times (indicated by black boxes in the chart below). The chart shows the games the Jazz must win in order to finish the season with at least 45 wins (indicated in yellow). Historically, the 8th seed in the West must win at least 46 games to qualify for the playoffs. Geoff breaks down which games the Jazz will have to win to stay on pace to beat that mark.

Screen Shot 2012-10-31 at 4.49.37 PM

Here’s Geoff’s explanation of his chart:

Every year I look at the Jazz schedule and create a table to show what it would take for the Jazz to win XX number of games. You can view this years schedule and table here.

In the Google Doc, the Overview tab shows all the games the Jazz will play this season. The games highlighted in yellow are expected (re: must) win games to finish a season with 45 wins. The five games marked with green are games that are required to finish with 50 wins, and the five blue games are required for a 55 win season. Any game without highlighting is an expected loss.

Obviously the Jazz will lose yellow highlighted games and will win some of the games with no highlighting. The big question is whether there will be more unexpected losses or more unexpected wins. For every yellow-highlighted game the Jazz lose, they will have to make that up by winning an unexpected non-highlighted (or green or blue highlighted) game to stay on a 45-win pace.

The Jazz will need to win 50 games to assure a play off position and likely 55 games to be in contention for a top 4 seed and home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

During the season I will look at the Jazz schedule 10 games at a time with some highlights and predictions.

First 10 Games:

A) The Jazz open at home vs. Dallas, who surprised many with a strong win in LA last night against the Lakers. Dallas will be traveling East (losing an hour) and playing back-to-back. Some could argue Dallas will be at an advantage having played a real game before the Jazz, but the real issue here is that Dallas is without Dirk Nowitzki who has been a one man Jazz wrecking crew. The Jazz should win this game, which is a must-win for the 45-win pace.

B) @New Orleans: Both teams will be on a day’s rest. New Orleans will be improved – the question is how improved? The Jazz will likely be favored and this is listed as a must-win for a 45-win pace. The Jazz did not do well vs. New Orleans last year and this will be the kind of game people will look back on as a bad loss if they do lose.

C) @San Antonio: Back-to-Back for Utah, day of rest for Spurs. This is not a winnable game. This will be a measuring stick game.

D) @Memphis: Day of rest for Utah, 2 days rest for Memphis. This is not an expected win. Another measuring stick.

E) Lakers: Day of rest for Utah, 2 days rest for LA. Will Kobe be close to 100%? Not an expected win, but it’s a home game and it’s the Lakers.

F) @Denver: Day of rest for both teams. This will be a big game. The first swing game. To get to 55 wins the Jazz would expect to get a win in Denver, who is a division rival and a playoff position rival.

G) Phoenix: Both teams on back-to-back, Jazz from Denver, Phoenix flying in from Cleveland. This is a must-win, particularly with the difficulty of the schedule.

H) @Toronto: Both teams on one day of rest. Need to beat non-playoff teams from the East on the road to make the playoffs.

I) @Boston: Both teams on one day of rest. Game 2 of a 4-game road trip for Utah. Not an expected win.

J) @Philadelphia: Both teams on one day of rest. Game 3 of 4 on a Utah road trip. Swing game. Not a must-win, but these are the games the Jazz need to win to get to 50 wins.

This is a tough opening stretch. 7 of 10 on the road and 7/10 vs playoff teams. The Jazz could play well and still go 3-7. The 45-win projection would have them at 4-6 and anything better than 4-6 would put this team in a good position. If the Jazz start slowly, I have no doubt fans (and possibly national media types if they are paying any attention) will call for Coach Corbin to change the starting lineup specifically, putting in either Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors.

But taking a long-term view, any record above 3-7 is no cause for panic. The Jazz will likely be a better team and be playing better than their record for the first 40 games. At game 39, they will have played nine more road games than home games. This will allow Utah to stay under the national radar (which fans will invariably, but unnecessarily, complain about) and sneak up on teams. It will also create, for those interested, good betting value and opportunities on specific Jazz games.

My initial prediction for the first 10 games is 5-5, which will have the Jazz one game ahead of a 45 win pace.

Here are the SCH Season Predictions for the 2012-13 Utah Jazz:

Spencer Hall: 48 wins, 6th in the West

Add your predictions in the comments.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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8 Comments

  1. Geoff says:

    A note – I have not yet made a season projection for Jazz wins. I will predict each batch of 10 games as they come. If I were to make a season projection: 36-30 from last year would translate into 44 wins over 82 games. I think the Jazz improve from that pace and hit 49 wins and finish 6th or 7th in the west.

  2. Mark says:

    I think it all depends on the potential trades. If we deal millsap or Jefferson it could swing a projection plus/minus 6 games either way.

    That being said, I project a 48 win season with kantor ending up as starting center after a big Al trade that brings in another expiring contract with some draft picks. Favors gets some buzz as 6th man of the year but ultimately the Jazz bench proves too deep for a true 6th man. Jazz finish in 6th place and give the clippers fits due to a great combo of favors and kantor on D against griffin and the jazz utilizing the speed, length, and athletics of burks, Hayward, and Williams to shut down Chris Paul.

    Jazz upset the clips in 6 only to run into the Lakers in round two, and while they give them a scare going to 6 games, Howard proves too much for even Kantor and favors.

  3. Blake says:

    This is an interesting way to look at the schedule. I’ve got a question for Geoff. How do you determine which games are must win for 45, 50, and 55 and which ones are expected losses? Is there anything scientific that goes into that process?

  4. Geoff says:

    Blake,

    Nothing scientific. I do a 60/40 home win and road win split and then assume perfect records vs the worst teams in the league based on last years results.

    This isn’t meant to be predictive and much as it is meant to be subjective.

    I don’t predict the Jazz will go 23-0 vs Phoenix, Portland, Minnesota, Golden St, New Orleans and Sacramento (all yellow highlighted games). Rather the chart is set up to allow us to look at the schedule and see that for each game the Jazz lose to one of those teams they need to make up a win vs Oklahoma City, Lakers or San Antonio against whom I don’t expect the Jazz to go 0-10.

    I start counting 45 wins from the worst teams in the league splitting 60/40 home and road games and then add 5 more for 50 and finally another 5 for 55.

    I hope that helps!

  5. Geoff says:

    Mark,

    Your point is valid – a trade (or injury) changes things that can’t be predicted. When I first read your post I thought that 6 games plus/minus was a bit high for a projection so I went googling for some data on win-shares.

    From http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2012_leaders.html:

    Paul Milsap Win Shares 7.8
    Al Jefferson Win Shares 7.5

    But remember those win shares are based on 66 games last year. So adjusted to a full 82 game season:

    Paul Milsap 9.7 win shares
    Al Jefferson 9.3 win shares

    If either player was traded – you would reduce their win shares by the % of the season played at the time of the trade and then you would need to add in a projected win share for the replacement player either Kanter or Favors.

    Depending on when (IF) a trade is made and more so depending on the win share value of the increased minutes to Kanter and Favors – I think 6 games might be on the high side. Although you did say plus or minus – so its not fair to assume you are thinking the Jazz would be worse for the trade (or better for that matter).

  6. mark says:

    That is an interesting point that I hadn’t taken into consideration. I would love to see any breakdowns (if there are any) on wins per share for kantor and favors projecting them as starters.

    also Geoff do you think if the jazz move either big man that another player ala foye or either Williams could go?

    • Geoff says:

      The Jazz are in a great position. Look at http://hoopshype.com/salaries.htm

      Only 9Mil on the books next year. They will have total flexibility to sign who and what they think is best to go around the core of Favors, Kanter, Hayward and Burks.

      Teams like New York, Lakers, Brooklyn and Miami are going to have to make hard financial decisions with the new penalties in place.

      Ill look in to a full post and links to basketball reference on win shares and on a look forward to this summers free agency. But for now – I plan to enjoy watching our 4 bigs dominate the boards for however long that ride lasts!

      I don’t think a lot of teams will be in a position to make max or even bigger offers to Milsap, Jefferson, or either Williams and the Jazz might save themselves a lot of money and cap room by simply allowing things to play out until the summer.

  7. Great blog, I have book marked and plan to share with my friends later :) Yahoo Fantasy Football Rankings

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