Happy Cavsmas everyone! I'm pumped for another long, and hopefully memorable, season of Cavs basketball and can't wait to share in the excitement with everyone on FtS. Since the general consensus around the league is that the Cavs' floor and ceiling this year is probably the largest of any team, I wanted to take a statistical look at just how high that ceiling can be and how low we should set our expectations in the case of a rash of injuries. Earlier I had typed up a long, in-depth discussion of all the steps I took to come up with my official predictions but my internet died before I was able to save a draft. So I'll just get right to the point and I can write a separate post later if people are interested in my methodology.
I used Net PER (which is a player's PER - the PER of their opposing player at the same position) as a more well-rounded representation of each player's performance. After finding out the entire team's net PER (basically each player's Net PER * % of total available minutes they played), the resulting number correlates very strongly with winning percentage (over 96% based on the 2012-2013 regular season).
In the best case scenario, where all of our key players, most notably Bynum, Andy, and Kyrie, stay relatively healthy, the Cavs are projected to finish with 55 wins, which should be good for a 3rd seed and possibly a 2nd.
A positive, but far more reasonable scenario in which Andy misses a few games, Bynum doesn't play back-to-backs, and Kyrie is out for a short time, the Cavs are still predicted to put up 50 wins and open the playoffs in a 4/5 matchup.
A far more pessimistic view where Andy finds some way to end his season early and Bynum can't return to his former self leads to a potential 40 win team which will struggle to make the playoffs.
Based on this analysis, the vast majority of basketball media is significantly underestimating the potential of this Cavaliers' roster. Who would have thought Kenny Smith and Shaq might be the smartest guys in the room?