Ever looked at a team roster and said to yourself, “this is interesting, but how can I project the performance of these players into 2022?” Well, have no fear: now you can.
ESPN’s stats-driven 538 developed a formula called CARMELO, backronymed into “Career-Arc Regression Model Estimator with Local Optimization,” to predict future performance for current players. It does so by looking for comparable players based on a variety of factors like height, draft position, and various tendencies, and seeing how those players panned out in terms of wins above replacement (WAR).
As you might expect from any statistical prognostication of Brooklyn Nets players, the Nets don’t come out looking good. Only Thaddeus Young projects to produce more than 3 WAR next season. To compare,
The entirety of the Nets training camp roster (not including Ryan Boatright, Chris Daniels, Justin Harper, and Willie Reed) adds up to about six wins above replacement next season, meaning that the Nets would only be about six wins better than a team full of replacement players. That seems a bit harsh, since a replacement-level team would probably win about 10 or 12 games in an NBA season. Not even the most pessimistic prediction has the Nets going from 38 to 18 wins. Perhaps there’s an adjustment in there that hasn’t come out yet.
It’s worth noting that the CARMELO projection only weighs the last three seasons of a player’s career, so you could argue it underrates Brook Lopez, who posted an oddly low WARP last year and has dealt with various injuries in the past few seasons.
Additionally, this version of WAR is calculated solely by a hybrid of real plus-minus, box score plus-minus and minutes played, which can be ruined by statistical noise. If you buy into a bounce-back year for Jarrett Jack and a leap for Bojan Bogdanovic, that’s a few bonus wins right there.
538 also categorized players: Four Nets are “scrubs” (Jarrett Jack, Wayne Ellington, Andrea Bargnani, Donald Sloan), four are “rotation players” (Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Sergey Karasev!, and Quincy Miller!), two “projects” (Shane Larkin, Markel Brown), and two “OK prospects” (this year’s draft picks, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough). The rest were individual notes: Bojan Bogdanovic is an “offensive specialist,” Thomas Robinson a “defensive specialist,” Thaddeus Young is an “average starter,” and Dahntay Jones is “way past his prime.”
But the projection highlights something that we’ve known all along with this Nets team: if you buy into the numbers, they’re not going to be very good.