Sports Reference Blog

2015-16 Simple Projection System Projections Are Live

Posted by Jonah Gardner on October 14, 2015

It's hard to believe, but we're under 2 weeks away from the start of the NBA season. That means it's also time to unveil the SPS projections for 2015-16!

What is Simple Projection System? Simply put, SPS is a very basic method for projecting basketball stats. SPS weighs the last 3 seasons by a factor of 6/3/1 and factors age and a little regression to the mean to project what a player will do in the upcoming season (you can read a more detailed explanation of how it's calculated on this page). If this rings a bell, it may be because you're a baseball fan who is familiar with Tom Tango's Marcel projection system. This quote from Tango pretty succinctly describes his projection system's raison d'etre (and why it's called "Marcel"):

"[I]t is the most basic forecasting system you can have, that uses as little intelligence as possible. So, that's the allusion to the monkey."

SPS applies the same general principles to basketball, though the name has no connection to a 1990s sitcom. As the name would suggest, SPS' calculation is relatively simple, but it also does a pretty decent job and holds its own, even compared to more sophisticated projection systems. Of course, SPS can't take into account contextual changes such as a player moving to a new team, changing coaches, or getting new teammates, but it's a fun starting point as we gear up for another NBA season. It's also important to note that SPS' numbers are per 36 minutes.

So, without further ado, here's who SPS projects to lead the NBA in points per 36 minutes:

Per 36 Minutes
Rk
1 Kevin Durant 27.8
2 Russell Westbrook 27.4
3 James Harden 25.6
4 LeBron James 24.9
5 Carmelo Anthony 24.7
6 DeMarcus Cousins 24.6
7 Stephen Curry 24.6
8 Anthony Davis 23.0
9 LaMarcus Aldridge 22.8
10 Blake Griffin 22.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

SPS is looking at strong bounceback seasons for KD and Carmelo, while expecting James Harden to outscore Stephen Curry again. Here's the rebound leaders, where SPS projects big things for Hassan Whiteside following his 2014-15 breakout:

Per 36 Minutes
Rk
1 Andre Drummond Projected 15.4
2 DeAndre Jordan Projected 14.5
3 Hassan Whiteside Projected 14.2
4 Reggie Evans Projected 13.4
5 Omer Asik Projected 13.3
6 DeMarcus Cousins Projected 12.9
7 Rudy Gobert Projected 12.7
8 Tyson Chandler Projected 12.5
9 Thomas Robinson Projected 12.5
10 Dwight Howard Projected 12.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

Finally, here are the projected leaders in assists per 36 minutes:

Per 36 Minutes
Rk
1 Chris Paul 10.3
2 Rajon Rondo 9.5
3 John Wall 9.4
4 Ricky Rubio 9.3
5 Ty Lawson 9.0
6 Kendall Marshall 9.0
7 Russell Westbrook 8.4
8 Stephen Curry 8.1
9 Jeff Teague 7.8
10 Brandon Jennings 7.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

If you're anything like me, you were probably surprised to see Kendall Marshall there, but his per 36 assist numbers have been crazy good for the last 3 seasons.

In case you're curious about how SPS has done in the past, we have tables for SPS going back to 1980-81 showing what the projections would be and how they'd compare to the actual results. For example, here's how the projections for last season's two MVP frontrunners, Stephen Curry and James Harden, compared to their actual 2014-15 numbers. Some things, like Harden's 3-pt % or Steph's turnovers, it got almost exactly right. Other stats, like both players' field goal attempts, were a little further off:

Per 36 Minutes Shooting
Stephen Curry Projected 8.0 17.0 3.2 7.4 3.6 4.1 0.7 4.2 7.6 1.6 3.4 22.7 .469 .437 .886
Stephen Curry Actual 9.0 18.5 3.9 8.9 4.2 4.6 0.8 4.7 8.5 2.2 3.4 26.2 .487 .443 .914
James Harden Projected 7.0 15.4 2.2 5.9 7.5 8.7 0.8 4.6 5.6 1.5 3.3 23.8 .457 .374 .861
James Harden Actual 7.8 17.8 2.5 6.7 8.6 10.0 0.9 5.5 6.8 1.9 3.9 26.8 .440 .375 .868
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

And here are the SPS projections for Michael Jordan's last season with the Bulls, just because:

Per 36 Minutes Shooting
Rk
350 Michael Jordan Projected 10.3 21.5 1.2 3.3 5.7 6.8 1.4 5.8 4.0 1.7 2.1 27.6 .481 .384 .828
351 Michael Jordan Actual 10.0 21.4 0.3 1.4 6.4 8.2 1.5 5.4 3.2 1.6 2.1 26.7 .465 .238 .784
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

You can also see a player's 2015-16 projections at the top of their player page. Here's Carmelo Anthony's:

Per 36 Minutes Shooting
8.9 19.9 1.8 4.8 5.1 6.2 1.8 7.0 2.9 1.0 0.5 2.4 2.6 24.7 .445 .371 .822 .139
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2015.

While you're getting ready for the season, don't forget that we also have the full preseason schedule with box scores, an updated free agent tracker with all of this summer's big and small player moves, a detailed injury report, and of course the most comprehensive basketball stats database on the web!