SALT LAKE CITY — NBA pundits anticipate the Utah Jazz to take a monster leap forward this year.
The math agrees.
According to a projection system assembled based on Win Shares, the Jazz should win 49 games this season — nine more than last year.
Win Shares is an all-encompassing statistic that takes a player’s on-court value and translates it into “wins.” Accordingly, a basketball team that nets about 40 combined Win Shares from its players, like the Jazz did last season, will win about 40 games.
My forecast formula takes into account three year’s worth of Basketball-Reference’s Win Shares Per 48 Minutes stat, an aging curve and estimated minutes.
It’s basic, but the system has been quite accurate during the past two seasons, calculating the Jazz to win 34 games in 2014-15 (they ended up winning 38) and 45 in 2015-16 (they won 40, though, with a plus-1.8 average point differential, they should’ve been closer to 45).
So how many wins will each individual player contribute this year? Here’s the breakdown:
Rudy Gobert: 8.9
Derrick Favors: 9.1
Gordon Hayward: 8.2
Rodney Hood: 6.1
George Hill: 6.9
Jeff Withey: 1.3
Trey Lyles: 1.6
Joe Johnson: 1.4
Alec Burks: 2.2
Dante Exum: -0.003
Raul Neto: 0.1
Joe Ingles: 0.5
Boris Diaw: 2.8
Shelvin Mack: 0.4
With 49 wins, the Jazz should clinch the No. 3 seed in the West, finishing only behind the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, whom ESPN predicts to win 67 and 55 games, respectively.
How are the Jazz going to win nine more games than last season?
Hill, Johnson and Diaw, that’s how. Utah’s three biggest offseason acquisitions are expected to produce a combined 11.1 wins.
Of course, there are a number of variables that can muddle the math.
Will Exum really generate a negative win share? Will Lyle’s role grow? Will Diaw’s shrink? Can Gobert and Favors stay healthy?
These are questions for which the projection system can’t calculate answers.
But right now, consider the Jazz a contender for home-court advantage in the 2017 playoffs.
Jared Bray is a contributing writer for the Deseret News. He also reports in English and Tagalog (a language he learned while serving a two-year church mission in the Philippines) for Balitang America, a nightly news program of The Filipino Channel.