After lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2022, the Golden State Warriors largely underperformed last season as they battled to sixth in the Western Conference before bowing out in the second-round of the postseason.
Yet while the term ‘underperformed’ may have been the general sentiment, the Warriors actually exceeded expectation per ESPN’s stats-based win projection. Yes, after winning the NBA championship, they were forecast to finish at a .500 record with a projection of 41.9 wins.
The Golden State Warriors continue to be sold short in ESPN’s controversial stats-based win projections for every NBA team.
To be fair, last season’s projection didn’t conclude as bizarre as it first appeared — only a late scramble pushed Golden State to their eventual 44-38 record. But with a healthy looking roster and a more win-now approach this offseason, most expect the Warriors to surpass this record in 2023-24.
Not ESPN though who’s model has Golden State at an average of 43.7 wins. The general Western Conference forecast is against expectation, with the Warriors projected fourth behind the Memphis Grizzlies (despite missing Ja Morant for 25 games), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets.
"“Adding Chris Paul has helped the Warriors’ boost their projection as compared to last year, putting them at the head of a pack of four teams separated by 0.6 wins in terms of projected average,” ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote."
The Phoenix Suns, tipped by many to be the biggest challenger to the Nuggets, are projected fifth, while the Los Angeles Lakers (8th) and LA Clippers (10th) are well below where most would have them. It does signify the competitiveness in the conference with up to 10-11 teams holding a realistic shot at a top five seed.
Golden State is 10th in win projections across the league, sitting below six teams in the Eastern Conference. One of those includes the Atlanta Hawks whose position is sure to mystify fans of the Warriors and Suns in particular.
If the Warriors preseason opener is any indication, the 43.7 average wins certainly seems unders. Chris Paul looked assured and effective in his debut, the Warrior bench looked much more steady and reliable, and the team’s overall potential could sharply rise given the early displays of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.