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Warriors projected to miss playoffs by FiveThirtyEight originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors have been clear that they see themselves as championship contenders this year, but FiveThirtyEight's analytics-based forecast of the 2021-22 NBA season does not agree, placing them 11th in their projected Western Conference standings.
In an explanation below the graph, FiveThirtyEight's Jared Dubin explains that the model does not see Klay Thompson's return as a positive for the Warriors' outlook, contrary to the opinions of Bob Myers and Steve Kerr.
"RAPTOR penalizes players who suffer Achilles tears, as Thompson did prior to last season. Throw in the fact that he was already coming off a torn ACL prior to that, and the model now views him as a net-negative player. The model views the Warriors, like the Lakers, as being chock-full of negatives, with only Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Gary Payton II (The Mitten!) grading out as net positives, among the team’s projected rotation players," Dubin writes.
Last season, the RAPTOR projections saw the Warriors finishing 13th in the Western Conference, and the Utah Jazz (who later finished first) finishing seventh.
For those Warriors fans out there who also enjoy Giants baseball, FiveThirtyEight's model for baseball gave the Arizona Diamondbacks (52-110 final record) better preseason playoff odds at making the playoffs than San Francisco (MLB-best 107-55 record) (h/t Grant Brisbee).
All that being said, the Warriors face an uphill climb to recapture their place atop the West. Injuries decimated a number of the top contenders last season, and Thompson's success, whenever he gets back into the lineup, will be a critical factor for the second half and potential playoff run.
The Warriors proved the experts at FiveThirtyEight wrong last season, and will be eager to do so once again in 2021-22.