The Boston Celtics are primed to have a huge year in the Eastern Conference, and anything less then a Finals appearance will be a disappointment for the franchise. The team is loaded with not only stars but depth talent. One of the best scorers in the game plays the point guard with Kyrie Irving, and two up and coming young players (Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum) are working their way among the leagues elite. Oh, and don’t forget about the former Utah Jazz star, Gordon Hayward.
I have put together a formula for predicting how players will perform by game, and what you can expect to see over the course of the season. In our latest Celtics podcast here, I made a hot take where I said that we could expect a healthy Celtics team to score 130 points per game.
I think I’m going to walk that back a little bit. However, I think it is reasonable to expect the Celtics to score 120.
The Expectancy Rating formula
The formula is all about numbers. I firmly believe there are three stages of a players career. They are either rising, at their peak, or falling. The expectancy rating formula factors that. Let’s talk about the stages.
When a player is rising, he is expected to score more points then he averages over his career per game. Here’s the first example I will use: Kyrie Irving.
Irving currently averages 22.0 points per game. I think it’s easy to assume he is still on the rise, playing at a high level in this league. After adding the rise factor, we can expect Kyrie to score 25.3 points per game.
When a player has hit his peak, I expect him to meet his career averages. Great example for the season: Gordon Hayward.
Hayward averages 15.6 points per game in his career. With his ankle injury last year, I think it’s easy to assume that he might not hit that number and that 15.6 points are his maximum he can bring to the table.
When a player has passed his prime, his season per game averages generally falls under his career averages. A great example of this is Al Horford.
Horford was 31 years old last season. Going into last season, Horford averaged 14.3 points per game when he joined the Celtics. Last season, he scored 12.9 per game. He has hit his peak, and now we can’t expect him to score as many points per season.
How accurate is this expectancy rating?
I ran these numbers on the seasons past, checking the Celtics numbers for three seasons between 2014-15 to 2016-17. It’s surprisingly reasonable and accurate.
In the 2014-15 season, the expectancy rating was 98.3 points per game. Boston averaged 101.4 points per game, a 3.1 point difference from the expectancy rating.
In the 2015-16 season, the expectancy rating was 103.8 points per game. Boston averaged 105.7 points, a 1.9 point difference.
In the 2016-17 season, the expectancy rating was 106 points per game. Boston averaged 108 per game that season, a 2 point difference.
Point is, the expectancy rating is almost under what can be expected. It’s compiled by the top nine players on the team, where the starters, the 6th man and three role players adjusted totals are added together to put the rating together. Because a lot of teams play ten or even eleven man rotations, there are always going to be a couple of points that are missing. The rating is a reasonable expectation.
What can we expect this season?
There are so many stars on this team that if they stay healthy, Celtics are going to score a lot of points. I think each of the starters can be expected to score at least 12 points per game, and the bench is going to score a lot too.
The expectancy rating has the Celtics scoring 115 points per game. It could easily be higher. 120 points per game aren’t out of the equation.
The NBA Record is held by the Denver Nuggets team from 1981-82. In that season, on a team featuring players like Alex English, Dan Issel and Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nuggets averaged 126.5 points per game.
If things go Boston’s way, they are going to make a run at that record. Just you wait.