Justin Kubatko, of Basketball-Reference, doesn’t mess around with numbers. He doesn’t get all excited about things that don’t matter. And the other day in The New York Times he wrote:
There have been 38 teams in N.B.A. history with a point differential of at least plus-10.0 points a game through their first 18 games. The median winning percentage of those teams was .753, which translates to 49.7 wins over a 66-game season. Additionally, 24 of those teams advanced to the N.B.A. finals, with 19 claiming the championship.
In short, mediocre teams do not go on extended runs in which they routinely outscored opponents by double-digit margins. If history serves as a guide, Philadelphia is a contender.
In other words, there are interesting numbers to suggest the Sixers are even money to win the title this year. Which is one nutty thing to suggest.
On the other hand, half the teams that have started this hot in NBA history did not win the title. And there is good reason to suspect these Sixers may fall into that category. They have played just about the easiest schedule in the NBA. When they have played the power teams on the road they have generally lost — at Portland, at Utah, at New York, and badly at Miami. They have also lost at home to the Nuggets and (gulp) Nets.
Unfortunately, Philadelphia is not yet a legitimate contender to win the NBA Championship this season … since there are 5 teams in the Eastern Conference with more overall talent on their roster.
Although Philadelphia is a much better team than many so-called “NBA experts” may have erroneously projected in the off and/or pre season, in reality, this team is also not nearly as good as the number-crunchers might try to tell you it is, at this point in the season, based on their marginal of victory to-date … and, until the 76ers actually have Top 4 talent on their roster, they should not ever be considered as one of the few legitimate contending teams in the hunt for the NBA Championship in a given season, at least, by an authentic NBA expert.