Different than the 'main' site's NBAHashtag endeavor, ESPN Insider is releasing team-by-team projections and player capsules leading up to the season. These are what was used to be done by now-Grizzlies Executive John Hollinger and are now split up amongst the fine crew of Kevin Pelton, Bradford Doolittle, and Tom Haberstoh. As two of those guys are/were with Basketball Prospectus, instead of PER they're using their box-score statistics of WARP and Win% along with the SCHOENE projection algorithm.
I'll post some of the WARP numbers at the end, but what's more enjoyable are the player capsules themselves. Here's a sampling of Doolittle's work, the full piece you can find at ESPNInsider.
According to Synergy Sports, Butler gave up just 0.76 points per play last season, ranking in the 89th percentile of NBA defenders. Now that he's penciled in as Chicago's starting 2, Butler should team with Deng as the NBA's top defensive wing combination….SCHOENE sees a slight regression based primarily on a decline in 3-point accuracy
Deng's defense, which has been near elite, showed signs of slippage during his ninth season. Deng still moves well and has the reach of a bigger player, but the Bulls were actually a tick better on defense with Deng off the floor, a testament to Butler's rise.
Boozer's once deadly mid-post game fell off the map, as his shooting percentage from 3-to-9 feet slipped from 54 percent to 32 percent, per HoopData.com.
Thibodeau ran his sputtering offense through Noah in the high post for much of the season. Noah responded with career-highs of 11.9 points and 4.0 assists per game, but his turnover rate also spiked to 19.3 percent, and his true shooting percentage was a career low. Those are the kind of inefficiencies that go with expanding a player's role beyond his natural proclivities.
Hinrich is at a bad age for guards, and SCHOENE is seeing a below-replacement campaign for him. Chicago is hoping by being asked to do less, Hinrich will be able to provide more.
his athletic markers showed some slippage in 2012-13. That may be misleading though, because his defensive rebound, foul-drawing and block rates remained stable…Gibson offers tremendous value on the defensive end, where last season he rated in the 93rd percentile according to Synergy Sports.
Now 11 years into his career, Dunleavy became more perimeter-oriented than ever during his last season in Milwaukee, with nearly as many 3-point attempts as 2s, and a foul-drawing rate that was a career low. That will be fine in Chicago, which has plenty of interior options.
I 'left out' Derrick Rose because who the hell knows, really. Earlier in the summer they released PG projections and had Rose missing a lot of time and thus only having an 8.3 WARP. For this it's up to 11.7 (don't know why) which is still far less than what they have for Chris Paul (16.6), Russell Westbrook (14.4) and Rose's own MVP season (16.6). Keep in mind that WARP is a cumulative statistic so Rose's entire return season isn't as important as the caliber he's playing at come playoff time.
Other WARP numbers for you, ranked from best to Boozer. Hopefully I'm not giving away too much, you can read the full statistical (PPG, etc.) profile for the whole roster (even Dexter Pittman!) at Insider.