PORTLAND, Ore. — ESPN released its regular-season win projections for every NBA team for the 2017-18 season on Thursday.
The good news? The Portland Trail Blazers are projected to win 43.8 games, an improvement of nearly three games over last season.
The bad news? That wasn't enough to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.
Here's what Pelton wrote about the Blazers:
This projection is for nearly three more wins than the 41 the Blazers actually had last season, but if things play out exactly as RPM forecasts (they won't), that wouldn't be enough to get Portland to the playoffs. Such is the challenge of the Western Conference this season, with at least 10 legitimate postseason contenders.
Pelton's projections have the Western Conference playoff picture playing out like this:
1. Warriors (62.1)
2. Rockets (55.0)
3. Spurs (52.6)
4. Timberwolves (50.1)
5. Thunder (49.5)
6. Clippers (48.9)
7. Nuggets (47.2)
8. Jazz (44.7)
The Pelicans slotted in just ahead of the Blazers in ninth place with 44.2 projected wins.
For what it's worth, Portland's 43.8 wins would place them in sixth place in Pelton's Eastern Conference playoff projections.
Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW. He can be reached on Twitter here.