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ESPN's projections say Blazers will win 40 games, sneak into playoffs as 8 seed

The Rockets, Nuggets, Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Warriors and Mavericks are all projected to finish ahead of the Blazers.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Projections don't seem to like the Portland Trail Blazers.

Just ask Kevin Pelton, the actual man in charge of ESPN's NBA projections.

"A modest RPM projection is nothing new for the Blazers," Pelton wrote upon unveiling ESPN's projections for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Pelton's real plus-minus projections predict 40.2 wins, good enough for the eighth and final playoff seed in the West for the Blazers but well behind last year's performance, when Portland won 53 games and reached the conference finals for the first time in two decades.

Western Conference teams projected to finish ahead of the Blazers this season, according to ESPN, include the Rockets (53.7 wins), Nuggets (53.3), Lakers (47.9), Clippers (47.9), Jazz (46.8), Warriors (46.4) and Mavericks (44.0).

Below the Blazers in the projected standings are the Kings (39.9), Timberwolves (39.5), Spurs (38.6), Pelicans (38.5), Suns (38.0), Thunder (36.6) and Grizzlies (31.9).

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Pelton notes that ESPN's projections were low on Portland last season, too, projecting 41.7 wins for the eventual 53-win Blazers. If you ask Pelton, it's coaching that helps the Blazers exceed projections on a regular basis.

"Portland coach Terry Stotts has consistently shown the ability to get young players to exceed their projections, and second-year guard Anfernee Simons could be next in that lineage," Pelton writes.

RELATED: Blazers 2019-20 schedule released: 5 things to know

FiveThirtyEight also projects the Blazers to win 40 games this season, but their predictions have Portland — one of four conference finalists last season — actually missing the playoffs.

RELATED: Blazers won't sniff the playoffs this year, FiveThirtyEight says. Here's why

Jared Cowley writes about the Trail Blazers and other topics for KGW.com. He's also the co-host of the 3-on-3 Blazers podcast (listen here). You can reach him on Twitter @jaredcowley