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Without Bibby

I've written about win probabilities before. Using a formula designed by statistician Ed Kupfer, you can estimate the probability of a home team winning any given game based on both teams' percentages. (Kupfer also has a more involved formula that incorporates days of rest, but it's quite a bit more involved.)

Mike Bibby is going to be out about two weeks of the regular season, according to the team. Unless something slows down his recovery, we would expect "two weeks" would include a maximum of eight games. This would bring Bibby back right before the November 19 showdown against San Antonio.

The table below describes the probability of the Kings winning those eight games without Mike - using last season's total win percentage for each team.

HOME    AWAY    HOME%    AWAY%    HOME Prob    SAC Prob

MIN      SAC    0.402    0.537        46.5%       53.5%
CHI      SAC    0.500    0.537        56.4%       43.6%
MIL      SAC    0.488    0.537        55.2%       44.8%
SAC      MIN    0.537    0.402        72.1%       72.1%
SAC      DET    0.537    0.720        40.4%       40.4%
SAC      TOR    0.537    0.329        78.0%       78.0%
SAC      MEM    0.537    0.598        53.9%       53.9%
GSW      SAC    0.415    0.537        47.8%       52.2%

I didn't adjust the team winning percentages at all. The Kings' figure is for the entire season, Peja and Artest. The Bulls' or Pistons' figures have not been adjusted to account for Ben Wallace. I didn't dock Milwaukee because Andrew Bogut and Bobby Simmons will likely be out, or Memphis becuase Pau Gasol will definitely be out. As you can probably tell, the adjustments would be impossible to make because so many things are different.

But, this is probably more reliable than guessing.

It says here there are two games the Kings shouldn't worry about too much - home contests against Minnesota and Toronto. (These two teams, though, are likely to be better than last year's squads.) Luckily, there are no "no way in hell" games for the Kings. The toughest matchups are a home game against Detroit (a game I'd call a toss-up) and at Chicago (favor Chicago in that one).

4-4 doesn't seem like a good start, and it probably isn't. Remember, April is a killer. 5-3 wouldn't be a shock either way - it would assume the three home wins against Minny, Toronto, and depleted Memphis, plus either two road wins out of games in Minny, Milwaukee, and Golden State, or a home win over Detroit and one of those roadies.

6-2 is about a half-degree more difficult. Based on the probabilities above, there's a 3.7 percent chance of winning the six "easiest" games. A 6-2 start without Mike Bibby would look phenomenal, but again - because of the ease of the very early part of the schedule, it wouldn't scream "CONFERENCE CHAMPION!"

I think 5-3 or better is a positive. Honestly, if the team would've lost Mike Bibby for any period of time last season, we'd have wondered if we could win a game at all. Having all this flexibility (John Salmons will likely start, The Bee tells us) is paying off very early on.