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Pelton, With a More Agreeable Projection

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Three weeks ago, John Hollinger's ESPN.com projection hit the web. It wasn't pretty.

The Kings are going to be substantially worse than they were a season ago, and I'm not sure they're prepared for how hard a fall this is going to be. Looking up and down their roster, they have only one above-average player (Martin) and several positions that shape up as major question marks.

Hollinger predicted 23 wins for the team, and 14th place in the West (ahead of only Oklahoma City).

ESPN.com's full Daily Dime previews came out this week. Every last one of the .com's pundits -- folks like Ric Bucher, Scoop Jackson, Marc Stein, Jemele Hill, Jalen Rose -- put the Kings in last place in the Pacific. No one had the Kings above 12th place in the conference, and two picked the Kings 14th.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has a background similar to that of Hollinger: he's a writer with a statistical bent. He's long been one of the top writers of this mold, and really deserves a bigger audience. And no, I'm not just saying this because his Kings projection makes more sense.

Don't get me wrong: Pelton still projects the Kings to be awful (33 wins), worst in the division and close to worst in the conference. But all the little ticks he tosses into his dispatch actually make sense.

The Sacramento Kings will likely take a slight step backwards this season, but in the wake of the Ron Artest trade the team has a clear direction. The rebuild is officially on, though with an All-Star-caliber shooting guard in Kevin Martin and some other solid pieces, the Kings are probably not going to be one of the league's absolute worst teams. This year, the goal is not so much measured in terms of wins as developing Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson and continuing to sort through pieces to figure out who will be part of the next great Sacramento team.

To be fair, Hollinger admits this is a rebuilding season and things appear headed toward the right track. But looking at each player's projection comes off more likely to be reasonable than do those of Hollinger.

And it seems incredibly weird to me that two guys with similar methods could come up a full 10 games apart on a projection for a team in which only one major player moved.