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We're used to seeing predictions at the beginning of every NBA season. Most of these predictions come based on a handful of analysts mixing their perspectives into a long post regarding the upcoming year. Well, FiveThirtyEight wanted to get in on that action, except they did it a bit different at the data crunching site.

In a recent article, FiveThirtyEight wanted to look into the future of the NBA's best and brightest stars, or stars to be. Using their new program, CARMELO (which you can read about here), FiveThirtyEight is predicting more than just this upcoming season, but who will become franchise players based on the next six seasons. Using these calculations, FiveThirtyEight concluded that Boston's Jared Sullinger and Marcus Smart are among the 53 best future franchise players in the NBA.

Sullinger surprisingly landed himself on this list. We've been hard on him here at CelticsLife, but CARMELO states that we have no reason to be. FiveThirtyEight says:

With a bevy of crafty post moves, the undersized Sullinger has made an old-school playing style work for him. Although he sometimes struggles to score around the basket, the development of his outside shot keeps the Celtics happy and is one of several reasons CARMELO expects the Celts to have a breakout season.


CARMELO's predictions have Sullinger steadily sitting at just above 3.5 WAR (wins above replacement) for the next six years. Maybe we just need to give the big man time for him to step into his role?

Someone FiveThirtyEight doesn't think needs time is the 21-year-old Marcus Smart. Coming off a solid rookie season in Boston, Smart has claimed the 13 spot on CARMELO's predictions for the following reasons:

Given how much CARMELO likes [Elfrid] Payton, it’s not surprising that it likes Smart also. He fits a broadly similar profile: His shooting just isn’t there yet, but most of his other skills were already league-average or above last season, when he was just 20. The thing about players like these is that they can be superstars if their scoring develops (Smart’s No. 1 comp is James Harden, for instance) but reasonably valuable all-around players even if it doesn’t.


And he's in good company too. The 12 players on the list above him are already stars: Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, and more. Plus he's higher than other existing stars like Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. Another impressive feat for Marcus in these rankings is that he is the highest on the list among his peers from the 2014 draft class, and even the 2013 draft class.

There has been tons of excitement about this year's Celtics squad and now there are stats to prove that maybe it's not so far-fetched.

Topher Lane is on Twitter, @Topher_L

Topher Lane 10/28/2015 12:00:00 PM Edit
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