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Archive for November, 2008

Turkey Day Specials

27th November 2008

Thanksgiving Day may be known for its family get-togethers, enormous feasts, festive parades, and football games, but don't forget that they also play basketball on the fourth Thursday in November. Since 1986-87, the earliest year for which we have game logs, there have been 21 NBA games played on Thanksgiving, including at least 1 game in all but one year from 1994-2005 (and the only reason they didn't hoop it up in '98 was the lockout). The league took a hiatus from Thanksgiving games for the past two seasons, but we knew that wouldn't last long -- indeed, pro ball is once again hitting the hardwood tonight, pitting the Wizards (and their new coach Ed Tapscott) against the Orlando Magic at 8 p.m. EST, to be followed at 10:30 by a Western Conference PG battle between Chris Paul's Hornets and Chauncey Billups' Nuggets.

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Posted in Trivia | Comments Off on Turkey Day Specials

The Lakers and Hot November Starts

25th November 2008

I probably don't need to tell you this, but I'm going to anyway: the Los Angeles Lakers are torching the NBA right now. They're currently 12-1, they rank 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency with an ORtg of 111.4, and they have the NBA's best defense (96.5 DRtg) -- better even than the Boston Celtics, whose stifling D was one of the major reasons the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals this past June. With Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the fold full-time this season, we knew they'd be a formidable team, but I think it's safe to say they've exceeded even their most optimistic expectations going into the season.

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Posted in SRS | 4 Comments »

Is There an NBA Live Curse?

24th November 2008

Over the years, much has been written about the so-called "Madden Curse," a powerful jinx that afflicts those football players worthy (and unfortunate) enough to appear on the box of EA Sports' Madden NFL video game. It seems that simply by virtue of being Madden's pitchman, a player will either suffer a debilitating injury or a sudden, precipitous decline in production -- or both. Pretty spooky, right?

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Posted in Trivia, Voodoo, Win Shares | 3 Comments »

Offensive Quality of Teammates

22nd November 2008

Friday's post about Kevin Durant and the terrible supporting cast he has on the Thunder got me thinking about going one step further and measuring the quality of one's teammates in a talent sense. The offensive rating-based method we used the other day is good for evaluating short-term strategy decisions -- for instance, if a certain player is significantly less efficient than his teammates (think Bonzi Wells on the 2003 Blazers), it's valuable as a decision-maker to recognize this and be able to tell that player to, you know, chill out with the shooting and such... However, it's not quite ideal for identifying teammates' talent levels over a period of time, because efficiency is only half of the puzzle; a player's usage is also determined by his talent level, but that's not accounted for when you look at ORtg alone.

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Posted in History, Win Shares | 12 Comments »

Kevin Durant, Alpha Dogs, and Supporting Casts

21st November 2008

Last week, Wages of Wins author David Berri posted about the Oklahoma City Thunder over at the WoW Journal, pointing out that Kevin Durant and his teammates are having really a terrible offensive season in 2008-09 (something which, frankly, cannot be debated -- OKC ranks dead last in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and by a pretty wide margin). In turn, Berri's post sparked a discussion at APBRmetrics regarding just how much of the Thunder's offensive woes are Durant's fault (his 94.5 ORtg is pretty abysmal) and how much of the blame falls to his lackluster supporting cast. The argument that ensued was fairly circular: is Durant playing inefficient basketball because his team is bad (and he is forced to take on a huge role he's perhaps not ready for yet), or is Durant's team bad because he's playing inefficient basketball? Or both?

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Posted in Analysis | 29 Comments »

Failure to Launch, Part II

20th November 2008

Continuing our series on young, potential-laden squads that never quite cashed in on that promise, here are teams #1-5 in our countdown...

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Posted in History | 4 Comments »

Failure to Launch

18th November 2008

We've all seen it in the NBA at one time or another -- a team posts a surprising season with a good young nucleus of players, and you think to yourself, "wow, this team is on the verge of something big." Soon other people start saying the same thing, too, and suddenly there's a buzz around the team. They're young, they're talented, they're going places...

Except they never quite get there.

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Posted in History | Comments Off on Failure to Launch

Top Schools by Win Shares: A Closer Look at #1-5

17th November 2008

On Saturday, we started to take an in-depth look at the Top 10 NCAA programs by Wins Shares, examining schools #6-10. Today we're going to finish up by talking about teams #1-5:

    | college_name                             | overall |
    | 1. University of North Carolina          |    83.0 |
    | 2. University of California, Los Angeles |    57.9 |
    | 3. Georgetown University                 |    51.0 |
    | 4. Duke University                       |    47.5 |
    | 5. Michigan State University             |    45.3 |

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Posted in NCAA, Win Shares | 8 Comments »

Top Schools by Win Shares: A Closer Look at #6-10

15th November 2008

On Wednesday, we developed a Win Shares-based system for ranking the top NCAA programs at developing NBA talent since 1974, and I gave a very broad overview of the top 10 teams. Over the next few posts, we're going to go more in-depth on those colleges, taking a look at the career NBA performance of their 12-man "rosters", as well as looking at the stats those players put up when they were still collegians.

First, we'll examine schools #6-10:

    | college_name                             | overall |
    | 6. University of Notre Dame              |    45.3 |
    | 7. University of Michigan                |    43.6 |
    | 8. University of Arizona                 |    42.2 |
    | 9. University of Houston                 |    42.0 |
    |10. Georgia Institute of Technology       |    41.1 |

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Posted in NCAA, Win Shares | 3 Comments »

Ranking the NCAA Programs by Win Shares

12th November 2008

In addition to being a nifty tool for ranking NBA players according to their contribution to team success, Win Shares can be used in all sorts of novel ways: calculating what percentage of a team's wins come from each position, for instance, or evaluating trades and free agent signings -- both topics that we'll explore as the NBA season goes on. But today, in honor of NCAA hoops tipping off this week, we're going to give it the old college try and see which programs have done the best job of preparing their graduates for pro ball.

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Posted in NCAA, Win Shares | 2 Comments »