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Archive for December, 2008

The Virtual 1980s Cleveland Cavaliers, Part II

24th December 2008

Okay, last time we established the ground rules and picked out the blunders we're going to wipe away from the history books forever. Now it's time to put the method to the test, starting with...

1979-80
Actual record: 37-45
Actual points scored: 9360
Actual points allowed: 9332
Actual pythagorean record: 42-40

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Posted in Analysis, History | 2 Comments »

The Virtual 1980s Cleveland Cavaliers, Part I

23rd December 2008

One of my favorite places on the web for baseball analysis is The Hardball Times, whose writers always seem to have fresh perspectives and interesting takes while maintaining the spirit of sabermetrics -- which is to say they go where the numbers lead them, but they manage to keep things fun, too, which isn't always easy (I should know, right?). Anyway, THT has a long-running series called "The Virtual (Insert Team Here)" where they basically take a promising team that made some stupid trades in real life, and wipe those ill-fated transactions away. It's against the rules to add any deals that didn't actually happen in real life, so you can't go wild speculating over whether teams would have accepted certain offers, but you can make real-life blunders go away and reconstruct the team had they not made those deals. Now, we're going to borrow the idea and apply it to NBA teams from days gone by, to see if we can reverse some poor franchise's fortunes by fixing its poor personnel decisions.

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Posted in Analysis, History | 1 Comment »

Layups: Can You Name the 50 Greatest Players?

23rd December 2008

From Sporcle, here's a fun quiz that's right up our alley here at Basketball-Reference... Can you name all of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players in 8 minutes?

Posted in Layups | 4 Comments »

Layups: Celtics Still #2 in Hollinger Power Rankings

22nd December 2008

Despite their historic start, ESPN.com statistical analyst John Hollinger ranks the Boston Celtics as the 2nd-best team in the league, behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Why? Hollinger explains that the Cavs have actually had the better average margin of victory, and that Boston's unbeaten record in games decided by 5 points or less makes them ripe for some regression to the mean.

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All-Overrated Team: Isaiah Rider

22nd December 2008

Today we're going to introduce a series "highlighting" some of the more overrated players in NBA history. The concept is pretty straightforward -- just like in the last post about one-dimensional scorers, we're looking for players whose flashy scoring exploits belie a rather substance-less all-around game. As for the methodology, we simply take a player's career per-minute scoring average, divide by the league per-minute scoring average (weighted by minutes played), multiply by 15 (making the league average 15, like PER), and then look at the difference between the player's "adjusted scoring rate" and their PER. The players whose PERs lag the most officially qualify for our All-Overrated team.

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Posted in Analysis, History | 8 Comments »

Layups: Shaq Closing in on 5,000 Missed FT

21st December 2008

ESPN.com's John Hollinger has a fun piece on Shaquille O'Neal's "pursuit" of 5,000 missed free throws, since the Big Aristotle needs just 8 charity-stripe bricks to reach the milestone. Of course, there is good news for Shaq: even if (when) he does pull off the feat, he'll still trail Wilt Chamberlain's all-time record by 805 misses.

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One-Dimensional Scorers

18th December 2008

I'm sure everyone out there is also familiar with this phenomenon, but whenever I play a pickup game, there's always at least one guy who keeps a detailed tally of exactly how many points he's scored. You could ask him how many rebounds, assists, or blocks he has and he doesn't have a clue, but ask him about scoring and he's suddenly Harvey Pollack. And why not? After all, points are the currency of basketball -- at the team level, wins and losses are solely determined by who scores more points.

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Posted in Analysis, History | 1 Comment »

Layups: Old SI Piece on APBRmetrics

18th December 2008

This is one of my favorite articles ever... Written by Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard, it ran in SI's annual NBA Preview issue and was one of APBRmetrics' first high-profile national media appearances. Read and learn about the origins of statistical analysis in hoops.

Posted in Layups | 1 Comment »

Layups: What Does the Data Say About Coaching Changes?

17th December 2008

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has a good read here about the recent rash of early-season coaching changes. Among other things, he looks at past seasons to determine whether firings are contagious (one team sees another team make a change, so they're more willing to pull the trigger themselves), which types of teams benefit most from a change, and when the best time for a change is.

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Layups: 2-year Adjusted +/- Scores

16th December 2008

In case you didn't know about his site, Aaron Barzilai is doing great work over at Basketball-Value.com, which tracks in-season adjusted plus-minus scores for every player in the league. Yesterday, Aaron debuted a new ranking which incorporates not only this season's data, but also last year's regular-season and playoff numbers. The result? Chris Paul is really, really good. Which, if you've been reading this blog, you kind of knew already... but it's still cool to get confirmation.

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