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Archive for December, 2009

Is Simmons Right About Russ & Wilt’s Supporting Casts?

14th December 2009

bball_ref_backgroundOne of the long-held NBA aphorisms used to explain the gulf in championships between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, arguably the two greatest centers of all time (OK, Kareem & Shaq might dispute this notion, but that's another argument for another day), is the idea that Russell played on Celtics teams stacked to the rafters with All-Star and/or Hall of Fame talent, while Chamberlain suited up with lesser teammates who held him back. Certainly that's the impression you'll get from our Quality of Teammates post, where we found that Russell played with the 10th-most talented set of teammates (weighted by career minutes played) of any player in NBA history, while Chamberlain's teammates were average at best, and hardly spectacular like Russell's.

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Posted in Analysis, History | 13 Comments »

Layups: NYT on Bogut’s Cheering Section, MIT Conference

14th December 2009

Off the Dribble, the New York Times' NBA blog, is a good read for hoops fans everywhere, and they a had couple of interesting posts last week... First, here's Fred Bierman on Bucks C Andrew Bogut's incentive to increase fan enthusiasm in Milwaukee:

"[Bogut] bought 100 lower-level seats for every home game and gave them to fans who he was certain would raise the decibel level at the Bradley Center. [...] Each fan essentially agrees to stand and cheer from tip-off to the final buzzer, and attendance is mandatory; miss too many games and you will lose your free seat. So far, no one has been removed."

Also, Howard Beck posted about the growing popularity of the M.I.T. Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

"... the [analytic] movement’s signature event has grown so large that sponsors are moving it off-campus for its third edition, on March 6. It will be held at a Boston convention center. 'We outgrew every building at M.I.T.,' Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, said proudly. Morey, the event’s co-chairman, said he is expecting 800 people — up from 300 in 2009 and 150 in 2008, the event’s inaugural year. The number of panel discussions has nearly doubled, to 15."

Be sure to sign up for the conference now, and I'll see you there at "Dorkapalooza 2010"!

Posted in Layups | 1 Comment »

BBR Rankings: 2009-12-11

11th December 2009

7603112_Cavaliers_v_Magic_Gm3TGIF everybody, mainly because it's time for another edition of the BBR Rankings... Orlando holds down the top spot for the second straight week, but by a razor-thin margin over a surging L.A. Lakers squad that went 3-0 over the past 7 days. Meanwhile, Boston and Atlanta flip-flopped #3 & #4 after the Hawks lost to the Knicks last Friday, and the top 5 is rounded out by the Phoenix Suns, #1 in our "poll" 2 weeks ago. Dallas dropped out of the top 5 after spending the first 3 rankings at #5 following an ugly loss at Memphis a week ago, while Chicago's 0-4 week sent them sliding down 6 spots to #19. And on the rising side, Denver climbed into the Top 10 again after splitting their 4-game stretch of road games on the week, while Detroit's sizzling 4-0 week propelled them to #16 in this edition of the rankings.

(Want to know how the BBR Rankings are calculated? Read this first. Also, mouse over column headers for descriptions.)

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Posted in BBR Rankings | 11 Comments »

Tutorial Videos: Team Game Finder

9th December 2009

Here are some fun things you can do with our Team Game Finder tool:

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Layups: Effective Height, 2009-10 Edition

8th December 2009

Last Friday, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus looked at how much a team's "effective height" (height weighted by minutes played) matters in determining the quality of the team. You'll have to read the whole thing, but the basic gist is that there is a positive relationship between team height and win-loss record, but it's not really that big. Which completely makes sense -- all else being equal, you'd obviously rather be taller than shorter, though there are many other factors more important than height that go into determining how good a player/team is.

Posted in Layups | 10 Comments »

The 25 Biggest Playoff Series Upsets, 1991-2009

7th December 2009

454003470_Nick_Van_ExcelContinuing our series on huge playoff upsets, I've taken the methodology I laid out on Friday and applied it to every playoff series from 1991-2009 to determine the probability of each team winning, given the distribution of minutes for their players in the series. This is accomplished by finding weighted averages of the team's players' and opponents' seasonal SRS-SPM scores (see Part I for an explanation), and plugging them into the following equation to produce a single-game expected winning %:

xWP = 1 / (1 + exp(0.622 - 0.168(tm_srs) + 0.168(opp_srs) - 1.244(homecourt)))

Again, where homecourt = 1 if the team is at home and 0 if they're on the road. Armed with these single-game probabilities, all that's left is to use them to calculate the odds of winning a series of a given length with a given # of home games. This of course means you need to calculate not only the probability of each series outcome, but also the probability that the series ends in each specific # of games (for instance, winning a series in four games would require 4 consecutive wins -- WWWW -- while you could win in five games four different ways -- WWWLW, WWLWW, WLWWW, or LWWWW).

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Posted in Data Dump, History, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 18 Comments »

Layups: Name the All-Stars of the 2000s

5th December 2009

We haven't linked to a Sporcle quiz in a while, so here's one that's pretty fun: Can you name every NBA All-Star from 2000-2009?

Posted in Layups | 5 Comments »

BBR Rankings: 2009-12-04

4th December 2009

7603073_Cavaliers_v_Magic_Gm3Another week, and it's time again for the BBR Rankings, where we rate every NBA team from top to bottom. For the second straight week we have a new #1 squad, as the Orlando Magic's 3-0 record (with 2 wins coming on the road) propelled them to the top overall spot. The Lakers also went 3-0, moving up a spot to #2 in the rankings. The Hawks fell one slot to #3 but stayed pretty steady despite a loss at Detroit, while the Celtics make their first appearance of the season in the Top 5 thanks to a 4-0 record and 3 road wins. Rounding out the top 5 is Dallas, who holds that place for the 3rd consecutive week after going 3-1, with their lone loss coming on the road against #7 Cleveland. Last week's #1, the Phoenix Suns, started strong with 2 wins away from the US Airways Center, but closed out the 7-day period by losing twice on the road (including one defeat vs. the 28th-ranked Knicks). The other big faller of the week was Denver, who dropped from #6 to #11 despite going 3-1 because the one loss was at home vs. the lowly T-Wolves, #29 in this week's rankings. Another note on Denver: they're currently 14-5, but the gaudy record has come at the expense of the easiest schedule in the league, which also hurts them in these rankings. Finally, congrats to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who continue to hang tough at #9 in the rankings. They lost to #8 Houston last Sunday, but otherwise they continue to surprise and are on pace to make the playoffs for the first time in the Durant Era. You can see the rest of the rankings after the jump:

(Want to know how the rankings are calculated? Read this first.)

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Posted in BBR Rankings | 3 Comments »

The 50 Biggest Playoff Upsets, 1991-2009

4th December 2009

9107003_Lakers_v_76ersBack in the spring, I used Statistical Plus/Minus to predict individual playoff series outcomes (and to pretty decent effect, too -- I mean, yes, it did miss on Cleveland-Orlando, but then again so did just about everyone, including the bigwigs at Nike). Anyway, today I'm going to use a similar method to look back on every playoff game from 1991-2009 and see which games ended in the most unlikely outcomes.

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Posted in Analysis, Data Dump, History, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 9 Comments »

Championship Probability Added II

3rd December 2009

357AUG01020_Basketball_JCW_FileYesterday I rolled out a very primitive idea for evaluating players by logically weighting their regular-season and postseason production. In case you missed it, I put everything in terms of the typical team's championship probability, and weighted regular-season and playoff Win Shares based on how much each type of win added to the probability of winning a title. I still think the core idea is terrific, but when the smoke cleared yesterday we came out with a list that saw old-school NBAers and ABA stars dominate over modern players -- I mean, Cliff Hagan ranked ahead of Michael Jordan, for goodness' sake! What in the name of Max Zaslofsky is going on here?

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 12 Comments »