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Archive for June, 2010

Layups: Divergent Paths of Adam Morrison & Shannon Brown

22nd June 2010

This is a nice post from Order of the Court last week, about how much things have changed for Adam Morrison & Shannon Brown in the last 4½ years:

"Morrison’s greatest game at Gonzaga came when he dropped 43 points in a 109-106 triple-overtime victory against Michigan State at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22, 2005. Besides being one of the best college games in recent memory, it is instructive to watch the game and contrast Morrison with Shannon Brown, the ultra-athletic wing player for the Spartans whose professional career has taken a decidedly different trajectory."

In college, Morrison was unstoppable with his size, shooting touch, and ability to knock down a vast array of difficult shots. Brown was a good player (17.2 PPG as a soph) but scarcely better than future NBA washout Maurice Ager.

In the pros, though, Morrison's lack of athleticism (exacerbated by a knee injury that cost him his entire 2nd NBA season) made him inefficient, and ultimately a bust. Brown will never be confused with an NBA All-Star, but his length and explosiveness have given him far more staying power than Morrison, despite being picked 22 spots lower in the '06 Draft.

Who would have predicted that 4½ years ago?

Posted in Layups | 5 Comments »

Does Kobe or LeBron Give You a Better Chance vs. Boston?

21st June 2010

For those who missed the epic Kobe-LeBron thread over the weekend, here's a recap of a good back-and-forth between myself and a commenter named "Anon" (a far different Anon from the user who usually posts under that moniker, apparently)...

First off, I stated that if LeBron's teammates played as well vs. Boston as Kobe's did against the Celts, Cleveland would have advanced. In retrospect, I should have said "Cleveland would probably have advanced," since obviously there are no certainties, in life and least of all in sports, but the general point stands -- Cleveland's probability of beating Boston would have been higher had James' teammates given him a performance like Kobe's did against the same opponent. The justification for that statement is this:

"LeBron's SPM in the Cleveland-Boston series was +7.47. His team's efficiency differential was -5.8.

Kobe's SPM in the L.A.-Boston series was +7.45. His team's efficiency differential was +4.0.

Remember, 5 * the minute-weighted average of the SPMs of the individuals on a team must equal the team's efficiency differential.

This is what I mean when I say, 'if LeBron had gotten a Gasol-like performance from one of his teammates, Cleveland would have won.' Kobe and LeBron played at identical levels in their respective series vs. Boston. The only possible reason for their teams' disparate efficiency differentials must be the performances of their teammates."

I went on to show the cumulative stats for both teams during their respective series vs. Boston:

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 56 Comments »

Layups: R.I.P. Manute Bol (1962-2010)

19th June 2010

Sad news today -- Manute Bol, a noted humanitarian and, at 7'7", the tallest player in NBA history, has died at the age of 47.

Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition, Tom Prichard, executive director of the group Sudan Sunrise, said in an e-mail.

"Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us," Prichard said. "Manute, we'll miss you. Our prayers and best wishes go out to all his family, and all who mourn his loss."

On the court, Bol was not an All-Star, but he was highly respected for his character, and his ability to swat away opposing shots was truly amazing... In fact, he was easily the best shot-blocker in NBA history (or at least since the league first kept the stat in 1974).

Off the court was where Bol really shined, though. "Manute" means "Special Blessing" in Dinka, and he certainly lived up to his name as an activist for the poor in his native Sudan. After he retired from the NBA, Bol had made it his mission to build schools throughout his homeland, in addition to numerous other charitable projects.

Both NBA fans and the people of Sudan lost a great role model today in Manute Bol. May he rest in peace.

Posted in Layups | 13 Comments »

2010 NBA Finals Stats

18th June 2010

No commentary, just the numbers from the series...

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Posted in Data Dump, Playoffs | 247 Comments »

Final 2009-10 BBR Rankings

18th June 2010

Congratulations to the Lakers, they outlasted the Celtics in a very gritty, physical Game 7... They deserve to be champions after surviving that test. Also, congrats to the Celtics, whom no one thought would even make it to within a game of a championship. Both teams left it all on the floor here, and as an NBA fan that's all you can ask for. It was a great season, everybody, thanks in large part to our loyal readers and commenters. We couldn't do what we do without your support.

As a token of our appreciation, here are the final 2010 BBR Rankings:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, Playoffs | 10 Comments »

The Greatest Laker Ever™

17th June 2010

There's been a lot of talk about how Kobe Bryant's legacy is "on the line" tonight. Win, and he could become the Greatest Laker Ever™ (Bryant would have 5 championships in Forum Blue & Gold, tying him with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and George Mikan as the franchise's winningest winner); lose, and it would be his 3rd Finals loss (clearly a blemish from which his reputation could never recover). In short, Bryant supposedly won't be the same caliber basketball player tomorrow morning if the Lakers don't win tonight.

In case you can't tell, I think that's an extremely flawed and childish way to look at the question of who the greatest Laker was/is. Kobe winning a ring tonight adds to his resume in some ways, but it's not like getting to 5 titles automatically ties his career with Magic Johnson's, nor is it true that he could never surpass Magic if L.A. loses tonight. Winning a ring is the ultimate team accomplishment, but we have much better ways to parse out player contributions than to lazily took at championship totals and blindly base our evaluations on them alone.

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 46 Comments »

With Or Without You: Kendrick Perkins

17th June 2010

At first glance, Kendrick Perkins' knee injury early in Game 6 may seem like only a minor setback for the Boston Celtics -- after all, Perkins has scored just 8.5 PPG in the Big Three Era, and while his rebounding and defense are solid, he's never finished in the top 10 in RPG or garnered All-Defense honors. However, despite his lack of box score presence, Perkins has been highly important to the Celtics' chances this season: when he plays less than 22 minutes in a game, Boston is 5-8, including Tuesday's ugly loss and a similar beatdown suffered vs. Orlando in the Conference Finals when Perkins was limited by foul trouble.

We can really illustrate Perkins' hidden importance by looking at the Plus/Minus numbers. When Perkins was on the court for Boston this season, the Celtics outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions; when he wasn't playing, that number was only +0.2, a difference of -7 pts/100 poss. The same story has been true since Perkins became a regular starter in 2006-07: putting together a rudimentary game-by-game "with or without you" regression (similar to what I did in this post) between team HCA-adjusted PPG differential and whether or not a player played 17 minutes in the game (the MPG that usually indicates a "contributor"), Perkins shows up as adding +2.18 PPG to Boston's differential when he's a contributor vs. when he plays limited minutes or less.

Meanwhile, Perkins' Game 7 replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, don't fare nearly as well by the WOWOY metrics. Despite Davis' heroics in Game 4, he and Wallace have been Boston's two worst players by net on/off rating during the playoffs. Wallace has been particularly toxic for the Celtics all season -- the team played 5 pts/100 poss. worse when he was on the floor, as evidenced by his recurring appearance in the Celts' worst lineup combinations. Davis & Wallace look better by the 4-year WOWOY regression (Davis is +1.36, Wallace is +0.47), but neither has the ability to positively impact the game the way Perkins does. Without his presence, and playing on the road (home teams win Game 7 80% of the time), the Celtics appear to be in dire straits tonight.

Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 9 Comments »

The Shape of a 7-Game Series

16th June 2010

As a follow-up to this morning's post about historical 7-game series, here are some notes about the "shape" of this year's Finals...

First, what I mean by "shape" is the pattern of wins and losses by the home team in the series. For instance, the 2010 Finals look like this:


In other words, the home team won Game 1, lost Games 2 & 3, and then won Games 4, 5, & 6. How often has that happened through the first 6 games of a 7-game series?

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Posted in Analysis, Just For Fun, Playoffs | 6 Comments »

The Finals Are Even… But Are They Really Even?

16th June 2010

The Lakers needed to win last night to force a 7th game in the NBA Finals, and they didn't disappoint, delivering a brutal 89-67 beatdown that evened the series at 3 wins apiece. In NBA playoff history, this is the 105th series to go 7 games, and the 17th time the Finals have gone the distance. It should be a fitting finish to the season, and the capper to a thrilling 7-game Championship series with a razor-thin margin between the two teams...

Or has it really been that razor-thin? In the series, the Lakers have outscored the Celtics by 20 points after 6 games. Is that a lot, or a normal amount for a 7-game series? How does that compare to the margins of past 7-game playoff series through 6 games?

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 15 Comments »

Layups: Basketball-Reference + Contest

15th June 2010

With the Celtics up 3-2 against the Lakers, the 2009-10 NBA season comes to an end this week as the two teams head back to Los Angeles for the sixth and possibly seventh games of the NBA Finals.

Below, you can watch the video of the Top 10 Moments of the Lakers/Celtics Rivalry:

Now, below here are Mini Movies from Games 1-5. Here’s how you’ll enter. Watch the five movies and let us know if you think any of these moments might break their way into the Top 10. Leave your answer in the comments section. The winner will be picked completely subjectively based upon whichever answer we like best and will receive a free prize courtesy of

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Posted in A Word From Our Sponsors, Layups, Playoffs | 3 Comments »