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Archive for November, 2010

What’s the Probability That James/Wade’s Declines Are Due to Chance?

30th November 2010

This post is a follow-up to this morning's piece about LeBron James & Dwyane Wade's current slumps, so should probably read that one first, if you haven't yet.

In response to the hand-wringing about Wade & James' sub-standard production thus far, some have suggested it's merely a pair of slumps that just happened to coincide with the duo joining forces in South Beach. How legitimate is this theory? Well, thanks to the magic of Monte Carlo simulation, I can test exactly how likely that explanation actually is.

Specifically, I'm going to simulate 10,000 18-game samples based on the career distribution of James & Wade's Hollinger Game Scores. (Yes, there are countless other, better metrics, but hey, this is a quick-n-dirty study.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, Statgeekery | 56 Comments »

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30th November 2010

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Posted in Announcements, Site Features | 1 Comment »

Layups: Heat ‘Big Three’ Not the Sum of their Parts

30th November 2010

For those with ESPN.com "insider" subscriptions, here's John Hollinger on the Miami Heat's struggles (written before the Washington game, but the points still stand).

For those without, the basic gist is that Miami's supporting cast hasn't really played below expectations; if anything, they've exceeded them -- guys like James Jones & Zydrunas Ilgauskas are playing better than you would have expected from their 2010 stats. Instead, the biggest reason for the gulf between the Heat's preseason hype and actual on-court results (which, given their +6.82 SRS, haven't been quite as bad as the media suggests) is the obvious one: the simultaneous decline of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and to a lesser degree, Chris Bosh.

(ESPN's Tom Haberstroh has more on the psychology of Wade's struggles here.)

Just take a look at the trio's advanced stats together this year, vs. last season when they were apart:

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Posted in Analysis, Layups | 26 Comments »

Blowing Teams Out vs. Avoiding Being Blown Out

29th November 2010

Because the much-hyped 2011 Miami Heat have had such a bizarre season so far (they apparently have a knack for whipping bad teams but losing close games to good opponents), we've had to think harder about the nature of blowouts. For instance, are they really very predictive if they come against weak opponents?

Adapting an old Football Outsiders study to the NBA, I found that the answer is actually 'yes'. I also found that a team ranking system which gives a lot of weight to blowouts is more predictive than one which places less emphasis on lopsided games.

Now BBR reader "Anon x 2" asks another question:

"What if being blown out means a lot more than blowing someone out?"

Let's take a look using roughly the same methodology as the "Guts and Stomps" article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 20 Comments »

BBR Rankings: Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings (November 26, 2010)

26th November 2010

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on November 25, 2010:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery | 52 Comments »

NY Times: Spurs’ Recipe for Success

26th November 2010

Here is this week's column for the New York Times:

Keeping Score: Spurs’ Recipe for Success

This should appear in the print version as well.

Posted in NY Times | Comments Off

More Turkey Day Specials

24th November 2010

Here's a follow up to a post I made two years ago regarding the best Thanksgiving Day performances since 1987. I only looked at raw totals then, but this time around I think we should nerd it up with an overflowing cornucopia of advanced stats. Yum!

Hollinger Game Score

The most basic metric you might consider "advanced" is John Hollinger's Game Score. It's a simple linear weights formula based on his infinitely more complex Player Efficiency Rating, but the weights are a step up from something like TENDEX. Here are the best Thanksgiving games by game score since 1987:

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Posted in Analysis, History, Just For Fun, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 3 Comments »

CBB Layups: Optimal Fouling Strategy in NCAA Basketball

23rd November 2010

This layup comes courtesy of Josh Levin and the live edition of the Hang Up & Listen Podcast...

While he was at MIT in 2005, Dr. Walter Sun (who -- random fact -- did his undergrad at my alma mater) published a paper about optimal fouling strategy in college basketball. He found that intentionally fouling the opponent's worst foul shooter for the 7th, 8th, and 9th fouls of a half (when the other team is in the 1-and-1 bonus) could increase your PPG margin by as much as 2 points. And this isn't just when fouling in desperation situations, either; the paper calls for you to intentionally hack the worst FT shooter no matter when you get to six fouls.

Although, as Josh points out, Dr. Sun wasn't the first person to think of this strategy. In the early 1980s, NC State coach Jim Valvano also used the intentional foul to his advantage. In fact, the NCAA instituted the 2-shot rule specifically because Jimmy V. was essentially using Dr. Sun's strategy on every foul he could (since there wasn't a double bonus in those days).

Posted in Layups, NCAA, Statgeekery | Comments Off

2010-11 Surprise Teams (11-22-2010 edition)

22nd November 2010

Two weeks ago, I looked at the players who were under- and over-achieving the most so far this season. Today, I want to take the same concept and apply it to teams -- given the projected SPM performance levels of their players and the distribution of minutes to those players, which teams are currently playing better or worse than we would have expected?

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Posted in Analysis, Projections, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 11 Comments »

CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (The Top Ten)

19th November 2010

See also: #11-15, #16-20, #21-25, #26-31

With the 2010-11 season warming up, let's finish up our ranking of the 31 best NCAA teams from 1980-2010:

10. Louisville Cardinals (+14.76 SRS)

Record: 709-329 (.683)
Prominent Coaches: Denny Crum, Rick Pitino
Best NCAA Finish: Won NCAA Championship (1980, 1986)

Louisville has somewhat quietly amassed a dominant resume over the past 3 decades. With 2 national titles and 4 Final Fours, the Cardinals were probably the best program of the 1980s, while their "down" years of the 1990s consisted of 8 NCAA berths & 208 wins. And in the 2000s, Rick Pitino took them to a Final Four in 2005, seamlessly transitioning from the Crum era with 220 victories of his own. Pick any year since 1980, and chances are The Ville was one of the better college basketball teams in the country.

9. Syracuse Orange (+15.41 SRS)

Record: 755-279 (.730)
Prominent Coaches: Jim Boeheim
Best NCAA Finish: Won NCAA Championship (2003)

Under Jim Boeheim, the Orangemen won more games than all but four schools since 1980. He took a solid program and turned it into a perennial contender, produced a number of NBA prospects, won 14 Big East regular-season or tournament titles, and finally filled the gap in his resume when Carmelo Anthony carried 'Cuse to their elusive NCAA crown in 2003. Simply put, no Big East team has been better over the past 30 years.

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Posted in Analysis, History, NCAA, SRS | 9 Comments »