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Archive for May, 2011

The Bird-Dirk Advanced Stat-off

19th May 2011

Bill Simmons and BS Report HoF guest Chuck Klosterman are discussing Larry Bird vs. Dirk Nowitzki in a podcast. Simmons says that the advanced stats place Dirk in the same category as Bird, perhaps even giving Dirk the edge, and he's not sure how he feels about this.

I wasn't sure how I felt, either, so I looked up the numbers. Here is a monster table with their advanced stats -- each has played exactly 13 years:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Totally Useless, Win Shares | 224 Comments »

Shocker of the Day: Losing Your Leading Scorer Hurts Your Offense

18th May 2011

In gathering links for StatHead yesterday, I came across this post at the Wages of Wins, wherein Prof. Berri mentions that the losses of Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, & Rudy Gay did not hurt their respective teams. He then writes:

"In each of these examples, the loss of a scorer led people to forecast doom.  In each case, the team losing the scorer managed to survive and even improve.

Readers of The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins understand this basic story. Scoring is overvalued by many NBA observers.   Top scorers do not always have the impact on wins that people imagine.  But no matter how often this story repeats, each time a scorer is lost we still see the same arguments offered by adherents to the conventional wisdom (for example, this week the Grizzlies insisted they would never dream of letting Gay depart)."

That's anecdotal evidence, though. What if we looked at every instance of a team losing its leading scorer? Would the typical team in that situation be impervious, or are those just a few cherry-picked exceptions to a larger rule?

Well, luckily, at BBR we have boxscores for every regular-season game since 1985-86. So I gathered our data, considering a team's "leading scorer" to be the player who led the team in PPG among players who played more than half of the team's games. I then looked at each team's offensive rating in every game, noting whether the designated "leading scorer" played in that game or not.

I also accounted for the strength of the opposing defense in each game by measuring how many pts/possession the opponent allowed in every game of the season except the one at hand. The end result will measure how well each offense performed relative to what we would expect from a league-average team facing the same opponent -- split by whether the team's "leading scorer" played or not.

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 51 Comments »

Layups: Globetrotter Dizzy Grant’s NBA Impressions

16th May 2011

Derick "Dizzy" Grant is not only the Harlem Globetrotters' 4-point shooting specialist (somebody call Antoine Walker!), but he's also pretty good at impersonating other players:

I have maintained for years that basketball needs its version of the Batting Stance Guy... Could Grant be the hoops impressionist we've been waiting for?

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups, YouTube Finds | 5 Comments »

For James, East Final Is an Ex-MVP’s Shot At Redemption

15th May 2011

For the first time in three years, LeBron James did not give an acceptance speech at the Most Valuable Player's press conference. Now, as he faces his successor at the podium, Derrick Rose, in the Eastern Conference Finals, James is hoping his Heat can do exactly what the Magic and Celtics did to him -- prevent the reigning MVP from advancing to the NBA Finals.

In the NBA, the Most Valuable Player carrying his team to the brink of a title is the rule, not the exception. Since the league began handing out the hardware in 1956, the MVP's team has appeared in the championship round 28 times, good for a 51 percent rate. And during the NBA's halcyon era of Magic, Larry, and Michael, the clip was even higher: from 1983-2003, the MVP made a Finals appearance in 16 of 21 seasons, more than 75% of the time. In a world where current players are largely measured against those three names alone, it makes headlines when a reigning MVP fails to reach the league's grandest stage.

Perhaps this is why the drought of recent winners has been met with so much scorn. Since 2004, only one MVP (Kobe Bryant in 2008) has led his club to the Finals. The others -- Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and James -- flamed out in the Conference Finals (or in the cases of the latter two, earlier), provoking backlash from the Skip Bayless set and anyone else preoccupied with legacies or comparisons to long-retired legends. That it has been viewed as a blemish on James' otherwise staggering resume is undeniable.

Yet now he has a chance to inflict the same criticism on Rose, the youngest MVP in league history. It's strangely fitting, because their paths have run parallel ever since the Rose-for-MVP talk rose from a whisper at the lunatic fringe of Bulls fandom to a din heard across the entire country. In the wake of 'The Decision', the media tried to talk itself into casting Kevin Durant as James' foil, but Rose out-Duranted everyone, ranging from his own sharp improvement to the Bulls' unexpected #1 seed and the endearingly humble manner in which he carried himself (culminating in a truly beautiful moment at his MVP presser). In the minds of many, he embodied the yin to James' preening yang.

For these reasons, the media will doubtless go easier on Rose than they did James, should the Bulls' season end early. And by the same token, the fact that James felt he needed two other big names, one of whom is nearly his equal in the universe of NBA megastars, to reach the Finals again will continue to dog him if the Heat prevail. But even if his legacy cannot be fully repaired through victory, it's clear that in a twist of fate, the only way James can gain some measure of redemption for his "incomplete" MVPs of 2009 and 2010 is to stamp Rose's 2011 award with the same stigma.

Posted in Analysis, Awards, History, No Math Required, Playoffs, Rants & Ramblings | 123 Comments »

Playoff Preview: #3 Dallas vs. #4 Oklahoma City/#8 Memphis

14th May 2011

Dallas Mavericks

57-25, 2nd in NBA Southwest Division (Schedule and Results)
Coach: Rick Carlisle (57-25)

PTS/G: 100.2 (11th of 30) ▪ Opp PTS/G: 96.0 (10th of 30)
SRS: 4.41 (8th of 30) ▪ Pace: 91.3 (18th of 30)
Off Rtg: 109.7 (8th of 30) ▪ Def Rtg: 105.0 (8th of 30)
Expected W-L: 53-29 (8th of 30)

Arena: American Airlines Center ▪ Attendance: 803,968 (6th of 30)

Won NBA Western Conference Semifinals (4-0) versus Los Angeles Lakers
Won NBA Western Conference First Round (4-2) versus Portland Trail Blazers

Pos Roster G MP poMPG SPM RAPM 4yAPM PER WS/48
PG Jason Kidd 90 2989 33.6 3.99 0.0 1.9 14.7 0.119
SG Jason Terry 92 2887 32.3 1.43 2.8 1.9 16.8 0.116
SF Shawn Marion 90 2562 30.9 -0.21 -2.3 0.8 16.6 0.116
PF Dirk Nowitzki 83 2885 38.1 5.08 7.0 7.8 23.8 0.217
C Tyson Chandler 84 2356 29.7 2.66 3.5 2.6 17.9 0.215
SF Peja Stojakovic 43 860 24.3 0.74 2.0 3.5 15.4 0.136
PG Jose Barea 91 1847 17.8 -1.81 0.4 -1.7 14.8 0.093
C Brendan Haywood 82 1506 17.5 -3.34 -1.2 1.4 11.4 0.101
SG D. Stevenson 82 1286 12.8 -3.21 -0.9 0.4 9.3 0.069
SG Corey Brewer 74 1528 3.6 -0.58 0.0 -0.3 11.1 0.037
PF Brian Cardinal 60 625 1.8 0.57 -0.8 1.1 9.9 0.136
C Ian Mahinmi 58 493 2.5 0.28 0.7 0.0 13.7 0.177

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Posted in Playoffs, SRS, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | Comments Off on Playoff Preview: #3 Dallas vs. #4 Oklahoma City/#8 Memphis

Playoff Preview: #1 Chicago vs. #2 Miami

14th May 2011

Chicago Bulls

62-20, 1st in NBA Central Division (Schedule and Results)
Coach: Tom Thibodeau (62-20)

PTS/G: 98.6 (20th of 30) ▪ Opp PTS/G: 91.3 (2nd of 30)
SRS: 6.53 (2nd of 30) ▪ Pace: 90.4 (23rd of 30)
Off Rtg: 108.3 (11th of 30) ▪ Def Rtg: 100.3 (1st of 30)
Expected W-L: 61-21 (1st of 30)

Arena: United Center ▪ Attendance: 893,462 (1st of 30)

Won NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals (4-2) versus Atlanta Hawks
Won NBA Eastern Conference First Round (4-1) versus Indiana Pacers

Pos Roster G MP poMPG SPM RAPM 4yAPM PER WS/48
PG Derrick Rose 92 3466 40.0 5.67 3.4 1.9 23.9 0.211
SG Keith Bogans 93 1675 19.5 -0.61 0.1 0.2 9.4 0.123
SF Luol Deng 93 3683 43.2 1.81 3.6 3.8 15.6 0.152
PF Carlos Boozer 70 2222 30.9 2.17 0.5 2.2 18.0 0.142
C Joakim Noah 59 1936 32.7 3.72 0.7 2.4 18.8 0.208
SG Kyle Korver 93 1850 18.3 0.49 1.7 2.5 12.8 0.145
PF Taj Gibson 91 1935 17.5 -0.66 1.5 0.8 14.6 0.145
SG Ronnie Brewer 92 1934 13.9 1.29 0.9 0.9 13.6 0.144
C Omer Asik 93 1092 9.4 -1.81 2.9 4.0 11.3 0.125
PG C.J. Watson 93 1190 9.0 -1.07 0.0 1.2 12.3 0.079
C Kurt Thomas 58 1234 9.3 0.48 -0.7 1.0 10.2 0.132
SG Rasual Butler 50 777 2.3 -7.07 -1.4 -1.8 6.4 -0.007

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Posted in Playoffs, SRS, Statgeekery, Statistical +/-, Win Shares | 8 Comments »

BBR Rankings: (Almost) Post-Round 2 Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings

13th May 2011

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on May 12, 2011:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery | 5 Comments »

Layups: Playoff Matchups by City in Professional Sports

13th May 2011

Awesome post here from

Playoff Matchups by City in Professional Sports <<

Andrew researched how many times pro sports teams from various cities faced each other in the playoffs (with multi-game series counting as 1 matchup). Los Angeles and Dallas just finished their 15th battle (with L.A. leading 9-6), while relative newcomer Miami spoiled what would have been the 16th Boston-vs-Chicago matchup of all-time (Boston currently leads that series 10-5).

Posted in History, Just For Fun, Layups | 2 Comments »

How 2+ Conference Finalists in 3 Seasons Fared 5 Years Later

12th May 2011

With the Magic, Lakers, and now Celtics being dispatched from the playoffs, I was thinking about whether a down period was necessary for teams that had been at the top for multiple seasons when their run was finally over.

Part of Danny Ainge's rationalization for the Kendrick Perkins-Jeff Green trade was to make the Celtics younger and give the team a solid player in the future. But do (older) mini-dynasties like Boston's ever really have a future? Does a modern NBA team ever successfully rebuild on the fly, or are good years always followed by a transition period of losing? Instead of making any attempt to build a future, should he have just committed to the 2011 team and accepted losing down the road?

Let's go to the data -- every team that went to at least 2 conference finals in 3 years, and their winning percentages in the next 5 years (Y+1, Y+2, ... , Y+5). "Age" is the team's minute-weighted average age in year Y's playoffs. "< .500" and "<.350" are the # of seasons in the next 5 that they posted a a record worse than .500 and .350, respectively. Enjoy: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, Data Dump, History, Playoffs | 7 Comments »

Layups: R.I.P. Robert “Tractor” Traylor

11th May 2011

Sad that in the same week as one of Dirk Nowitzki's greatest professional triumphs, the man who was always linked to him via a draft-day trade -- Robert Traylor -- was found dead in his Puerto Rico apartment today at the age of 34:

"Robert Traylor, the former University of Michigan standout and short-time NBA forward, was found dead in his apartment in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico, according to Traylor's club (via Scott Schroeder). The big man affectionately known as 'Tractor' Traylor due to his size and strength was just 34 years old.

A cause of death and confirmation from Puerto Rican officials are not yet available. [...] Traylor struggled to make an impact at the NBA level, constantly struggling with both his weight and a heart defect that required aortic surgery in 2006."

Aside from a solid rookie season, Traylor's NBA career was nothing to write home about, but here are his career NCAA stats:

1995-96 Michigan BG10 22 19.9 3.7 6.7 .554 1.5 2.8 .548 5.9 0.5 0.9 0.7 2.4 3.1 9.0
1996-97 Michigan BG10 35 27.3 5.4 9.8 .556 2.3 5.0 .455 7.7 0.9 1.1 1.0 2.8 3.3 13.1
1997-98 Michigan BG10 34 32.1 6.6 11.4 .579 3.1 4.8 .642 10.1 2.6 1.3 1.4 3.2 3.2 16.2
Career Michigan 91 27.3 5.5 9.6 .566 2.4 4.4 .545 8.2 1.5 1.1 1.1 2.9 3.2 13.3

Following an NIT MVP performance at the end of 1997, in '98 he averaged a double-double on 58% shooting, leading Michigan to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. He also had this backboard-shattering slam:

Rest in peace, big man.

Posted in Layups, Player Audit, YouTube Finds | 1 Comment »