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Playoff Wins Above Expected

Posted by Neil Paine on March 21, 2010

This is basically a big data dump, but I thought I'd share the thought process & methodology involved. The premise is to find players whose teams won more postseason games than they were "supposed to" based on their regular season winning %'s and those of their playoff opponents (if this sounds familiar, you may have seen this Doug Drinen post, which Google found for me about halfway through the creation of this post)...

We don't have game-by-game W-L records for every player in NBA history, but we can estimate it by taking the percentage of team games played by a player and multiplying that by the team's overall W-L totals -- for instance, in the 1999 playoffs, Patrick Ewing went down after 11 of the Knicks' 20 games, so to estimate NY's record in Ewing's games we take their total WPct (.600) and multiply it by 11 to get 7 wins, then subtract that from 11 to get 4 losses and a 7-4 record (incidentally, NY was actually 8-3 in Ewing's games).

Now, we need to establish an "expected" W-L record and compare that to each player's actual record. To do this, we determine the pre-game probability of the player's team in every playoff game using the Log5 equation:

xWpct = ((Team A win%) * (1 - Team B Win%) * HCA)/((Team A win%) * (1 - Team B Win%) * HCA + (1 - Team A win%) * (Team B Win%) * (1 - HCA))

Where Team A is the home team, Team B is the road team, and HCA is 0.627 (the all-time WPct of NBA teams at home during the regular season). Add up the expected winning percentages for each team in a given postseason to find their expected wins, divide by their games to find their expected winning percentage in any given playoff game, and repeat the same procedure above, multiplying by the player's games played to estimate the team's expected W-L record in playoff games he actually played.

All that's left is to subtract expected wins from actual wins, and you've got Playoff Wins Above Expected for every player in NBA history (minimum 50 career playoff G):

Player 1stYr LstYr G pW pL xW xL ΔWPct WAE
Robert Horry 1993 2008 244 155 89 129 115 0.109 26.58
Scottie Pippen 1988 2003 208 136 72 117 91 0.090 18.72
Michael Jordan 1985 1998 179 119 60 101 78 0.098 17.55
Derek Fisher 1997 2009 176 113 63 96 80 0.099 17.40
Kobe Bryant 1997 2009 175 110 65 93 82 0.096 16.83
Horace Grant 1988 2002 170 109 61 94 76 0.092 15.59
Dennis Rodman 1987 1998 169 116 53 101 68 0.088 14.96
Bill Cartwright 1981 1994 124 78 46 64 60 0.118 14.65
John Salley 1987 2000 134 90 44 78 56 0.093 12.43
Mario Elie 1991 2001 116 67 49 55 61 0.104 12.01
Shaquille O'Neal 1994 2008 203 123 80 111 92 0.059 11.90
B.J. Armstrong 1990 1999 105 71 35 59 46 0.113 11.88
John Paxson 1985 1994 119 74 45 62 57 0.099 11.81
Isiah Thomas 1984 1992 111 70 41 58 53 0.104 11.58
Bill Laimbeer 1984 1992 113 71 42 59 54 0.102 11.57
Rick Fox 1992 2004 111 72 39 61 50 0.102 11.33
Byron Scott 1984 1997 183 116 67 106 77 0.058 10.57
Will Perdue 1989 2001 108 72 36 61 47 0.097 10.51
Hakeem Olajuwon 1985 2002 145 76 69 66 79 0.071 10.29
James Edwards 1981 1996 111 69 42 58 53 0.091 10.11
Vinnie Johnson 1980 1992 116 71 45 61 55 0.087 10.10
Slater Martin 1950 1960 92 60 32 50 42 0.104 9.55
Joe Dumars 1986 1999 112 68 44 58 54 0.085 9.52
Magic Johnson 1980 1996 190 127 63 118 72 0.050 9.44
Steve Kerr 1990 2003 128 86 42 76 52 0.073 9.38
Chris Childs 1997 2002 73 39 34 30 43 0.127 9.26
Stacey King 1990 1996 61 44 17 35 26 0.151 9.21
Charlie Ward 1996 2004 72 39 33 30 42 0.128 9.19
Michael Cooper 1980 1990 168 115 53 106 62 0.054 9.12
Scott Williams 1991 2004 94 61 33 52 42 0.094 8.82
Bob McAdoo 1974 1986 94 58 36 49 45 0.092 8.62
Derrick McKey 1988 2002 142 77 65 68 74 0.060 8.52
Tim Duncan 1998 2009 160 101 59 92 68 0.053 8.51
Manu Ginobili 2003 2008 107 70 37 62 45 0.079 8.50
Rick Mahorn 1982 1999 106 58 48 50 56 0.079 8.41
Kurt Rambis 1982 1991 139 93 46 85 54 0.060 8.33
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1970 1989 237 154 83 146 91 0.035 8.32
Lindsey Hunter 1996 2009 147 86 61 78 69 0.055 8.08
Jamaal Wilkes 1975 1984 113 70 43 62 51 0.070 7.93
Kenny Smith 1991 1996 68 39 29 31 37 0.114 7.77
Brian Shaw 1989 2003 127 76 51 69 58 0.060 7.65
Larry Johnson 1993 2000 66 35 31 27 39 0.112 7.43
Rodney Rogers 1994 2005 82 42 40 34 48 0.089 7.32
Ron Harper 1988 2001 112 76 36 69 43 0.064 7.18
Larry Siegfried 1964 1969 79 50 29 43 36 0.090 7.13
Brent Barry 1997 2009 88 53 35 46 42 0.081 7.08
Bill Russell 1957 1969 165 107 58 100 65 0.042 7.00
Sam Cassell 1994 2008 136 75 61 68 68 0.051 6.88
Robert Reid 1979 1991 79 40 40 33 46 0.087 6.84
Luc Longley 1994 2000 87 58 29 51 36 0.078 6.82
Toni Kukoc 1994 2006 99 62 37 56 43 0.067 6.60
Vern Mikkelsen 1950 1959 85 52 33 45 40 0.078 6.60
George Mikan 1950 1956 60 41 19 35 25 0.108 6.48
Sam Jones 1958 1969 154 99 55 93 61 0.042 6.48
John Havlicek 1963 1977 172 106 66 100 72 0.038 6.47
Elgin Baylor 1959 1970 134 71 63 65 69 0.048 6.46
Julius Erving 1977 1987 141 84 57 78 63 0.046 6.45
Allan Houston 1996 2001 63 32 31 26 37 0.102 6.42
Devean George 2000 2008 86 52 34 46 40 0.074 6.35
Mark Aguirre 1984 1992 102 60 42 54 48 0.062 6.33
Tom Henderson 1977 1982 80 42 38 36 44 0.077 6.19
Rik Smits 1990 2000 104 56 48 50 54 0.058 6.07
Craig Hodges 1985 1992 101 62 39 56 45 0.059 6.00
Maurice Cheeks 1979 1993 133 74 59 68 65 0.045 5.97
Bill Bradley 1968 1975 95 54 41 48 47 0.063 5.95
Jim Pollard 1950 1955 62 42 20 36 26 0.095 5.93
Elden Campbell 1991 2005 106 56 50 50 56 0.056 5.90
James Worthy 1984 1993 143 95 48 89 54 0.041 5.90
Walt Frazier 1968 1975 93 53 40 48 45 0.063 5.84
Mitch Kupchak 1977 1986 68 43 25 37 31 0.086 5.83
Jeff Mullins 1965 1976 83 41 42 35 48 0.070 5.82
Chuck Share 1952 1960 54 29 25 23 31 0.108 5.81
Red Kerr 1955 1966 76 36 40 30 46 0.076 5.80
Antonio Davis 1994 2005 93 51 42 45 48 0.062 5.76
Patrick Ewing 1988 2002 139 71 68 66 73 0.041 5.65
Trent Tucker 1983 1993 66 33 33 27 39 0.084 5.55
Dave DeBusschere 1963 1974 96 54 42 48 48 0.058 5.54
Luke Walton 2004 2009 71 43 28 37 34 0.077 5.43
Charles Johnson 1973 1979 85 49 36 44 41 0.063 5.37
LeBron James 2006 2009 60 36 24 31 29 0.089 5.35
Anderson Varejao 2006 2009 60 36 24 31 29 0.089 5.35
Darvin Ham 2000 2005 54 33 21 28 26 0.096 5.20
Dwyane Wade 2004 2009 61 35 26 30 31 0.085 5.20
Lucious Harris 1998 2004 54 32 22 27 27 0.094 5.10
Kerry Kittles 1998 2004 54 32 22 27 27 0.094 5.10
Kenyon Martin 2002 2009 78 43 35 38 40 0.065 5.07
Udonis Haslem 2004 2009 61 35 26 30 31 0.083 5.07
Bob Harrison 1950 1958 59 37 22 32 27 0.086 5.05
Clint Richardson 1980 1987 72 44 28 39 33 0.070 5.03
Norm Nixon 1978 1983 58 36 22 31 27 0.087 5.03
Lamar Odom 2004 2009 69 40 29 35 34 0.072 5.00
Earl Monroe 1969 1978 82 39 43 34 48 0.061 5.00
AaRon Williams 1998 2004 53 33 21 28 25 0.093 4.96
Jason Collins 2002 2007 75 41 34 36 39 0.066 4.94
Richard Jefferson 2002 2007 78 43 35 38 40 0.063 4.91
Zydrunas Ilgauskas 1998 2009 64 37 27 32 32 0.076 4.89
Reggie Miller 1990 2005 144 76 68 71 73 0.034 4.87
Tony Parker 2002 2009 122 75 47 70 52 0.040 4.86
Moses Malone 1977 1991 94 49 45 44 50 0.051 4.82
Bobby Jones 1977 1986 125 73 52 68 57 0.038 4.80
Phil Jackson 1968 1979 67 34 33 29 38 0.071 4.77
Andrew Toney 1981 1987 72 44 28 39 33 0.065 4.68
Dale Davis 1992 2007 137 73 64 68 69 0.034 4.65
Dolph Schayes 1950 1963 97 50 47 45 52 0.048 4.64
Hot Rod Hundley 1959 1963 53 27 26 22 31 0.087 4.61
Bailey Howell 1960 1971 86 44 43 39 47 0.053 4.53
Clyde Drexler 1984 1998 145 74 71 69 76 0.031 4.50
Sasha Vujacic 2006 2009 55 34 21 29 26 0.081 4.43
Don Nelson 1964 1976 150 88 62 84 66 0.029 4.35
Lionel Hollins 1977 1985 77 45 32 41 36 0.056 4.33
Larry Costello 1957 1967 52 24 28 20 32 0.083 4.32
Allen Leavell 1980 1989 63 31 32 27 36 0.067 4.21
Jim Krebs 1959 1964 62 31 31 26 36 0.068 4.20
Mike McGee 1982 1990 68 44 24 40 28 0.061 4.13
Jud Buechler 1995 2002 71 47 24 43 28 0.058 4.12
Willis Reed 1967 1974 78 44 34 40 38 0.052 4.03
Clemon Johnson 1979 1988 66 37 29 33 33 0.060 3.96
Al Bianchi 1957 1966 56 25 31 21 35 0.069 3.87
Rick Barry 1967 1980 74 40 34 36 38 0.052 3.86
Wally Walker 1977 1982 64 37 27 34 30 0.059 3.78
Jack Coleman 1950 1958 63 35 28 31 32 0.060 3.75
Jerry Lucas 1964 1974 72 35 37 31 41 0.052 3.74
Eddie Johnson 1984 1998 89 43 46 40 49 0.042 3.69
Latrell Sprewell 1994 2004 62 33 29 29 33 0.058 3.62
Paul Westphal 1973 1984 107 57 50 53 54 0.033 3.50
Chauncey Billups 2001 2009 133 77 56 74 59 0.026 3.49
Bill Wennington 1986 1998 70 43 27 40 30 0.049 3.44
Tom Sanders 1961 1973 130 82 48 78 52 0.026 3.44
Greg Ballard 1978 1987 65 31 34 27 38 0.053 3.43
Bruce Bowen 2000 2009 135 81 54 78 57 0.025 3.34
Mike Dunleavy 1977 1984 67 33 34 30 37 0.049 3.32
Rasheed Wallace 1997 2009 153 83 70 80 73 0.021 3.22
Henry Bibby 1973 1980 72 41 31 38 34 0.044 3.14
Stephen Jackson 2003 2007 54 29 25 26 28 0.058 3.14
Ben Wallace 2002 2009 130 76 54 73 57 0.024 3.14
Dick Barnett 1960 1973 102 54 48 51 51 0.031 3.13
Sam Mitchell 1993 2002 59 25 34 22 37 0.053 3.13
Chris Morris 1992 1999 69 38 31 35 34 0.044 3.04
Earl Cureton 1981 1994 54 31 23 28 26 0.055 2.99
Nate Thurmond 1964 1977 81 36 45 33 48 0.037 2.99
Happy Hairston 1965 1974 69 35 34 32 37 0.042 2.93
Dennis Awtrey 1971 1979 61 31 30 28 33 0.047 2.89
Jerry West 1961 1974 153 86 67 83 70 0.019 2.86
Jason Kidd 1997 2009 115 56 59 53 62 0.025 2.85
John Starks 1991 2001 96 50 46 47 49 0.029 2.83
Rudy LaRusso 1960 1969 93 44 49 41 52 0.030 2.79
Gar Heard 1973 1980 59 28 31 25 34 0.047 2.77
Mark Jackson 1988 2004 131 66 65 63 68 0.021 2.75
Mehmet Okur 2003 2009 70 39 31 36 34 0.039 2.72
Curtis Perry 1972 1976 52 29 23 26 26 0.051 2.65
Calvin Murphy 1975 1982 51 23 28 20 31 0.049 2.50
Keith Erickson 1967 1976 87 45 42 42 45 0.028 2.48
Chris Mullin 1987 2000 71 37 34 34 37 0.035 2.45
Clyde Lee 1967 1976 51 21 30 18 33 0.047 2.38
Greg Foster 1993 2001 67 39 28 37 30 0.035 2.36
Shandon Anderson 1997 2006 74 45 29 42 32 0.031 2.32
John Johnson 1977 1982 73 41 32 38 35 0.032 2.31
Billy Paultz 1977 1985 70 32 38 30 40 0.033 2.30
Maurice Lucas 1977 1988 82 43 39 40 42 0.028 2.29
Jacque Vaughn 1998 2009 75 42 33 40 35 0.029 2.18
Damon Jones 2002 2008 59 32 27 30 29 0.036 2.12
Bob Dandridge 1970 1979 98 59 39 57 41 0.021 2.07
Rashard Lewis 2000 2009 50 26 24 24 26 0.041 2.04
Steve Mix 1976 1983 89 51 38 49 40 0.023 2.03
Marques Johnson 1978 1984 54 26 28 24 30 0.037 2.03
Tayshaun Prince 2003 2009 118 68 50 66 52 0.017 2.01
Sam Vincent 1986 1989 52 30 22 28 24 0.038 1.96
Adrian Dantley 1978 1991 73 37 36 35 38 0.026 1.94
Antoine Walker 2002 2007 64 33 31 31 33 0.030 1.92
Richard Hamilton 2003 2009 120 69 51 67 53 0.015 1.83
Tom Hawkins 1960 1969 96 49 47 47 49 0.019 1.80
Mike Bibby 2002 2009 69 34 35 32 37 0.026 1.78
Frank Selvy 1959 1964 52 25 27 23 29 0.033 1.73
Paul Seymour 1950 1958 66 36 31 34 32 0.026 1.71
Darryl Dawkins 1977 1986 109 58 51 57 52 0.016 1.68
Chris Dudley 1988 2002 59 24 35 22 37 0.028 1.64
Vlade Divac 1990 2004 121 60 61 58 63 0.013 1.57
Malik Rose 1997 2004 82 49 33 48 34 0.018 1.50
Jalen Rose 1995 2007 59 33 26 31 28 0.025 1.47
Herb Williams 1987 1999 57 29 28 28 29 0.025 1.41
Bob Lanier 1974 1984 67 30 37 29 38 0.021 1.40
Charles Oakley 1986 2001 144 68 76 67 77 0.008 1.23
Arvydas Sabonis 1996 2003 51 24 27 22 29 0.023 1.17
Greg Kite 1984 1995 61 40 21 38 23 0.019 1.16
Kevin Grevey 1976 1985 70 35 35 34 36 0.016 1.13
Anthony Johnson 1999 2009 99 54 45 53 46 0.011 1.12
Kurt Thomas 1996 2009 82 40 43 38 44 0.013 1.08
Al Attles 1961 1971 62 27 35 26 36 0.017 1.07
Scot Pollard 1999 2007 60 30 30 29 31 0.018 1.04
Cliff Hagan 1957 1966 90 47 43 46 44 0.011 1.01
Brian Grant 1996 2006 58 28 31 26 32 0.017 1.01
Danny Young 1987 1992 53 26 27 25 28 0.019 1.00
Harry Gallatin 1950 1958 58 29 29 28 30 0.016 0.96
Gary Payton 1991 2007 154 80 74 79 75 0.006 0.94
Jason Williams 1999 2007 53 23 30 22 31 0.017 0.88
Damon Stoudamire 1998 2008 53 25 28 24 29 0.016 0.85
Eric Snow 1996 2007 103 54 49 53 50 0.008 0.85
Corliss Williamson 1996 2006 66 33 33 32 34 0.013 0.84
Jim King 1964 1973 73 32 41 32 41 0.011 0.80
Rafer Alston 2000 2009 56 27 29 26 30 0.014 0.79
Xavier McDaniel 1987 1995 51 21 30 20 31 0.015 0.77
Paul Silas 1965 1980 163 91 72 90 73 0.005 0.75
Marcus Camby 1999 2008 64 27 37 26 38 0.012 0.75
Jim McMillian 1971 1978 72 37 35 36 36 0.009 0.65
Chris Webber 1994 2007 80 39 41 38 42 0.008 0.60
Caldwell Jones 1977 1990 119 63 56 62 57 0.005 0.56
Frank Ramsey 1955 1964 98 63 35 63 35 0.005 0.51
Howard Eisley 1996 2001 88 49 39 48 40 0.004 0.33
Doug Christie 1993 2004 58 30 28 30 28 0.005 0.29
Mychal Thompson 1979 1991 104 62 42 61 43 0.002 0.26
K.C. Jones 1959 1967 105 68 37 68 37 0.002 0.17
Jeff Malone 1984 1993 51 21 30 21 30 0.003 0.16
Cliff Levingston 1984 1995 82 48 34 48 34 0.002 0.16
Peja Stojakovic 1999 2009 76 37 39 37 39 0.001 0.09
Derek Harper 1984 1999 97 47 50 46 51 0.001 0.09
Tony Battie 2002 2009 51 24 27 24 27 0.001 0.07
Jim Loscutoff 1956 1964 58 38 20 38 20 0.000 0.04
Pau Gasol 2004 2009 56 30 26 30 26 0.000 0.03
Wilt Chamberlain 1960 1973 160 88 72 88 72 0.000 0.01
David Wesley 1994 2005 55 24 31 24 31 -0.001 -0.02
Travis Best 1996 2005 63 34 29 34 29 -0.001 -0.04
Jeff Hornacek 1989 2000 140 76 64 76 64 0.000 -0.06
Nathaniel Clifton 1951 1958 53 26 27 26 27 -0.002 -0.09
Chris Ford 1974 1982 58 32 26 32 26 -0.002 -0.09
Mel Counts 1965 1974 85 48 37 49 36 -0.002 -0.16
Alvan Adams 1976 1985 78 35 43 35 43 -0.003 -0.25
Jack Marin 1969 1977 51 19 32 19 32 -0.005 -0.26
George Johnson 1973 1985 59 30 29 31 28 -0.005 -0.28
Greg Anthony 1992 2001 102 55 47 55 47 -0.003 -0.29
Hedo Turkoglu 2001 2009 82 43 39 43 39 -0.004 -0.32
Dick McGuire 1950 1960 63 30 33 30 33 -0.006 -0.35
Jon McGlocklin 1966 1976 55 34 21 34 21 -0.006 -0.35
David Robinson 1990 2003 123 71 52 71 52 -0.003 -0.39
Bob Pettit 1956 1965 88 45 43 46 42 -0.006 -0.53
Tom Heinsohn 1957 1965 104 69 35 70 34 -0.005 -0.54
Gus Williams 1976 1986 99 51 48 52 47 -0.006 -0.60
Gail Goodrich 1966 1974 80 42 38 43 37 -0.008 -0.61
Fred Brown 1975 1984 83 43 40 43 40 -0.008 -0.67
George Lynch 1995 2004 62 28 34 28 34 -0.011 -0.68
Harvey Catchings 1976 1984 53 24 29 25 28 -0.014 -0.73
Sedale Threatt 1984 1997 70 30 40 31 39 -0.012 -0.81
Bryon Russell 1994 2005 105 56 49 57 48 -0.008 -0.89
Joe Smith 1999 2009 52 22 30 23 29 -0.017 -0.90
Keith Van Horn 1998 2006 57 28 29 29 28 -0.016 -0.91
Wayne Embry 1962 1968 56 26 30 27 29 -0.016 -0.92
Clifford Ray 1972 1977 60 30 30 31 29 -0.016 -0.94
Sean Elliott 1990 2001 85 48 37 49 36 -0.011 -0.95
Rickey Green 1984 1991 55 22 33 23 32 -0.017 -0.96
Nate McMillan 1987 1998 98 47 51 48 50 -0.010 -0.96
Rick Robey 1980 1984 53 31 22 32 21 -0.018 -0.96
Hal Greer 1959 1971 92 44 48 45 47 -0.011 -0.99
Zelmo Beaty 1963 1969 63 31 32 32 31 -0.017 -1.07
Paul Mokeski 1983 1991 69 32 37 33 36 -0.016 -1.08
A.C. Green 1986 2001 153 93 60 94 59 -0.007 -1.13
Wally Szczerbiak 2000 2009 54 26 28 27 27 -0.022 -1.18
David Benoit 1992 2001 57 29 28 30 27 -0.021 -1.18
Antonio McDyess 1998 2009 84 46 38 47 37 -0.015 -1.21
Kevin Johnson 1989 2000 105 53 52 55 50 -0.012 -1.22
Sidney Moncrief 1980 1991 93 42 52 43 50 -0.013 -1.23
Oscar Robertson 1962 1974 86 46 40 47 39 -0.015 -1.26
Anthony Peeler 1995 2005 57 22 35 23 34 -0.022 -1.26
Greg Ostertag 1996 2005 89 46 43 48 41 -0.015 -1.29
Tom Chambers 1984 1995 108 55 54 56 52 -0.013 -1.39
Jo Jo White 1972 1977 80 47 33 48 32 -0.017 -1.40
Jack Sikma 1978 1991 102 49 53 50 52 -0.014 -1.40
Rolando Blackman 1984 1994 69 33 36 35 34 -0.022 -1.49
Lonnie Shelton 1978 1985 52 25 27 27 25 -0.029 -1.51
Alton Lister 1982 1998 87 39 48 40 47 -0.018 -1.53
Jermaine O'Neal 1997 2009 76 36 40 38 38 -0.020 -1.53
Alonzo Mourning 1993 2007 95 48 47 50 45 -0.016 -1.54
Willie Anderson 1990 1997 52 26 26 27 25 -0.030 -1.56
James Jones 2005 2009 51 25 26 27 24 -0.033 -1.71
Dale Ellis 1984 1998 73 30 43 31 42 -0.024 -1.77
Gerald Wilkins 1988 1997 55 21 34 23 32 -0.033 -1.79
Mike Sanders 1983 1993 67 29 38 31 36 -0.027 -1.82
Leroy Ellis 1963 1976 64 32 32 34 30 -0.029 -1.83
Avery Johnson 1989 2001 90 49 41 51 39 -0.021 -1.85
Tim Thomas 1999 2009 55 25 30 27 28 -0.034 -1.88
Michael Finley 2001 2009 111 58 53 60 51 -0.017 -1.90
Cazzie Russell 1967 1977 72 34 38 36 36 -0.026 -1.90
Bill Sharman 1952 1961 78 46 32 48 30 -0.025 -1.92
Antoine Carr 1987 1999 107 56 51 58 49 -0.018 -1.97
Otis Thorpe 1986 2001 78 36 42 38 40 -0.025 -1.98
Mahdi Abdul-Rahman 1965 1973 58 24 34 26 32 -0.035 -2.05
David Wingate 1987 1998 59 29 30 31 28 -0.035 -2.07
Dave Cowens 1972 1980 89 52 37 54 35 -0.023 -2.10
Shawn Marion 2000 2007 65 32 33 34 31 -0.033 -2.14
Lenny Wilkens 1961 1968 64 31 33 33 31 -0.034 -2.17
Bill Bridges 1963 1975 113 56 57 58 55 -0.019 -2.20
Charles Smith 1992 1996 66 36 30 38 28 -0.034 -2.22
Frank Johnson 1982 1994 54 24 30 26 28 -0.042 -2.26
Jamal Mashburn 1997 2003 52 26 26 28 24 -0.044 -2.29
Arnie Risen 1950 1958 57 30 27 33 24 -0.041 -2.30
Kevin Willis 1986 2004 98 48 50 50 48 -0.023 -2.31
Adam Keefe 1993 1999 64 34 30 36 28 -0.037 -2.34
Anthony Mason 1992 2003 96 46 50 48 48 -0.024 -2.34
Mike Evans 1980 1988 58 25 33 28 30 -0.040 -2.35
Nick Van Exel 1995 2006 76 37 39 40 36 -0.031 -2.37
Darrell Armstrong 1997 2006 51 22 29 24 27 -0.048 -2.43
Kiki Vandeweghe 1982 1993 68 26 42 29 39 -0.036 -2.43
Quinn Buckner 1978 1985 68 37 31 40 28 -0.036 -2.43
Cedric Ceballos 1991 2001 59 27 32 30 29 -0.042 -2.45
Luke Jackson 1965 1971 56 29 27 31 25 -0.044 -2.46
Elvin Hayes 1969 1982 96 45 51 47 49 -0.026 -2.47
Erick Dampier 2005 2009 52 25 27 28 24 -0.048 -2.48
Larry Foust 1951 1961 73 30 43 33 40 -0.035 -2.54
Dave Corzine 1979 1991 68 27 41 30 38 -0.037 -2.55
Antonio Daniels 1999 2009 80 39 41 41 39 -0.032 -2.55
Steve Kuberski 1972 1976 50 29 21 32 18 -0.051 -2.56
Larry Nance 1982 1993 68 30 38 33 35 -0.038 -2.57
Michael Cage 1989 1996 53 22 31 25 28 -0.049 -2.57
John Battle 1986 1995 55 25 30 28 27 -0.047 -2.58
Truck Robinson 1975 1984 74 34 40 37 37 -0.035 -2.59
Sam Perkins 1985 2001 167 88 79 90 77 -0.016 -2.61
Austin Croshere 1999 2007 68 33 35 36 32 -0.039 -2.66
M.L. Carr 1977 1985 67 41 26 43 24 -0.040 -2.68
Jon Barry 1997 2005 62 26 36 28 34 -0.044 -2.71
James Donaldson 1982 1995 51 22 29 25 26 -0.054 -2.74
Dell Curry 1987 2002 51 18 33 21 30 -0.054 -2.77
Dominique Wilkins 1983 1999 56 22 34 25 31 -0.049 -2.77
Jason Terry 2005 2009 56 27 29 30 26 -0.050 -2.78
Aaron McKie 1995 2006 75 33 42 35 40 -0.037 -2.82
Randy Breuer 1984 1993 60 27 33 29 31 -0.047 -2.82
Charles Barkley 1985 1999 123 62 61 64 59 -0.023 -2.86
Mark Eaton 1984 1993 74 33 41 36 38 -0.040 -2.96
Andy Phillip 1950 1958 60 27 33 30 30 -0.050 -3.00
Dennis Johnson 1978 1990 180 104 76 107 73 -0.017 -3.02
Vinny Del Negro 1993 2001 54 26 28 29 25 -0.056 -3.02
Karl Malone 1986 2004 193 97 96 100 93 -0.016 -3.02
Alvin Scott 1978 1985 61 26 35 29 32 -0.050 -3.03
Shawn Kemp 1991 2003 88 41 47 44 44 -0.035 -3.06
Scott Wedman 1975 1986 85 47 38 50 35 -0.036 -3.06
Ervin Johnson 1994 2006 77 38 39 41 36 -0.040 -3.07
Glen Rice 1992 2001 55 26 29 29 26 -0.057 -3.14
Vincent Askew 1991 1996 50 25 25 28 22 -0.064 -3.21
Darrall Imhoff 1963 1970 54 24 30 27 27 -0.060 -3.22
Wayne Cooper 1983 1992 74 35 39 38 36 -0.046 -3.37
Wes Unseld 1969 1980 119 53 66 56 63 -0.029 -3.41
Paul Pressey 1983 1992 75 33 42 36 39 -0.046 -3.43
George Gervin 1977 1986 59 25 34 28 31 -0.058 -3.44
Bob Weiss 1967 1977 53 20 33 23 30 -0.065 -3.46
Lou Hudson 1967 1979 61 24 37 28 33 -0.057 -3.46
Alex English 1978 1990 68 28 40 32 36 -0.051 -3.47
Tony Delk 1997 2006 53 24 29 27 26 -0.066 -3.50
Dan Issel 1977 1985 53 23 30 27 26 -0.067 -3.54
James Posey 2004 2009 65 32 33 36 29 -0.055 -3.54
Mark West 1984 1999 95 46 49 50 45 -0.038 -3.57
Rasho Nesterovic 1999 2008 64 29 35 32 32 -0.056 -3.59
Doc Rivers 1984 1996 81 41 40 44 37 -0.044 -3.60
Dikembe Mutombo 1994 2009 101 44 57 48 53 -0.036 -3.67
Buck Williams 1982 1998 108 50 58 54 54 -0.035 -3.73
Hot Rod Williams 1988 1998 57 23 34 27 30 -0.066 -3.79
Kevin Duckworth 1987 1993 67 34 33 37 30 -0.057 -3.82
Gerald Henderson 1980 1991 88 51 37 55 33 -0.043 -3.83
Josh Howard 2004 2009 62 29 33 33 29 -0.063 -3.91
Hersey Hawkins 1989 2001 74 36 38 40 34 -0.053 -3.95
Steve Smith 1992 2005 90 38 52 42 48 -0.044 -4.00
Jim Paxson 1980 1990 53 22 31 26 27 -0.076 -4.03
Eddie Jones 1995 2008 81 36 45 40 41 -0.050 -4.04
Joe Kleine 1986 1999 50 22 28 26 24 -0.081 -4.04
Craig Ehlo 1985 1996 76 34 42 38 38 -0.054 -4.09
Don Chaney 1969 1977 70 38 32 42 28 -0.059 -4.12
Chuck Person 1987 2000 51 22 29 26 25 -0.081 -4.13
John Stockton 1985 2003 182 89 93 93 89 -0.023 -4.15
Allen Iverson 1999 2008 71 29 42 34 37 -0.060 -4.26
Archie Clark 1967 1976 71 29 42 33 38 -0.061 -4.35
Ray Allen 1999 2009 77 41 36 45 32 -0.057 -4.36
Jerome Kersey 1985 2000 126 63 63 68 58 -0.036 -4.46
Mark Bryant 1990 2003 79 36 43 40 39 -0.057 -4.50
Clyde Lovellette 1954 1964 69 35 34 40 29 -0.066 -4.53
Matt Guokas 1967 1975 60 31 29 36 24 -0.076 -4.55
Jon Koncak 1986 1996 53 24 29 28 25 -0.086 -4.56
Mike Riordan 1969 1977 84 42 42 47 37 -0.055 -4.61
P.J. Brown 1994 2008 106 54 52 59 47 -0.044 -4.62
Thurl Bailey 1984 1999 69 29 40 34 35 -0.067 -4.64
Bob Cousy 1951 1963 109 63 46 68 41 -0.043 -4.66
Bobby Jackson 1999 2008 58 25 33 29 29 -0.081 -4.69
Tyrone Corbin 1986 2000 81 35 46 40 41 -0.059 -4.81
Cedric Maxwell 1980 1988 102 59 43 64 38 -0.047 -4.84
Stacey Augmon 1993 2004 77 31 46 36 41 -0.063 -4.89
Tyrone Hill 1991 2003 74 31 43 36 38 -0.066 -4.90
T.R. Dunn 1978 1990 76 32 44 37 39 -0.064 -4.90
Ricky Pierce 1985 1997 97 42 56 46 51 -0.051 -4.98
Detlef Schrempf 1986 2001 114 53 61 58 56 -0.045 -5.09
Jerry Sloan 1966 1975 52 17 35 22 30 -0.098 -5.11
Danny Schayes 1983 1999 69 28 41 33 36 -0.075 -5.14
Fred Roberts 1985 1996 67 29 38 34 33 -0.079 -5.27
Dirk Nowitzki 2001 2009 97 46 52 51 46 -0.055 -5.36
Raja Bell 2001 2008 68 33 35 38 30 -0.079 -5.37
Anfernee Hardaway 1994 2004 64 27 37 32 32 -0.085 -5.41
Walter Davis 1978 1991 78 34 44 40 38 -0.071 -5.52
Bill Hanzlik 1982 1990 62 24 38 30 32 -0.091 -5.62
Phil Chenier 1972 1979 60 25 35 31 29 -0.097 -5.82
Terry Cummings 1985 1998 110 51 59 57 53 -0.053 -5.85
Paul Pierce 2002 2009 77 39 38 45 32 -0.079 -6.11
Wali Jones 1965 1976 70 34 36 40 30 -0.087 -6.11
Danny Ainge 1982 1995 193 116 77 122 71 -0.032 -6.12
Rod Strickland 1989 2003 52 18 34 24 28 -0.118 -6.14
Eduardo Najera 2001 2008 54 20 35 26 28 -0.114 -6.16
Danny Ferry 1992 2003 67 31 36 37 30 -0.092 -6.17
Chet Walker 1963 1975 105 48 57 54 51 -0.060 -6.28
Larry Bird 1980 1992 164 99 65 105 59 -0.039 -6.33
Tim Hardaway 1991 2003 56 23 33 29 27 -0.115 -6.45
Tree Rollins 1978 1995 93 39 54 46 47 -0.070 -6.49
Jerry Stackhouse 1999 2008 64 28 36 35 29 -0.102 -6.50
Steve Nash 1997 2008 102 48 54 54 48 -0.066 -6.76
Kevin Garnett 1997 2008 73 33 40 40 33 -0.093 -6.77
Mookie Blaylock 1992 1999 54 18 36 25 29 -0.132 -7.15
Kevin McHale 1981 1993 169 99 70 106 63 -0.043 -7.28
Eddie House 2001 2009 59 30 29 37 22 -0.125 -7.36
Dan Majerle 1989 2001 123 62 61 70 53 -0.061 -7.51
Robert Parish 1977 1997 184 106 78 114 70 -0.041 -7.53
Clifford Robinson 1990 2007 141 63 78 72 69 -0.063 -8.88
Terry Porter 1986 2002 124 55 69 66 58 -0.086 -10.60

They call him Big Shot Bob (er, sorry, "Rob") for a reason:

Year Age Team G pW pL xW xL WAE
1993 22 HOU 12 6 6 7 5 -0.79
1994 23 HOU 23 15 8 13 10 1.98
1995 24 HOU 22 15 7 7 15 7.67
1996 25 HOU 8 3 5 3 5 0.06
1997 26 LAL 9 4 5 4 5 -0.15
1998 27 LAL 13 7 6 7 6 -0.05
1999 28 LAL 8 3 5 3 5 -0.49
2000 29 LAL 23 15 8 16 7 -1.09
2001 30 LAL 16 15 1 8 8 6.83
2002 31 LAL 19 15 4 10 9 5.03
2003 32 LAL 12 6 6 5 7 0.84
2004 33 SAS 10 6 4 5 5 0.57
2005 34 SAS 23 16 7 13 10 2.97
2006 35 SAS 13 7 6 8 5 -1.32
2007 36 SAS 18 14 4 10 8 3.96
2008 37 SAS 15 8 7 7 8 0.55

Meanwhile, what's the deal with Robert Parish?

Year Age Team G pW pL xW xL WAE
1977 23 GSW 10 5 5 4 6 0.51
1981 27 BOS 17 12 5 11 6 1.03
1982 28 BOS 12 7 5 8 4 -0.93
1983 29 BOS 7 2 5 4 3 -2.32
1984 30 BOS 23 15 8 16 7 -0.87
1985 31 BOS 21 13 8 14 7 -0.53
1986 32 BOS 18 15 3 13 5 1.65
1987 33 BOS 21 12 9 12 9 -0.34
1988 34 BOS 17 9 8 10 7 -1.32
1989 35 BOS 3 0 3 1 2 -0.66
1990 36 BOS 5 2 3 3 2 -1.03
1991 37 BOS 10 5 5 6 4 -1.75
1992 38 BOS 10 6 4 5 5 1.16
1993 39 BOS 4 1 3 2 2 -1.19
1995 41 CHH 4 1 3 2 2 -1.14
1997 43 CHI 2 2 0 1 1 0.21

He gets shortchanged in 1984 because the C's are expected to win more games than was actually possible under the playoff structure back then, but it's still surprising to see him, McHale, and Bird so low on the list. Apparently the 80s-era Celtics allowed their opponents to extend series far longer than they should have been able to, given their regular-season winning percentages.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Lakers won 6.83 more games than they "should have" in the 2001 playoffs (we spent time exploring this just last week), and the king of all overachievers was the 1995 Houston Rockets, who won 7.67 more games than they were "supposed to". Those two playoff runs boost Robert Horry considerably; had the Rockets and Lakers performed as expected, Horry would rank 9th with 12.08 WAE instead of 1st with 26.58. But whether that makes him clutch or just plain lucky, you still have to acknowledge that Horry had one of the most remarkable postseason careers in NBA history.

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13 Responses to “Playoff Wins Above Expected”

  1. mrparker Says:

    What do you think the outcome illustrates? That Horry played "more harder" in the playoffs than any other player in NBA history?

  2. Jason J Says:

    Horry gets a lot of credit for Clyde Drexler joining Houston late in 1995, fitting into the Rockets scheme at just the right time after initial stumbles, and helping them win a title.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    Yeah, that's the problem with making these estimations based on regular-season WPct. It admittedly makes more sense in football, because they don't really do any in-season blockbusters like the Drexler trade, but it's still fun to look at which players consistently played for teams who overachieved compared to their RS records.

    But I was more surprised by the 80s Celtics, to be honest...

  4. Jason J Says:

    You think maybe the Celt's playoff record is that way because the top of the East was so tough in the '80s? They pretty much always had to deal with Phili, Milwaukee, Detroit, or LA. No cakewalks after round 1 really.

  5. Ben Says:

    Another issue is that there were simply more games some years rather than others. I'd be curious to see championships above expectation. Use the BR playoff probability report at the end of the regular season to determine the expected number of championships. I was thinking about this after reading knickerblogger recently on in addition to being great, Jordan was rather fortunate in the playoffs. This would be an interesting way to quantify that.

    Ben

  6. Neil Paine Says:

    That's a good point -- the WAE list is dominated by modern players because they play far more playoff games now. Good idea, too, using end-of-season championship probability and seeing which teams/players fell short the most. I'll have to put that study together at some point.

    I do disagree with that Knickerblogger post to an extent, though... Not that Jordan's the GOAT (he is), but that he was unnaturally "lucky" to win those rings. Using your idea about end-of-season championship probability and expected championships, we can actually see what the probability was that Jordan's run was due to random chance vs. skill. I'm guessing the odds that chance was responsible will be extraordinarily low...

  7. Ben Says:

    BTW, Phil Jackson must be way over expectation as coach, right?

  8. Ben Says:

    I imagine Jordan will be well above expectation in championships, but I think many would dispute that much of that was luck. The question certainly wouldn't be settled. It would be difficult to figure out how to do so. Still, it would be very interesting to see the results.

  9. Rich Rifkin Says:

    I would have apparently been a much greater basketball player if I had Michael Jordan as my teammate:

    Scottie Pippen 1988 2003 208 136 72 117 91 0.090 18.72
    Horace Grant 1988 2002 170 109 61 94 76 0.092 15.59
    Dennis Rodman 1987 1998 169 116 53 101 68 0.088 14.96
    Bill Cartwright 1981 1994 124 78 46 64 60 0.118 14.65
    John Salley 1987 2000 134 90 44 78 56 0.093 12.43
    Rich Rifkin 1994 2008 203 123 80 111 92 0.059 11.90
    B.J. Armstrong 1990 1999 105 71 35 59 46 0.113 11.88
    John Paxson 1985 1994 119 74 45 62 57 0.099 11.81
    Will Perdue 1989 2001 108 72 36 61 47 0.097 10.51
    Steve Kerr 1990 2003 128 86 42 76 52 0.073 9.38
    Stacey King 1990 1996 61 44 17 35 26 0.151 9.21
    Scott Williams 1991 2004 94 61 33 52 42 0.094 8.82

  10. Alvy Says:

    Jordan is great, but players like Grant, Pippen and Rodman are more than exceptional players on their own right, so no Jordan didn't entirely boost their WAE

  11. Mike G Says:

    I'd have been shocked if Robert Horry didn't top this list. How many players reached at least the 2nd round in 16 consecutive seasons?
    The Jordan/Pippen Bulls almost always knocked out their first-round opponent in a sweep, and only twice went to 7 games. Pretty remarkable.
    They never faced Horry in the playoffs!

    I think, too, the Bird Celtics never 'upset' anyone in the playoffs?

    It is surprising that Cliff Robinson is not at the bottom in WAE. Terry Porter edges him out, apparently bringing doom to his later clubs -- Min, Mia, SA.

    Sort by (delta)WPct -- Stacey King rules!

    Great stuff, Neil. An Instant Classic.

  12. Mike G Says:

    The obvious follow-up data-dump would be to rank players by (Playoff) Win Shares vs Expected Win Shares. Totals and ratio.
    You could figure out the normal ratio of PO/RS Win Shares, and use that as a basis for Expected.
    Or with more work you could (as in this study) do it by opponent. I just don't know how you'd do that.

    This could separate the coattail-riders from the stepper-uppers.

  13. Downpuppy Says:

    The 1980s Celtics were more overachievers in the regular season than tankers in the playoffs. KC Jones took the (very sensible) approach of sending out a bunch of stars & letting them go crazy. Less of the minutes management, more meaningless wins. 308 wins in 5 years, then they got old.

    The odd thing about all this was how obvious it was as it happened, and how clear it was that KC didn't have any real choice.