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Same Player, Different Roles

Posted by Neil Paine on December 29, 2010

I was browsing the stats this morning when I noticed that Ron Artest is currently using 14.7% of the Lakers' possessions when he's on the court, the 19th-lowest possession-usage rate of any qualified player in the NBA. Before joining L.A., Artest was accustomed to usage rates well over the league average of 20%, which had me wondering how Artest's decline in usage compares to other players who changed roles at varying times in the their careers.

It turns out that Artest is currently on pace to be one of only 5 players in NBA history (since 1952, at least) to have one qualified season with a possession rate of at least 25% and another with a rate of 15% of less:

Player Max Usg Year Min Usg Year
Ron Artest 25.7 2004 14.7 2011
Wilt Chamberlain 32.7 1962 12.8 1973
Gary Payton 28.0 2002 14.5 2006
Guy Rodgers 25.0 1966 14.4 1962
Sidney Wicks 27.4 1972 14.7 1980

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery, Trivia | 5 Comments »

Layups: The Many Jersey Numbers of Ron Artest (Flip Flop Fly Ball)

Posted by Neil Paine on December 28, 2010

We expressed our appreciation for Flip Flop Fly Ball at the B-R Blog this past April, so it's cool to see he's branching out into the NBA now:

The Jersey Numbers of Ron Artest - Flip Flop Fly Ball

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups, No Math Required | 2 Comments »

Christmas Rematches in the Playoffs

Posted by Neil Paine on December 27, 2010

These days, the NBA always schedules its Christmas Day games to be marquee matchups, with announcers copiously throwing around phrases like "playoff preview" during the broadcast. But historically, how often have holiday combatants actually gone on to meet again in the postseason? And when they did meet, how often did the Christmas winner repeat their victory?

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Posted in Analysis, History, Holidays, Playoffs | Comments Off on Christmas Rematches in the Playoffs

NY Times: After an Unproductive Minute, One of the Trillions

Posted by Justin Kubatko on December 24, 2010

This week's NY Times column is far from serious analysis, but I think it's a fun read nonetheless:

Keeping Score: After an Unproductive Minute, One of the Trillions

This also appeared in today's print edition. Merry Christmas!

Posted in NY Times | 2 Comments »

Best Christmas Performances (Individual & Team)

Posted by Neil Paine on December 24, 2010

In honor of the Christmas Day games tomorrow, here are some great Christmas performances from the past. First, the best individual games (from 1986-2009) according to "APMVAL", the adjusted plus/minus-based game score metric I introduced here:

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Posted in Analysis, History, Holidays, Just For Fun, Statgeekery | 9 Comments »

BBR Rankings: Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings (December 24, 2010)

Posted by Neil Paine on December 24, 2010

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on December 23, 2010:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery | 11 Comments »

Which Offensive Rate Stats Stay Consistent When a Player Changes Teams/Roles?

Posted by Neil Paine on December 23, 2010

You'd better read this post from August if you haven't yet.

In it, I looked at the year-to-year correlation coefficients for various offensive rate stats (TS%, AST Rate, TOV Rate, FTA/FGA, & OReb%) when a player changed his role in the offense. Essentially, I concluded that offensive rebounding and assists are relatively immune to changes in a player's possession usage, foul-drawing & turnover avoidance are less immune, and scoring efficiency is the most prone to fluctuate with a role change.

Today I wanted to expand on that post by adding another variable into the mix: changing teams. Other than the new variable, though, this study's format is basically the same as in the first post -- except I used touches per minute rather than possession % to define a player's role, and I added Dean Oliver's Offensive Rating (ORtg) into the mix.

Here's the setup: Once again, I found every player from 1974-2010 who was between 24 and 34 years old and played at least 1,000 minutes in back-to-back seasons. I then sorted those players by the absolute change in their touches/min, and took the top quartile as my sample of players who changed roles. I also isolated players who played for a different team than they had the previous season, forming four groups: players who changed team & role; players who changed role only; players who changed team only; and players who changed neither team nor role. Finally, I ran correlation coefficients on the year-to-year offensive rate stat performances for each group:

Year-to-Year Correlation
Type # Plyrs ORtg TS% AsR ToR FTr OR%
Changed Team + Role 414 0.617 0.593 0.792 0.715 0.742 0.924
Changed Role Only 717 0.695 0.686 0.875 0.756 0.828 0.943
Changed Team Only 779 0.563 0.556 0.963 0.735 0.811 0.930
Didn't Change Team or Role 2611 0.719 0.706 0.974 0.802 0.842 0.944

The results:

  • Shooting/offensive efficiency is actually far more impacted when a player changes teams than when he changes roles. This suggests that a team's system, coaching effects, and teammate interactions play a much bigger role in determining shooting percentages than "skill curve" effects.
  • Assists are more dependent on role than team -- for obvious reasons, how much you have the ball in your hands is a major factor when it comes to how often you set up your teammates.
  • Turnovers, fouls drawn, and offensive rebounds are all more team-dependent than role-dependent, but the differences are nowhere near as drastic as those observed in shooting efficiency or assists.
  • For players with no major contextual changes, assists and offensive rebounds are relatively stable; foul-drawing and turnover avoidance are less consistent; and scoring efficiency is the least consistent of all. This mirrors the findings of the original study.
  • Finally, it bears mentioning that even at its least consistent (TS% for players who changed teams), NBA player performance is way more predictable than that of the NFL quarterbacks Jason Lisk looked at in the football study that inspired these posts.

Posted in Analysis, Projections, Statgeekery | 9 Comments »

Send us Your Suggestions!

Posted by Neil Paine on December 22, 2010

Just a friendly reminder that we welcome site feedback/suggestions via our feedback form:

User Feedback -

You can also email us directly at this address. We'll try to respond to everything within a week (although it may take longer this time of year, due to the holidays).

Posted in Announcements, BBR Mailbag, Site Features | 17 Comments »

Checking In on James Posey & James Jones

Posted by Neil Paine on December 22, 2010

In early November, we had a reader point out that James Posey & James Jones were having historic seasons -- namely, the two Jameses were 1-2 all-time in terms of the highest single-season percentage of shot attempts coming from beyond the 3-point arc. A month and a half later, I thought we'd check in once again on that pair, to see if they're still on a collision course with history.

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Posted in Analysis, Just For Fun, Totally Useless, Trivia | 9 Comments »

Gilbert Arenas

Posted by Neil Paine on December 20, 2010

So, I was thinking now would be a good time to talk about Gilbert Arenas.

First of all, I'm an unabashed Gilbert fan; I've always found him to be one of the NBA's most interesting people, in addition to one of its most gifted players. And after everything that's happened over the past few years, I'm glad he finally has an opportunity to make a fresh start in Orlando.

That said, I'm not sure he can help the Magic very much at this stage of his career.

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Posted in Analysis, Player Audit | 64 Comments »