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Pierce, Nowitzki and Other Single-Team Lifers

Posted by Neil Paine on July 2, 2010

After opting out of his contract and briefly causing panic in New England, Paul Pierce has apparently come to terms with the Boston Celtics in a deal that will keep him in green and white for four more years (and possibly for the remainder of his career). Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki was in New York to meet with various suitors, but he has since made his way to Dallas, and the Mavs are "cautiously optimistic" that he'll be back with them next season, locked in with a long-term deal similar to Pierce's.

It only seems like yesterday when these guys entered the league, but they're actually making impressive progress on the list of all-time leaders for career games played with one (and only one) team:

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason | 10 Comments »

Layups: How Many Max Players Can Teams Afford?

Posted by Neil Paine on July 1, 2010

Larry Coon -- proprietor of the NBA Salary Cap FAQ -- is the undisputed king of internet capology, and his knowledge is obviously in high, high, high demand right now. This week, he has a very informative post at ESPN about what kind of cap space each team could possibly create for themselves this summer.

Posted in Layups, Offseason | Comments Off on Layups: How Many Max Players Can Teams Afford?

The James-Wade-Bosh Big Three, Part II

Posted by Neil Paine on July 1, 2010

Following up on yesterday's post about newly-formed "Big Twos", here are notable "Big Threes" from throughout NBA history, formed by taking at least 1 established star from another team. Just to be clear, this is not a list of the Greatest Big Threes Ever; rather, this is a list of combinations featuring players who had been the biggest focal points of their teams the previous year, and then were put together on one team, with each having to adjust to not being the clear-cut alpha dog anymore. Let's go to the list: (note that none of these would even come close to matching the 97.3% combined possession rate the proposed LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh trio had in 2009-10)

1. Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse, & Larry Hughes, 2003 Wizards
Previous Combined %Poss: 89.6% (Jordan - 34.6%; Stackhouse - 32.1%; Hughes - 22.9%)
Previous Team Offensive Rating: 104.8
New Team Offensive Rating: 103.0
New Split of Possessions: 27% (Jordan) - 27% (Stackhouse) - 21% (Hughes)

Comparability to James-Wade-Bosh: Low. We touched on this one yesterday, but it's tough to remember that Larry Hughes was also added to that Wizards team after being the primary facilitator on a Warriors squad that won just 21 games in 2002. The raw talent was certainly there for this group, but they were in the wrong place at the wrong time -- Jordan had peaked 5-10 years earlier, Hughes wouldn't peak until 2 years later, and Stack was what he always was, a high-volume/low-efficiency gunner.

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason, Statgeekery | 24 Comments »

The James-Wade-Bosh Big Three, Part I

Posted by Neil Paine on June 30, 2010

It probably won't happen for salary-cap reasons (somebody who's considered a "max player" will have to take less than max money), but rumors swirled this week that prized free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh would join Dwyane Wade in Miami after an alleged weekend "summit" in which the 3 stars met to discuss their (collective?) futures.

Whether it happens or not, I was wondering how unprecedented this would be in NBA history. We would see a guy who used 35.1% of team possessions when on the court last year (Wade) combine with a guy who used 34.0% (James) and a guy who used 28.1% (Bosh). Has anything like this ever happened outside of an Olympic setting? How would the chemistry work -- who would take the big shot? Would they trade it around? Who would be the Alpha Dog? Can you succeed with three Alpha Dogs?

Let's look to history, starting today with "Big Twos" that were formed (I'll look at "Big Threes" tomorrow). If Wade and James join forces, it would represent 2 teammates who had combined to use 69.2% of possessions the previous year... Has this ever happened before?

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Posted in Analysis, Offseason | 20 Comments »

Site Features: 2010 Free Agent Tracker

Posted by Neil Paine on June 29, 2010

Excited about this summer's epic free agent class? Now you can track free agent signings here at

2010 Free Agent Tracker

That page includes every restricted and unrestricted free agent available this summer, complete with their 09-10 stats. We'll also be updating the table every morning, so it will always be up-to-date on the latest signings.

Let the Bron-sanity begin!

Posted in Announcements, Offseason, Site Features | 1 Comment »

How Unusual Was the Finals Foul Disparity?

Posted by Neil Paine on June 29, 2010

There's a good discussion brewing in the comments of yesterday's thread, centering on whether the big disparity in FTA between L.A. and Boston during the NBA Finals was something we could have expected based on the two teams' season-long tendencies. Here are the facts we know right now:

  1. Los Angeles received far more free throw attempts per shot in the immediate basket area than Boston did.
  2. Per possession, Boston was the 3rd-most foul-prone team in the NBA during the season; L.A. was the 2nd-least foul-prone team.

Basically, Boston fouled a lot more than L.A. during the Finals, but they also fouled a lot against everybody, and L.A. was a team that didn't foul much at all. The question is whether the disparity during the Finals was bigger than we would expect based on the teams' known fouling tendencies. Fortunately, I can estimate a team's expected fouls per possession and free throw attempts per possession by comparing their regular-season rates to the league-average and multiplying by their opponent's regular-season rates:

BOS Expected PF/Poss = ((BOS PF/Poss) / (Lg Avg PF/Poss)) * (LAL Opponent PF/Poss)

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Posted in Analysis, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 69 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Post-Finals Mega-Mailbag

Posted by Neil Paine on June 28, 2010

Lots of great questions coming in the wake of Game Seven... As always, keep hitting me with your suggestions, either in the comments of the blog or at

LakerTracker 2010: Final Kobe-vs-LeBron Numbers

This isn't technically a mailbag question, but it is the final piece in a series created by popular demand. In case you missed Part I & Part II, I've been tracking Kobe Bryant's performance in the Finals this year vs. LeBron James' performance against the same Celtics team in May, as well as Bryant's own performance against Boston in the 2008 Finals. Here are the final numbers:

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, Playoffs | 29 Comments »

Poll: Rookies Most Likely To…

Posted by Neil Paine on June 25, 2010

One of my fave features in SLAM Magazine (at least, when I was a teenager -- not sure if they still do it) was the annual "Rookies Most Likely To..." column, where members of the incoming draft class were judged based on what they were the most likely to do. For instance, we would have said last year that Blake Griffin was the RMLT Average 20 Points (sorry, Clips fans!), or that Stephen Curry was the RMLT knock down 40% of his treys (done, with room to spare), or... well, you get the idea. So this year I want to put it to you, the reader: which rookies are the most likely to live up (or down) to each of these expectations?

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Posted in Just For Fun, NBA Draft, Polls | 6 Comments »

Support, Sponsor a Page

Posted by Neil Paine on June 25, 2010

Sponsoring a page is fun, fast, and easy way to support what we're doing here at Basketball-Reference. With a sponsorship, you can:

  • Show your support for your favorite player or team.
  • Drum up traffic for your own site & draw in fans with a common interest.
  • Get some well-deserved recognition for your support of BBR.
  • Make your voice heard by the tens of thousands of people who visit Basketball-Reference every day.

Here's all you have to do to get involved:

  1. Create a membership account.
  2. Find the page(s) you'd like to support, and click "sponsor" (available pages).
  3. If the page you want is already sponsored, click "Alert Me!" to be informed when the current sponsorship expires.
  4. Follow the instructions to create your message and make your payment.
  5. Your message and links will be visible on the page after we approve them (usually in less than 24 hours).

And who knows, if you're clever enough, your message might end up on lists like these.

Posted in Announcements | 1 Comment »

2010 NBA Draft: Player Comparisons (Lottery Picks)

Posted by Neil Paine on June 25, 2010

I love the way the web's best draft sites provide comparable NBA players for draftees, because -- while totally unscientific -- it provides a decent framework upon which to build your view of (and expectations for) each rookie. Today, I'm going to look at the comparisons from Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton, HoopsHype, DraftExpress, and for each lottery pick, and show the best seasons (by Win Shares) for each comp to get a feel for what they may turn into, including potential strengths and weaknesses.

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Posted in Analysis, NBA Draft, Offseason | 3 Comments »