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Layups: Name the 2009-10 NBA Leaders… By College Conference

Posted by Neil Paine on April 28, 2010

Via Sporcle, here's an interesting new take on a leaderboard quiz... Can you name the 2009-10 NBA stat leaders by the college conference of the player's alma mater?

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Larry Brown’s (Almost Complete) Career

Posted by Neil Paine on April 27, 2010

After the Orlando Magic completed their sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday, all eyes turned to Charlotte's coach, the brilliant, often enigmatic Larry Brown -- would he stay on as the leader of Michael Jordan's team, or were the rumors that he wanted to return to Philadelphia true? Brown responded in typical Larry Brown fashion:

"A reporter asked Brown about the [Philadelphia] report after the game. 'I'm not coaching anywhere but Charlotte,' Brown said. 'Now am I going to go home and talk to my wife and kids? I'll be 70 years old and I've got two young kids. Am I going to talk to them and find out what I need to do, and am I going to talk to Michael? Absolutely. But I'm not coaching anywhere but for Michael Jordan if he wants me and if I can work it out with my family.'

Of course, Brown didn't rule out taking on a team presidency with that statement. When asked if he would consider an executive role for a team other than Charlotte, Brown responded, 'That's hypothetical.'"

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Posted in Coaches, History | 3 Comments »

Best Elimination-Game Performances: Win Shares Edition

Posted by Neil Paine on April 26, 2010

As a quick follow-up to my post this morning about the best elimination-game performances by total points and John Hollinger's "Game Score", I took commenter Mike G's advice and calculated single-game Win Shares for each player in an elimination game as well. Here are the Top 100 performances by WS since 1991 in a playoff game where the player's team was one loss away from going home for the summer:

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Posted in Data Dump, History, Playoffs, Statgeekery | 17 Comments »

Best Elimination-Game Performances, 1991-2010

Posted by Neil Paine on April 26, 2010

See also: Best Elimination-Game Performances: Win Shares Edition

While Dwyane Wade was scorching the Celtics yesterday for 46 points and single-handedly keeping Miami's slim playoff chances alive with a barrage of 4th-quarter threes, I wondered if it was one of the greatest elimination-game performances in recent memory. So I queried the Basketball-Reference database and called up every game in our playoff gamelogs (which go back to the 1991 postseason), finding every instance where a player's team went into the game 1 loss away from being ousted from the playoffs. Here are the 50 best scoring outbursts in games that matched that criteria:

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Posted in History, Playoffs | 9 Comments »

Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): Regular Season, Stage 1

Posted by Neil Paine on April 23, 2010

Mario Elie NBA & ABA Basketball Statistics & HistoryYesterday, I outlined the setup for a fantasy league of sorts -- the Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (or BLAB, after the indomitable Uwe Blab). In a nutshell, BLAB takes some choice scrubs from the past and gives them their own 6-team league, headlined by team captains Greg Kite, Larry Krystkowiak, Kevin Duckworth, Kurt Rambis, Joe Wolf, and Paul Mokeski. The season is 30 games per team, and outcomes are determined by the career Win Shares per 48 min. of the players on each roster (randomized a bit using the players' seasonal standard deviations of offensive and defensive WS/48). The top 3 teams in the league table make the playoffs, with the eventual winner taking home the prestigious Uwe Blab Championship Trophy.

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Posted in Insane ideas, Just For Fun | 16 Comments »

Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB) Setup

Posted by Neil Paine on April 22, 2010

In case you missed it earlier this week, on Sunday I posted a link to a blog that paid tribute to 5 semi-random 1980s journeymen with surprisingly devoted followings on Facebook. A friend passed the link to me with a question about which additional players I'd like to see homages to, so I opened up the question to the readers here at BBR. And you responded with a lot of great names, to the point that one commenter suggested I create a team of these forgotten non-stars. But I want to take this tribute one step further -- I want to create an entire ficitional league out of these guys, and call it "BLAB", short for the Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (Uwe Blab didn't make any of the rosters, but we obviously needed to immortalize him somehow). Here are the initial rules I laid out for the league:

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Posted in Insane ideas, Just For Fun | 14 Comments »

Layups: NBA Feuds!

Posted by Neil Paine on April 21, 2010

Okay, this is awesome... It's a post from Andrew Sharp of SBNation about the greatest feuds in NBA history, and while the current Pierce-Richardson dustup (which apparently stems from Q-Rich's recruiting visit to Kansas almost 15 years ago) leads the way, he also delves deep into Rodman-Malone, LeBron-Deshawn, Randolph-Patterson, and more. My personal favorite, though? Ha Seung Jin vs. Nenad Sinanovic, hands down.

Let's play the feud!

(Hat tip: TrueHoop.)

Posted in Just For Fun, Layups | 5 Comments »

Does Playing Well Going Into the Playoffs Matter?

Posted by Neil Paine on April 21, 2010

One aphorism about the playoffs in any sport is that you can't just "flip the switch", or shift some imaginary team "gear" from neutral into overdrive the moment the postseason begins. Instead, you need momentum -- you need to be healthy and operating like a well-oiled machine going into the playoffs, so that you can peak in the postseason and hopefully win a championship. Even one of the NBA's most notorious examples of "switch-flipping", the 2001 Lakers, won 9 of their final 10 games going into the postseason before unleashing the most dominant playoff performance ever on their opponents. So it seems like a no-brainer: you can't succeed in the playoffs unless you played well at the end of the regular season.

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Posted in Analysis, History, Playoffs | 3 Comments »

Optimizing the Rockets II

Posted by Neil Paine on April 20, 2010

As if everyone isn't already tired of this debate (one which will never be satisfactorily settled, I'm sure), here's a final note on who contributed the most to the 1995 Rockets' offense during the playoffs, Hakeem Olajuwon (mega-high usage, average efficiency) or Clyde Drexler (mid-to-high usage, mega-high efficiency)...

My last post attempted to create a simple model of team offensive efficiency using Dean Oliver's Offensive Rating, Possession %, and what Dean called "Skill Curves", or the relationship between changes in individual usage and efficiency rates. In general, both Oliver and Eli Witus found a quantifiable inverse relationship between increases in usage and predicted offensive efficiency -- in other words, there's diminishing returns to increasing your usage, and as you add more usage you become less and less efficient (which only makes sense to anyone who's ever played basketball).

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 51 Comments »

Optimizing the ’95 Rockets

Posted by Neil Paine on April 19, 2010

Over in the comments of an earlier post about the 1990s Knicks, a discussion is raging about who the best player on the 1995 Houston Rockets was -- Hakeem Olajuwon, or his old college teammate Clyde Drexler? At the core of the back-and-forth is whether Drexler's 120.1 offensive rating (using 23.8% of Houston's possessions when on the court) was more vital to the offense than Hakeem's 109.8 ORtg (using 34.1% of possessions when in the game)... In other words, the old usage-efficiency debate. On one side, Drexler clearly contributed more points per possession to the Rockets' effort than Olajuwon -- but on the other side, Hakeem had to create offense on a significantly higher % of the Rockets' possessions than Clyde, and if you subscribe to "skill curve" theory, this means Clyde's ORtg was artificially enhanced by the extra defensive attention Hakeem drew -- as well as the fact that his shot selection didn't have to include the offense's toughest shots, which were presumably going to Hakeem (at least in a larger proportion), in turn dragging down Hakeem's ORtg.

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery | 17 Comments »