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BBR Rankings: Pre-Finals Schedule-Adjusted NBA Offensive and Defensive Power Ratings

Posted by Neil Paine on May 27, 2011

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on May 26, 2011:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery | 18 Comments »

Layups: R.I.P. Margo Dydek

Posted by Neil Paine on May 27, 2011

Here's a very sad news story from ESPN:

"Former WNBA player Margo Dydek has died after suffering a heart attack a week ago and being placed in a medically induced coma.

[...]

The Poland-born Dydek, who was pregnant with her third child, suffered the heart attack on May 19 and collapsed at her home in Brisbane. Roberts said that Dydek was at an early stage in her pregnancy and that her unborn child had also died."

Standing an amazing 7'2", Dydek was easily the tallest player in WNBA history. She was also one of the league's kindest, most popular players, Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com wrote.

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Posted in Layups | 6 Comments »

Layups: Cognitive Bias in the LeBron Narrative

Posted by Neil Paine on May 26, 2011

Cognitive Bias in the LeBron Narrative: People's minds are tricking them when it comes to player narratives, writes ElGee of Back Picks.

Posted in Layups | 38 Comments »

Mailbag: The 8 Teams That Came Back From a 3-1 Deficit

Posted by Neil Paine on May 25, 2011

Yesterday, Kenneth wrote:

"I am seeking more information on NBA playoff series where one team fell into a 1-3 hole, but was able to win the next 3 games and the series.  As per the TV NBA analysts, in past NBA playoff series, 200 of them  reached the point where one team was up 3-1; only 8 of those series concluded with the down team ultimately winning the remaining 3 games and the series.

[Who were] the teams in those 8 series?  I know the 1995 Houston Rockets were one of those teams (their 1-3 down situation occurred against the Phoenix Suns) and ended up winning the title.  I'm also curious how many of the 8 teams who managed to claw their way back from a 1-3 hole ultimately played in the Finals that year and how many won the title."

This became even more pertinent last night when the Bulls fell behind the Heat 3-1, giving us two teams currently facing 3-1 deficits. Here were the 8 series where teams dug their way out of a 3-1 hole:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Playoffs | 13 Comments »

Layups: Brent Barry Admires Hoopism’s Dunk Poster

Posted by Neil Paine on May 24, 2011

Remember Hoopism's sweet dunk contest history poster?

Awesomely enough, Brent Barry is a fan as well. And he's wearing the LAC warmup in the photos.

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

Losing Your (Inefficient) Leading Scorer Hurts Your Team

Posted by Neil Paine on May 23, 2011

Last week, I ran a post (prompted by this post at the Wages of Wins) wherein I tried to determine the offensive impact when a team loses its leading scorer. I found that, since 1986 at least, a team loses about 2 points of offensive rating relative to the league average when its top scorer by PPG doesn't play.

I got a lot of great feedback from that initial post, so I decided to try my hand at a sequel after making a number of improvements to the study:

  • One complaint was that I was lumping efficient scorers in with inefficient ones in the original study. No one is really debating whether losing LeBron James will hurt an offense, but one of the core questions is whether losing Carmelo Anthony or Rudy Gay has a negative impact as well. To that end, I'm now isolating only teams with inefficient leading scorers. This means a team's PPG leader, minimum 1/2 of team games played, with either a Dean Oliver Offensive Rating or True Shooting % that was equal to or below the league's average that season.
  • Another complaint was that I looked at offense alone, rather than the total impact of the player's loss. So now I'm looking at the change in team efficiency differential (offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency) when a player is in and out of the lineup.
  • While I accounted for strength of opponent in the last study, I didn't account for home-court advantage. Now I have added an HCA term to what we would predict an average team to put up vs. a given opponent (+4 pts/100 of efficiency differential to the home team), in addition to an SOS term (the opponent's efficiency differential in all of its other games).

What follows is a massive table that shows the results of this new study. The outcome (the bottom-right cell) is the average change in efficiency differential when an inefficient leading scorer plays vs. when he does not play, weighted by possessions without the leading scorer. If it is positive, it is evidence that even inefficient scoring is an attribute that teams find difficult to replace in a salary-capped economic system; if it is negative, it is evidence that scoring is overrated if it's not done efficiently, and that inefficient #1 options can be replaced with relative ease.

To the data dump (mouse over column headers for descriptions):

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Posted in Analysis, BBR Mailbag, History, Statgeekery | 33 Comments »

The Bird-Dirk Advanced Stat-off

Posted by Neil Paine on May 19, 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:

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

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

Posted by Neil Paine on May 18, 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

Posted by Neil Paine on May 16, 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

Posted by Neil Paine on May 15, 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 »

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