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Layups: Derrick Rose, Plus/Minus MVP?

Posted by Neil Paine on January 25, 2011

In the absence of a runaway choice, there's an ever-growing push among traditional media members in favor of Derrick Rose's MVP candidacy -- and to be totally honest, the advanced boxscore-based stats don't see it. Rose is having a tremendous season, without a doubt, but he's currently 9th in Win Shares, 17th in WS per 48 minutes, 14th in Player Efficiency Rating, and 14th in Statistical +/-... Not exactly the most impressive MVP resume from the stathead's perspective.

However, there is one advanced metric that does validate the love for Rose: Adjusted Plus/Minus (via Sure, the standard errors are huge, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. shows up as the 2nd-best player behind Rose (yikes!). But at least there is some numerical evidence that Rose is making Chicago better in ways that aren't being detected in his box score numbers.

Posted in Awards, Layups, Statgeekery, Totally Useless | 56 Comments »

Biggest Team Factor Declines

Posted by Neil Paine on January 24, 2011

This morning, Zach Lowe of's must-read Point Forward blog emailed me wondering how Utah's collapse in defensive rebounding % ranks among all-time declines. That got me wondering about the biggest drop-offs in all of the Four Factors, so I ran Z-scores on each team's numbers and looked at the biggest negative changes from one year to the next:

Offensive Effective FG%

Year Team z_eFG% Prev Diff
2011 Cleveland Cavaliers -1.717 1.595 -3.312
1989 Boston Celtics 0.559 2.946 -2.387
1998 Golden State Warriors -2.379 -0.015 -2.364
1997 Orlando Magic -0.713 1.507 -2.220
1997 San Antonio Spurs -1.203 0.852 -2.055
1977 Buffalo Braves -0.914 1.135 -2.049
1976 Chicago Bulls -2.844 -0.822 -2.022
2010 New Jersey Nets -2.175 -0.154 -2.021
2001 Detroit Pistons -1.141 0.860 -2.001
1975 Atlanta Hawks -1.553 0.386 -1.939

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Statgeekery | 52 Comments »

BBR Rankings: Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings (January 21, 2011)

Posted by Neil Paine on January 21, 2011

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on January 20, 2011:

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Posted in BBR Rankings, SRS, Statgeekery | 7 Comments »

NY Times: The Bad Contract

Posted by Justin Kubatko on January 21, 2011

My latest offering to the New York Times:

Keeping Score: The Bad Contract

Look for it in the Friday print edition as well.

Posted in NY Times | 4 Comments »

SRS Standard Errors, the Probability of Being the Best Team, and a Layup

Posted by Neil Paine on January 20, 2011

I finally got around to calculating the standard errors for our team Simple Ratings today:

Team Estimate Std. Error
SAS 7.97 2.62
MIA 6.90 2.60
BOS 6.67 2.63
LAL 5.78 2.59
CHI 4.81 2.61
ORL 4.61 2.61
DEN 3.48 2.63
DAL 3.30 2.62
NOH 2.40 2.60
OKC 2.05 2.61
ATL 1.75 2.60
UTA 1.73 2.61
HOU 0.86 2.60
POR 0.52 2.60
MEM 0.49 2.61
NYK 0.09 2.62
MIL -0.57 2.65
PHI -0.79 2.63
IND -0.87 2.65
LAC -1.51 2.63
PHO -1.91 2.64
GSW -2.92 2.62
CHA -3.74 2.64
DET -3.94 2.61
TOR -4.23 2.62
MIN -5.33 2.60
WAS -5.82 2.64
SAC -6.12 2.64
NJN -6.22 2.61
CLE -10.88 2.62

Then I set up a little Monte Carlo sim to estimate what is the probability of each team being the NBA's best (aka the team with the greatest "true" SRS skill). After 10,000 simulations using the estimates and standard errors above, here were the results:

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Posted in Analysis, Layups, SRS, Statgeekery | 8 Comments »

Follow Basketball-Reference on Twitter and Facebook!

Posted by Neil Paine on January 20, 2011

Just a friendly reminder that you can follow us at your favorite social media sites:

Also, be sure to check out the Play Index, basketball's most powerful search tool...

Posted in Announcements, Site Features | Comments Off on Follow Basketball-Reference on Twitter and Facebook!

Franchise Peaks and Valleys

Posted by Neil Paine on January 20, 2011

What was the best run ever for your favorite team? What was the worst stretch of seasons? Let's take a look at the raw numbers in terms of NBA winning percentage over an x-year span (including our regressed 2011 WPcts):

Best & Worst 2 Years

Team Best 2 Years Worst 2 Years
Atlanta Hawks 1986/1987 (.652) 2005/2006 (.238)
Boston Celtics 1985/1986 (.793) 1996/1997 (.293)
Charlotte Bobcats 2009/2010 (.482) 2005/2006 (.268)
Chicago Bulls 1996/1997 (.860) 2000/2001 (.195)
Cleveland Cavaliers 2009/2010 (.774) 1982/1983 (.232)
Dallas Mavericks 2006/2007 (.774) 1993/1994 (.146)
Denver Nuggets 2009/2010 (.652) 1998/1999 (.189)
Detroit Pistons 1989/1990 (.744) 1980/1981 (.226)
Golden State Warriors 1975/1976 (.652) 2000/2001 (.220)
Houston Rockets 1993/1994 (.689) 1983/1984 (.262)
Indiana Pacers 1998/1999 (.689) 1983/1984 (.280)
Los Angeles Clippers 1975/1976 (.579) 1987/1988 (.177)
Los Angeles Lakers 1972/1973 (.787) 1958/1959 (.361)
Memphis Grizzlies 2004/2005 (.579) 1996/1997 (.177)
Miami Heat 1997/1998 (.707) 1989/1990 (.201)
Team Best 2 Years Worst 2 Years
Milwaukee Bucks 1971/1972 (.787) 1993/1994 (.293)
Minnesota Timberwolves 2003/2004 (.665) 1992/1993 (.207)
New Jersey Nets 2002/2003 (.616) 2010/2011 (.216)
New Orleans Hornets 1997/1998 (.640) 1989/1990 (.238)
New York Knicks 1993/1994 (.713) 1963/1964 (.269)
Oklahoma City Thunder 1995/1996 (.738) 2008/2009 (.262)
Orlando Magic 2009/2010 (.720) 1990/1991 (.299)
Philadelphia 76ers 1967/1968 (.798) 1973/1974 (.207)
Phoenix Suns 1993/1994 (.720) 1969/1970 (.335)
Portland Trail Blazers 1990/1991 (.744) 1972/1973 (.238)
Sacramento Kings 2002/2003 (.732) 2009/2010 (.256)
San Antonio Spurs 2005/2006 (.744) 1988/1989 (.317)
Toronto Raptors 2000/2001 (.561) 1997/1998 (.280)
Utah Jazz 1997/1998 (.768) 1979/1980 (.305)
Washington Wizards 1975/1976 (.659) 1962/1963 (.269)

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Posted in Analysis, History, Statgeekery, Trivia | 10 Comments »

Layups: Block Recovery %

Posted by Neil Paine on January 19, 2011

Here's a good post from frequent BBR commenter Imadogg at his blog:

Best Blockers in the League: Who Recovers the Block?

Dogg looked at the top shot-blockers in the NBA by blocks per game, and did some digging through play-by-play data to determine how often the blocker's own team recovered the ball immediately after the swat (this is basically the first half of the "Bill Russell stat" Simmons talks about in The Book of Basketball). For instance, 67% of the time league leader Andrew Bogut blocks a shot, the Bucks end up with possession; compare that rate to 44% for Pau Gasol at the low end of the spectrum.

Posted in Layups | 21 Comments »

Layups: Nate Silver on Carmelo Anthony & the Usage-Efficiency Debate

Posted by Neil Paine on January 19, 2011

Nate Silver is primarily a baseball guy. (Or is that a politics guy?) But he weighed in on basketball last weekend -- specifically, the prospect of Carmelo Anthony joining the Knicks.

Some advanced stats underrate Anthony because they assume a quality shot can be created at will, every time down the floor. The logic is that if Anthony (an inefficient scorer) doesn't shoot, the team will just find someone else who can convert at a similar rate. And since Anthony isn't the most complete player in the world when you look beyond his scoring, it stands to reason that formulas which undervalue shot creation will see little reason to pay him top dollar.

But as Nate argues, Anthony is making his teammates better by taking the pressure to create off of them. His skills allow a team to surround him with defense-minded, low-usage players that compliment him, setting up something of a division of labor on the court. Silver lends credibility to this notion by showing that when players play alongside Carmelo, their offensive efficiencies increase.

I tend to agree with Silver's premise. This is why I constantly harp on "skill curves" and usage-efficiency tradeoffs, and why offensive statistical plus-minus contains a squared term for true shooting attempts per minute -- because there's a great deal of evidence that the marginal cost of possession usage declines as a player's offensive role increases. Unlike baseball, where "usage" is evenly spread out across all players and the only concern is an efficiency metric like OPS, the ability to create "at bats" is an important consideration.

In that way, Carmelo Anthony is just the latest in a long line of players who have been confounding statistical analysts for decades (before him, it was Allen Iverson). But as Silver, Kevin Pelton, and Henry Abbott are noting this week, one measuring stick for the evolution of basketball analysis is precisely how it deals with players like Anthony. I can't say he'd be the best fit for the Knicks specifically (New York -- 7th in offense, 23rd in defense, & featuring a player who already commands 31% of possessions -- seems a curious destination for an offense-only gunner), but in general it's useful to recognize his offensive value beyond pure efficiency metrics.

Posted in Analysis, Layups | 39 Comments »

NBA Debut Dates Added to Player Pages

Posted by Justin Kubatko on January 18, 2011

Thanks to some great research done by John Grasso that was posted on the APBR's website, the player pages now have debut dates for almost every player in NBA history. I was able to fill in debut dates for any player who debuted during the 1986-87 season or after, but John's work was a tremendous help in filling in the rest of the blanks.

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments »