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Archive for the 'BBR Mailbag' Category

Mailbag: Highest Percentage of Games Started by Rookies

16th August 2011

Nathan emailed us this question today:

"I stumbled across the 97-98 Cavaliers page for some reason and noticed that during that season they started Wesley Person, Shawn Kemp, Cedric Henderson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Brevin Knight, with Derek Anderson starting 13 games. So that's 8th-year player Kemp, 3rd-year player Person, and 4 rookies in the top 6 in terms of starts! And they made the playoffs!

That has to be the highest percentage of games started by rookies right (discounting the first few seasons of the NBA)?"

Unfortunately our complete start data only goes back to 1983, so I can't speak to teams from early in the NBA's existence (except to say that, obviously, everyone would be a rookie in 1949-50). Since 1983, though, here are the teams that gave the most starts to 1st-year players:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Trivia | 15 Comments »

Mini-Mini-Mailbag: Percentage of League Games That Were Back-to-Backs

22nd July 2011

Quick mailbag for Nick, who asked how many games in each season (since 1999) featured at least 1 team playing its second game in two nights:

1999: 392 of  725 (54.1%)
2000: 494 of 1189 (41.5%)
2001: 481 of 1189 (40.5%)
2002: 504 of 1189 (42.4%)
2003: 487 of 1189 (41.0%)
2004: 475 of 1189 (39.9%)
2005: 500 of 1230 (40.7%)
2006: 474 of 1230 (38.5%)
2007: 486 of 1230 (39.5%)
2008: 483 of 1230 (39.3%)
2009: 471 of 1230 (38.3%)
2010: 490 of 1230 (39.8%)
2011: 497 of 1230 (40.4%)

Hopefully the 2011-12 lockout will resolve quickly, so we don't have to have back-to-backs in 54% of games like in 1999 (and the 102.2 league offensive rating that came with it).

Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Trivia | 10 Comments »

Players & Coaches Who Won Championships With Multiple Teams

27th June 2011

BBR user Kenneth asked:

"I have a question regarding players and coaches with NBA titles--which player(s) and coach(es) have won NBA titles with the most teams? As for players, I suspect Robert Horry, who won titles with the Houston Rockets (2), Los Angeles Lakers (3), and San Antonio Spurs (2), unless another player has won titles with four teams."

Right you are, Kenneth (although, like many people, you forgot about John Salley). Here are all the players and coaches who won championships in the same role with multiple teams:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Playoffs, Trivia | 32 Comments »

Mailbag: NBA MVPs and Their Rings

2nd June 2011

BBR reader Jamey wrote in with this question:

"I'm watching the NBA Finals, and one of the hosts of the pre-game show said that there are 7 players who have won the MVP award that have not won an NBA championship ring. Can you tell me who they are?"

Sure can. In fact, in order to answer this question, I had to create a query that counted rings for all MVPs. Here is that list (I only counted a player as having won a ring if he played in the postseason with an NBA or BAA championship team):

Player Rings MVPs
Bill Russell 11 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965
Bob Cousy 6 1957
Michael Jordan 6 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 6 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980
Kobe Bryant 5 2008
Magic Johnson 5 1987, 1989, 1990
Shaquille O'Neal 4 2000
Tim Duncan 4 2002, 2003
Larry Bird 3 1984, 1985, 1986
Willis Reed 2 1970
Dave Cowens 2 1973
Bob McAdoo 2 1975
Bill Walton 2 1978
Hakeem Olajuwon 2 1994
David Robinson 2 1995
Wilt Chamberlain 2 1960, 1966, 1967, 1968
Oscar Robertson 1 1964
Wes Unseld 1 1969
Julius Erving 1 1981
Kevin Garnett 1 2004
Bob Pettit 1 1956, 1959
Moses Malone 1 1979, 1982, 1983
Charles Barkley 0 1993
Allen Iverson 0 2001
Dirk Nowitzki 0 2007
Derrick Rose 0 2011
Karl Malone 0 1997, 1999
Steve Nash 0 2005, 2006
LeBron James 0 2010, 2009

The 7 MVPs who never won a ring are, of course, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, & Derrick Rose. And no matter what happens in the 2011 Finals, either Dirk or LeBron will be able to remove himself from that list.

Posted in Awards, BBR Mailbag, History, Trivia | 9 Comments »

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

25th May 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 »

Losing Your (Inefficient) Leading Scorer Hurts Your Team

23rd May 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 »

Mailbag: The Redd-Randolph All-Stars

11th April 2011

Here's an idea sent my way courtesy of BBR reader Rob P.:

"Can you think of players who had excellent 'per-36-minute' stat lines on limited
minutes, and who either outperformed or seriously underperformed those 'per-36'
numbers once given an increase in minutes?

I'm a Celtics fan, so Glen Davis comes to mind as being a good example of
someone who produced close to their per-36 averages upon being given a larger

I'm curious about some of the extremes; players whose averages were seriously
impacted by an increase in minutes. Basically examples that make you think, 'it
was a bad idea to give this guy more minutes' OR 'I can't believe he's been
coming off the bench all this time instead of starting!'"

One of the big early battlegrounds of APBRmetrics was the philosophical debate between per-minute and per-game statistics. Per-game was the traditional standard, but analysts like John Hollinger began to tear that way of thinking down after realizing per-minute performance held over for most players who received more playing time. From Hollinger's seminal 2004-05 Pro Basketball Forecast:

"It's a pretty simple concept, but one that has largely escaped most NBA front offices: The idea that what a player does on a per-minute basis is far more important than his per-game stats. The latter tend to be influenced more by playing time than by the quality of play, yet remain the most common metric of player performance.


Unfortunately, many NBA execs and fans still believe that somebody can be a '20 minute player' -- that he's only useful in short stretches but can't play a full game. With the exception of the rare few who are scandalously out of shape (Oliver Miller, for example), this is profoundly untrue. [Michael] Redd was the perfect example -- he was thought of as a bench player simple because that's what he'd always been, but there was no reason he couldn't play 40 minutes a night. There's a supposition that some players' production will decrease with increased minutes, but within reason that's completely untrue. The first Prospectus emphatically proved this with research showing that most player's [sic] performance improves with greater playing time."

Hollinger's examples of predictable "breakouts" from per-minute stats included Redd, Zach Randolph, Carlos Boozer, and Andrei Kirilenko, all of whom held onto their low-MPG production when thrust into bigger roles. In fact, Hollinger featured Redd on the cover of his 2nd book as an example of a player with great per-minute stats who was underrated because of a lack of playing time.

So, to answer Rob's original question, and in honor of Hollinger's early per-minute darlings, here are the "Redd-Randolph All-Stars". To qualify, a player had to:

  • play in the "Hollinger Era" (the 1990s, 2000s, or 2010s)
  • play at least 41 games in back-to-back seasons
  • play less than 24 MPG in the first of the back-to-back seasons, and more than 24 MPG in the second
  • see an increase of at least 7 MPG between the two seasons

Of that group (which included 320 players since 1990), I'll list 3 top-5 lists: players who improved their PERs the most when given increased playing time, players whose PERs were the closest to what they had been before when given increased playing time, and players whose PERs declined the most with an increase in PT. This will capture all of the possible extremes Rob mentioned, plus the Hollinger prototype of players whose PERs didn't change at all.

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

Mailbag: Last-Place Teams Who Beat the League’s Best

6th April 2011

Longtime BBR reader Imadogg had a great observation/question last Wednesday:

"Last night, the last place Cavs beat the Greatest Team Ever Assembled, the Miami Heat. That means this year, the Cavaliers have defeated the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Miami Heat... 3 of the top 6 teams in the league (record-wise, as of now), and the current 2, 2, and 3 seeds.

When was the last time this happened, that the last place team in the entire league defeated half of the top 6 teams in a single season? Maybe it happens more often than I think, but I'd be surprised."

I was finally able to research this today. First, I searched for teams ranked last (or tied for last) in the NBA in WPct. Then, I searched for teams ranked in the top 6 (again, with ties) in WPct, and counted how many different times those teams had been beaten by the last-place teams. Here's every instance in NBA history where a last-place team by WPct beat at least 3 of the top 6 teams by WPct:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, History, Just For Fun, Trivia | 15 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Best Records After the All-Star Break

24th March 2011

Today we have a big data dump thanks to this question from Ifeanyi:

"If the LA Lakers win the rest of their 11 games this season, that'll give them a 24-1 post all-star break record. My question to you is, what is the NBA's all time best record for regular season games played after the break?"

Including 2011 to date, here are the all-time best W-L records after the All-Star break:

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, Data Dump, History, Trivia | 20 Comments »

BBR Mailbag: Individuals w/ the Highest % of Team Win Shares

15th March 2011

Frequent BBR commenter "Panic" has a good topic for a data dump today:

"I have a modest proposal for a data dump, if you haven't already looked at this: Kevin Love has 10.9 win shares and his team has an expected 20 wins, for a Love-contributed 54.5% of wins, by far the league's highest percentage of his team's wins by one player. Where does this measure up historically? I'm guessing below maybe Bellamy's rookie year and the Warriors when Arizin was in Korea, maybe a Wilt season or two. Any in the modern era?"

Let's take a look -- here are the players with the highest ratio of individual Win Shares to team wins in a single season (numbers thru Sunday's games):

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Posted in BBR Mailbag, Trivia, Win Shares | 15 Comments »