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BBR Rankings: Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings (November 19, 2010)

Posted by Neil Paine on November 19, 2010

2010-11 NBA power rankings through the games played on November 18, 2010:

Rank Prev Team W L WPct Offense Rk Prv Defense Rk Prv Overall
1 2 Miami Heat 7 4 0.636 6.64 2 3 -5.59 4 6 12.23
2 1 New Orleans Hornets 9 1 0.900 4.95 4 9 -6.46 3 1 11.42
3 3 Boston Celtics 9 2 0.818 4.79 5 10 -4.57 5 4 9.37
4 4 Los Angeles Lakers 10 2 0.833 9.05 1 2 1.39 17 12 7.66
5 8 San Antonio Spurs 9 1 0.900 3.41 8 6 -3.38 8 11 6.79
6 5 Dallas Mavericks 7 3 0.700 2.03 10 15 -4.52 6 3 6.55
7 11 Orlando Magic 8 3 0.727 -0.96 18 19 -6.51 2 5 5.55
8 7 Milwaukee Bucks 5 6 0.455 -5.07 28 25 -9.08 1 2 4.01
9 6 Denver Nuggets 6 6 0.500 1.83 11 1 -1.99 9 15 3.82
10 10 Chicago Bulls 6 4 0.600 -0.58 16 14 -3.39 7 7 2.81
11 9 Portland Trail Blazers 8 5 0.615 2.24 9 8 -0.51 14 9 2.75
12 12 Indiana Pacers 5 5 0.500 0.65 13 11 -1.25 12 14 1.89
13 13 Utah Jazz 8 4 0.667 -0.03 14 17 -1.67 10 8 1.64
14 15 Atlanta Hawks 8 4 0.667 4.98 3 5 3.96 27 28 1.01
15 14 Phoenix Suns 6 6 0.500 3.93 7 4 3.04 24 27 0.89
16 16 Houston Rockets 3 8 0.273 1.11 12 7 1.34 16 23 -0.23
17 21 Oklahoma City Thunder 7 4 0.636 4.50 6 13 5.76 29 26 -1.26
18 19 Memphis Grizzlies 4 8 0.333 -3.87 23 22 -1.63 11 13 -2.24
19 20 Golden State Warriors 7 4 0.636 -1.58 20 12 0.98 15 22 -2.56
20 22 Charlotte Bobcats 4 7 0.364 -0.52 15 20 2.37 22 21 -2.89
21 18 New York Knickerbockers 4 8 0.333 -1.23 19 16 2.16 21 19 -3.40
22 26 New Jersey Nets 4 7 0.364 -2.58 22 28 1.48 18 17 -4.07
23 24 Toronto Raptors 3 9 0.250 -0.95 17 23 3.12 25 24 -4.07
24 17 Philadelphia 76ers 2 10 0.167 -4.82 27 21 -0.59 13 10 -4.22
25 27 Detroit Pistons 4 8 0.333 -4.32 26 26 1.59 19 25 -5.91
26 25 Cleveland Cavaliers 5 5 0.500 -4.32 25 24 1.89 20 29 -6.21
27 30 Minnesota Timberwolves 4 9 0.308 -6.00 30 30 2.76 23 20 -8.76
28 23 Los Angeles Clippers 1 12 0.077 -4.17 24 27 4.69 28 16 -8.85
29 28 Washington Wizards 3 7 0.300 -5.83 29 29 3.25 26 18 -9.08
30 29 Sacramento Kings 3 7 0.300 -1.91 21 18 8.13 30 30 -10.04
HCA 2.60
LgAvg 107.55

To read more about the methodology and what these numbers mean, click here.

21 Responses to “BBR Rankings: Schedule-Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ratings (November 19, 2010)”

  1. Matt Stahlhut Says:

    I don't know how I missed this when you initially did it a couple of weeks ago. Great work, Mr. Paine! Also, it makes me feel better for having the Thunder ranked 21st.

  2. dsong Says:

    Eh, interesting numbers but I don't think this necessarily means the Miami Heat are the best team in the league or that they would be favorites to win the Championship. Same deal with New Orleans.

    But I do think there is a bit of an overreaction with Miami. They'll win 50+ games and make the playoffs - they're not nearly as terrible as the media makes them out to be, nor have they shown that they should be considered surefire favorites to win the East.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    These numbers only represent a best-fit solution for the outcomes of games so far this season. For more accuracy at this point in the year, we could regress to a preseason expectation, similar to Football Outsiders' "DAVE" metric:

    Of course, the preseason expectations were that Miami would be dominant as well, so it wouldn't change the Heat at #1.

    At any rate, everyone basically just needs to realize that performance in close games regresses to near .500 across the board, no matter how good or bad the team is. Based on the games so far in 2010-11, and adjusting for strength of schedule, we would expect Miami to have the highest efficiency differential in any given game. Efficiency differential is what ultimately wins games, so it's not really controversial to rank them first overall.

  4. huevonkiller Says:

    Uh actually DSong, it does mean Miami is best suited to win a championship, based on the amount of games played so far.

    Don't forget it took Wade choking at Kobe Game 7 level against Boston, for the Heat to lose. As Neil said, those close games are a toss up in general, and Miami is best suited to come out on top in the future.

    Not to mention their improving chemistry, they should win close to 60 games easily, not just "50"+. This is not the Thunder we're talking about, or some old Boston team.

    It is funny how much people overreact to close losses. It took close to career worsts from Wade for the Heat to even lose.

  5. dsong Says:

    I gave Miami a 20% chance of winning the Championship at the start of the season so you have a good chance of being right. I'd put their chances at 18-19% right now based on their slightly disappointing start.

    For Miami to win the championship, they will have to improve considerably. They can't play like they have in the first 11 games if they expect to beat Boston or LA in the playoffs.

    Let's see if they can step it up going forward. It's not a given that they will, however.

  6. Dan Says:

    To be honest, I'm surprised the Heat are doing so well statistically this soon. I figure it'll take at least until the All-Star break to see if they will measure up to the Celtics/Lakers/Magic.

  7. Greyberger Says:

    I hate to bring another layer of cynicism to this page, but it's a long season and if everybody agrees the Heat are good there won't be anything to talk about or any reason to watch the games (trying to think as a media marketing person here). At some point the Heat are going to start winning eight out of every ten games and lock up one of the top three seeds. Until then why not run with the 'Heat Struggling' story? People care and it will set the stage for your 'Heat on the Comeback!' piece, which you can write 90% of now. If you play dumb about point differential you have a juicy set-up for games against good and decent opponents, at least until their record catches up.

  8. dsong Says:

    While I think the Heat are only good enough to win seven out of every ten games, there's really no point in arguing this point unless you bet on the season over-under win total on the Heat.

    It will all come down to the playoffs, where the Heat will be one of the top three teams in the East and will have a decent chance of winning the Championship.

    Well, unless Lebron gets hurt...

  9. huevonkiller Says:

    Hey DSong, instead of throwing out random and worthless percentages, can you actually support your specific "19%" or whatever with some calculations? That sounds absolutely ridiculous.

    And lol at your top 3 teams in the East comment, Orlando wasn't a problem according to your own standards. Nice job there again.

  10. David Says:

    Here's another question about small n that is an undercurrent here. Is there some empirical rule of thumb when a team is who we thought they were? That is, how well does the eff diff landscape after 10 games correlate with after 82 games? How well do these early numbers extrapolate? I'd be curious in an absolute sense (the correlation bit) and relative sense (think correlation based on ranks).

  11. dsong Says:


    In my experience the best predictors of future performance are betting lines and in-running futures markets.

    Correlation depends on a lot of factors. Sometimes unexpected performances (i.e. New Orleans, San Antonio) are not sustainable, based on the overall level of talent and depth. On the other hand, you can't always count on disappointing teams to bounce back (i.e. Miami). Accumulation of injuries and lack of chemistry among the players and the coaching staff often spiral out of control.

    With experience you will learn how to weight the two factors - current performance and preseason projections - on a case-by-case. There is no mathematical shortcut that will give you the right answer.

  12. dsong Says:

    In addition, I found that comparing the regular season to the postseason is like comparing apples and oranges. They are completely different animals and have to be treated that way. Statistical methods that use regular season numbers to project playoff success are doomed to failure.

    Models are very useful but they are there to aid your brain, not to replace it. There is no substitute for experience, and your success with models depend much more on knowing how to use the model rather than the quality of the model itself.

    Make no mistake, I love using models and have used them extensively in my own analysis. But sometimes you need a reality check - and understand the concept of garbage in, garbage out. For example, if your model predicts 68-75 wins for the Miami Heat, you have to be willing to swallow your pride and admit that the prediction is absolute junk.

  13. Neil Paine Says:

    Beating this drum again, Daniel? I still haven't seen any real evidence supporting your claims.

  14. dsong Says:

    As you and many others have said, many of the factors are pulled "out of thin air". This is definitely true of my model.

    However -

    The so-called "advanced methodology" has that same problem. Every model comes with a set of assumptions that may or may not hold. There is always a need to made adjustments and for a healthy dose of skepticism when interpreting results. You, Neil, are one of the few who are willing to accept that there are limitations to your methods and that some of your results are poor. The majority accepts their numbers like religion, even when actual events prove otherwise.

    As for my own model - I have no magic formula. My models are very simple and based almost strictly on win probabilities and power ratings. The numbers pulled from "thin air" were derived from a good understanding of betting lines, years of experience and high-level analysis.

    If you wish to know more - I would recommend reading David Friedman's blog. My methodology is very similar to his and we both try to look beyond statistics and examine what wins basketball games and championships.

  15. dsong Says:

    P.S. I would like to provide evidence that betting lines are a very good predictor. The basketball-reference site provides estimated win probabilities for each game, using advanced statistics. I maintain that betting lines would provide better predictions. So let's see which one is better, by making probability predictions on each game and applying the scoring system given on this website:

    I think this will be a very interesting experiment.

  16. dsong Says:

    P.S. There is another site with a scoring system tied to win probabilities:

  17. Neil Paine Says:

    Not to sound evasive, but I would say that you need to talk to Justin about that. The probabilities on the front page of our site are intended as rough estimates, based on the Simple Rating System. The SRS is far from the most sophisticated method out there, and if we had the inclination we would produce probabilities based on a much more advanced model. I don't know if that's something he'd be interested in us doing; my guess is no, since we're not a gambling site and those probabilities are for entertainment only.

    I want to stress that I think the best pure numbers system would do better than any "gut instinct" method (witness the various experiments where computers outpredict human experts). The problem is that the SRS prediction system on the front page is hardly that system, and I can't say whether it would be in our company's best interests to develop that system.

    I would be interested to see how the SRS system does stack up, though, if only just for curiosity's sake.

  18. dsong Says:

    Thanks for your response. I'm actually a fan of advanced statistics, and I believe that if you add the human element to a good model, you will be able to analyze the game that much better. Tom Izzo of Michigan St. is one example; he makes great use of data and analysis but has a wonderful basketball mind as well. It's no secret as to why he has been so successful. The Los Angeles Lakers is another example; they do a great job of obtaining players that fit needs, and understand that you need to locate stars and pay them well in order to succeed over the long run.

    The thing that I'm annoyed by are the people who create sophisticated models then treat all results from them like the gospel. We all knew that Miami wasn't going to win 70 games - and that the Lakers was probably the correct favorite (or at worst, a co-favorite). I appreciate all the work you and Justin do for the site, and hope you continue to make improvements in your analysis and models. One thing you seem to do well is admit address the limitations of your models! That mindset will prove valuable going forward.

  19. Anon Says:

    "We all knew that Miami wasn't going to win 70 games - and that the Lakers was probably the correct favorite (or at worst, a co-favorite)."

    Didn't Vegas have the Heat being the odds-on favorite to win the title this season?

    I appreciate your posts Dsong and it seems that you are open to stat analysis. The main issue I have with some of your approaches to the rankings is that it is based a little more on "gut" than reason. It's easy to say "Well this might happen even though I can't prove it", then have it actually happen and then say "See, I told you this would happen! You can't trust the numbers!" Unless you had a crystal ball hiding before your back I didn't know about, I'd have to say that it's not necessarily having the inside track about something that you can actually PROVE using analysis, but that you simply made a lucky guess. From there, reason often gets thrown out the window and then it becomes a contest of who can get luckier guessing outcomes than taking empirical approaches to the matter. No one is going to sit here and say the models are perfect, but isn't that better than saying "________ will win the tile because, you know, I just feel they have that chemistry that other teams don't?" It's subjective and can mean many different things depending on the person you talk to.

    By the way I haven't seen any purely stat models either here or over at APBRmetrics that have the Heat winning 70+ games either. I've seen high 50s-mid 60s win totals but I don't recall 70+ games.

  20. dsong Says:

    Well, the only "proof" I can really provide is my past predictions in sporting events. I worked extensively at Tradesports and served as a Market Maker there for a year. I also made future book odds for several major sports (NBA, College Basketball, NFL, MLB) - and literally updated them on a daily basis.

    Making good predictions was my job. If my predictions were bad, I lost money - simple as that. Fortunately my methodology - which combined gut instincts, Vegas lines, identification of market biases, and statistic work - was effective. It's remarkable how fast one can improve when forced to put your money where your mouth is.

    FYI, I have come across a number of professional gamblers and learned how they made good predictions. In general, the ability to sense biases in the betting market was far, far more important than the ability to build statistical models. Even the so-called "old-school" handicappers and the number-crunchers were starting to develop this skill (at least those who were successful).

  21. dsong Says:

    By the way, I'm pretty sure I maintained from that start that the Heat weren't going to win 70 games. I was guessing 55-60, and when it came to winning the Championship, I felt they were a notch behind the Lakers and fairly even with the Celtics.

    The biggest issues I had with the Heat were the same ones everyone else harped on: lack of depth and interior defense. I was concerned about their offense as well, since Lebron, Wade, and Bosh all seem to love shooting contested 20-foot jump shots instead of looking for easier shots.

    Going forward, I will offer another lucky guess - the Heat will continue to struggle for the short term, until Riley is forced to fire Spoelstra and take over. Eventually the Heat will figure out that the best way to win is to give Lebron the ball and get out of the way - and his talent will lead the Heat to 50+ victories and into the second round of the playoffs.

    Alas, their weaknesses will catch up with them and they will fall short of the Finals this season. But there's always next season!