a quest to find the next big STAT

joe.k

Dec 27

Stat #1 - The Quest Begins (read this 2nd)

By joe.k Posted in: Blazers, Grizzlies, Heat, LaMarcusAldridge, NicolasBatum, Sixers, Warriors, WesleyMatthews

The Quest Begins

While trying to come up with a stat that would take the NBA by storm, I kept asking myself the same question; what is the most essential part of basketball that would facilitate winning? And I figured that if I could get to the exact aspect of the sport which directly correlates towards winning, then I could figure out a way to track it, and that would be my stat.

So without further adieu my quest begins.

BASKETBALL IS A GAME OF… Home Court Advantage

Every year, NBA haters rant and rave about the fact that there are never any upsets in the NBA playoffs and that the home team always wins. So if that’s the case why don’t we just decide games based on which team’s home? Yeah, we talk about how the home team carries along with it a certain advantage, but why isn’t it an absolute advantage? Why don’t we just say before the season starts that Portland will end up with 41 wins (based on the number of home games they’ll play). Us fans hope they’ll hit mid forties in the win column, but I think going .500 in a ‘rebuilding’ is fairly promising. So let’s write it down; Portland will win 41 games this year.

And what about a team like Philadelphia? Are they as good as they’ve seemed in the beginning of this season? Or maybe they’ve cooled off a little, and they too, in a semi-rebuilding process would be satisfied with 41 wins without Bynum (since who here really thinks he’s gonna play for them?).

So far, this stat seems pretty spot on. Would you not agree that teams like Portland and Philadelphia make sense to end up at 41-41?

Of course, if you’re even thinking a little, you spot an obvious flaw in this method. Portland and Philadelphia may very well be .500 teams, but will OKC and Charlotte be .500 teams? Perhaps if you added their wins and losses together they’d be .500, but it seems more like OKC will be near .780 and Charlotte will be near .250 as their current records suggest.

The other main problem with this is that at the end of the season, the tie-breaker that the NBA will need to pull out of a hat will be the most ludicrous tie-breakers ever. You see, every team will finish 41-41 and every team will be 26-26 in their conference, so the NBA will need to turn elsewhere for tiebreakers. They might try Football’s version of a tie-breaker, “leave the game in a tie”. That won’t help. They might try Baseball’s version of a tie-breaker, “play until you need to put a third baseman in as pitcher” or for the NBA it would be, “set your 5 to be your backup point guard who couldn’t even buy time in the D-League. And finally, they might try Hockey’s version of a tie-breaker, a shoot out. Imagine two guys going head to head from half court. No cross-overs or pulling the ball back, no shooting from the outside, just pounding it in on the defender under a 5 second shot clock. Hmmm… As if the NBA wasn’t already his stomping grounds; Advantage LeBron.

Obviously the Hockey version sounds the most fun, but clearly that hasn’t worked out so great for hockey.

So clearly, this was a failure and coming up with a stat revolving around home court might be a little more complicated.

So here’s the stat:

Teams win home games. They do. In fact, last year, only 2 teams won less than 1/3 of their own home games; New Jersey (9 out of 33) and Charlotte (4). Last year, the average home winning percentage for the league was .580. 21 teams were over .500 and 9 were under .500. The point is, it’s not so impressive to win at home. Portland was 20-13 at home last year, but all that did for them was 4th place in their division. Utah was 25-8 at home, but all that did for them was the privilege of getting swept in the first round in the midst of a 20 something game winning streak by the Spurs.

The point is, winning at home is overrated. Winning away, now that’s more impressive. Last year, only 7 teams had an away winning percentage above .500. They were, Chicago, San Antonio, OKC, Miami, Indiana, and Atlanta (notice that the Lakers, Clippers and Grizzlies were not in that group). So to come up with the proper stat I figured winning percentage away was more important than winning percentage at home.

Final step – close games (3 or fewer points). They say that to win it all, teams need to be able to close out games, so I decided to factor that into this stat. Again, close games won away are more impressive than ones won at home, since you should be winning those games at home!

The stat is calculated as follows: (win % at home)*.65+(win % away)*.85+(close games won at home)*1+(close games won away)*1.5

Using this stat, the average score amongst all of the teams last year, was a 79.8, which seems pretty average to me. Amazingly, only teams with an 80 or over made the playoffs and just two teams over 80 (Phoenix and Houston) didn’t make the playoffs, but that’s because they play in the West.

Here’s how the teams stacked up:

Team

W

L

Home
W

Home
L

Away
W

Away
L

Close
games
won at
home

Close
games
won
away

Stat
#1

Chicago

50

16

26

7

24

9

2

3

119.53

San Antonio

50

16

28

5

22

11

0

5

119.32

Oklahoma City

47

19

26

7

21

12

1

4

112.30

Miami

46

20

28

5

18

15

2

4

109.52

L.A. Clippers

40

26

24

9

16

17

4

6

101.48

L.A. Lakers

41

25

26

7

15

18

2

6

100.85

Indiana

42

24

23

10

19

14

0

4

100.24

Memphis

41

25

26

7

15

18

3

3

97.35

Atlanta

40

26

23

10

17

16

3

3

96.59

Denver

38

28

20

13

18

15

3

4

94.76

Boston

39

27

24

9

15

18

2

4

93.91

New York

36

30

22

11

14

19

2

5

88.89

Dallas

36

30

23

10

13

20

2

5

88.29

Orlando

37

29

21

12

16

17

0

2

85.58

Utah

36

30

25

8

11

22

5

2

85.58

Phoenix

33

33

19

14

14

19

4

4

83.48

Houston

34

32

22

11

12

21

7

1

82.74

Philadelphia

35

31

19

14

16

17

0

1

80.14

Milwaukee

31

35

17

16

14

19

3

1

74.05

Minnesota

26

40

13

20

13

20

4

3

67.59

Portland

28

38

20

13

8

25

1

2

64.00

Detroit

25

41

18

15

7

26

6

1

60.98

Golden State

23

43

12

21

11

22

2

3

58.47

New Jersey

22

44

9

24

13

20

2

3

57.71

Sacramento

22

44

16

17

6

27

4

2

53.97

Washington

20

46

11

22

9

24

3

3

52.35

New Orleans

19

47

11

22

8

25

1

4

49.27

Cleveland

19

47

11

22

8

25

3

2

48.27

Toronto

21

45

13

20

8

25

0

1

47.71

Charlotte

7

59

4

29

3

30

1

1

18.11


The thing with this stat is that it picks up on small signs about certain teams. For example: Toronto won 3 more games than Washington, but of Washington’s wins, were closer, which showed they could hang in tough games, so they were pushed up. Also, during last year’s playoffs, there were only 2 upsets (not including the Rose-less Bulls losing to the 76ers) LAC over MEM in round 1, and OKC over SAS in the conference finals. Take a look where MEM ranks in my stat; below LAC, despite having a better record. You can pretty much say I predicted it!

Anyhow enough with last year, using this stat let’s quickly see where teams stand this year:

teams

W

L

home
w

home
l

away
w

away
l

Close games won at home

Close games won away

Stat #1

L.A. Clippers

22

6

13

3

9

3

1

1

119.06

San
Antonio

22

8

11

2

11

6

1

2

114.00

New York

21

8

12

2

9

6

2

3

113.21

Oklahoma
City

21

6

14

2

7

4

0

1

112.47

Miami

20

6

14

2

6

4

2

1

111.38

Golden
State

19

10

8

4

11

6

1

2

102.33

Atlanta

17

9

10

5

7

4

3

0

100.42

Memphis

18

8

12

3

6

5

0

0

98.36

Denver

16

14

9

1

7

13

1

1

90.75

Indiana

16

12

8

3

8

9

0

2

90.27

Milwaukee

15

12

8

6

7

6

2

1

86.41

Chicago

15

12

8

7

7

5

1

0

85.25

Houston

16

12

11

5

5

7

1

1

82.60

Utah

15

15

9

3

6

12

3

1

81.58

Portland

14

13

10

4

4

9

3

1

77.08

Boston

14

13

9

5

5

8

2

0

76.48

Minnesota

13

13

8

4

5

9

2

0

75.69

Brooklyn

14

14

9

7

5

7

1

1

74.48

Philadelphia

14

15

9

7

5

8

3

0

72.25

L.A.
Lakers

14

15

9

6

5

9

0

1

70.86

Dallas

12

16

8

4

4

12

0

2

67.58

Orlando

12

16

7

8

5

8

0

0

63.03

Phoenix

11

18

9

7

2

11

4

0

53.64

Toronto

9

20

7

5

2

15

1

1

50.42

Detroit

9

22

6

8

3

14

1

0

43.86

Sacramento

9

19

8

7

1

12

2

0

43.21

Charlotte

7

21

5

11

2

10

2

2

39.48

Cleveland

7

23

3

9

4

14

0

2

38.14

New
Orleans

6

22

3

11

3

11

1

1

34.64

Washington

3

23

2

11

1

12

1

0

17.54

No real surprises here, as the season is still young, but there are a few things to point out. Firstly, the Blazers are just below the 80 (playoff) mark, which, again is a good sign for a young rebuilding team. Also, if you look at the top, the Clippers (who have a 14 game win streak going into tonight’s game are ranked considerably higher than OKC, by virtue of their strong showing on the road. Finally, Golden State leapfrogged a few teams by virtue of its away record and close games. Let’s see if these play out throughout the season.

Please send you comments/questions/accolades/issues about stat#1- I will respond to them within my next blog

And most importantly I’d love to hear what you guys would name each of my ‘stats’ starting with this one. I will choose the winner from your suggestions.

 

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4 Comments

  1. interesting way of looking at the stats you may indeed have something there ! how about joes weighted home away close stats or joes whacs for short ! good luck om your quest !!

    by rickyddddd on 12/30/2012 6:34 PM
  2. I do like looking for coorilations to predict a teams success. I don't know that a stat that determines play off success would be the next big thing. You are answering a question about what factors predict future team success. But it doesn't answer how. So if you determine road wins are THE reason that most contributes to playoff success, how does that help a team win more road games and thus become a better playoff team?

    I think the reason Hollinger's PER was a big deal is that is has application regarding adjustments that teams would make, and is an individual based stat. Teams are using analitics to a much greater degree in place of "gut" feeling about making that final decision between two seemingly equal players. It's a trend that isn't going away anytime soon. I think a stat focused on usage and game situation might prove more valuable, and thus, greater application and more notoriety.

    Interesting read, and good luck!

    by Blazer Fanatic on 1/4/2013 1:48 PM
  3. @Blazer Fanatic - you make a solid point - and that's why this is a quest - the stats I come up with in the first few months or so, will all likely be lacking in something - and your comments are definitely accurate.

    That being said, I still use this stat as a "gut" feeling for who's better - Grizzlies or Warriors -- and with the Grizz losing some games recently, mayber this stat was right, the Warriros are the bettter team - so im kinda doing the whole "gut" feeling thing

    by joe.k on 1/7/2013 4:15 PM
  4. Interesting!

    by riverman on 1/13/2013 11:46 AM
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