We have some exciting news. Basketball Prospectus is thrilled to announce a collaboration with the Strat-O-Matic Game Company. Beginning Nov. 2, the day after the 2011-12 NBA season was originally scheduled to begin, we will be posting daily results of a simulated season. You will be able to find box scores, standings, statistical leaders--both traditional and advanced--and even a little bit of narrative to bring it all to life.
Like NBA fans everywhere, we at Basketball Prospectus have been anxiously following the negotiations in New York, hoping beyond hope that the world's greatest athletes will be able to take to their respective courts sometime soon. We are faced with the unpleasant reality that even if an agreement is struck between owners and players today, we're still looking at 4-5 weeks--minimum--before the Dallas Mavericks can begin defense of their first NBA title and 29 other teams can set out to knock them off their perch.
In the meantime, there is a void. We can look overseas for pro hoops, and even watch many of the players that are locked out, but we've got a few weeks before we can turn to our local high schools and colleges for flesh-and-blood basketball. The box scores and statistics that we so love to dissect will be missing and their absence will be felt by many who enjoy reading results as part of their daily routine. In addition, the further removed we are from June 30, the date of the last actual NBA transaction, the harder it gets to recall the current state of NBA rosters. Did you know Jonny Flynn is now the property of the Houston Rockets? Maybe, but during this stagnant offseason it's easy to forget there actually was a nice round of player movement--and a draft--since the Mavericks cut down the nets.
So here's what we've done. We have supplied our friends at Strat-O-Matic with a set of SCHOENE projections from Kevin Pelton's state-of-the-art system. They have used those forecasts to generate virtual Strat cards for newcomers to the league--Kyrie Irving, Ricky Rubio, et al.--and those have been added into the most recent Strat set based on last season. We worked with them to bring every team's roster as up-to-date as possible, including draft picks (Irving to Cleveland), trades (Flynn to Houston), retirements (goodbye Shaq!) and those who have committed to playing overseas without an opt-out clause (Wilson Chandler). Soon, Strat will run a simulation of the season, complete with injuries, team-specific rotations and playing style tendencies. They will supply us with the results, and we will share them with you in the form of a daily post. It might not be quite as fun as watching Derrick Rose break ankles with his crossover, but it's the next best thing.
How long are we going to keep it up? That's up to David Stern, Billy Hunter, the owners, players and a whole gaggle of attorneys. If, heaven forbid, the season is canceled, we'll continue to post simmed results until next June. We may even play an All-Star game, though we'll probably skip All-Star Saturday. Maybe if Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are bored, we will get them to comment on our results. In the more likely scenario that the season merely starts a few weeks late, we'll post until the real games start, with the last post made up of the final outcomes.
This project is especially exciting for me as I have been an avid Strat gamer for about 25 years. Strat-O-Matic has been the premier brand in the sports simulation industry for 50 years. Strat's games are uncanny both in terms of statistical accuracy and in their ability to capture the nuances of the real games they mimic. They are also fun, whether you're playing on the tabletop, on your laptop or over the internet. That's why the games have developed an expansive, often fanatical, following that grows with each passing year. In a nutshell, Strat-O-Matic is awfully good at what it does and we couldn't be more pleased to be working with them. This project will be fun and will we hope it will fill the some of the void so many of us feel as lockout drags on.
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Follow Strat-O-Matic on Twitter at twitter.com/@StratOMatic.
Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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