Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 19, 2010

Weekly fantasy projections

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 10:26 pm

(Note: We are not offering the fantasy downloads sheet this season, however this page is still being used as a reference point for those interested in how our weekly schedule- and position-adjusted projections are formulated.) – BD

As we expand our offerings at Basketball Prospectus, we’ve targeted more and better content for fantasy basketball enthusiasts. Part of that will be more fantasy-themed articles, which we’ll be launching soon. For now, we unveil the first Weekly Fantasy Projection spreadsheet, which ready to download right now.

The projections built on three pillars:

1. Preseason SCHOENE forecasts

2. Season-to-date advanced statistics

3. Upcoming opponents

Each player’s statistical baseline is established by blending his SCHOENE projection with his season numbers. The further we get into the season, the more important the actual results get and SCHOENE begins to be filtered out. Old Russ, though, he doesn’t go completely away until the end of the season.

Once we have the statistical baseline, it’s then time to match them with upcoming opponents. Each spreadsheet covers a seven-day window. For each game, game pace is projected to determine the likely number of possessions in the contest. Then the baseline projections are adjusted by how well each opponent has defended each player’s positional group. Wing players are grouped together as are interior players. Point guards are in their own group.

Right now playing time is based on season-to-date averages. Going forward, we’ll be setting up a playing time grid that we’ll use to reflect breaking events, such as injuries and suspensions. We’ll adjust projected rotation minutes up and down based on who we anticipate being available.

An important calculation measures how well each opponent defends the position that is player plays. For example, say the Mavericks have a 0.94 score against Derrick Rose, which means that they’ve defended point guards six percent better than the league average. The score is based on the GR ratings you’ve been seeing in PBP Roundup and is provided just to give you an idea of the difficulty each opponent presents each player. They are not however actually used in the adjustments made to a player’s baseline projection. Each category receives unique adjustments.

BIG MAN BAROMETER
Top big men from the last week are ranked by individual winning percentage, the rate stat component of WARP. Seasonal rankings are based on WARP. Our exclusive schedule-adjusted projections use a combination of SCHOENE forecasts and season-to-date data. We’ll be predicting the weekly numbers for NBA big men based on a Monday-to-Sunday schedule suitable for weekly head-to-head fantasy leagues. By this method, SCHOENE is combined with actual results to product a new baseline forecast for each player. These are then adjusted for a player’s upcoming opponents and how well those competitors have defended his position. The projections compiled in a module of NBAPET, my system for projecting, evaluating and tracking the league.

Any questions? Suggestions? Drop me a line here. You can also find me on Twitter at @bbdoolittle.

Blue Hose (nearly) take Manhattan

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 10:24 am

File Kansas State‘s 76-67 win at home over Presbyterian last night as the granddaddy of all mid-major close calls so far this season. Whether your preferred analytical frame of reference is “Ghostbusters” (dogs and cats living together), kenpom.com (99.6 percent win probability for the Wildcats), or some mix of the two, a Blue Hose win would have given you the opportunity–nay, the solemn duty–to run around screaming with your hands above your head.

Mike Portscheller has a great write-up on Presbyterian in our College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11. The Blue Hose are still making the jump to D-I and won’t even be eligible to participate in the Big South tournament, much less March Madness, until next year. As a result coach Gregg Nibert has aligned everything and everyone in the program with an eye toward grabbing that 2012 NCAA auto-bid. Specifically Presbyterian red-shirted the bulk of their rotation last year as juniors, so that the Big South will be looking at a veteran and senior-led team next season in 2011-12. Like a World Bank-mandated deflation, that decision inflicted severe pain in the short-term–the Blue Hose went 4-26 against D-I opponents last year–but it may turn out to be pure long-term genius if last night is any indication.

And of course last night may not be any indication at all. This same team lost to Vanderbilt last Friday by 41. Al’Lonzo Coleman, he of the 15-14 double-double last night, is clearly a load at 6-7, but that being said maybe K-State simply laid an egg. That seems to be Frank Martin‘s assessment: “I told the guys after the game I hope they have a good social life. Because I’m getting ready to ruin it.” Who’d a thunk Martin’s team would have so little margin for error in what turned into a 64-possession shootout? The fact that K-State only committed four turnovers the whole night actually mattered. Utterly bizarre. 

If the first ten days are a fair sample, 2010-11’s going to be a lot of fun. 

November 18, 2010

Not Quite Kennesaw: Three Mid-Major Close Calls From the First Full Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kyle Whelliston @ 6:51 pm

The first full week of play has helped rewrite and rewire college basketball logic, no? With big wins over Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, Stetson and Kennesaw State showed that the second division of the Atlantic Sun is more than capable with hanging with that of the ACC. After years of helping the Louisiana economy by buying guarantee games against in-state schools, LSU was beaten soundly at the Maravich Center by Nicholls State, ending the Tigers’ 82-game, 22-year streak in such matchups. And a MAAC team like Rider can travel clear across the country, score a point and a quarter per possession to beat USC by 20, and make the Song Girls cry.

Obviously, those are the highly-publicized aberrations, not the New Parity in college basketball you’ve been promised for years. Don’t ask about the other five times the A-Sun’s played the ACC. The Nicholls State win gave its Southland Conference just four victories against 11 defeats in non-conference play. And just last week, Rider lost by 10 at UMass with a 39 percent shooting performance. So far, teams in the littlest 25 conferences have won just 10 percent of the time against those from the biggest seven leagues, and the average game score has been 79-61 to the negative. They generally have to take their magic where they can get it. It’s all got to come together at the right time, on the right night, against the right opponent.

And then there are the games where just one thing goes wrong, at the wrong time, and a plucky small-conference team misses out on November glory. The difference between just-another-loss and computer desktop wallpaper of the scoreboard can be a single possession. Here, then, are a few of those close calls from the early going, recorded for Prospectusterity before we roll along any further.

at Georgia 72, Mississippi Valley State 70 (Friday 11/12) – The Delta Devils were up by seven late in the second half, but the lead was whittled away by multiple and-ones. In a guarantee game, against a SEC school that hired the officials… hey, it happens. But Sean Woods’ team, which is on the road until January 8 to pick up checks to help pay for weather damage to its arena, put itself in a great position to win, despite shooting just 38 percent. Fighting foul trouble all evening, the Devils outrebounded the homestanders by nine. Nine! MVSU’s rebounding percentage of 49.1 ranked seventh among the 10 SWAC teams last year. Bulldog senior forward Jeremy Price scored eight unanswered points in 50 seconds to save Georgia from embarrassment, but they probably won’t make a statue of him for it.

at Oregon 72, California-Santa Barbara 70 (Sunday 11/14) – A three-game early-season tournament at home is specifically designed by school and sponsor to offer the home team three wins. Why else would any school sign up to host one? In the third game of the BTI Invitational in Eugene, the defending Big West champions and presumptive lead favorites played the Pac-10 Ducks even all night in nearly every statistical measure, in a 72-possession game that was very fairly officiated. After an intentional free throw miss with 1.2 seconds left by Oregon’s Joevan Catron, the ball went out of bounds and the refs determine that it hadn’t hit the rim. The Gauchos’ fullcourt strike failed, saving new Ducks coach Dana Altman from the kind of front-page facepalm photos that Fran McCaffery had after his Iowa Hawkeyes lost to South Dakota State earlier in the day.

at Oklahoma 71, North Carolina Central 63 (OT) (Monday 11/15) – This was perhaps the most intriguing close call of the week, and the most well-hidden by the final scoring margin. N.C. Central, most known in the sports world for its tangential role in the botched Duke lacrosse rape case, is transitioning to Division I and was recently accepted as a provisional member of the MEAC. And somehow, some way, they were in this game. Even though the Eagles scored .89 points per possession on the night and turned the ball over 20 times, they took the lead 12 minutes in and was up by four with one minute left in regulation. And that final minute was interminable — full of free throws and official reviews at the monitor. Finally, Steven Pledger hit a game-tying three for Oklahoma, and the visitors only came with 40 minutes’ worth of gumption.

But if Pledger’s shot hadn’t gone in, you’d still be talking about this one five days later, not Enes freaking Kanter.

Brandon Paul for national POY

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:56 pm

I know I usually wait until March to announce the Basketball Prospectus Player of the Year, but this season I’ve decided to shake things up. As I think back over the many thrills and surprises of this 2010-11 season, I believe we’re far enough into the year to arrive at some definitive conclusions. True, naming a POY on November 18 might seem a little unfair–Missouri, to pick one example, hasn’t even played a game yet–but frankly I’m trying to clear some things off my desk before the holidays. Consider the POY awarded….

Let’s look at highly-ranked teams who’ve already played three games. It’s way too early to worry about team stats, of course, but one example of what we can talk about already is minutes and shots–who’s getting them?

Pitt: More Moore than expected?
Brad Wanamaker has barreled out of the gate posting the Platonic ideal of a stat line for a point guard, spraying assists in all directions, taking care of the rock, and sinking half his threes and 68 percent of his twos. But the shots in this offense have mostly been taken by Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Young, constituting a pretty straightforward piece of good news/bad news. Gibbs has been very Gibbs-like (hitting 46 percent of his threes) but Young’s had a really rough time getting the ball in the basket. Meanwhile freshman reserve J.J. Moore, branded the program’s next Sam Young by no less an observer than Jamie Dixon, has been notably assertive. Moore has personally accounted for 30 percent of the Panthers’ shot attempts from the field during his 36 minutes. Assuming the minutes are there, a Big East freshman with this ostentatious degree of green-lighting from his coach will be heard from sooner rather than later.

Oh, and yes, I see you, Dante Taylor, and your 33.5 offensive rebound percentage. You’re following in some very big footsteps.

Villanova: A new big two
First things first. ‘Nova has given their weird, needless, suicidal fouling a rest. Maybe that means they haven’t needed to foul against Bucknell, Marist, and Boston U. Or maybe it means Jay Wright hangs on my every word. I know which explanation I prefer.

Observers who wondered which talented Wildcat youngster would inherit the possessions and shots freed up by Scottie Reynolds’ departure need wonder no more. That youngster is named Maalik Wayns, who’s fired up a combined 50 attempts from the field and line during his 158 possessions of personal action. He and token greybeard Corey Fisher form Wright’s offensive core, as each player’s taken 26 percent of the team’s shots during their minutes. Alas, neither has yet found the range from the perimeter. Stay tuned.

Syracuse: Does Melo think this is UConn?
I fully expected Fab Melo to chart a DeMarcus Cousins-brand trajectory of frequent shooting by a big man on offense when I read this in the offseason: “He’s a good passer and shooter, but he’s also seven feet tall and he can block shots and rebound.” That was Jim Boeheim, touting his McDonald’s All-American to Seth Davis in July. So I’ve been surprised to see the highly-touted Brazilian following a much more Charles Okwandu-like trajectory: Melo’s attempted seven shots in 46 minutes. Sure it’s early, but that’s kind of my point. You’d be surprised how soon these “early” tendencies congeal into settled facts. By early December last year it was already clear that Cousins was going to take way more shots, per possession, than a certain freshman teammate. He did. 

Illinois: Paul closes out national POY race before it can begin
Congratulations to my 2010-11 national player of the year, Brandon Paul. This year choosing my POY was easy. Look at the facts: Paul has already had his YouTube moment. He’s taking more shots than any other Illini player (he accounts for 25 percent of the team’s attempts when he’s on the floor) and, more importantly, he’s making them. Thus far Paul has made 54 percent of his threes and 67 percent of his twos. He even records seven steals for every 100 possessions of D he plays. I fully expect all those numbers will stay right where they are over the next 30 games, so let’s just give Paul his hardware now. Congrats, Brandon!       

November 15, 2010

Now available on Amazon: College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 9:03 pm

Buy, buy, buy!

And now a tribute to Harold Innis. (No, he’s not a shooting guard for Seton Hall.)

The past couple years I’ve been a little confused by that subset of our devoted readers which obviously wants the Prospectus book at the soonest possible moment, yet nevertheless waits for the print edition. The attitude and the action seemed contradictory to me.

Then I embarked upon this road trip that I’m currently taking. (Talking to the students at Indiana‘s Sport Communication program tomorrow. Get ready, group!) For the first time ever I looked at our Prospectus PDF on my road-weary HP laptop instead of looking at it on my panoramic Apple screen at home. I am no longer confused. I now see that, depending on the user’s technology, the identical Prospectus product is either visually “outstanding” or, uh, something else.

But a book’s a book. It’s “product” and “technology” wrapped into one bundle. So buy the physical book this instant.

Lopez Injury Makes Suns Even More Extreme

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 8:54 pm

About this time a year ago, I wrote about the Toronto Raptors’ quest to finish the season as both the league’s best offensive team and worst defense. The Raptors got the second part right, but their offense slipped after a fast start; they finished sixth in Offensive Rating.

The new season brings us another first and worst contender: the Phoenix Suns, whose candidacy got a shot in the arm today with the news that Robin Lopez is out “several weeks” (according to the Arizona Republic) after he sprained both the MCL and the PCL in his left knee. Already, Phoenix ranked second in the league in Offensive Rating after last night’s explosion in L.A. and 29th in Defensive Rating. Now, the Suns will be without their best defensive player and most traditional big man.

Paul Coro reports in the article linked above that Phoenix will likely sign another big man, since the in-house option (rookie Garret Siler) can’t be trusted for extended minutes. Even with a newcomer, Lopez’s absence will surely mean more minutes for perimeter sharpshooter Channing Frye. Phoenix also went to small lineups with Hakim Warrick in the middle last night; those kind of lineups will be difficult to defend but will offer little resistance at the other end of the floor. Based on that, it’s easy to see the Suns improving on offense over the next couple of weeks but struggling even more on defense.

Also worth watching: Will Alvin Gentry push the pace? Playing against type, the Suns are 14th in the league in possessions per game thus far. A faster tempo might help paper over the team’s weaknesses in terms of defense and rebounding.

Lakers’ Three-Point Defense Regresses Violently to the Mean

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 2:50 am

As discussed in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2010-11, one of the reasons SCHOENE’s projection for the Los Angeles Lakers this season was so low was the likelihood of regression in terms of the Lakers’ three-point defense, which was best in the league in 2009-10. What we did not anticipate is that the entire change would come in one evening. The Lakers were on the wrong end of 22 three-pointers by the Phoenix Suns Sunday night at the Staples Center, one shy of the NBA record set by the Orlando Magic in Sacramento in January 2009.

How big of a difference did one game make in the Lakers’ three-point defense? They went from allowing 34.3 percent–better than the league average of 35.7 percent, though not nearly as much so as in 2009-10, when opponents made just 32.8 percent–to 38.1 percent, which puts the Lakers 22nd in the NBA.

Sunday showed the limitations of three-point defense. If Twitter was any guide, L.A.’s defense was poor as Phoenix began heating up during the first half. The second half, by contrast, said as much about the Suns’ shooting–aided by small lineups necessitated by a knee sprain that sidelined center Robin Lopez–as it did the Lakers’ defense. Or, as Kobe Bryant put it after the game, “We put guys in the gym by themselves, it’s tough to shoot that percentage from three.”

The most remarkable aspect of the night might have been the fact that Phoenix still needed to sweat out a victory despite the hot shooting. It was not until the Suns made their 22nd and final triple with 34 seconds left–a catch, fake and shoot by Hedo Turkoglu with a defender in front of him that was Turkoglu’s only shot of the fourth quarter–that the lead was really secure. As Phoenix’s strength was on display, so too was the team’s glaring weakness. Led by nine from Pau Gasol, the Lakers collected 20 offensive rebounds against just 22 Suns defensive boards. All the second chances helped the Lakers keep up much of the game, before trading twos for threes proved too difficult.

NBA Player Pages

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 12:54 am

You may have noticed that the Basketball Prospectus team and player cards featuring our exclusive statistics have yet to be updated this season. We haven’t forgotten about them; some changes to the server system at Prospectus HQ have forced us to retool the method for uploading updates. We hope to be able to resume updates shortly and make improvements to the statistics offerings over the course of this season. Thanks for your patience.

November 13, 2010

College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 now in paperback

Filed under: cbp2010,Uncategorized — dpease @ 6:39 pm

Good news–College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 is now available for purchase in paperback, as well as PDF. The book weighs in at a stout 358 pages this year–that’s nearing twice the page count of last year’s edition–but at $19.95 list price, it’s only $3.00 more than last year. You can click here to buy a copy of the book from Createspace, or if you prefer to purchase from Amazon.com, the book will be available there soon.

November 10, 2010

Introducing Basketball Prospectus Premium (UPDATED)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 5:23 pm

As we continue our fourth season of covering both NBA and NCAA hoops here at Basketball Prospectus, the time has come for an important step in the site’s development: Basketball Prospectus Premium. Right now, you’re enjoying a BBP Premium free preview through Sunday. Beginning next Monday, Nov. 15, a Premium subscription will be required to read all of the great content you’re used to seeing at BasketballProspectus.com.

With a free basic subscription, you’ll be able to read Bradford Doolittle‘s daily NBA roundups, the Unfiltered blog and select other articles. However, you’ll miss out on an average of 2-3 articles per day featuring Prospectus staples like Every Play Counts breakdowns, NBA Transaction Analysis, John Gasaway‘s Tuesday Truths, NCAA Tournament Previews and more original and unique content. As part of the move to a Premium model, we are expanding our ranks of contributors. You’ve already seen the addition of Kyle Whelliston to our NCAA team, while announcements are in store on the NBA side as we beef up what was already the best analytical hoops site on the Web. A Premium subscription also allows you to take advantage of our new comment feature.

You get access to all of this for less than $2 a month. Or, as NBA fans now view all money matters, the Memphis Grizzlies are paying Mike Conley 400,000 Basketball Prospectus subscriptions per year. (Sounds like a bargain in that context, right?) So head on over to our Premium page to subscribe now!

(UPDATE: We’re happy to announce that existing subscribers to any other Prospectus Premium products will get a $5 discount off BBP Premium. Also, check out our Premium page for details on giving a Premium subscription as a gift.)

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