Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

October 30, 2012

The “Dumbest” 2013 Projections You’ll Ever See

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Paine @ 3:06 pm

With the 2012-13 NBA season tipping off tonight, I figured I should probably put up some kind of projections. A lot of smart people spend a lot of time and energy working on things like this (see our own SCHOENE system), but I wanted to create a set of projections that are as “dumb” as possible while still generating reasonable results (a la Tangotiger’s Marcel projection system). So consider these the baseline that any credible projection system must beat, because only the bare minimum of information has gone into them:

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Seed	Eastern Conference	Avg W	Avg L	WPct
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1	Miami Heat		56.2	25.8	0.686
2	New York Knicks		49.7	32.3	0.606
3	Chicago Bulls		47.7	34.3	0.581
4	Atlanta Hawks		47.7	34.3	0.581
5	Indiana Pacers		46.0	36.0	0.561
6	Boston Celtics		46.0	36.0	0.560
7	Brooklyn Nets		40.9	41.1	0.499
8	Milwaukee Bucks		40.5	41.5	0.494
9	Orlando Magic		40.2	41.8	0.490
10	Philadelphia 76ers	39.9	42.1	0.487
11	Toronto Raptors		37.1	44.9	0.452
12	Detroit Pistons		31.7	50.3	0.386
13	Washington Wizards	31.0	51.0	0.378
14	Cleveland Cavaliers	28.3	53.7	0.345
15	Charlotte Bobcats	21.0	61.0	0.256
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Seed	Western Conference	Avg W	Avg L	WPct
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1	San Antonio Spurs	54.1	27.9	0.659
2	Los Angeles Lakers	50.0	32.0	0.609
3	Oklahoma City Thunder	49.8	32.2	0.608
4	Los Angeles Clippers	48.9	33.1	0.596
5	Denver Nuggets		46.4	35.6	0.566
6	Memphis Grizzlies	45.4	36.6	0.554
7	Minnesota Timberwolves	41.7	40.3	0.509
8	Houston Rockets		39.6	42.4	0.482
9	Utah Jazz		38.9	43.1	0.474
10	Dallas Mavericks	38.6	43.4	0.471
11	Portland Trail Blazers	36.6	45.4	0.446
12	Phoenix Suns		35.6	46.4	0.434
13	New Orleans Hornets	35.1	46.9	0.429
14	Golden State Warriors	35.0	47.0	0.427
15	Sacramento Kings	30.6	51.4	0.373
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(more…)

Fact Checking Daryl Morey

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 2:33 pm

One of the wonders of the modern political process is that, within hours of debates or speeches at the conventions, the presidential candidates’ claims can be thoroughly checked for objective accuracy. In that spirit, I thought something Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey said during Monday’s press conference introducing James Harden deserved further research.

“I actually can’t come up with any examples of a player of his caliber and age getting traded at the time he was traded – it really has never happened,” Morey said when asked whether he was surprised Harden was available.

Just how unique is that? I set my parameters at players who were 23 or younger at the time they changed teams (Harden reached that age in August) and had posted at least 10+ WARP in a season (Harden had 11.3 last year). Here’s the list I came up with from the last three decades-plus:

  • Chris Webber, Golden State to Washington (13.0 WARP, age 21)
  • Stephon Marbury, Minnesota to New Jersey (13.7 WARP, age 22)
  • Tracy McGrady, Toronto to Orlando (10.4 WARP, age 21)
  • Elton Brand, Chicago to L.A. Clippers (9.8 WARP, age 22)

Of those four players, McGrady left via free agency under a system long since discarded. Marbury and Webber demanded trades, leaving just one example–the Bulls with Brand–of a team choosing to deal a player with established 10+ WARP track record (Brand had 10.7 as a rookie, before dipping slightly below that number in his final year in Chicago). So we’re certainly talking about something rare, and without precedent in the last decade, though I’d still grade Morey’s comment an exaggeration.

Since the trade, I’ve been surprised by how much more I seem to value Harden than the public at large. I liked Morey’s answer when asked why he felt Harden could be a first option: “I’ve watched him play.” That was a joke, sort of, but Morey continued by saying, “He played well in so many different environments. Obviously playing with Kevin (Durant) and Russell (Westbrook) he played well, but if you really studied the film, and I’d like to think our scouting staff is as diligent as any in the league – I think we are – when he had to carry the load with those guys off the floor he excelled. When there was just one of them on the floor he excelled. Really, frankly, in all environments.”

It’s worth keeping in mind that Harden was a top-three pick before ever playing with Durant and Westbrook. He led the Pac-10 in usage rate as a sophomore at Arizona State before declaring, and did so with above-average efficiency. As Bradford Doolittle pointed out in his analysis of the Rockets going forward, Harden was actually more effective last season with Durant on the bench (and presumably Westbrook, given Scott Brooks‘ tendency to rest both stars at the same time), pushing his usage rate to the stratosphere while increasing his True Shooting Percentage from .641 to .686, resulting in a jump from 16.6 points per 40 minutes to 34.7.

The counter to that stat is that Harden was playing against reserves. Ethan Sherwood Strauss raised a good question (I know, shocking): are second-unit defenders actually worse? The evidence suggests the drop-off is larger at the other end of the floor. Daniel Myers has studied the relationship between regularized adjusted plus-minus and minutes per game and found it much stronger on offense than defense. As in baseball, it appears that replacement level (and reserve level) is much higher on defense than offense.

Now, this does suggest Harden got a bit of a break at the defensive end going against backups, and I have argued that part of his poor NBA Finals performance was due to the extra energy he had to expend defending LeBron James. But I don’t suspect we’re talking about a big effect, and remember that Harden was much more valuable without the stars. If in reality his value to the Rockets is reflected by his overall performance in Oklahoma City, I’m pretty sure Morey would take that.

October 28, 2012

SCHOENE Reflects Harden Trade

Filed under: schoene2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 7:05 pm

For anyone with last-minute fantasy drafts, our SCHOENE projections now reflect last night’s trade that sent James Harden to the Rockets. If you’ve already purchased the SCHOENE fantasy projections, you can download a new version by going to Manage Your Profile. If your fantasy draft is still coming up, find out more about our SCHOENE spreadsheet, available for $7.95. And if you’ve already drafted, and you snapped up Harden back when he was a sixth man, this trade should come as excellent news. Harden figures to be more valuable if only because he will play more minutes in Houston.

October 26, 2012

BP’s Nuggets Projection Goes National

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 1:38 am

People have taken note of SCHOENE’s projection that the Denver Nuggets will be one of the top teams in the Western Conference, as seen in Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13 and ESPN the Magazine‘s NBA Preview edition–including TNT’s broadcast team of Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller, which discussed the projection during Thursday’s broadcast of the Nuggets-Clippers preseason game. Check it out, courtesy @blazersedge:

The folks at the local Boys & Girls Club will be disappointed Reggie is so dismissive of my playing career.

You can contact Kevin at kpelton@basketballprospectus.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kpelton.

October 24, 2012

PBP 2012-13 Now on Amazon

Filed under: pbp2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 1:29 am

If you’ve been waiting for a chance to hold the Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13 in your old hands to read nearly 400 pages of projections, analysis and insight, wait no longer. Our NBA annual is now available in paperback format via Amazon.com for $19.95. Thanks to our readers for already making us the No. 1 basketball book on Amazon.com!

October 19, 2012

SCHOENE Update

Filed under: schoene2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 1:58 pm

The SCHOENE fantasy spreadsheet is now updated with today’s news that Dirk Nowitzki will miss six weeks after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. If you’ve already purchased the SCHOENE fantasy projections, you can download a new version by going to Manage Your Profile. If your fantasy draft is still coming up, find out more about our SCHOENE spreadsheet, available for $7.95.

PBP 2012-13 Updated

Filed under: pbp2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 11:51 am

We’ve released a second edition of this year’s Pro Basketball Prospectus. This version updates a few typos, including the mislabeled Best Offenses/Worst Defenses table in the Statistical Toolbox that many of you brought to our attention, and also includes a last-minute update covering Kevin Love‘s injury. If you’ve already purchased this year’s PDF, you can download the updated version by going to “Manage your profile.”

October 17, 2012

Less Love for SCHOENE

Filed under: schoene2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 10:54 pm

Today’s news that Kevin Love will miss six to eight weeks after fracturing the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand means an update to SCHOENE, which drops the Timberwolves star in the rankings but still has him as a first-round pick. If you’ve already purchased the SCHOENE fantasy projections, you can download a new version by going to Manage Your Profile. If your fantasy draft is still coming up, find out more about our SCHOENE spreadsheet, available for $7.95. As for the real-life implications of Love’s injury, Bradford should be posting his column on that for subscribers before long.

October 16, 2012

Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13 Available Now

Filed under: pbp2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 6:13 pm

Bradford Doolittle and I are thrilled to announce that Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13 is now available for immediate download in PDF format. Check out our PBP 2012-13 homepage for sample chapters and the foreword by Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard. This year’s book features a record 570 player capsules as well as essays on all 30 NBA franchises, fantasy rankings and analysis, essays exploring league trends and more all for just $9.98. If you’re waiting for the paperback version, we expect it to be available via Amazon.com soon.

October 15, 2012

Nothing except everything’s changed in five years

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:24 am

Basketball Prospectus made its debut five years ago this week. My motivation in partnering with Ken Pomeroy on the college side of the new venture was simply to create a site that I’d like to visit as a reader, one that would give me trustworthy information and analysis on college basketball.

And in October 2007, there wasn’t a site like that. There were plenty of great college basketball writers, and there were many sites that covered their own beloved team with some of the same tools that Ken and I hoped to throw at all of Division I. But there was no site that could address why Florida had just won back-to-back national championships, or whether Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley would turn out to be the better freshman, or how good Kansas could be without Julian Wright, and do so in a way that would live up to the blurb Portland head coach Eric Reveno would one day give one of our books: It’s not just some guy’s opinion.

Coincidentally I had dinner with Ken last night. He was out East for a friend’s wedding, and we took the opportunity to make the Village Grille in Waldwick, New Jersey, the temporary tempo-free epicenter of the world while the patrons around us watched the Giants vs. the 49ers. Ken and I agreed a lot has changed in five years. Most notably, the amount of trustworthy information and analysis that’s available on college hoops has increased exponentially. As a reader I’ve never been happier.

Also if you’d told me five years ago that John Calipari would be contributing the Foreword for our book (on sale soon) or that Prospectus would be loaning out staffers to advise coaches who keep appearing in the national championship game, I would have been pleased.

But this is no time to be complacent, and 2012 is not my idea of utopia. Not when the RPI still sits contentedly at the same old corner, and national writers intone solemnly that Chrishawn Hopkins‘ dismissal from the program is “a significant blow” to Butler. Apparently five years is not sufficient for the task at hand.

So happy birthday, Prospectus. Happy birthday, and get to work.

Twitter: @JohnGasaway. Contact: here.

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