Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

October 19, 2012

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 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.

October 11, 2012

Considering the Offensive Rebound Tradeoff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 4:27 pm

The second week of training camp seems like as good a time as any to discuss offensive rebounding strategies. This week, ESPN Insider began rolling out John Hollinger‘s season previews. In his discussion of the Boston Celtics, Hollinger pointed out that the Celtics’ offensive rebounding rate in 2011-12 was the lowest in league history, and by a fairly substantial margin. Boston is at the leading edge of a lengthy trend toward teams sacrificing second chances in favor of getting back defensively.

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott noticed, and wondered if teams aren’t better off following Boston’s lead and entirely abandoning the offensive glass. At Wages of Wins, Dave Berri responded by pointing out that there is little relationship between offensive rebounding and Defensive Rating.

Today came layer two of the analysis, as blogger Mystic looked at a more refined measure of offensive rebounding strategy and found that teams that pay less attention to the offensive glass tend to be better both on defense and overall. I think this latest study gets us about 75 percent of the way there.

Using the ratio of offensive rebound percentage to defensive rebound percentage, adjusted for league average, is a much better way to study the issue because it gets at the fundamental decision of whether to crash the boards or not. For example, the Chicago Bulls are one counterpoint to the “get back” argument because they combine one of the league’s highest offensive rebound percentages with its best defense. However, the Bulls are generating most of those second chances with their bigs while everyone else gets back on D. Chicago just happens to rebound particularly well, and they don’t appear among the leaders in offense/defense rebounding ratio.

The limitation of the study Mystic did is that it only looks at correlation, not causation. We don’t know whether getting back makes teams better, or better teams tend to play more conservatively and defensive-minded because they don’t need to take as many risks. To try to really isolate the causation, I looked at year-to-year changes in offense/defense rebounding ratio as well as team performance. I also limited the study to 2004-05 to the present to consider only the way the game is being played since the rules re-interpretations that opened up the floor for offenses.

This perspective tends to support my view that there’s a trade-off between offense and defense when it comes to hitting the glass. There’s a positive correlation between the change in offensive rebounding and the change in Offensive Rating (+.125) and a negative correlation with the change in Defensive Rating (-.141), indicating that as teams hit the offensive glass more from one season to the next, they get better on offense and worse on defense. Even though the correlation with Defensive Rating is slightly higher, the overall relationship to change in winning percentage is ever so slightly positive. The bigger takeaway is that it’s almost zero. The r^2 figure suggests that about 0.1% of the difference in a team’s record from one season to the next is attributable to the change in their offense/defense rebounding ratio.

The same trends hold up when we look at the extremes. The teams that increased their offense/defense rebounding ratio the most had better offenses and worse defenses and were marginally better; teams that paid less attention to the offensive glass had worse offenses and better defenses and identical winning percentages on aggregate.

The one surprise of the study was that it appears personnel may have more to do with offense/defense rebounding ratio than coaching strategy. The teams that increased their offensive rebounding the most generally added dominant rebounders like Zach Randolph (2009-10 Memphis Grizzlies) and Greg Oden (2008-09 Portland Trail Blazers). The 2009-10 San Antonio Spurs are the ultimate example. For years, they had eschewed offensive rebounding under defensive-minded Gregg Popovich, but the addition of DeJuan Blair made them much more likely to come up with second chances. The Spurs scored a little more, defended a little worse and were essentially the same team.

Ultimately, I don’t think there’s one right or wrong answer about crashing the glass. The best strategy for each team depends on personnel and style, and any number of approaches can be successful.

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

A Note to SCHOENE Purchasers

Filed under: schoene2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 2:25 pm

Thanks to reader Thomas for pointing out that the SCHOENE Fantasy Projections spreadsheet was mistakenly counting turnovers as a positive, not a negative for 12-team leagues. We’ve since uploaded a corrected spreadsheet. If you are playing in a 10-team league, or not using turnovers, you don’t really have to worry about this error, but anyone playing in a 12-team league with turnovers should re-download the updated sheet.

October 9, 2012

SCHOENE Fantasy Projections

Filed under: schoene2012 — Kevin Pelton @ 1:09 pm

Tonight marks three weeks until opening night of the 2012-13 NBA season, and with fantasy leagues beginning to draft, be sure to check out our 2012-13 SCHOENE Fantasy Projections, available now for $7.95. Based on the same SCHOENE projections you’ll see in the upcoming Pro Basketball Prospectus 2012-13, including team pace and playing time, these projections offer flexibility in terms of customization as well as default values for 10- and 12-teams with or without turnovers as a category.

New this year–and to this update, if you purchased and downloaded the sheet over the weekend–are auction values. I’m not as certain of the auction valuation, which may slightly overstate the very elite players and lumps a few too many players into the replacement-level $1 bin, but these figures should still be a helpful guide if you’re bidding on players.

For purchasers, the fantasy projections will be updated on a regular basis between now and the start of the season to account for injuries and changes in player roles.

August 27, 2012

Hornets247 Podcast

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 7:32 pm

Last week, I took time out from our annual hermitage — during which the Pro Basketball Prospectus annual is produced — to do a little podcasting. I got together — in a virtual sense — with Michael McNamara and Ryan Schwan from Hornets247com for their weekly hoops chat. We had a nice conversation about the future of the New Orleans franchise, Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, win projections and a lot more. Check it out.

August 14, 2012

Since Reputable People Are Using These

Filed under: Uncategorized — Drew Cannon @ 7:12 pm

Since my recent historical (2002-present) recruiting class rankings have been used a little bit around the Internet, but I’ve never actually written much about them, I thought I should remedy that. I give teams credit for signing players by fitting each player’s ranking to a curve that spits out 10 points for the #1 player, seven points for the #10 player, five points for the #25 player, three points for the #50 player, and one point for the #100 player. If you sign someone and they never play (Enes Kanter, J.R. Smith), you get half credit. Anybody unranked is generally ignored, although sometimes there are exceptions, as in the case of Jarnell Stokes (who I give a ranking of 18.5). All rankings are Dave Telep’s.

The 50 most impressive recruiting classes of the 2002-12 era:
1. 2006 North Carolina (#3 Brandan Wright, #5 Ty Lawson, #7 Wayne Ellington, #36 Deon Thompson, #55 Alex Stepheson, #79 Will Graves – 32.60 points), top ACC
2. 2011 Kentucky (#1 Anthony Davis, #4 Michael (Kidd-?)Gilchrist, #8 Marquis Teague, #19 Kyle Wiltjer – 31.42 points), top SEC, top 4-man class
3. 2009 Kentucky (#2 John Wall, #3 DeMarcus Cousins, #17 Daniel Orton, #37 Eric Bledsoe, #46 Jon Hood – 31.09 points)
4. 2002 Duke (#8 Shelden Williams, #12 Shavlik Randolph, #13 J.J. Redick, #29 Sean Dockery, #31 Michael Thompson – 29.58 points)
5. 2012 Kentucky (#1 Nerlens Noel, #13 Alex Poythress, #15 Archie Goodwin, #40 Willie Cauley – 26.40 points)
6. 2010 Kentucky (#6 Brandon Knight, #8 Terrence Jones, #28 Doron Lamb, #67 Stacey Poole, half credit for #3 Enes Kanter – 26.30 points)
7. 2012 UCLA (#2 Shabazz Muhammad, #5 Kyle Anderson, #26 Tony Parker, #41 Jordan Adams – 25.83 points), top Pac-12
8. 2006 Ohio State (#1 Greg Oden, #13 Daequan Cook, #28 Mike Conley, #31 David Lighty – 25.67 points), top Big Ten
9. 2008 UCLA (#4 Jrue Holiday, #23 J’mison Morgan, #31 Jerime Andersen, #39 Malcolm Lee, #42 Drew Gordon – 25.36 points)
10. 2011 Duke (#3 Austin Rivers, #29 Michael Gbinije, #35 Marshall Plumlee, #38 Quinn Cook, #41 Alex Murphy – 24.93 points)
11. 2005 Kansas (#8 Julian Wright, #15 Brandon Rush, #19 Mario Chalmers, #22 Micah Downs – 24.61 points), top Big 12
12. 2005 Duke (#1 Josh McRoberts, #18 Greg Paulus, #36 Eric Boateng, #55 Marty Pocius, #88 Jamal Boykin – 23.78 points)
13. 2012 Arizona (#4 Kaleb Tarczewski, #9 Grant Jerrett, #16 Brandon Ashley, #65 Gabe York – 23.74 points)
14. 2002 North Carolina (#3 Raymond Felton, #7 Rashad McCants, #10 Sean May – 23.28 points), top 3-man class
15. 2006 Texas (#2 Kevin Durant, #19 Damion James, #29 D.J. Augustin, #80 Matt Hill, #86 Dexter Pittman – 22.39 points)
16. 2006 Duke (#15 Gerald Henderson, #18 Lance Thomas, #20 Jon Scheyer, #38 Brian Zoubek – 21.46 points)
17. 2009 North Carolina (#4 John Henson, #33 Dexter Strickland, #53 Leslie McDonald, #55 David Wear, #56 Travis Wear – 20.73 points)
18. 2010 North Carolina (#1 Harrison Barnes, #16 Reggie Bullock, #29 Kendall Marshall – 20.71 points)
19. 2004 Texas (#12 LaMarcus Aldridge, #17 Daniel Gibson, #26 Mike Williams, #53 Dion Dowell – 20.32 points), top 2004
20. 2004 Kentucky (#8 Randolph Morris, #13 Joe Crawford, #15 Rajon Rondo – 20.06 points)
21. 2007 Kansas State (#2 Michael Beasley, #7 Bill Walker, #50 Dominique Sutton – 19.78 points), top 2007
22. 2005 North Carolina (#7 Tyler Hansbrough, #24 Danny Green, #41 Bobby Frasor, #52 Marcus Ginyard – 19.17 points)
23. 2010 Memphis (#12 Will Barton, #20 Jelan Kendrick, #23 Joe Jackson, #75 Tarik Black – 19.17 points), top C-USA, top mid-major
24. 2009 Villanova (#9 Mouphtaou Yarou, #22 Dominic Cheek, #26 Maalik Wayns, #82 Isaiah Armwood – 18.89 points), top Big East
25. 2005 Oklahoma State (#23 Byron Eaton, #46 Roderick Flemings, #81 Kenneth Cooper, #94 Terrel Harris, half credit for #2 Gerald Green and #14 Keith Brumbaugh – 18.88 points)
26. 2006 Connecticut (#23 Stanley Robinson, #35 Curtis Kelly, #39 Hasheem Thabeet, #43 Jerome Dyson, #62 Doug Wiggins – 18.86 points)
27. 2002 Villanova (#5 Jason Fraser, #37 Randy Foye, #41 Curtis Sumpter, #49 Allan Ray – 18.66 points)
28. 2009 Texas (#5 Avery Bradley, #14 Jordan Hamilton, #47 Shawn Williams – 17.60 points)
29. 2009 Kansas (#6 Xavier Henry, #24 Thomas Robinson, #29 Elijah Johnson – 17.56 points)
30. 2006 Washington (#4 Spencer Hawes, #16 Quincy Pondexter, #52 Adrian Oliver – 17.30 points)
31. 2004 Kansas (#28 Sasha Kaun, #32 Russell Robinson, #45 Alex Galindo, #59 C.J. Giles, #62 Darnell Jackson – 17.15 points)
32. 2007 Syracuse (#8 Donte Greene, #21 Jonny Flynn, #58 Rick Jackson, #75 Scoop Jardine – 17.02 points)
33. 2004 Indiana (#14 D.J. White, #47 Robert Vaden, #72 A.J. Ratliff, #78 James Hardy, half credit for #5 Josh Smith – 16.98 points)
34. 2010 Ohio State (#4 Jared Sullinger, #24 Deshaun Thomas, #64 Jordan Sibert, #97 Aaron Craft – 16.74 points)
35. 2007 Florida (#10 Nick Calathes, #32 Chandler Parsons, #45 Jai Lucas, #68 Alex Tyus – 16.66 points)
36. 2003 Kansas (#4 David Padgett, #21 J.R. Giddens, #59 Omar Wilkes – 16.28 points), top 2003
37. 2008 Ohio State (#3 B.J. Mullens, #14 William Buford, half credit for #64 Terrelle Pryor – 16.18 points)
38. 2009 Duke (#12 Ryan Kelly, #18 Mason Plumlee, #40 Andre Dawkins – 16.16 points)
39. 2002 Arizona (#19 Hassan Adams, #21 Chris Rodgers, #26 Andre Iguodala – 16.08 points)
40. 2006 Louisville (#24 Earl Clark, #25 Derrick Caracter, #44 Jerry Smith, #64 Edgar Sosa – 15.74 points)
41. 2005 Mississippi State (#32 Jamont Gordon, #38 Vernon Goodridge, #49 Reginald Delk, half credit for #3 Monta Ellis – 15.62 points)
42. 2007 Purdue (#27 E’Twaun Moore, #29 Scott Martin, #47 JaJuan Johnson, #51 Robbie Hummel – 15.56 points)
43. 2003 LSU (#14 Brandon Bass, #27 Regis Koundjia, #34 Tack Minor – 15.36 points)
44. 2007 Duke (#6 Kyle Singler, #26 Nolan Smith, #56 Taylor King – 15.34 points)
45. 2009 Georgia Tech (#1 Derrick Favors, #36 Mfon Udofia, #90 Kammeon Holsey – 15.23 points)
46. 2011 Arizona (#15 Josiah Turner, #22 Nick Johnson, #61 Angelo Chol, #94 Sidiki Johnson – 15.02 points)
47. 2011 St. John’s (#25 Dom Pointer, #39 Moe Harkless, #64 D’Angelo Harrison, #99 Amir Garrett, half credit for #32 JaKarr Sampson and #77 Norvel Pelle – 15.00 points)
48. 2003 Syracuse (#24 Demetris Nichols, #25 Darryl Watkins, #41 Terrence Roberts, #90 Louis McCroskey – 14.99 points)
49. 2012 Baylor (#3 Isaiah Austin, #36 Ricardo Gathers, #63 L.J. Rose – 14.99 points)
50. 2003 Michigan State (#5 Shannon Brown, #28 Brandon Cotton, #65 Drew Naymick – 14.93 points)

Top five by teams currently outside the BCS conferences:
1. 2010 Memphis (#23 above)
2. 2008 Memphis (#5 Tyreke Evans, #55 Wesley Witherspoon, #63 Angel Garcia, #89 Matt Simpkins – 14.22 points)
3. 2005 Memphis (#25 Shawne Williams, #42 Antonio Anderson, #51 Chris Douglas-Roberts, #85 Robert Dozier – 12.85 points)
4. 2007 Memphis (#5 Derrick Rose, #43 Jeff Robinson – 11.53 points)
5. 2012 UNLV (#7 Anthony Bennett, #47 Katin Reinhardt – 10.75 points)

July 24, 2012

The Best Teams Since 1992 (Now Adjusted for League Quality!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil Paine @ 9:53 am

In this ESPN article, I looked at how each Dream Team stacked up next to each other talent-wise in an absolute sense, estimating league quality by looking at how age-adjusted Advanced Statistical Plus/Minus (ASPM) for the same cohorts of players changed from year-to-year. Relative to the 2008 season (which represented the average league quality over the 1992-2012 period), here’s how difficult each NBA season was:

Year	Avg Plyr Δ	Plyr Rel to 08	Tm Rel to 08
1992	 n/a		 0.3		 1.4
1993	 0.0		 0.3		 1.6
1994	-0.1		 0.2		 1.2
1995	-0.2		 0.1		 0.3
1996	-0.1		 0.0		-0.1
1997	-0.1		-0.1		-0.6
1998	 0.0		-0.1		-0.5
1999	 0.1		 0.0		 0.1
2000	 0.1		 0.1		 0.5
2001	-0.2		-0.1		-0.4
2002	 0.0		-0.1		-0.3
2003	-0.1		-0.2		-0.9
2004	 0.1		-0.1		-0.5
2005	-0.1		-0.2		-1.1
2006	 0.0		-0.2		-0.9
2007	 0.1		-0.1		-0.3
2008	 0.1		 0.0		 0.0
2009	 0.0		 0.0		-0.1
2010	 0.1		 0.1		 0.6
2011	 0.1		 0.2		 1.2
2012	 0.0		 0.2		 1.1

And here’s that in graphical form (in this case, relative to 1992):

NBA Talent

In a nutshell, expansion and dilution (plus the decline and retirement of numerous Hall of Famers in the late 90s/early 00s) dragged the league’s talent level down to its low point in 2004-05, when it was as easy to put up ASPM numbers as it has ever been over the 1992-2012 period. However, NBA talent has gradually climbed back since, reaching essentially the same difficulty level as the league had in 1992.

Anyway, using those numbers we can adjust team ASPM ratings (which are basically schedule-adjusted efficiency differentials) for the quality of the league to arrive at absolute team ratings relative to the 2008 season. Here are the best (regular-season) teams from 1992-2012 after that adjustment:


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