The Denver Nuggets: The NBA Friday Champions

Statistical anomalies are as much a part of data as anything else. Just because something has a tiny chance of actually happening doesn’t mean it never happens; just ask anyone who’s ever won the lottery. But a lottery is, ultimately, a large sample size. Hundreds of millions of people buy tickets, so something that has a hundreds-of-millions-to-one chance must happen eventually, sometimes after a dry spell that pumps the jackpot up over a billion dollars. And indeed, when you hear that there were three winners splitting one of those billion-dollar jackpots, it’s little more than a small piece of statistical …

Read More

Does Lance Stephenson Justify His Minutes?

Nobody can question Lance Stephenson‘s value to the Indiana Pacers in terms of intangibles. He’s a locker room glue guy, a fan favorite, and one of the reasons the Pacers’ team chemistry is such a massive improvement over the joyless death march that was the last two years with Paul George as the clubhouse leader (were this the kind of publication that dealt in eye-test talk, I’d go into more detail on this, but just suffice to say that Myles Turner in particular has said more than once how much more fun it is playing basketball this season, and from …

Read More

Using Point Differential To Project the 2018 NBA Playoffs: Western Conference

Click here for the breakdown for the East. OK, now that we’ve projected the East standings, let’s go ahead and do the same thing for the West. As a reminder, the methodology assumes that the factors (injuries, intangibles, player skill, all the normal variances of an NBA season) are going to remain constant, because we can’t predict how that stuff will shake out; we can only use the actual game results to extrapolate to the rest of the season. This is not a comprehensive crystal ball game. It’s a statistical test, no more, no less. Now then, the West standings through …

Read More

Using Point Differential To Project the 2018 NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference

(Click here for the Western Conference projections.) Roughly halfway through the 2017-18 season, we’ve seen a few surprises in the league, both good and bad. The Heat, Pistons, and Pacers have overachieved in the Eastern Conference, while Philly and Charlotte in particular have disappointed. Out West, the Thunder have fallen short of expectations, the bottom fell out on the Grizzlies, the Lakers remain a joke, and the Timberwolves find themselves on a 50-win pace by record. Part of this has been the unpredictability of any given NBA season; there are always surprises, often involving rookies who perform beyond anyone’s wildest expectations …

Read More

Suck Faster: When Bad Teams Play Up-Tempo

Ask a casual NBA fan to guess which team plays at the fastest pace in the league and most of them would probably guess the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, teams drilled in the principles of modern pace-and-space basketball, with Houston coached by the inimitable Mike D’Antoni, who might as well draw the two little arrows of the fast-forward symbol on the whiteboard during timeouts. This article originally appeared on January 25, 2017, and stats are as of that point in the 2016-17 season. They’re not bad guesses; the Warriors are second in pace (100.7, with all stats in …

Read More

Just How Bad Are the Pacers Without Victor Oladipo?

The mere fact that the Indiana Pacers are 0-3 without Victor Oladipo in the lineup does not on its face tell us anything in particular; teams, even good teams, go on losing streaks. The Rockets just lost five in a row, after all, and they’re the third-best team in all of basketball by record, second if you go by the advanced point differential stats. Likewise, if Bojan Bogdanovic hadn’t gifted them a win, the Celtics would’ve suffered a three-game skid of their own right before Christmas. What we really want to measure in terms of Vic’s impact is just why …

Read More

Why Are Great Rebounders On Bad Teams?

This may be a question that has an obvious answer. After all, if we ask “why are so many great rebounders on bad teams”, the knee-jerk answer is “because bad teams miss lots of shots, so there are more rebounds to be had.” Except that can’t be it…offensive rebounding percentage is at the lowest it’s been in history and it’s declining every year. The guys who lead the league are averaging a bunch of defensive rebounds. Let’s take a look at the league’s best rebounders, the teams they’re on, and try to draw a connection that ties them together. And …

Read More

Who’s The NBA’s Second-Best Shooting Guard?

It goes without saying that James Harden is the best shooting guard in the NBA; even if you left aside the fact that he’s the runaway favorite for MVP, through games of Dec. 19, he’s leading the league in scoring, shooting the highest percentage (39.2) of his career from three-point range, dishing out nine assists a game, and guiding Houston to the league’s best record. But who’s second? Victor Oladipo? Klay Thompson? Bradley Beal? DeMar DeRozan? Jimmy Butler? The rookie Donovan Mitchell? Let’s consider the candidates… One Quick Elimination For starters, let’s just drop Mitchell. He’s good. Very good. Making …

Read More

Can the Indiana Pacers Sneak Into the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals?

Even after a heartbreaking loss to the Celtics Monday night on a SEGABABA, the Indiana Pacers stand at 17-14, locked in a three-way tie for fifth in the East, and if they’d won that game against Boston, they’d be solidly in fourth. Not only do they have the record to play fifth-place ball, they’re also fifth in point differential; this team projects as a 45-win team on points and on record alike. They’re armed with the fourth-best conference record in case of tiebreakers, they’re 7-7 on the road, and they have the early favorite for Most Improved Player, a seemingly …

Read More

Statistical Tests: How Important is the Turnover Battle?

There are certain basketball platitudes out there like “you have to control the glass” or “the team that gets more assists wins the game.” But in both cases, they’re either obvious (the team that got more assists probably made more shots and therefore scored more points) or questionable (if you got a bunch of offensive rebounds, it might just be because you couldn’t shoot the ball that night, so you scored fewer points, and you lost.) With players like James Harden and Russell Westbrook setting records for turnovers even as they’ve put up MVP-level seasons, and with some teams just …

Read More