Statistical Test: Correlating VORP and NBA Team Wins

Back in May, I examined the contributions of “replacement-level” NBA players, those guys with 0.1 either side of zero VORP, and in the process tried to figure out what an entire team of those guys or their presumed G-League “replacement player” equivalents would do over the course of a season. And in that effort, I took a six-team sample size from a cross-section of NBA competence to determine a formula: Wins (per 82 games) = (2.15*aggregate VORP)+19. But it occurs to me that I can do better than just taking a sample, shoehorning a little back-of-the-envelope math into it, and …

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The LeBron-Davis Lakers’ Death Lineup Scares Nobody

Sometimes, in the wonderful world of NBA Twitter, you see something so brain-explodingly silly that all you can do is laugh your little head off at it. Like this tweet from Magic Johnson, for example: Laker Nation, I’m dreaming about the 4th quarter Lakers team with LeBron, AD, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Kyle Kuzma. That’s almost unbeatable! — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 8, 2019 Magic asserts that a fourth-quarter lineup of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, and Kyle Kuzma is “unbeatable”. I mean, the joke writes itself, doesn’t it? But OK, Magic, I’m a man …

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The Toronto Raptors Are Headed for a Historic Dropoff

Kawhi Leonard finally made his free agency decision, and he’ll be teaming up with Paul George on the Microsoft Clippys…er, Los Angeles Clippers, looking to become the kings of Staples Center in a rivalry with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Leonard’s former Spurs and Raptors teammate Danny Green. Meanwhile, the Raptors have a dinosaur mascot, an aging Kyle Lowry, and a slammed-shut championship window that followed the greatest one-season free agent rental in NBA history. It stands to reason that the Raptors aren’t going to come anywhere close to the lofty heights they achieved in 2018-19. The Milwaukee Bucks have …

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Kevin Durant’s Career Is Over

Sometimes, a player can get injured, even catastrophically, sit out a season, come back, and return to the form they enjoyed before they got hurt, noticing no dropoff in performance that anyone is able to measure statistically. An Achilles tendon rupture, which Kevin Durant suffered during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, is not one of those injuries that players typically come back from. Here’s a list of the All-Stars besides Durant who have torn Achilles tendons, according to collected sources from a Google search that all seemed to be working from the same data set: Elton Brand, Dominique Wilkins, …

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The Pacers—And Everyone Else—Should Avoid DeMar DeRozan

The San Antonio Spurs are, unsurprisingly, rumored to be interested in moving on from DeMar DeRozan, figuring out a year too late that having a guy who relies heavily on low-efficiency midrange jump shots probably isn’t a guy you want taking a high volume of shots in your offense in 2019. What’s more, DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard, by virtue of being swapped for each other, provided a perfect test case for just how grotesquely overrated DeRozan is, as 60 regular-season games of Kawhi Leonard was (as this goes to press, it’s the day before Game 5, so if you’re reading …

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Terrible Contracts: The Worst NBA Team Money Can Buy

When the discussion comes up about who in the NBA has the worst contract, the discussion often turns to guys like Chris Paul and John Wall, aging superstars with supermax contracts who can’t stay on the floor and who cost their teams millions on top of millions to effectively pay a guy to spend more time on the bench during the game than an assistant coach. But when Paul and Wall are out on the floor, they’re actually good. When they’re effective, Rockets and Wizards fans start dreaming of big things until they get hurt again and those dreams are …

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How Much Value Do G-League Replacement Players Have?

One of the most useful catch-all stats in the advanced statistician’s playbook is VORP, Value Over Replacement Player. Like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in baseball, VORP distills the value of a player’s entire offensive and defensive contribution on the floor to one number, defined by Basketball Reference as “A box score estimate of the points per 100 TEAM possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level (-2.0) player, translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season.” Very long story very short, this means that a team full of replacement players would post a -5.4 net rating, and …

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How Much Do High-Volume, Low-Efficiency Shooters Hurt NBA Teams?

In the NBA, there’s a certain class of scorer who puts up monumental counting stats but isn’t actually any good. You know the type. The guy who scores 30 points on 30 shots while his team loses by 20. The guy who’s as likely to shoot you out of a game as into it—as Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard once said of Lance Stephenson, “some nights he was the best player on our team and other nights he was the best player on the other team.” Guys like Josh Smith, Allen Iverson, and Jerry Stackhouse in the old days and guys …

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Do Triple-Doubles Lead to NBA Wins?

Earlier in the season, we looked at the strange tendency for 50-point games to come in losses and put forth some thoughts related to whether individual stat-chasing might ultimately hurt team basketball. But nobody’s arguing that players should put the ball in the basket less. If scoring 50 points is what it takes to get the win, just ask the Golden State Warriors how Game 6 went against the Clippers when Kevin Durant did it. But the triple-double, that’s thornier territory. After all, if triple-doubles were the biggest contributing factor to wins, Russell Westbrook would have so many NBA Finals …

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What if 2-Pointers Were Worth 3 and 3-Pointers Worth 4 in Basketball?

Longtime readers of this site back when we were on the old server (I will forever grit my teeth in anger at our previous host losing all our content from 2015-16 and making the stuff from 2016-17 all but impossible to search; that’s why this site migrated to a WordPress server in 2017, but that’s a story for another day…) Anyway, I wrote a piece suggesting that we turn 2-pointers into threes and 3-pointers into fours in an effort to mitigate the spread in eFG% that comes with one shot from farther away from the basket being worth fully 50 …

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