Offensive Rebounds Vs. Getting Back On Defense: Which Is More Effective?

There are two maxims in the NBA that are seemingly contradictory. To do one, you must concede the other. One is “you need to limit your opponent to one shot.” The other is “you need to get back on defense and prevent transition baskets.” After all, if you miss a shot and you’re getting back when the shot goes up, you have given the opponent the former…but if you crash the boards to try to get multiple shots on the possession, you’re vulnerable to a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2 going the other way, especially in an age where more and …

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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 …

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Goran Dragic: Is He Any Good?

Goran Dragic, America’s Best Slovenian, has been a factor in the Miami Heat’s surprising run to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference this season. With 17 points and just under five assists a game, he’s been the anchor at the point guard spot, and with Dion Waiters just having suffered what may be a season-ending injury, it’s going to be down to the Dragon’s leadership to keep the Heat in the driver’s seat as they look to continue the momentum that put them at 30-11 in the last 41 games of the 2017 season, falling short of the playoffs …

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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 …

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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 …

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Paul George: Is He Any Good?

When Paul George was a member of the Indiana Pacers, he picked up a superstar’s reputation without really putting up a superstar’s stats. This was partially attributable to the terrible team he was on; after all, Indiana without him was basically a G-League team, and PG13 was practically 2006 Kobe in terms of singlehandedly carrying a bad team to the playoffs. With no chance of signing him when his contract expires, Indiana traded him to Oklahoma City, where he has joined Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony as the Big Three on a so-called superteam that really isn’t very super. Sure, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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“Great Teams Gut Out Close Wins in the NBA”: WRONG!

The NBA is a league where point differential is the single strongest predictor across an 82-game season of success and failure. 30 points is worth a win (give or take, and adjusted for pace, but it’s right around 30.) Which is to say, for every plus-one in point differential over a season, it’s good for about 2.7 wins. Every major advanced stat that deals with wins (from playoff-odds projections to Estimated Wins Added/WAR) is based on this principle. Which, in turn, creates a simple maxim. If you want to win lots of games, you need to win by big margins, …

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