Small Sample Sizes Make the Best NBA Statistics

Is there anything better than gross overreaction to a hot start in any sport? Two or three games into a season, when the Law of Averages Police have not yet been called in to restore order, a guy who had a big game or two still has gaudy counting stats, a team that smashed their opening-night opponent has the kind of net rating that you’d expect from a team that wins 250 games in an 82-game season, and fans start dreaming of horrifically unsustainable statistical runs that nonetheless pop off the page. Don’t believe me? Consider the following! If Trae …

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How Not to Build a 60-win NBA Team

A maxim in NBA team-building holds that you can’t win an NBA championship without a superstar, and it’s certainly true that every title team since Magic Johnson and Larry Bird featured at least one Hall of Fame player and usually at least two solid Hall of Famers and a third guy who if he wasn’t a Hall of Famer had a fine argument. There are exceptions—Stephen Curry might end up the only Hall of Famer off the 2015 Warriors depending on what Hall voters think of the career of Andre Iguodala. It’s hard to see Kyrie Irving actually ending up …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part VI: Pacific Division

As we wrap up our look at NBA contracts, a few things—good and bad—about Wiggins Factor as a stat start to come through in the analysis. In one case, it’s a sins-of-the-father argument… This really should say ‘the Wolves HAD one of the worst front offices in the league’. None of those bad contracts were signed by the current regime. — Jake Paynting (@jakepaynting) August 23, 2019 It’s going to take the new front office awhile to take out the trash. And in another case, it’s an example of Stewart’s Maxim: “It’s not funny anymore when it’s your guy.” @RealFoxD …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part V: Southwest Division

Welcome to Part 5 of our 6-part series taking a look at every contract in the NBA—except for rookies and two-way contracts, plus anyone who didn’t play in the league last season due to injury or having been overseas or something—and quantifying the ratio of minute-weighted dollars paid to Win Shares produced. To remind folks who haven’t read previous entries in this series: As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should produce a Wiggins Factor below 100, a rotation player with a rotation salary should be under 200, and ideally you want your superstar-level contracts …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part III: Southeast Division

In the previous two editions of this series, we took a look at the best and worst contracts in the Atlantic and Central Divisions, and we finish our look at the Eastern Conference today with the Dumpster fire that is the Southeast Division—a division Orlando won with a 42-40 record and sent no other teams to the playoffs. Which, in turn, points to the wisdom of the NBA making its playoff standards division agnostic. In the old days, the 4 seed Magic would’ve hosted the 5 seed Celtics in Game 1 of the first round, a Celtics team that won …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part I: Atlantic Division

We have talked extensively on the subject of Wiggins Factor, a formula designed to relate NBA salary to Win Shares on a per-minute basis and determine which players provide the most bang for the buck in terms of powering good teams to titles…or, by contrast, the players who are such a waste of money that every minute they’re on the floor all they do is bring your team closer to the draft lottery. But now it’s time to pull all the data together from across the league and give all those raw numbers some context. Over the next six days, …

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PER Is a Garbage Stat and We Should Stop Using It

Player Efficiency Rating is one of the oldest advanced NBA stats, devised by John Hollinger and popularized by ESPN back in the early days of the league’s rise out of the Dark Ages in the mid-aughts. In theory, it takes the totality of a player’s contributions on the basketball court, distills it into one number, sets the league average at 15, and is sufficiently position-agnostic to make it possible to compare guards to centers the way you compare catchers to shortstops by Wins Above Replacement in baseball. In practice, it’s been all but completely superseded by Win Shares (and its …

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How Well do NBA Win Shares Correlate to Actual Wins?

In an earlier Statistical Test on this here quality NBA publication, we took a look at Value Over Replacement Player (or, as it’s known in the Pace and Space offices, One Stat to Rule Them All) and found a strong correlation between VORP and team wins that can describe a team’s win total so accurately that if you have a reasonably good way to predict a roster’s VORP in advance, you’re more than halfway to beating the over/under game in Vegas. But there’s another stat out there that claims to do the same thing, and they even went so far …

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