The NBA Finals are almost here and we are finally, mercifully, treated to a matchup which is not Warriors vs. Cavaliers. The Raptors, in their first NBA Finals appearance, will get a chance to dethrone the champs and I, like most fans, am really excited to see how this turns out.
To get a feel for how a series might shake out, I like to start by looking at the regular season point differentials of both competitors. By this measure, this Finals looks pretty even. The Warriors and the Raptors were 2nd and 3rd in the NBA, respectively, at +6.5 and +6.1. My simple point differential only model pegs the Raptors as slight favorites (55% chance to win the series) by virtue of having home-court advantage. Plus, the Warriors look to be without Kevin Durant for at least the first few games in the series, which hurts their odds.
Continue reading “The Raptors Probably Need To Outshoot The Warriors From Downtown To Take The Title”
It’s May and the 2019 NBA Draft is a little over a month away. Soon we will watch the future stars of tomorrow excitedly walk onto the stage and shake Commissioner Adam Silver’s hand. Of course, mixed in with the future stars will be many draftees who will simply never pan out.
Continue reading “How Likely Is Each Draft Pick to Someday Make an All-Star Team?”
The difference between good and bad bench play could be 3 or 4 points per game.
Back in 2015, Seth Partnow, now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks analytics team, did a great job analyzing how each team deployed lineups featuring each possible number of starters, from 0 to 5. Inspired by his approach, I gathered data on starting and bench units for the current 2018-19 regular season, through December 30th. I was particularly interested in the question in the title of this article: How important is a good bench to NBA success?
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What is more valuable, an offensive rebound or a defensive rebound? Consult Expected Points Gained.
The currency of a basketball game is points. This is obvious. After all, this is the one thing we add up to determine who won and who lost.
This really simple insight actually has a lot of value as a framework for evaluating everything that happens on the court. Each action that a player takes, be it good or bad, has to have its effect traced back to the scoreboard to be properly measured. Of course, some actions, like made jumpers and rebounds, are neatly recorded in the box-score and others, like contesting a shot or moving the ball quickly to keep an offensive action going, are not. But, at the end of the day, we really need to tie everything back to points.
Continue reading “Expected Points Gained, A Framework For Evaluating Actions On A Basketball Court”