Posts Tagged ‘Marginal Win Score’

Kobe Bryant is dreaming if he thinks the 2012 team is better than the Dream Team

July 12, 2012

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe…

Yesterday Kobe Bean Bryant told the media that the current United States Olympic Team would probably beat the legendary 1992 Dream Team if the two teams squared off.  Bryant reasoned that most of the current US Olympic team players are at or are close to their prime ages whereas in 1992 the better Dream Team members were a bit long in the tooth.

I was skeptical, so I tested Bryant’s thesis.  Using MWS, I compared the production of the Dream Team during the NBA season that preceded its Olympic campaign (1991-92) and compared those numbers to the numbers produced by the 2012 Olympic team during the last NBA season.  Based on my calculations, I think Bryant is very wrong.


By the summer of 1992, Magic and Bird had gotten up in years, but other key players on the Dream Team, like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, and Karl Malone, were still relatively young.  And almost all of them were uberproductive basketball players in 1991-1992.  9 of the 12 Dreamers produced negative losses (compared to 6 on the 2012 team) and none of the Dreamers produced the mediocre numbers produced by Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams (I don’t count Laettner, because he had not played in the NBA yet, and he was more or less a politically driven choice).  Taken together, the Dream Team featured much more production than this year’s Olympic team.

I make the above statements based on two separate Win Charts I produced, one featuring the NBA production of the 2012 Olympic team in the current season, and one featuring the Dream Team’s production in the 1991-92 NBA season.  As the Charts will show, even if one includes the political selection of Christian Laettner, the Dream Team still produced a far superior overall NBA winning percentage of 1.115% in 1991-92 compared to the 2012 team’s overall winning percentage last season of 0.923%. (When reading the Charts, remember that last season was not a full season.  Thus, the cumulative numbers, like (a) wins and losses (W__L); (b) wins above 0.500% (W>0.5%)’; and Value Rating (VL) cannot be directly compared between the 2012 team and the Dream Team.  To compare those numbers, divide them by 0.8).

(Both Charts, plus explanations of the information contained in each, can be accessed by banging on the links listed below.)

Click Here to see the two Olympic Win Charts

Click Here for a brief explanation of each of the statistics contained in the Charts

Click Here to read the logic behind the basketball metric Marginal Win Score

ANALYSIS: Dream Team was loaded

In his rebuttal to Bryant, Charles Barkley said the Dream Team would crush the 2012 team, and he surmised that the only 2012 players good enough to make the Dream Team roster are LeBron, Durant, and Kobe.  I think he’s right in part, and wrong in part.

If I were to select an Olympic team from the combined rosters, and if I were to do so according to win potential, then I would probably select every Dream Team player except Laettner, Mullin, Ewing, and Bird (due to injury).  I would replace the aforementioned 4 players with the 2012 players LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and probably Tyson Chandler (or Kevin Love).  I certainly wouldn’t include Kobe Bryant on any combined team.  He has not been an elite player for several seasons.

SIDEBAR:  Why do smart people like Charles Barkley continually give Kobe Bryant so much respect???  He was never on Michael Jordan’s level, and he is certainly no longer an elite player.  Yes, he can make difficult shots at a better rate than most humans, and he’s a good free throw shooter, but he really doesn’t do a whole lot of the other things that you need to do to win basketball games (I will admit he is an outstanding defensive player, but he is inefficient and he doesn’t rebound or pass and he takes poor shots).  The real danger is Kobe’s best quality — his ability to convert circus shots.  That ability can be a mixed blessing, as Charles Barkley pointed out during the playoffs. It encourages players to take terrible shots, and even the best shooters will have conversion rates on difficult shots that are much lower than the conversion rates you can get on easier shots.


The Dream Team was loaded with great players.  Everyone recognizes Michael Jordan’s greatness, but fans and the media tend to underappreciate (or have forgotten) the true greatness of Magic Johnson.  I believe Magic was the best non-center in basketball history.

And Charles Barkley is massively underrated, simply because he did not win a championship.  Barkley, a man who stands about 6’3.5”, produced some of the greatest win statistics of any player in NBA history.  Yet he never seems to enter the conversation when people talk about the truly elite players in NBA history.

Another Dream Teamer who doesn’t get his due is David Robinson.  People seem to believe he was not good enough to win on his own, and that he simply rode the coattails of Tim Duncan to two NBA championships.  No way.  Robinson was an outstanding NBA player and a great win producer.

But I’m getting away from the point of this post.  The point is, Kobe Bryant is wrong to claim that the 2012 Olympic team has better personnel than the Dream Team.  It doesn’t.  The Dream Team still stands as the greatest collection of basketball talent in the history of man.

LeBron James’ Incredible Season (2011-12 Miami Heat Win Chart)

July 10, 2012

I guess LeBron James was on something of a mission last season.  He not only helped the Miami Heat to their second World Championship, he also turned in one of the great regular seasons of all time.

Click Here to view the Miami Heat Win Chart

Click Here for a full explanation of every column in each Win Chart


1. All the Way with LBJ

I have not concluded all of my Marginal Win Score calculations for the truncated season, but LBJ will certainly be the MVP in this corner of the world, just as he is in every other sane corner of the world.  I don’t think anyone else will come within 5 games of his VALUE rating.  He was magnificent.  At one point in the season, he was outproducing 1967-68 Wilt Chamberlain, which was stunning, but he could not keep it up.  Nevertheless, he had a season for the ages.

2. Wade righted himself

Halfway through the season, Dwyane Wade was underproducing.  He certainly righted himself by the end and had a highly productive year.  The only reason his VALUE rating isn’t higher is because he did was injured and unavailable for a lot of the season.  Otherwise, his Marginal Win Score was right about where it always has been.

3. Bosh has a mediocre season

Lucky LeBron carried so much weight this season, because the third member of the supposed Big 3, Chris Bosh, had a very mediocre season.  His Personal Winning Percentage was well down from last season.  The team needs him though, and appears to be better with him, because it is so thin in talent.  But, he just wasn’t that valuable in an abstract sense.

4. Junior Members need some love

Two guys who were actually more valuable than Bosh were fellow big man Udonis Haslem, and the much maligned PG Mario Chalmers.  Each of those two had pretty productive seasons.  They don’t seem to get much credit, however.  In fact, Chalmers seems like the guy the Big 3 love to abuse.  Nevertheless, the Heat don’t win a championship without his work, and without the stellar work produced by Mr. Haslem.

5. Two decent small forwards

The Heat also got decent play from the two veteran SFs Mike Miller and Shane Battier.  Each guy has produced better numbers in the past, but when you combine the two, they made a pretty nice contribution to the Heat.

6. Garbage Depth

Its great to have such magnificence at the top of your roster, because the Heat had absolute garbage for depth.  Joel Anthony has never been any good.  I have no idea how Juwan Howard managed to be the last surviving member of the Fab 5, because he hasn’t been productive this century, and newcomer PG Norris Cole, who actually had promising numbers coming out of college, was dreadful — he actually produced negative wins.  But, as I said, when you have two NBA All-Time All-Timers at the top of your roster, you’re always going to have a look at an NBA championship, and that has certainly been the case for the Heat.


Six Things about the LA Lakers (based on the 2011-12 Lakers Win Chart)

July 9, 2012

Sometime ago, I did a 2011-12 NBA Win Chart for the Los Angeles Lakers using Marginal Win Score (you can view it here).


I would point out several things about the Lakers that are borne out by the  Win Chart.

One, my preseason prediction for the Lakers was dead-on, in a holistic sense (the particulars weren’t, but they almost never are).  Because the Lakers have been one of the more stable teams for the last decade, they have also been one of the more predictable teams.

Two, the one position where the Lakers continued to create losses in 2011-12 was the point guard position.  Steve Nash, therefore, could really augment the Laker attack.

Three, Pau Gasol continues to be much more valuable to the Laker franchise than many NBA fans who don’t believe in Win Score will admit.  The team would be foolish to simply give him away as it seems they have been trying to do for the past couple years.

Four, Andrew Bynum is on the cusp of superstardom (though he has seemingly been there for a while).  If he can remain healthy, he could very well supplant Dwight Howard as the signal bigman in the NBA for the next decade.  That’s “if”.

Five, Kobe Bryant is in decline.  Age, the thing that eventually conquers us all, is getting to him.  His peak is well behind him.

Six, the PurGolders need to replace Metta World Peace with SF Matt Barnes.

Now that I’ve figured out how to display them properly, I’ll continue to roll out more MWS Win Charts in the days and weeks to come.

My Win Analysis of the 2012 US Olympic Basketball Team

July 9, 2012

I have posted the 2011-12 NBA Marginal Win Score Win Numbers for the 2012 US Olympic Basketball team on my LiveJournal site (click here).  For now, I am going to post all statistical numbers there, because they post the precise way I want them to (in a readable, organized form).


I must say that the selections made over the weekend were rather inspired.  Every single player selected (Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, and James Harden) posted an “elite” level Marginal Win Score (meaning their personal winning percentages were each greater than a thousand percent) whereas none of the players they were competing against (Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis) posted numbers anywhere close (though in fairness to Davis, he does project as an Elite level win producer.)

At the same time, the 2 NBAers who were cut would qualify as pure “scorers” whereas the 3 that were kept probably would not.  Does this mean the NBA establishment is becoming “switched on” (as Brits would say) to the Win Score revolution?  Only time will tell.


With all that being said, the 2012 team does not project to be nearly as strong as the 2008 team.  In particular, the team will be missing a big post presence in Dwight Howard, and if Chris Paul is injured, the 2012 team will be very thin at Point Guard (backup Deron Williams is the only player on the roster who posted a negative Marginal Win Score last NBA season, and the other backup Russell Westbrook is notorious for overshooting).  Moreover, I have no dreaming idea how Carmelo Anthony made the team.  He has NEVER been an elite player… he is strictly a volume scorer.

Even so, any team featuring LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Blake Griffin should be very formidable indeed.  But remember, most every team can be beaten in a one-off.  And as great as that 2008 team was, they were almost knocked off by a clearly inferior Spanish team.  So I am guaranteeing nothing, but the US team should be a heavy favorite to bring home gold from the British Isles this summer.

Hey, the Bucks made a smart move!

June 28, 2012

The Bucks made a pretty astute little move yesterday when they acquired the veteran journeyman C Samuel Dalembert from the Houston Rockets for, essentially, two draft spots.

First, they gave up nothing.  The Bucks administration is just as likely to make a mistake at 14 as they were at 12.  Secondly, they picked up a pretty productive center who fits perfectly in the Scott Skiles defensive regime.

Dalembert’s Win Chart for the last 5 seasons

2012 14.59 11.95 1.32 0.728 5.3__2.0* 1.6* 6.9*
2011 13.37 11.34 1.01 0.675 5.2__2.5 1.4 6.6
2010 17.22 11.54 2.84 0.984 8.7__0.1 4.3 12.9
2009 14.19 11.33 1.43 0.738 6.2__2.2 2.1 8.2
2008 13.92 11.49 1.21 0.707 7.9__3.4 2.3 10.2
AVER 14.65 11.53 1.56 0.766 6.7__2.0 2.3 9.1

*: numbers projected over a regulation 82 game schedule

As you can see, Dalembert is a consistent +0.500% winner.  In 2010 he even made my 20 MVP List.  Even if you throw out that outlier, he has been above average in every other season.  He basically gives the Bucks exactly what Bogut gave them, with probably a tiny bit more defensive presence in the middle (his penchant for blocking shots is probably the reason why his Defensive Win Score is a little high).

Dalembert is certainly better than the other horror shows the Bucks were rumored to be ready to draft: the big man from Illinois, who did nothing in the Big Ten last season (he has one of those “last name as my first name” names that drive British people nuts and that now escapes me) or Zeller from UNC, who was productive in his last season (but so was Psycho T and he has completely sucked for the Pacers) but who was never that productive in his earlier seasons, and who has the standing reach of a small forward.

Ranking every 2012 NBA rookie performance using Marginal Win Score

March 9, 2012

Kawhi Leonard: Los Rookie of the Year Leader

Using the basketball metric known as Marginal Win Score, I have measured the contribution of every single NBA rookie who has played at least 100 minutes this season, and I have ranked each according to his “Value” Score (wins plus wins above 0.500%).

ROOKS tm WS dWS MWS W% W__L W0.5 V
K Lnard SA 12.63 7.47 2.57 0.939 3.3__0.2 1.5 4.8
R Rubio Min 7.65 5.78 0.93 0.661 3.7__2.0 0.9 4.5
K Faried Den 19.71 8.76 5.47 1.431 2.3__(-0.6) 1.4 3.7
C Prsons Hou 8.41 7.14 0.63 0.611 2.5__1.7 0.4 2.9
G Ayon NO 13.98 9.82 2.08 0.856 2.1__0.4 0.8 2.9
E Kanter Uta 13.21 9.41 1.89 0.825 1.8__0.4 0.7 2.5
D Wllms Min 10.06 8.69 0.68 0.618 2.0__1.3 0.3 2.3
J Butler Chi 10.76 -2.46 6.61 1.624 1.1__(-0.4) 0.7 1.8
K Irving Cle 8.01 8.75 -0.37 0.439 1.8__2.4 -0.3 1.5
N Vcevic Phi 12.72 11.67 0.52 0.591 1.3__0.9 0.2 1.5
T Thmpsn Cle 9.24 9.11 0.06 0.514 1.3__1.2 0.1 1.4
I Thomas Sac 6.49 7.16 -0.33 0.445 1.5__1.8 -0.2 1.3
J Harrllsn NY 11.74 9.62 1.06 0.682 1.0__0.4 0.3 1.3
L Allen Phi 11.45 11.04 0.19 0.536 1.0__0.9 0.1 1.1
I Shmprt NY 3.23 4.69 -0.73 0.377 1.5__2.4 -0.4 1.1
K Thmpsn GS 4.69 5.06 -0.18 0.471 1.2__1.3 -0.1 1.1
S Mack Was 7.05 6.57 0.24 0.543 0.9__0.7 0.1 0.9
A Burks Uta 3.08 2.57 0.25 0.546 0.9__0.8 0.1 0.9
J Jhnsn Bos 8.85 6.11 1.36 0.734 0.6__0.2 0.2 0.8
J Stone Den 8.54 3.76 2.39 0.908 0.5__0.1 0.2 0.7
J Hmiltn Den 9.01 8.79 0.11 0.521 0.3__0.2 0.1 0.3
R Jcksn OKC 1.49 3.82 -1.16 0.305 0.5__1.1 -0.3 0.2
B Bymbo Cha 10.47 12.78 -1.15 0.306 0.7__1.7 -0.5 0.2
M Mrris Pho 7.74 10.64 -1.45 0.256 0.8__2.4 -0.8 0.1
M Broks NJ 5.85 8.59 -1.37 0.268 1.0__2.8 -0.9 0.1
J Wllams NJ 10.02 12.62 -1.31 0.281 0.3__0.6 -0.2 0.1
J Leuer Mil 9.82 12.62 -1.39 0.264 0.5__1.4 -0.4 0.1
K Wlker Cha 6.05 9.09 -1.52 0.244 1.1__3.3 -1.2 -0.1
E Mre Bos 0.86 3.89 -1.51 0.245 0.2__0.7 -0.3 -0.1
T Hrris Mil 8.21 11.43 -1.61 0.229 0.3__1.0 -0.3 -0.1
J Slby Mem -2.13 2.61 -2.36 0.101 0.1__0.8 -0.4 -0.3
W Rssll Det 0.56 5.43 -2.43 0.089 0.1__1.1 -0.5 -0.4
C Sngltn Was 5.69 10.09 -2.19 0.129 0.4__2.7 -1.2 -0.8
I Jhnsn Atl 7.44 9.44 -0.99 0.333 0.6__1.3 -0.3 -0.9
D Mrris LAL 1.97 11.73 -4.88 -0.326 (-0.2)__0.7 -0.4 -0.6
C Jsph SA 2.15 10.77 -4.31 -0.225 (-0.2)__1.0 -0.6 -0.8
C Hggns Cha -3.49 4.47 -3.98 -0.173 (-0.2)__1.3 -0.7 -0.9
N Smith Port -2.24 9.43 -5.83 -0.487 (-0.3)__0.9 -0.6 -0.9
C Jnkins GS 2.98 13.89 -5.45 -0.423 (-0.3)__1.0 -0.6 -0.9
J Pargo Mem -2.64 7.85 -5.24 -0.387 (-0.4)__1.6 -0.9 -1.4
J Vesely Was 5.16 12.78 -3.81 -0.143 (-0.3)__2.2 -1.2 -1.5
N Cole Mia 0.83 6.56 -2.86 0.016 0.0__3.3 -1.6 -1.6
J Frdtte Sac 2.48 11.12 -4.32 -0.229 (-0.6)__3.5 -2.1 -2.7
B Knght Det 3.12 9.96 -3.42 -0.078 (-0.4)__5.6 -2.9 -3.3
6.12 8.20 -0.88 0.351 -11.8 22.8

SF Kawhi Leonard the ROY leader

As the chart shows, in terms of Value Ranking, Kawhi Leonard has passed the Spanish Sensation Ricky Rubio right by.  Leonard is having a spectacular season for the Spurs, and you barely ever hear about him.  What a shame.

Rubio has come back to the pack, but he is still having a pretty good season.  Fellow PG Kyrie Irving is proving to be a productive player, but he struggles on defense.  I expected that to happen to Rubio, but not to the Duke-trained Irving.

Derrick Williams has come on very strong for the Timberwolves as well.  What a massive upgrade he is over the awful, awful SF Michael Beasley.  Whoever the Twolves dump Beasley on is going to be in for a dip in the standings.

Two other players who need to be mentioned are SF Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets, and someone named Ayon, who plays PF/C for the New Orleans Hornets.  I never heard of Ayon, to be honest with you, but he is very productive.

The larger story is the general lack of production from rookies in general.  The entire rookie class has a collective Value Ranking that barely exceeds the Value Ranking of Miami SF LeBron James!  Rookies simply do not contribute very much to a team.  That’s why it is foolish to pin too much of your hopes on the draft.  Only one or at most a handful of rookies ever make a significant contribution to their NBA teams.

And you run the risk of having them destroy your season.  PG Brandon Knight is absolutely killing the Detroit Pistons.  Same goes for PG/SG Jimmer Fredette and the Sacramento Kings.  I thought “JimmerMania” was supposed to hit the NBA?  Jimmer cannot make baskets at the professional level.  The Kings drafteed a better player inm the second round when they drafted Washington PG Isiah Lord Thomas II.

The Garbage King of the rookie class appears to be Chicago rookie from Marquette Jimmy Butler.  Butler has barely played this season, but he has been unbelievably productive when he has played.  In fact, in terms of Value, he has contributed more to the Bulls in his short minutes on the court than Kyrie Irving has contributed to the Cavaliers.  Whether that will bear out over the long haul is pretty doubtful, but nevertheless an impressive debut for a pretty lightly regarded prospect.

EDIT:  The original post contained a monster oversight.  I missed PF Kenneth Faried from the Denver Nuggets.  Luckily, he is coached by George Karl, a man who hates rookies who are not scorers.  Had Karl played Faried anywhere near the minutes his production demands, Faried would be the ROY leader, and I would have had to edit the entire post.  Thank you, George.

Power Ranking the 2012 NCAA Tournament Field

March 8, 2012

Below is my power ranking of the likeliest participants in the 2012 NCAA mens basketball tournament, using the normally reliable Joe Lunardi as my early guide. (I have included all of the teams down to his “Second Four Out”, but there could be conference tournament upsets still to come)

You may use these rankings as a guide next week when you are filling out your tournament sheet.  Here is an explanation of my rankings.

Remember, however, these rankings are only a guide.   The tournament games will not be uniformally decided by strength.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of the games in each round will be “upsets”, in the sense that the lesser team will beat the stronger team (For a simple reason — even lopsided matchups feature teams with at least a 20% chance of winning).  The trick is to figure out where those upsets will fall and where they will not.

1 Kentucky 0.634 0.917 1.551
2 Kansas 0.544 0.922 1.466
3 UNC 0.651 0.793 1.444
4 Ohio St 0.511 0.919 1.431
5 Mich St 0.572 0.841 1.412
6 Syracuse 0.523 0.773 1.296
7 Wisconsin 0.445 0.787 1.232
8 Missouri 0.443 0.745 1.188
9 N Mexico 0.439 0.713 1.152
10 Baylor 0.452 0.661 1.113
11 California 0.418 0.689 1.108
12 Duke 0.441 0.666 1.107
13 Florida 0.425 0.662 1.087
14 Indiana 0.454 0.629 1.083
15 Witch St 0.359 0.717 1.076
16 St Marys 0.408 0.662 1.069
17 Gtown 0.401 0.631 1.031
18 Memp 0.394 0.629 1.024
19 Gonzaga 0.437 0.568 1.005
20 UNLV 0.405 0.597 1.002
21 Louisville 0.382 0.602 0.984
22 Marq 0.345 0.599 0.944
23 St Louis 0.304 0.639 0.944
24 Virginia 0.339 0.591 0.931
25 Belmont 0.311 0.552 0.863
26 Harvard 0.337 0.506 0.843
27 Kan St 0.313 0.526 0.839
28 Vanderbilt 0.323 0.514 0.837
29 Alabama 0.308 0.512 0.819
30 BYU 0.347 0.471 0.818
31 Murr St 0.289 0.524 0.814
32 Texas 0.328 0.476 0.804
33 Iowa St 0.305 0.546 0.851
34 Arizona 0.303 0.479 0.782
35 Iona 0.301 0.466 0.767
36 Creighton 0.316 0.449 0.765
37 Michigan 0.325 0.441 0.766
38 Davidson 0.282 0.463 0.745
39 SD State 0.243 0.483 0.726
40 Oregon 0.265 0.454 0.719
41 Uconn 0.316 0.392 0.708
42 W VA 0.265 0.435 0.699
43 St Josephs 0.301 0.387 0.688
44 No Dame 0.319 0.421 0.675
45 Lng Bch St 0.265 0.399 0.664
46 Temple 0.267 0.382 0.649
47 Drexel 0.189 0.428 0.617
48 Miss St 0.259 0.353 0.612
49 NC State 0.299 0.312 0.611
50 Washing 0.211 0.381 0.592
51 Purdue 0.201 0.383 0.584
52 Xavier 0.192 0.382 0.574
53 SanD State 0.242 0.323 0.565
54 Cinn 0.184 0.379 0.564
55 Vcomm 0.196 0.362 0.558
56 Lehigh 0.177 0.359 0.536
57 Akron 0.209 0.321 0.531
58 Montana 0.194 0.331 0.525
59 Col St 0.198 0.326 0.524
60 Seton Hall 0.206 0.301 0.507
61 Tennessee 0.194 0.311 0.505
62 UNC Ash 0.199 0.285 0.484
63 Sth Mssp 0.148 0.327 0.475
64 Nevada 0.159 0.313 0.473
65 Nwestern 0.143 0.276 0.419
66 Miami 0.172 0.227 0.399
67 S Flor 0.145 0.189 0.334
68 Long Islnd 0.128 0.134 0.262
69 Loy Md 0.114 0.142 0.256
70 Detroit 0.021 0.024 0.045
71 W Kent -0.068 -0.053 -0.121

Initial Observations about Overvalued Teams

Remember, this post went up well before the tournament selections, so there are several teams on here who will not make the field (I also excluded some of the sure #16 seeds).  At the time of writing, it appears some of the Big Ten teams might be overvalued, and might be ripe for upset picks.  The Michigan Wolverines are ranked #8 in the country, but by my comparative strength measurements they are well down the list.  Northwestern and Purdue also look like phonies.

On the other hand, it appears the Pac 12 is getting shortchanged.  California is stronger than they have been given credit for, and there are other teams out there like Oregon and Arizona who deserve bids ahead of the lesser Big Ten teams.

Another team that is likely to be overseeded is the Marquette Golden Eagles.  Marquette is a strong team, but not nearly as comparatively strong as Joe Lunardi’s forecasted 2 seed would suggest.  Indeed, many of the Big East teams appear as though they may be overvalued as well.  Syracuse is a perennial underachiever.  If you are targeting a top seed to fall, you could do a lot worse than Syracuse.


If you will notice, the three power rankings produce 3 separate favorites.  If you go by Marginal Win Score, the favorite is North Carolina.  If you go by PVOA, the favorite is Kansas.  If you combine the two, the favorite is Kentucky.  There is a simple explanation.  MWS is a more holistic ranking.  It rewards teams who do the little things that create wins, whereas PVOA concentrates on rewarding scoring efficiency.

North Carolina is not a great scoring team, but they are a tremendous rebounding and possessionary team.  Ohio State and Kansas are great scoring and scoring defense teams, but not in UNC’s league when it comes to the “Hustle Board”.  And Kentucky is strong in both areas, but it is not the strongest in either.  Its dealer’s choice this tournament season.

I will have more analysis as we get into the weekend.

Holy crap… so far LeBron’s having the greatest NBA season ever!!

February 25, 2012

Using my estimate of what a player’s Marginal Win Score probably was, I believe the most productive individual professional basketball season (measured by wins attributed to the player) was Wilt Chamberlain’s 1967-68 season with the Philadelphia 76ers.  I estimate he posted a Marginal Win Score of +7.34 in 1967-68, that he was responsible for 19.9 of the Sixers 21 wins above 0.500%, and I gave him a Value Ranking of approximately 47.8, which is simply off the charts (last season’s Marginal Win Score MVP, Dwight Howard, had a Value Ranking of 33.4).

While my numbers are based upon estimates, for various reasons I think I am in the right ballpark with Wilt, but for historical reasons I thought a MWS of +7.00 was no longer achievable in the modern age (a player has to almost thoroughly dominate every opponent he faces to a productive degree that the pace of today’s game seemed to make unachievable).  Incredibly, I was wrong.

LeBron James is currently posting a Marginal Win Score of +7.35, just slightly better than the Marginal Win Score posted by Chamberlain in 1968.  I can’t really express how shocking this is.  Part of the reason Wilt was able to post such a high MWS is because he only played against a handful of opposing centers.  Thus, if he were more dominant than that small group, he could post big numbers over them night in and night out.

Somehow, though, LeBron is “Wilting” the opposing small forwards in the NBA.  He’s doing it mainly with extremely efficient scoring, coupled with his normal “stat box” full of positive winning statistics (or “Win Score” as we call it).  LeBron is averaging 20.14 points per 48 minutes more than his counterparts at small forward (82%) and power forward (18%), yet he is only using 12.8 more “scoring attempts” (FGAs +.5FTAs) per 48 to do it.  That’s an incredible “marginal” gap in efficient scoring.  Then you throw in the fact that he rebounds well for a small forward, and you especially add the fact that he hands out assists like a point guard, and you have yourself a mid-season that has been slightly better than Wilt’s brilliant campaign.

On the whole, I have LeBron producing about 8.7 wins and (-3.7) losses, which means he is responsible for +6.2 of the Miami Heat’s 10.0 wins above 0.500% (note= the Heat are 27-7.  In sports vernacular, they are “20 games above 0.500%, but in mathematical terms they have 10 wins above 0.500%.  20 wins above doesn’t work.  If you remove 20 wins, those must become losses, which would put the Heat at 7-27.  If you remove 10 wins, they are 17-17.  So when I say “Wins Above 0.500%” I mean literal wins above 0.500%.)

Let’s see if he can keep the pace up for the second half of the season.

Jeremy Lin benefiting from a massive “substitution effect”

February 16, 2012

If you’re eating chicken shit, and someone offers you chicken salad instead, it doesn’t matter if you don’t particularly like chicken salad… it will taste much better to you than the chicken shit tasted.

That’s part of the power behind Linsanity and the resurgence of the New York Knickerbockers.  Sure, Jeremy Lin is a nice ballplayer, and right now he has a well above average MWS and Winning Percentage, but what has really made him look awesome is the comparison between what he is providing the Knicks at the point guard position and the dreadful play they have gotten from the position this season when Lin was not on the floor (or indeed, on the Knicks roster).

Here is the latest Knicks Win Chart for 2011-12 (What do the different columns in the Win Chart mean?  Click here for simple explanation):

NEW YORK KNICKS (through February 15, 2012)

T Chandler 17.45 11.68 2.89 0.993 4.2__0.0 2.1 6.3
L Fields 8.14 6.33 0.91 0.656 2.6__1.4 0.6 3.2
C Anthony 6.83 6.22 0.31 0.554 1.7__1.4 0.2 1.9
A Stoumire 8.25 8.35 -0.05 0.494 1.7__1.7 -0.1 1.7
I Shumpert 3.15 5.36 -1.09 0.315 1.0__2.3 -0.7 0.4
J Lin 8.75 6.24 1.26 0.716 0.9__0.4 0.3 1.2
S Novak 9.09 6.18 1.45 0.749 0.8__0.3 0.3 1.1
B Walker 4.39 6.43 -1.02 0.329 0.8__1.6 -0.4 0.4
J Harrlson 11.11 9.56 0.77 0.634 0.7__0.5 0.1 0.8
J Jeffries 6.89 9.69 -1.39 0.266 0.5__1.3 -0.4 0.1
R Balkman 9.39 6.83 1.28 0.719 0.4__0.2 0.1 0.5
J Jordan 10.57 0.63 4.97 1.346 0.3__(-0.1) 0.2 0.5
T Douglass -1.95 7.11 -4.53 -0.266 (-0.6)__2.8 -1.7 -2.3
M Bibby 2.55 9.21 -3.33 -0.062 (-0.1)__1.3 -0.7 -0.8
Exptd 14.9__15.1
Act 15.0__15.0

Chandler and Fields still more valuable

As you can see from the Win Chart, the real MVPs of the Knicks are Tyson Chandler and Landry Fields.  But Lin has made a large relative impact because the Knicks former starting PGs, Mike Bibby and Toney Douglass, were not only bad, they were SO bad they were taking wins off the board.  Thus, replacing them with an above average player of Lin’s production had a massive impact on the team.

To illustrate, when Jeremy Lin is in the game, as the chart shows, the New York Knicks are getting a player with a Marginal Win Score of +1.26.  If all 5 positions were manned by 0.500% players, and you substituted Lin into the game, then Lin’s contribution alone turns the Knicks into a 0.545% team.  Not that large an impact.  However, in actuality, Lin did not replace “0.500%” caliber PGs.  In fact, the other Knick point guards combined produce a MWS of -2.84, which equates into a combined non-Lin winning percentage from the position of 0.020%.  To put number in perspective, if you add the other Knick PGs to the hypothetical 0.500% team described above, they would turn that team into a 0.406% team.  In practical numbers, the non-Lin Point Guards would turn a 41 win team (in a normal season) in to a 33 win team, whereas when Lin stepped in and replaced them, his production turned that hypothetical 41 win team into a 45 win team.  That’s a huge difference.

The story gets better when you consider that the “other Knicks” are somewhat better than a 0.500% team.  Indeed, as the Win Chart above shows, the Knicks are getting better than 0.500% play from several key players.  Tyson Chandler has been phenomenal at the center position.  I credit him with producing 4.2 wins and no losses.  And after a slow start, last year’s rookie phenom Landry Fields is back to playing above 0.500% basketball from the shooting guard position.  Then you consider that Carmelo Anthony plays nearly 0.700% basketball when he’s in there and healthy, and you have a pretty good team.  The thing that was holding the Knicks back, and I illustrated it earlier in the season, was their incredibly poor play from the point guard position.  Enter Linsanity.

That’s why, by comparison, Jeremy Lin has made such a major difference.  He turned a tremendous weakness into a strength, which magnified the impact that contribution made.  In basketball, I call that the substitution effect. (I think the real economic  “substitution effect” is when you switch from Coke to Jolly Good during a recession, but its been a long time since Econ 101).

EDITOR’s COMMENT:  Do they still sell Jolly Good soda? It was an off-brand that came in a variety of flavors and at one time had jokes written on the inside bottom of the can, as I recall.  I remember you’d finish the thing, then you’d have to close one eye and try to direct the inside of the can toward the sun so you could strain to read the dumb joke/riddle to your friends. ” Let’s see… What has four legs buttttt cannnn nnnnnot… shit, I can’t read the last word… oh…  ‘run‘? What has four legs but cannot run? ”  The things we used to find entertaining.  Good times.

CORRECTION:  The original post had Carmelo Anthony as a slightly more productive player than he has been.  The original post therefore calculated Carmelo’s wins at 2.1 and the Knicks estimated wins at 15.3, which were both in error.  It was pointed out by a reader, and has been corrected.

Power Ranking the likely 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament Field by “Ty Rating”

February 15, 2012

I’m getting a head start on handicapping the likely 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament.  I have taken all of the teams mentioned in the various “bracketology” sites, minus the low seed automatics, and I have power ranked the top 60 teams using something I call the “Ty Rating”.

Ty Rating is simply each team’s expected Winning Percentage (derived from the difference between the team’s Win Score average and its Defensive Win Score) subtracted from the expected Winning Percentage the rest of the country would have against the very same schedule.  In other words, it first evaluates each team’s performance, and then adjusts it for the strength of the schedule the team faced.  All of the calculations are based upon numbers I found at this nifty gambling site called “StatFox Sports” (Sidenote:  While I love the site, if they are not affiliated with Fox Sports, or with the old site StatFox, they are creeping very close to two trademark violations).

StatFox Sports makes the Ty Rating possible because it not only lists each team’s “Team” and “Opponent” statistics, it also lists the averages yielded and produced by those opponents.  By doing so, it allows me to precisely adjust each team’s success according to the strength of its schedule.  SOS adjustment is an absolute must when it comes to college sports analysis because of the widely different competition faced by the different schools.  Before now, I would have had to calculate each school’s opponent strength manually.  That’s way too much work.  With StatFox Sports its all done for me.  That’s why I’ve been looking for a site like StatFox Sports for quite a while.  I basically stumbled on this beauty, and now I’m back in the college basketball business, big time.

“Ty Rating” Calculation Example using #23 Virginia Cavaliers

Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers have a team Win Score Average of 35.1 — not that great, just above the BCS average (based on my opponent strength calculations, I peg the upper Division I Win Score average at 31.98, and the Defensive Win Score average at 28.01, the difference is borne by the 200 or so lower Division I schools the team’s feast on).  However the Cavaliers Defensive Win Score average is a phenomenal 12.6, way way above average.  You subtract the difference and divide by ten and you get a Team Marginal Win Score of +2.25, which translates into an expected Winning Percentage of about 0.884, or about 20.3 wins in their 23 games played.  Their actual record is 19-4, so MWS estimates extremely well.  But, that does not give a necessarily accurate portrait of Virginia’s relative strength as a basketball team, because they could have been playing the Washington Generals every night for all we know.

So to adjust my power rating of Virginia to account for the strength of the opponent’s Virginia has faced, I take the collective Win Score average produced by Virginia’s opponents’ opponents, and that happens to be 28.6, pretty high.  Then I calculate the collective Defensive Win Score average yielded by Virginia’s opponents’ opponents and that happens to be 27.9.  If you put those two numbers together, you get an Opponent’s Opponent MWS of 0.07, which means Virginia has played a relatively weak schedule, because the rest of the country would be expected to play 0.514% basketball — or winning basketball — against the same schedule.  For comparison, the NCAA Tournament field Opponent’s Opponent expected winning percentage average is 0.435%.

So, while Virginia has an impressive raw Marginal Win Score and winning percentage of 0.884%, when you adjust for their weak schedule, by subtracting the generic opponent expected Winning Percentage of 0.514%, you get a more modest “Ty Rating” for Virginia of 0.369, which is just above the field average “Ty Rating” of 0.354.  Thus the Ty Rating levels the field and provides an opponent neutral evaluation of each team’s relative strength as we enter “Bracket Season”.

How to read the Chart

The Chart below features a ranking of the 60 most likely qualifiers and bubble teams for this season’s NCAA Tournament as presented by ESPN’s Bracketologists.  The ranking is based on each team’s Ty Rating, as explained above.  The first column marked “WS” is the team’s Win Score average.  Win Score is an efficiency score based on a weighting of box score statistics based according to how each statistic correlates with winning.  The column marked “DWS” is each team’s Opponents Win Score average.  The third column is the expected Winning Percentage for a team with a Win Score/Defensive Win Score differential equal to the one posted by the given team.  The fourth column, marked “SOS” for strength of schedule, is the very same evaluation, except done on the Opponent’s opponents.  In other words, it is the expected winning percentage the rest of the country would post against the very same schedule of opponents.  Finally, there is the “Ty Rating” which is an expression of each team’s relative strength by comparing the difference between the expected winning percentage each team has achieved against the expected winning percentage the rest of the country has achieved.

I have analysis of the field below that.

TEAM WS DWS exW% SOS Ty Rating
1 Kentucky 48.2 12.7 1.105 0.423 0.682
2 Ohio St 41.2 12.6 1.005 0.375 0.631
3 Mich St 42.2 14.1 0.979 0.392 0.587
4 New Mex 44.1 13.2 1.027 0.455 0.572
5 Syracuse 46.1 19.8 0.949 0.383 0.565
6 Missouri 46.5 18.3 0.981 0.443 0.538
7 Kansas 40.6 18.5 0.877 0.345 0.532
8 UNC 46.1 20.5 0.937 0.406 0.531
9 Wisconsin 36.6 11.8 0.923 0.404 0.519
10 UNLV 47.5 18.8 0.989 0.482 0.507
11 Indiana 41.5 21.7 0.838 0.349 0.444
12 Duke 39.5 23.2 0.779 0.343 0.436
13 Baylor 41.8 20.3 0.867 0.436 0.431
14 Texas 35.4 19.2 0.777 0.361 0.416
15 Uconn 38.2 22.6 0.767 0.355 0.412
16 Witch St 43.9 18.4 0.935 0.524 0.411
17 Gonzaga 39.7 20.3 0.832 0.429 0.402
18 Florida 44.2 26.9 0.796 0.407 0.388
19 Louisville  36.5 19.3 0.794 0.407 0.386
20 California 36.9 17.9 0.825 0.441 0.383
21 Flor St 34.5 17.9 0.784 0.409 0.375
22 St Marys 43.8 19.9 0.908 0.535 0.373
23 Virginia 35.1 12.6 0.884 0.514 0.369
24 Creighton 45.1 25.8 0.829 0.465 0.365
25 Memphis 39.1 24.1 0.757 0.392 0.365
26 Arizona 35.2 19.7 0.765 0.407 0.358
27 Kan St 30.9 15.7 0.759 0.406 0.353
28 Marquette 39.4 23.1 0.779 0.429 0.349
29 St Louis 34.3 16.5 0.804 0.455 0.349
30 Iowa St 38.8 25.1 0.735 0.387 0.348
31 NC State 40.4 26.3 0.742 0.391 0.351
32 BYU 43.7 21.9 0.872 0.529 0.342
33 Miss State 39.4 26.6 0.719 0.384 0.335
34 W Virg 36.1 23.8 0.711 0.384 0.327
35 Gtown 37.1 16.8 0.762 0.438 0.324
36 Vanderbilt 37.3 25.7 0.699 0.377 0.322
37 Alabama 32.6 19.8 0.719 0.404 0.315
38 Wyoming 31.1 13.3 0.804 0.501 0.303
39 Lng Be St 37.5 21.9 0.767 0.465 0.302
40 Wash 35.1 24.3 0.686 0.392 0.294
41 Midd Tenn 35.8 17.2 0.818 0.526 0.292
42 Akron 35.8 20.8 0.757 0.479 0.278
43 San D St 35.5 19.2 0.779 0.507 0.271
44 Minnesota 35.9 23.1 0.719 0.449 0.269
45 Xavier 34.3 24.2 0.674 0.409 0.265
46 Michigan 31.8 23.4 0.635 0.367 0.268
47 Ntr Dame 34.7 25.7 0.655 0.391 0.264
48 Harvard 34.8 15.5 0.829 0.569 0.261
49 Murray St 38.4 18.2 0.845 0.611 0.234
50 Oregon 31.3 24.3 0.621 0.389 0.232
51 Miami 35.1 26.9 0.641 0.409 0.232
52 Purdue 32.5 26.1 0.613 0.383 0.229
53 Belmont 44.1 25.76 0.813 0.585 0.228
54 Oral Rbts 34.3 23.4 0.687 0.472 0.215
55 Nthwstern 36.5 32.4 0.572 0.363 0.209
56 Cinn 35.1 24.1 0.689 0.485 0.203
57 Seton Hall 32.7 25.7 0.621 0.424 0.196
58 Temple 38.1 27.2 0.595 0.414 0.181
59 South Miss 32.6 22.1 0.681 0.513 0.168
60 Drexel 30.2 17.9 0.711 0.545 0.166
AVERAGE 38.1 20.9 0.791 0.435 0.354

Kentucky and Ohio State are this season’s War Machines

If you are looking for the favorites in this year’s NCAA field, it has to be Kentucky and Ohio State.  First of all, Defensive Win Score, combined with a decent +40 Win Score, is usually the mark of a champion.  Both Kentucky and OSU have those qualities, and they are the only two teams in the entire expected field that have Ty Ratings above 0.600.  They have to be the prohibitive favorites.  Look at Kentucky’s expected Winning Percentage — the team should not have lost a single game!  (An expected winning percentage above 1.000% is a function of the uneven distribution of statistics).

Last Two Champions “Ty Ratings”

With all of that said about how strong Kentucky and OSU are, last season’s champion, UConn, had a Ty Rating of only 0.303, which would have been good for #38 in this season’s initial poll.  Two years ago, the champion, Duke, had a Ty Rating of 0.509, which would be good for #9 in this season’s initial poll.

Underrated and Overrated

No matter what kind of analytical Power System you use, you will always have a head scratcher.  This season’s is New Mexico, a team that is #4 in the initial Ty Ratings, ahead of UNC, Kansas, Missouri and Duke.  New Mexico is not as highly rated by others as they are by me, but those are the breaks.  I have to maintain the integrity of the system.  New Mexico is my early sleeper.  Another two teams who may be underrated are the battling Wisconsin Badgers, and the UNLV Running Rebels (who lost last night).  Others in the list of underrated would be the Big Ten’s Michigan State and Indiana, each of whom grade out better than the respect they are currently being afforded by national polls.

The overrated seem to live in the ACC.  Virginia, as I mentioned, has not played a strong schedule, but they certainly play winning defense.  UNC is not as strong as reputed.  Neither is Duke.

One team that is vastly overrated is Murray State.  Murray State has a gaudy record, but they have been very lucky, and they have not played a very strong schedule at all.  They could be an overseed that you would look to eliminate early in your bracket.

My ratings do not like the Georgetown Hoyas, either.  But alot of of others, including Ken Pom, have them much higher rated


Let’s look at Joe Lunardi’s  “Last 4 In” (Minnesota, NC State Cincinnati, and Miami) compared to some of his “Last Outs” (Xavier, Washington, Belmont, Wyoming, Oregon, and Northwestern).  Of those ten teams, which do the Ty Ratings favor?

The Ty Ratings favor in reverse order: Minnesota (0.269); Washington (0.294); Wyoming (0.303); and NC State (o.351).  Obviously, the Ty Ratings disagree with Lunardi heavily on the worthiness of Cincinnati (0.203) and Miami (0.232).  It also sees NC State as more of a lock, and Wyoming as a deserving of much more respect (Lunardi has them in his “Second Four Out” — Ty Ratings have them all the way in).

More to Come

I will be keeping up the Ty Ratings on a separate page of this blog, and commenting on them all the way up to bracket picking time.  Stay tuned.  I will also be analyzing, retroactively, how the Ty Ratings would have fared in past tournaments.  Stay tuned.


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