Revisiting (for a moment) the 72 win Chicago Bulls

One of the enduring criticisms of the Win Score metric is the result it produced in the 1995-96 season that suggested that Dennis Rodman was more valuable to the 72 win Bulls than was Michael Jordan.  Basketball fans found this ludicrous. 

However, if you look at my past two posts, which broke down teams win production according to their efficient point production, possession creation, and helpful acts, and then did the same for the 1995-96 Bulls, Rodman’s worth becomes much more plausible.

Here is the breakdown for the aforementioned Bulls:

1995-96 Chicago Bulls MWS Breakdown

Chicago Bulls 8.91 39.36 3.48      
Opp   2.44 28.13 0.29      
MWS   6.47 11.23 3.19 2.089 0.86% ( 70-12)

As you can see, the Bulls “Scoring Efficiency” gap of (+6.47) was very good, but not historically good.  If the Bulls were a 2010-11 team, that number would rank only fifth best in the NBA.  However, where the Bulls really distinguished themselves was in Possession Creation.  Their (+11.23) gap in that category is monstrous. 

How monstrous?  If that large a gap were recorded in 2010-11, it would be two four full standard deviations away from the second best result, which is this season’s Chicago Bulls, who have an NBA best Possession gap of (+4.89).  As Hubie Brown would say, that’s a “major, major” difference in possessions between the ’96 Bulls and everyone else.   

To put the ’96 Bulls numbers into simpler terms, if they had only their Scoring gap, and if the rest of their comparative numbers were even, they would have been expected to finish with a (50-32) record.  On the other hand, if the team only had their Possession gap, and the rest of their comparative numbers were even, they would have been expected to finish with a record of (57-25).

Given that Possession Creation was Rodman’s forte (although Jordan was no slouch in this area), his enormous value to that particular Bulls team becomes a bit more clear.


5 Responses to “Revisiting (for a moment) the 72 win Chicago Bulls”

  1. arturogalletti Says:

    Good short awesome post.

  2. tywill33 Says:

    Thank you, sir!

  3. brgulker Says:


    I echo Arturo. This is an excellent post.

    It is truly amazing to me that possession creation continues to be so widely undervalued when its value should be so incredibly obvious.

    Your team can’t win a game without the ball, and neither can your opponent. So, if you’re really, really good at securing the ball, you’re giving your team a chance to win while denying it from your opposition.

    Yet, people quibble about whether Rodman should be in the HoF — one of the best at creating possessions in the game’s history. It’s really a shame.

    • tywill33 Says:


      Do you have Professor Berri’s book yet? Otherwise its coming, I have to get those out of my office. Also, please help me think of a Win Score related contest to give the rest out.

      The entire concept of Usage and Skill Curves is beginning to drive me nuts.

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