I have once again broken down the entire Eastern Conference using Marginal Win Score, to see how teams are creating wins and losses.
The three major per game statistical categories for Team and Opponent: (1) Scoring Efficiency (Pts-FGAs-FTAs); (2) Possession Creation (Rebs+Stls-TOs); and (3) Helpers (.5Ass+.5Blks-.5PFs). As you can see, the two “whole point” categories measure the milk and blood of basketball: points and possessions. The one “half point” category measures those acts that neither produce points nor possessions, but tend to influence both.
Team Marginal Win Score is the net sum of all three of those comparative categories, with the sum then divided by 10 (representing ten players on the court at any given time). That number is then translated into an expected winning percentage. If you multiply that number by the number of games the given team has played, you will find a strong correlation with the team’s “pythagorean wins”.
Here is the Eastern Conference, ordered according to the way the teams show up in the divisional standings you would find in a newspaper:
2010-11 NBA Eastern Conference
|Scr eff||Poss||Help||Team MWS||Ex W%|
The mean for scoring efficiency was 5.34 with a standard deviation of 3.57. The mean for opponent scoring efficiency was 5.03 with a standard deviation of 3.47. The mean for possessions created per game was 33.88 with a standard deviation of 1.75. The mean for opponent possessions created per game was 34.28 with a standard deviation of 1.92.
As you can see from the chart, the two teams with the best scoring offense, Miami and Boston, are the two best teams in the conference. They both also happen to have outstanding scoring defenses. The Knicks have an outstanding scoring offense, but they are a poor scoring defense, and very poor with possession creation.
Chicago, the third best team in the conference, has a poor scoring offense, but a strong, well above average scoring defense. They are also very good at creating possessions for themselves and limiting possessions for their opponents. I am very impressed with what the Bulls are doing. It shows you can have a winning team without necessarily accumulating scoring talent.
The chart puts the lie to the idea that the Cleveland Cavaliers woes are completely tied to LeBron James leaving. Look at their scoring defense and their opponent possession creation numbers. Both are abysmal. Both are more than a standard deviation from the mean, implying a complete lack of effort from the players. My advice to them: stop whining about losing LeBron and instead get someone in charge who will demand nightly accountability.
The Milwaukee Bucks, on the other hand, are displaying a decent amount of effort. They are a good — but not great — scoring defense, and the team keeps its head slightly below water with a positive possession creation gap. But they are obviously a terrible scoring team, worse than Cleveland. And they do not pass the ball at all. The team is bereft of playmakers.
The Detroit Pistons main problem has been a poor scoring defense, and I suppose a poor scoring offense as well. The Pistons are also below average when it comes to creating possessions for themselves.