Monday, October 27, 2014

The 42 of the NBA lottery

Hello everybody,

I think I just found the perfect (albeit crazy) solution how we can fix several things that are wrong about the NBA: Let us support the mediocre teams instead of the incompetent!

Before I explain my idea, first the status quo:

  • The goal of every team is to win a title. Therefore, you need to get good players, small markets are the most likely to get good players at the draft. Therefore it is good to be bad.
  • The problem with one good player is, that he is usually not good enough to give you a title. Unless his name is LeBron or Tim Duncan, your typical number one pick does not necessarily lead to being a title contender. Therefore, you need to be bad for several years. Which is not easy if you just drafted a good player
  • Let's face it: A general number one pick cannot make you a title contender. It makes you at best an eighth seed, aka 'the place where you do not want to be'
  • For an eighth seed on the other hand, a number one pick could be exactly what the team needs to make it a title contender
  • Over the last years, I have heard several times that a team is dumb for trying to be a number 8 seed. Examples are the Bucks of the last years, or the Hawks every year. Or the Pacers this year. 'This is a lost year, the team should just give up!' and the likes
  • Last year I heard several times 'these scrappy Suns should deserve the number one pick for trying so hard!'
  • I think that every smart basketball organization can become mediocre in 3 years. Even if the team would play in the depth of hell or any other place in North Dakota (hell actually might give you a huge home court advantage)
  • Furthermore, the lottery system leads to 30% of teams waving the white flag after less than half of the season. Hell, 30% of teams probably even wave the white flag before the season
  • This does not happen in European leagues, du to relegation. The last teams are even the one that fight the hardest to win. I know, this is not possible in the US system that in general likes to have neither poor nor rich people - sorry, I'll stop my bad jokes now...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

why you do not want to be stuck in the middle

Hi everybody,
just a quickie. Hope it speaks for itself.
Seth Partnow (I'm never sure if that's a spelling mistake), collected some data
It's pretty awesome, because it means that I can make interesting plots without an hour-long copy and paste job. Just ask if you feel like looking at a certain aspect of the data.
Back to Morey ball: Morey ball tells us that it makes sense to shot only from the rim or from behind the three point line if possible (sounds intuitive? Ask Byron Scott).
Short side note: I'll try to post something longer about this topic, as it is not as simple as it sounds to get open shots at the rim or from three point land (duh)
Interestingly, there is even a positive correlation for the Morey Ball shots (more shots from 3 or rim means higher effective field goal percentage from there) and a negative correlation for midrange shots (more shots from midrange means lower effective field goal percentage from there). Both with a small but existent correlation of around 0.4 (or -0.4).
Click on me

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Good cops - bad cops in the NBA

Hi everybody,

just a quicky as I stumbled over plus minus data. There are a lot of adjusted Plus Minus (PM) stats, but the idea is always similar: A players PM is obviously related to a teams point differential. So I took all players that had during the season a PM of more than 100 or less than -100 and plotted their PM per minute against the Team +/- per game. I leave the analysis to you.
All Cops

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why shooting only one free throw would not increase the average value - but slightly change the game


just a short one regarding an idea that was first mentioned here:
The idea is to change the free throw concept to speed things up. Instead of two free throws that are worth two points, we could as well shoot one free throw worth one point. Or three points, if it's for a three-point foul and so on...
The always amazing Nylon Calculus crew spun it a little further
calculating that the expected points per free throw attempt would not change (so basically the mean), but the variance would increase (due to less attempts).
My first reaction was to say 'but what about offensive rebounds!? You cannot rebound the first shot!'
This is true, but it doesn't change the math (too bad, I love to be a nitpicker...)

FT% - Free throw percentage of a player
OR% - Offensive rebound percentage
POR - Points we expect after an offensive rebound
Expected points two free throw situation (resulting points multiplied with their probability):
1       *(1-FT%)*FT% +
1       *FT%*(1-FT%)*(1-OR%) +
2       *FT%*FT% +
(1+POR) *FT%*(1-FT%)*OR% +
POR     *(1-FT%)*(1-FT%)*OR%
0       *(1-FT%)*(1-FT%)*(1-OR%)

Expected points one free throw situation (resulting points multiplied with their probability):
2       *FT% +
POR     *(1-FT%)*OR% +
0       *(1-FT%)*(1-OR%)

So, even this doesn't change.
The aspect of the game that it would really influence is the 'it is late in the game and we lead by three points' situation.
Because the opponent would not be able to make the first shot and intentionally miss the second shot - as there would be no second shot...