So Who’s the MIP?

A few years ago I developed a method for identifying the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player (MIP) award. Since the winner of the award for the 2013-14 season will be announced soon, I thought it might be interesting to revisit this topic. I’ve made some minor tweaks to the method since it was first conceived, so let me outline the process before reporting this season’s results.

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The Biggest Fluke Scoring Performances in NBA History (Update)

About six weeks ago I wrote about the biggest fluke scoring performances in NBA history. This past Friday night we had a new name to add to the mix: Corey Brewer, who’s stunning 51-point performance bested his previous career high by 22 points.

Please read the blog post linked above for complete details, but just to summarize a player’s “fluke” score is determined using the following formula:

(Pts – Avg)2 / Avg

where “Avg” is the player’s season scoring average.

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Is Dikembe Mutombo a Hall of Famer?

The Keltner List is a series of subjective questions formulated by famed sabermetrician Bill James used to help assess whether or not a player deserves to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although the system was designed to evaluate baseball players, with a few minor tweaks it can also be used to assess the Hall-worthiness of basketball players. Today I will assess the Hall of Fame chances of Dikembe Mutombo, who will be eligible for election for the first time in 2015.

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The Horace Grant Conundrum

Horace Grant had a career year in 1991-92, averaging 14.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, shooting a career-high .578 from the field, and he was one of just six players with at least 100 steals and at least 100 blocks.

On the surface those numbers appear to be good, not great, yet he finished the season third in the NBA with 14.1 win shares, and his average of .237 win shares per 48 minutes was good for third as well.

How did this happen? How did a player like Grant manage to contribute so much to the bottom line?

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About Those Numbers From the 1960s…

When I was a kid, I can remember looking at a basketball encyclopedia and being amazed by some of the statistics from the 1960s:

And the list goes on.

I was born in the 1970s, but the decade I most closely identify with my childhood is the 1980s. We had Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and later Michael Jordan, but I can remember thinking “These guys are good, but they must not be that good. Their numbers aren’t close to those put up by guys like Chamberlain, Russell, and Robertson.”

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2014 NCAA Tournament Forecast

Using the team ratings found on KenPom.com, I ran 10,000 simulations of this year’s NCAA tournament. A summary of the results of those simulations appears below.

I used the K.I.S.S.* method for these simulations, so I did not make any adjustments for injured players (e.g., Kansas and Joel Embiid), “hot” teams (e.g., Michigan St.), or distance traveled (e.g., Arizona will not have to travel very far in their regional).

* Keep It Simple, Stupid

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The Metronome

The San Antonio Spurs have been a juggernaut in the Tim Duncan era*, winning four NBA titles and finishing with 50 or more wins in every season but one**.

* The 1997-98 season to present.

** That would be the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, when San Antonio won 74.0 percent of its games and claimed its first NBA championship.

In the Duncan era, the Spurs have had a winning record 96.5 percent of the time during the regular season. To put that number in perspective, the only other franchise to break 80 percent over that time period is the Los Angeles Lakers, a distant second at 80.8 percent.

And over that same span, the Spurs have had the NBA’s best record on 15.5 percent of all days during the regular season, second only to the Lakers (16.5 percent).

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From 50 Wins to 50 Losses

After yesterday’s 19-point loss to the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks are now 21-39 and almost a sure bet to lose 50 games.

This disaster of a season follows a 54-win campaign in 2012-13, and as I mentioned on Twitter this morning that would put the Knicks in rarefied air:

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at the NBA teams that went from 50 wins one season to 50 losses the next.

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