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.
First, I need to apologize for how long it’s been since I’ve written. I realize there’s not much point in having a blog if it’s going to go dark for almost three months. Unfortunately there were some things going on related to my career that needed my attention. Now that these things have been dealt with, though, I’m hoping to write on a more regular basis.
The other day on Grantland.com, Bill Simmons shared the following email from one of his readers:
Did Willie Burton lose the trophy for “Most Random Player to Score 50 in an NBA Game” to Terrence Ross? I’m waiting for Contract Year Rodney Stuckey 50 point game. It’s coming.
–Tony N., Richmond, Virginia
I know Tony N. was only being semi-serious, but that’s a great question, and it’s one I’d like to try to answer in this post.
One of my favorite topics when it comes to sports is player comparison. Was Barry Bonds a better hitter than Babe Ruth? Was Jim Brown the best running back of all time? Who was the most efficient scorer in basketball history?
In a sport such as baseball, questions similar to those above are easier to answer thanks to the detailed statistical history of the game.
But in basketball, we are left with a very incomplete statistical record prior to the mid-1970s. The NBA did not record offensive rebounds, steals, or blocks until the 1973-74 season, and player turnovers were not recorded until the 1977-78 season.*
* It should be noted that the ABA was ahead of the game in this regard. Player turnovers are available for all ABA seasons; offensive rebounds are available for all players starting with the 1968-69 season; and steals and blocks are available for all players starting with the 1973-74 season.
Since most of the advanced player evaluation tools require the use of these statistics, it is difficult to compare an Oscar Robertson to a Magic Johnson.
On Monday I wrote I a piece for ESPN Insider that used multiple years of MVP voting to determine who was generally viewed as the best player in the NBA on a season-by-season basis.
This post is an extension of that idea, although I’m going to make the following tweaks:
- Win shares will be used rather than MVP award shares.
- Three seasons of data will be used rather than four seasons of data.
- Win shares in season n will receive a weight of 1⁄2, win shares in season n − 1 will receive a weight of 1⁄3, and win shares in season n − 2 will receive a weight of 1⁄6.
Without further ado, here are the players who — based on win shares, at least — had established themselves as the best players in the game: