All posts by Justin Kubatko

Career Rankings of NBA Head Coaches

In “The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers,” Bill James devised a rather simple six-point system to assign a score to each season of a manager’s career. The system is not particularly sophisticated, but it produces what I think are reasonable results.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so — as I often do — I have decided to take one of James’ ideas and apply it to the NBA.

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Is Larry Nance 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 Larry Nance.

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Is Manu Ginobili 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 Manu Ginobili.

Continue reading Is Manu Ginobili a Hall of Famer?

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Basketball Hall of Fame Standards

In his excellent book The Politics of Glory, Bill James outlined what he called the Hall of Fame Standards Test. In a nutshell, the system awards points to players for various accomplishments: hitting .300, winning 300 games, etc. James designed the system such that the average Hall of Famer had a score of 50.

I wanted to develop a similar system for basketball, but immediately ran into a problem. The election process for the baseball Hall of Fame is very different from that of the basketball Hall of Fame, the biggest difference being that the basketball Hall of Fame honors players based on their college, international, and/or professional accomplishments, while the baseball Hall of Fame honors players based solely on their professional careers.

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NBA Draft Scores

Back in September 2013 I took a look at the value of an NBA lottery pick, but one thing that always bugged me about that analysis was that there was an inherent assumption that all drafts are created equal. In other words, the expected value of the number one pick was always the same regardless of the talent available. This is, of course, demonstrably false, so I wanted to come up with a way to account for this quirk.

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The Greatest Comebacks in NBA Playoff History

Last night we almost saw two amazing comebacks in the NBA playoffs:

  • In Indiana, the Pacers were down by as many as 30 points to the Hawks in the third quarter before a furious rally cut the deficit to nine points with 1:54 remaining. That was as close as the Pacers would get, though, and they eventually lost by 10 points.
  • In Dallas, the Spurs led the Mavericks by 20 points in the third quarter but saw that lead dwindle to just one point with 0:19 remaining. San Antonio held on, though, for a four-point victory.

Those games got me thinking: What was the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history?

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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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