Category Archives: Analysis

Who Was the Most Improved Player in 2014-15?

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 2014-15 season will be announced soon, I thought it might be interesting to revisit this topic. I’ve made some 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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2015 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 suspended players (e.g., St. John’s and Chris Obekpa), “hot” teams (e.g., Notre Dame), or distance traveled (e.g., Dayton will essentially be playing a home game in the First Four).

* Keep It Simple, Stupid

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Basketball Hall of Fame Selector

I recently became aware* of a really neat tool that’s been around for more than a year: an interactive Hall of Fame selector for Major League Baseball. The code to create the selector was written by Ben Dilday and can be downloaded from GitHub.

* H/T: Tangotiger.

Being a basketball guy, I thought it would be cool to adapt this tool for the NBA. I’ve posted what I’m calling the Basketball Hall of Fame Selector (ingenious name, I know) on this site.

Please check it out, and feel free to post any questions or suggestions in the comments section below. Enjoy!

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Showdown: John Stockton vs. Isiah Thomas

I just finished re-reading Jack McCallum’s entertaining book Dream Team, the story of how the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team was assembled and then proceeded to destroy its competition in Barcelona.

Those of you who were alive at the time will no doubt remember the biggest controversy when the team was announced: John Stockton was chosen over Isiah Thomas. I don’t want to rehash that debate here — McCallum has lots of inside information about what transpired in his book — but I would like to take a look back at these two players, pit them head-to-head to see who comes out on top in a comparison of their careers.

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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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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.

Continue reading So Who’s the MIP?

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