Category Archives: Analysis

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.

Continue reading The Biggest Fluke Scoring Performances in NBA History (Update)

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?

Continue reading The Horace Grant Conundrum

The 1980s NBA In a Box

My favorite contemporary writer, the incomparable Bill James, has used the “In a Box” concept in several of his books. Basically what James does is choose a topic (e.g., a baseball manager) and then makes an idiosyncratic list of the topic’s defining features. I think the format works well for a blog post, so today I would like to put the the 1980s NBA “In a Box”.

Continue reading The 1980s NBA In a Box

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.”

Continue reading About Those Numbers From the 1960s…

2014 NCAA Tournament Forecast

Using the team ratings found on, 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

Continue reading 2014 NCAA Tournament Forecast

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).

Continue reading The Metronome

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.

Continue reading From 50 Wins to 50 Losses

The Biggest Fluke Scoring Performances in NBA History

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, 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.

Continue reading The Biggest Fluke Scoring Performances in NBA History

The Most Efficient Scorer in NBA History

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.

Continue reading The Most Efficient Scorer in NBA History