Category Archives: NBA

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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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 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.

Continue reading The Biggest Fluke Scoring Performances in NBA History

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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.

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Is Kevin Johnson 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 Kevin Johnson.

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Home Win Probability Using SRS

One of my favorite rating systems for NBA teams is the Simple Rating System (SRS). A team’s SRS rating is made up of two things: average margin of victory and strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above or below average, where zero is average.

These ratings can be used to estimate the probability that home team A will defeat visiting team B. Let me explain how I went about the process of converting SRS ratings into win probabilities.

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The Best Player in the NBA

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 12, win shares in season n − 1 will receive a weight of 13, and win shares in season n − 2 will receive a weight of 16.

Without further ado, here are the players who — based on win shares, at least — had established themselves as the best players in the game:

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Is Sidney Moncrief 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 Sidney Moncrief, an All-Star shooting guard for the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1980s.

Continue reading Is Sidney Moncrief a Hall of Famer?

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