2011 NBA Now Rankings 2.0 (Final Pre-season Build) Part I Projecting Stars and Superstars (Revised)

Posted on 10/13/2010 by


A few weeks ago, I came up with the Championship Equation which set out to establish the necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for building a championship team. The intent was to have an edge in quickly identifying and separating the title favorites, the contenders and the pretenders.  I then revised it based on reader feedback.  I then revised it again based on some more reader comments (go here for the Basics). The equation now reads as follows.

To win or contend for a championship a team must:

  • Win 52 or more games (Houston in 1995 is an aberration that is explained below)
  • Have two star points (either >2 Stars, > Star + Superstar or > 2 Superstars) in your Playoff Top 6. A star is >.200 WP48 Player, a Superstar
  • Have at least one .140 WP48 player who plays PF or Center in your Playoff Top 6 (credit to some dude and we’ll call it the Suns Corollary)
  • A superstar puts you in the conversation if you can make it into the playoffs and surround him with talent (i.e no duds) in the top 6 (credit to Neal Frazier and we’ll call it the Hakeem Factor). There are multiple paths here:
    • Houston did this in 1994. They did not quite have a superstar (Hakeem clocked in at .280). However they had 4 other players in their playoff rotation come in between .128 and .159 (Thorpe,Horry,Kenny Smith and Sam Cassell). So it’s  possible to win if your superstar is a little off if you have  4 other guys who can step up and you get some ridiculous three point shots and the best player in the league decides to retire in his prime. We’ll call this the Impossible Dream Scenario.
    • If a team with 1 superstar on your roster finds a superstar in the draft that can yield immediate results. Just don’t hold your breath for this happening. Well call this the The Magical Legendary Exception.
    • Houston in 1995. They only won 47 games in the regular season but they went off and got another star (Drexler) to complement Hakeem at mid-season. So you can trade yourself into contention (but it’s not very likely unless Chris Wallace or Kevin McHale is prominently involved). We’ll call this  The Trade exemption.
  • Not have Bad players (<-.01WP48) in the playoff rotation(top 6  in minutes played). The rule of thumb here is that you need two star points for every playoff sink hole but it makes you a marginal contender. We’ll call this the Mr. Eva Longoria Rule.
  • Players can step it up in the playoffs and they can also step it down. Star/Superstar depth is really important. The last 4 champions have featured at least 4 guys at greater than >.150 WP48 in the regular season and it not always the same people who come thru (Posey for the Celts in 2008 is a good example). The one superstar approach is a much riskier proposition it’s always better to have the depth than to not have it and regret it (see Posey and the Celts in 2009). We’ll call this Posey-Horry’s Law for identifying favorites.

So with this set of conditions in hand and a good projection model for player performance in 2011, we should be able to identify the favorites, contenders and pretenders.

Projecting Stars and Superstars for 2011

Here I’m going to use my rookie model (Boo Boo) and my player performance model to project the worst, nominal and best case for each player based on projected performance and the standard predicted error. For rookies the error is std at .065 WP48 (with one notable exception which I’ll explain). For veterans the error will vary by position and age. Each player will get star points as follows:

  • 1.2 if they qualify as a superstar in the nominal scenario.
  • .4 if they qualify as a superstar in the high or low scenario
  • .6 if they qualify as a star in the nominal scenario.
  • .2 if they qualify as a star in the high or low scenario

To explain visually it looks like this:

Good Big men scoring will be done the same as star scoring (if they qualify as a >.140 WP48 big in nominal .6 of a point, .2 if they qualify in high/low).

My justification for the scoring?

Normal Distribution is normal

Position adjustments will be done based on the average for the last three years and the players average position in 2010. The projection looks as follows:

Looks nicer doesn't it?

137 players and only five  guaranteed superstars and 22 stars. Only three players put you in contention immediately (Love,Howard and Camby qualifying as superstars and good bigs). Who’s my one notable exception? Demarcus Cousins gets a boost from my Lee/Noah theory (which I’ll explain in a future post).

As for what it means for the individual teams? Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.


Note: I initially posted this at 1:30 am with no proofing (BAD IDEA!!!). I went back and fixed some things and some of the scoring.I think it looks much nicer now

What I did not do last night (image courtesy of xkcd.com)

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