NBA Sample Rankings 12/13/10

Posted on 12/13/2010 by


“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”- Thomas Jefferson

One of the most time honored ways to get an idea of where a process sits is thru sampling. Sampling is the practice concerned with of looking at a subset of large population (say 10 out of 82 games) to yield some knowledge about the population for the purposes of making predictions based on statistical inference (i.e. who’s good and who’s not right now). Now I know I know that I’ve argued against making sweeping conclusions based on small sample sizes but as Mr. Jefferson said your actions define you and we’re at far enough point in the season that things start to cristallize into shape.

That said, Let’s take a look at the shape of the NBA. These will be my ongoing power rankings and I’m going to follow a simple path. I’m going to look at wins produced and projected based on performance year to date (which at this point is a large enough sample size to make some statistical inference) and  then I’m going to use the Power of Nerd Numbers to examine a sample of the last ten games. For the purposes of making the sample fair and representative I’m going to adjust player performance based on some factors that account for changes in performance due to rest,altitude and homecourt . As a table this looks like this:


Now with that the rankings as of last night look like:

As of now Miami is the best team in the league but my Celtics are the team to beat. Why do I say this? Their numbers are almost identical but the Celts hold a 2-0 head to head advantage and a three game lead and so would have home court on the Heat.  So on a neutral court I’d expect the Heat to win 501 out of 1000 games but throw in Homecourt and it’s a completely different story.

The rest of the top five sees the slightly slipping Spurs at 3, the surging Mavs at 4 and the slipping Lakers at five. Orlando stays steady at six. Atlanta surges with no Joe Johnson at 8 and Utah remains a steady surprise at 9.  Healthy Chicago and Surging Indiana play for the ten spot tonight.

As for the rest,  Houston, Philly, Memphis and the Clipps are all surging while New Orleans, Toronto, Charlotte and the nets are all falling .

And Cleveland and Golden State are in freefall.

Image courtesy of (who just makes this so easy)



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