NBA Now Rankings:Winning Time

Posted on 03/17/2011 by


“We can’t define anything precisely. If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers… one saying to the other: “you don’t know what you are talking about!”. The second one says: “what do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you? What do you mean by know? – Richard Feynman

Did you know I’m 1/4 irish?

Happy St.Patricks Day!!

Here’s the current version of my NBA now Rankings (All games current as of 03/16/2011):

I counted players only on their current teams. I divided the periods based on the most current date (i.e. most current two week period). I put in weights based on how recent each period was (most recent weighs 11, next most recent weighs 10, all the way to least recent weighs 1).

Loves the Celtics and the Thunder as currently configured. Chicago, Miami, Orlando, LA and Denver follow but based on these numbers Boston and OKC  should be favored in the playoffs then (without getting into a discussion on Home Court, but if you want to skip ahead….).

That was quick! I guess were done until April. See you at the Finals!

GIS for Celtic Thunder was a real surprise for St. Paddy's Day. The more you Know

But we know that’s not quite right.

Take a look here:

That’s the minutes played per games played for every player currently on a roster that’s played since St. Valentine’s day (sorry Shaq).  It’s meant to provide a picture of every playoff teams depth chart going into the playoffs. Why should we care?

Longtime readers know that 30 to 16 to 1 (the Half Baked Notion) is why.  What is the Half Baked Notion?

The first post I ever wrote for the Wages of Win network (and in fact the first post written for the network) was about my beloved Celtics and how people should not be surprised by their success in the 2010 Playoffs against the Cavaliers (see here). One of the key points in the article was that bad minute allocation and inefficient use of resources doomed the Cavaliers. This led me to think about teams that were successful in the regular season but dramatic failures in the playoff which led to the Half-Baked Notion (full article here ).

The Half-Baked notion is this: what wins in the regular season is not necessarily what gets you the big trophy.

What’s the difference? Minute allocation & how wins produced are affected by that allocation. We continuously hear terms like playoff rotation and playoff minutes thrown around come playoff time. The funny thing is that when we use math and science to take a take a look at the data we see that the pundits may just be right .

The half baked notion tells us that a good deep team filled with average and above average players will get you in the playoffs but to get far in the playoffs you need your wins to be concentrated in your Top 6.

If we look at 2010 numbers:

  • The best two players accounted for 55% of a teams wins in the 2010 Playoffs.
  • The top three players are just below the pareto threshold
  • The next three (4,5,6th man) account for the rest of the positive win contribution about equally.
  • After that everybody else actually hurt teams in the playoffs.

With that in mind let’s try again. This time we are going to focus on every teams projected top 6 as of today( this is important for teams like OKC with Perk and Boston with Shaq) and re-rank the teams:

When we look at playoff lineups, Miami is the clear number 1 followed by Boston and everybody else is way back. Dallas jumps a level in the West but the Western teams are all bunched way close together from Dallas to Denver.

You may ask: is that it? Not quite. Remember kids, this is only a neutral site ranking and unlike the NCAA , the NBA does not hold it’s postseason at neutral sites. I still need to account for Homecourt and project out all the matchups.

But that is a story for another day.

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