The First Glimpse

Posted on 04/12/2011 by


“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

The end is in sight and the long night might be ahead of us.

But for a little longer we will rage against the light.

And some of us crazies will keep trying to read the patterns in the sky.

To quote: "Personally, I kinda want to slay the dragon."

The playoffs are almost here and it’s almost time to make some bold predictions.

Let’s get to work.

But that’s getting a little ahead of the game. First we’re going to look at a table and a problem.

The first table is me taking every playoff team, looking at their productivity after the all-star break, as well as minutes played per game ans forecasting the playoff minutes and projected team productivity for each team. What did I base my logic on?

Say it with me: 30 to 16 to 1. The Half Baked Notion.

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.

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 get to that table:

And a little summary for all:

Chicago, Dallas, Denver and LA/OKC  project out as the best team based on their record since the all star break and who they project to play. No matter how I look at it Chicago looks to have a clear, clear advantage in the East.The only hope for the Heat and Celtics is for a miracle return.

But to quote again: “39 ain’t 29, bro”.

Sorry Dwight and congratulations go to Mr. Rose

The West though is very, very tricky.

Homecourt is one of the problems. Specifically who has it and who is carrying an unfair advantage . Injuries are also key there (see Portland, and Bynum,Andrew).

But that, as they say is the rest of the story.



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