The Rankings and the Projection for 01/09/2015

Posted on 01/09/2015 by


It’s all really a numbers game. The amount of time I spend every day processing basketball data moves from about 15 minutes to about 2 hours a day like a sine wave. As time creeps by and I add newer and better tools (I hope), that numbers moves up. Once it reaches critical mass, I reach a plateau. Then the next leap forward catches my statistical fancy and I move to simplify, code and automate to reduce my workload and allow me to expand.

I’d spent the first three months of the season very close to that plateau. I’ve spent the holidays shaving a lot of that time off. The goal is to get all those nice statistical tools refreshing in an automated fashion and make them available to you on a daily basis while of course I go off and develop some of my skunkworks stuff (play by play stats for ridge regression, play by play metrics and shot charts is just sitting there taunting me with those jealous eyes).

The real biggie has been an automation of the rankings and the season sim. It’s not quite done but we are getting closer to having this be a daily tool. For now, you’ll just have to wait for me to do these twice a week.

If you create Shots, where do they come from?

Substitute basketball stats and that was my holidays (Image from:

Let’s start with the latest and greatest power rankings (previous one is here). Explanations for the math behind this are all here.

First the ranks:

Power Rank 01_09

Speed thought round! (Next week when I’m home, you’ll get the full rankings analysis. I promise.):

#1: Golden State Warriors:


Having Bogut back makes an already great team start looking like a Leviathan striding across the league. I still worry about their title viability due to lack of reps. If Iguodala comes back to form, watch out.

#2 Atlanta Hawks:


Can they get to the Finals? Not as crazy as you might think. This is a well coached team with six above average performers as their top six and their seventh man (Dennis Schroder is a quickly improving rookie). Their Finals odds continue to be too low.

#3 Dallas Mavericks:


With the Zbo injury and the Rondo trade, the Mavs move into #1 of my likely title winners list. The Tyson/Dirk combo, as it was in 2011, is the key. They miss Brandan but Carlisle does seem to have a knack for turning other team’s trash (hi JJ!) into a nice centerpiece. Aminu should play more.

#4 Detroit Pistons:


I’ve talked about Detroit already this week and their historic turnaround. Let’s expand graphically. Here’s Josh Smith:

Josh Smith

He’s been terrible at everything but passing.

Detroit released Josh Smith and got better at everything.


As did all their players: Drummond Greg Monroe
Jennings Jodie Meeks

And so we have a Pistons team that may end up being the best 6 to 8 seed out of the East in a while. I can’t believe Hawks at Pistons on a random Friday in January is appointment basketball but here we are.

#5 Los Angeles Clippers:


DeAndre and CP3 continue to be good. CP3 is our best ball MVP so far. Blake needs to come back to form (does anybody remember he broke his back in the off-season?) and there are some positive signs. They also have a real lack of plus defenders outside of CP3 and DeAndre. The big problem though?



Glenn Davis is starting to look like he should be competing with Joey Chesnut. Throw in a lackluster Hawes and their big man depth remains non-existent. Hawes could logically be expected to improve coming back from injury but a small (Crawford) for multiple bigs trade would probably help.

#6 Portland Trail Blazers:


Lillard has been amazeballs. Their top 11 has been above average (yes, somehow, inexplicably, even Chris Kaman). They’s been doing it without a pretty good center in Lopez. Pencil them in for a top four seed. Same as the Warriors, I worry about their playoff reps.

#7 Houston Rockets:


The Rockets signed Josh Smith? I’m crossing them off my contenders list.

#8 Memphis Grizzlies:


Contender #2. They are struggling without Zbo. I was down on this team in the preseason specifically because their bigs were older and I worried about injury. Kosta Koufus has been good for insurance.

#9 Milwaukee Bucks:


This team, like most young teams, is improving. Knight, Giannis and Middleton are actually playing better. I wish they played more Dudley than OJ and that seems to be the pattern. Remember that Kidd is a wizard. I suspect they move Sanders. Not a team I’d want to see in Round 1 in the east. Round 2 either for that matter.

#10 San Antonio Spurs:


When you lose a top 10 player in the NBA you’re going to struggle, regardless of how good you are. We’re all clear Kawhi is their best player right? That said, the roster is getting healthier with Tiago and Patty back.  The Schedule is also about to get easier. Contender number 3 will be there at the end and if Kawhi is there as well and close to 100% I’m still banking on them.

#11 Phoenix Suns:


Take a look:


The Suns are back in this and don’t look to be going away. Bledsoe and Dragic are back to all star level. Alex Len seems to have figured it out. This team looks to be very,very likely to win around 50+ wins. I think they’re in. The question is who drops out in the vicious West.

#12 Toronto Raptors:


Adversity, thy name is Toronto.

#13 Oklahoma City Thunder:


At 5-6 in their last 11 games and having just added Dion Waiters, OKC is the team that I have on the outside looking in right now. Russell Westbrook has been terrible the last few weeks and adding a knucklehead like Waiters is not the way forward.

#14 Utah Jazz:


At this point, if Rudy Gobert is not playing 40 minutes a night something is really wrong in Utah.

#15 New Orleans Pelicans:


Poor Anthony Davis, New Orleans remains a three-man band.

#16 Washington Wizards:


The top 8 in Washington is killer. They have depth, talent and playoff experience. They remain my favorite in the East to make the Finals. I think a 100% Bulls team beats them but the likelyhood of a 100% healthy Bulls team in the ECF is not high.

#17 Denver Nuggets:


Nuggets might have started the fire sale. I love getting two picks for Mozgov. Particularly since Nurkic looks to be the future. I’m thinking more trades are on tap here because Denver has some nice pieces. Can we get JaVale on a contender?

#18 Indiana Pacers:


Best longshot Finals team on the board. You’re betting on the return of Paul George.

#19 Charlotte Hornets:


The secret here is that once Lance went away, Kemba Walker became a superhero. I don’t know how you justify keeping Born Ready.

#20 Chicago Bulls:


The model took the OT game versus the Celtics and Jazz loss for the Bulls poorly. Butler and Gasol have and continue to be amazing. Rose however is bad and getting worse.


Less Rose might actually end up being better for this team. Contender number 4 but they have a huge asterisk.


#21 Boston Celtics:


Jeff Green remains terrible. Please, pretty please, trade him. I beg you.

#22 Sacramento Kings:


This season started so promisingly for the Kings. That’s all gone now.

#23 Brooklyn Nets:


Mason Plumlee is basically the future for the Nets. Everything else is moveable. Everything. Interesting point though.


KG looks like himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up having a playoff moment for a contender this year. Many could use him.


#24 Los Angeles Lakers:


Keep shooting Mamba, LA needs to keep their draft pick.

#25 Orlando Magic:


Channing Frye continues to make zero sense for this team. I’d look aggressively to trade him. I’m sure Doc Rivers is in the roledex.

#26 Miami Heat:


Fun what-if for everyone: Imagine Lebron on this exact same Heat roster with the exact same level of play and injuries. They would, maybe, be .500. The hot-takes would be epic. I keep thinking bailing on this season is the correct move here.

#27 Cleveland Cavaliers:


I am not a fan of the Cleveland coaching staff. The Cleveland front office just did a marvelous job at taking away all their excuses. Basically, the Cavs have a completely new roster. Let’s wait and see but I’m hopeful.

#28 New York Knicks:


I spent a few hours yesterday on twitter arguing the bottom three teams here could lose 1 out of ten to an elite NCAA team. Looking at this Knicks roster does not change my mind.

#29 Minnesota Timberwolves:


I wrote that Wiggins is playing better. Please note that the Timberwolves have bonafide NBA players on the roster that are sitting on the bench in street clothes. Flip is going to coast his way to a very nice draft pick.

#30 Philadelphia 76ers:


Yeah, that’s not a good look Philly.

Let’s do the simulation as well:

Sim 01_09

As I said, the Thunder have issues and so do the Cavs. The Cavs took positive action, I think the Thunder did the opposite.

Now the individual game sim. Here’s the previous projections:

Projection #1 (1/02 thru 1/04)

Projection #2 (1/05 thru 1/09)

The results so far look like:

Some Numbers
Model Straight Win Loss 57.4%
Just pick the Home team Win Loss 50.0%
Model edge 7.4%
Home team average Error 0.0
Road Team average Error 0.0
Standard Deviation 13.5

As expected the error in Homecourt went away and the Standard deviation started to move down with a larger sample. The edge versus just picking the home team remains. I will be looking at how it compares to Vegas once I can actually download the relevant data.

Remember this is for science and recreational purposes only of course. I take no responsibility for any possible losses. For wins, I simply ask that you buy a beer if you see me at Sloan.

Here’s the weekend’s projected point margins:

game sim 01_09


Have a nice weekend!


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