Monday, May 31, 2010

NBA Finals

First off, in a nod to Tyler Dawson, let's point out that I said neither the Celtics nor Lakers would make the finals. The Lakers had a pretty reasonable shot, so we can assume that's just random variation (and remember, they're two tips away from two game sevens). The Celtics have shown an impressive ability to "turn it on" in a way that they didn't have during the season. Partially it's recovery from injuries, partially it's Rondo's emergence, but I also think the Celtics are just playing better now, and the Power Ranking is only just an average over the season. With that said, here are the odds on how the series turns out.
Lakers: 60.9%
in 4: 7.6
in 5: 12.4
in 6: 20.8
in 7: 20.0

Boston: 31.9%
in 4: 4.3
in 5: 12.1
in 6: 11.3
in 7: 11.5

Unique to the NBA finals is the 2-3-2 format, unlike the 2-2-1-1-1 format of the earlier series, which gives these odds a little bit of a different flavor than ones from the first couple rounds. Because of that, I'm going with the Lakers in 6. This time though, I'm rooting for Tyler Dawson.

NHL Rankings!

NHL Power Rankings from 09-10 (kinda preliminary, some constants might be adjusted later).

Rank Team Record PR Schedule
1 Washington 54-28 1.971351978 0.897622912
2 Chicago 52-30 1.83689405 1.015734579
3 San Jose 51-31 1.604085453 1.04425634
4 Vancouver 49-33 1.60161888 0.997847038
5 Phoenix 50-32 1.284885124 1.046570781
6 Los Angeles 46-36 1.280345604 1.044849597
7 New Jersey 48-34 1.265161717 0.944877777
8 Buffalo 45-37 1.205482721 0.937670358
9 Detroit 44-38 1.1726501 1.063754376
10 Colorado 43-39 1.146104664 1.019181611
11 Pittsburgh 47-35 1.122893631 0.945574406
12 St Louis 40-42 1.094634453 1.04802023
13 Philadelphia 41-41 1.057873068 0.952982024
14 Nashville 47-35 1.034734645 1.055824315
15 Boston 39-43 1.014719416 0.948600448
16 NY Rangers 38-44 1.014680758 0.960645121
17 Calgary 40-42 0.988191313 1.033734957
18 Anaheim 39-43 0.945531872 1.069395612
19 Dallas 37-45 0.916399403 1.075699805
20 Montreal 39-43 0.891535366 0.947119358
21 Ottawa 44-38 0.828847814 0.952185525
22 Minnesota 38-44 0.815745702 1.057222185
23 Atlanta 35-47 0.775089497 0.955150235
24 Columbus 32-50 0.758758265 1.08525909
25 Carolina 35-47 0.743718177 0.958006177
26 Florida 32-50 0.695430488 0.973742079
27 NY Islanders 34-48 0.661466183 0.984849639
28 Tampa Bay 34-48 0.650924905 0.973139746
29 Toronto 30-52 0.59869451 0.975120685
30 Edmonton 27-55 0.568586705 1.076399338
Interesting to note is that you can tell whether a team is from the Western or Eastern Conference based off of only their strength of schedule (The Eastern Conference stinks). Darien loves it too.

RETRO PREDICTION: Blackhawks in 5. They win 79.3% of the time. It's okay this is just math so it's not biased by the wacky game 1. Go Blackhawks!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Suns Efficiency

The Phoenix Suns have brought their series with the Lakers back to 2-2, and the debate is whether it's been their offense returning, or their new zone defense. Statistically, a simple way to look at it is to check whether the Suns have been scoring more, but a better was is to look at efficiency per possession. One example is to look at the Warriors this year, they had the second highest scoring offense, but only the 14th most efficient (I saw them, and they were definitely closer to 14th). So what's been the Suns' efficiency this season?
Efficiency Game 1 2 3 4
Lakers 1.38 1.24 1.07 1.19
Suns 1.15 1.12 1.16 1.29
Efficiency Lakers Win Suns Win
Lakers 1.31 1.13
Suns 1.14 1.22
So while Los Suns have improved some offensively, it looks like the zone defense has made a big difference in the series. Or maybe its just the Lakers coming back to earth, the averaged 1.06 points per possession during the season.

Also of note is the run of injuries for Boston. Daniels hopefully will be okay, but Davis and actually Pierce may be of concern. It appears Davis suffered a pretty serious concussion, and that's something that can put people out for a couple weeks (even though he may feel fine physically). Paul Pierce's shoulder may also be a concern from when he collapsed on the floor earlier (not that rare, but important here). It looks on the replays like Pierce's shoulder subluxed, meaning it popped out for just an instant, then popped back in. That's a concern for two reasons.
1. It's gonna be weaker for a little while now (maybe a couple days). On his free throws right afterwards both of them hit the front of the rim.
2. It will be reinjured easier now, either subluxing again, or fully dislocating. I know this, because it happened to me recently.
Whether through injuries or zone defense, it looks like we now have two good conference finals on our hands.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lebron A Bull?

Everybody from my Dad to Barack Obama has been campaigning for Lebron James to leave Cleveland and become a Chicago Bull. Today though, Jeff Van Gundy claimed that the Bulls still wouldn't be a real contender. So who's right? Fortunately John Hollinger has a statistic called Estimated Wins Added based off his PER stat. This is the number of wins (roughly) that a player would add over a replacement.
The Bulls should've won 36.1 games this year (They got lucky and won 41, but those sort of variations iron out over time). Luol Deng had an EWA of 7.4. Lebron's was 30.5. Putting Lebron in for Deng, and the 10-11 Bulls have 59 wins! Losing Salmons also will probably cost the Bulls an extra three wins from this year's team (he had a 5.9 EWA, against Hinrich's 1.0 over about 2/3 of the season).
What about other teams?
The Knicks (Lebron over Wilson Chandler) - 57 wins
The Nets (Lebron over crap)-46 wins
The Clippers (Lebron over more crap)-53 wins
The Heat (Lebron over Dorell Wright)-74 wins (umm, what? Okay, near extremes EWA isn't so good. Probably more like 65).
The Cavaliers (Lebron over Lebron) -59 wins.
So a simple Lebron substitution provides the following win totals:
Heat: 74 (65?)
Bulls: 59 (56?)
Cavs: 59
Knicks: 57
Clippers: 53 (more with Blake Griffin?)
Nets: 46
And purely for my amusement, the Bulls with Lebron and Chris Bosh?
+11 for Bosh. Bulls: 70 wins!
and Dwayne Wade (+20)?
Bulls: 90 wins!!!!!
Okay probably not. But it sounds like a record breaker. DWade for a midlevel exception?
The point is, JVG is right. For Lebron to really put a team over the edge he has to join a team that's already good (like the Heat) or he has to bring somebody like Bosh with him. He still helps though. I'm rooting for Lebron as a Bull.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Conference Finals

Hoping for better than a 25% showing this time around, here are my 3rd round predictions:
Orlando over Boston in 5
LA over Phoenix in 7
And the odds for a championship from this point?
Orlando 0.574654264
Los Angeles 0.191676816
Phoenix 0.147624963
Boston 0.086043956
Finger's crossed, excited for tomorrows Celtic Magic Game 1.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Worst 5

In tune with the last post, here are the worst 5 teams of the last decade. Again, this is the old ratings system. This year's New Jersey team interestingly doesn't even make the list, as in the old rankings system they had a PR of .382. In the new rankings the 99-00 Clippers team has a PR of .206 (so again, the 1.5 rule roughly applies).
1 LA Clippers 1999-00 15-67 0.30162
2 Chicago 1999-00 17-65 0.329756
3 Atlanta 2004-05 13-69 0.333346
4 Cleveland 2002-03 17-65 0.333398
5 Chicago 2000-01 15-67 0.336922
Interesting to note here are the two Baby Bulls teams (they were bad for a while, a losing Dynasty of sorts), and the quick turn-arounds of Cleveland (Lebron!) and Atlanta (Joe Johnson?).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Top Teams Of The Decade

Something that I can't mispredict? The past! Here are the top 14 (14 includes the top team from each year) teams of the 2000's (99/00-08/09):
Note: This was on a slightly different (and less accurate) setup of the program I run, so the Power Rankings are a little off. Multiplying by about 1.5 is roughly accurate, as Boston's number one overall team had a Power Rankings of about 4.45. To compare, Orlando, this year's top team, had a PR here of 2.15 (The worst best team of the past 10 years!).
1 Boston 2007-08 66 16 3.01978476
2 Cleveland 2008-09 66 16 2.794060792
3 San Antonio 2006-07 58 24 2.702128779
4 San Antonio 2000-01 58 24 2.636983741
5 San Antonio 2003-04 57 25 2.627247807
6 San Antonio 2004-05 59 23 2.622031398
7 LA Lakers 1999-00 67 15 2.540923327
8 Dallas 2002-03 60 22 2.481384874
9 Sacramento 2001-02 61 21 2.424603144
10 Dallas 2006-07 67 15 2.322137833
11 LA Lakers 2001-02 58 24 2.290126862
12 Boston 2008-09 62 20 2.250968994
13 Sacramento 2002-03 59 23 2.246999335
14 San Antonio 2005-06 63 19 2.200287205

Interesting to note is the continuation of dynasties that shows up here, but doesn't necessarily show up in championship wins (hence, the appearances of the 2000 Kings and Dirk's Mavs). Is my algorithm a better way to determine champions than the actual playoffs? Do I just think because the Kobe Lakers don't appear hear? How will Tyler Dawson prove me wrong? These are important questions to ask. Hopefully, one other question has been answered here.


Thank you Tyler Dawson for pointing out the failures of me.
"I enjoyed your blog post about the statistical likelihood of a sweep going into the second round, but like it even better now that there were 3 sweeps in this round."
Tyler Dawson is very smart.

It's true though, not only have the sweeps gone against my math, but so far I've gotten two out of three second round series' wrong, and am on pace to miss the third (what are you doing Lebron?!). Of course, I'd like to point out that I still had a 5% chance of a sweep for both the Lakers and the Suns. The Magic also had a 13% chance of sweep. That's missing the point though, because I still got pwned. At least the Blackhawks won (take that Darien and Stan!), so not all is wrong in the sports world.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, what are the odds that the Blackhawks win? Well, knowing what I know about hockey, and that they're in the semifinals, I'd say about about 25%. I guess it's hard to get really into hockey when you can't even ice skate. I'm just excited for my Byfuglien shirt.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

All NBA Teams - Youth Movement?

The announcement of this years All-NBA team may be heralding officially something that's we've witnessed over the last couple of years: A new brand of stars. Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, and Kevin Durant are all players that are just reaching the prime of their careers, while older stars like Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady are fading out of the picture. The new generation of stars might make you suspect their are now fewer previous all-NBA honors among this year's crew. In fact , the opposite is true. Here are the number of previous all-NBA awards by all-NBA team by year:
Year 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team Total
2010 23 22 14 59
2009 27 19 17 63
2008 21 24 11 56
2007 28 11 11 50
2006 28 13 9 50
2005 29 7 13 49
2004 31 7 4 42
2003 29 15 4 48
2002 19 18 2 39
2001 16 6 29 51
2000 16 19 9 44
Average 24.27272727 14.63636364 11.18181818 50.09090909
So there is actually more all-NBA experience in these last two years than in any other? That's because the former first team players with all the experience are moving down to the second or third team to make room for the new stars, just like Tim Duncan this year and Shaq last year. The last time this happened? The end of the Jordan era stars; just look at the 2001 third team which included Karl Malone, David Robinson, and Gary Payton. Similar to the 2002 first team of Jason Kidd, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan and McGrady, the 2010 crop provides a bright future for the NBA.
Also, props to the Los Suns for making a statement with their jerseys, and to Gareth Thomas for making one with his openness. What? It's like this blog has a social conscience or something. That's what you get with a california education.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why The Jazz Are Done

One part of tonight's Jazz-Lakers game stands out: The Lakers' length. In everyday life people are measured by height to the top of the head, but in the NBA they really should be measured to the top of the outstretched hand. They measure this before the draft, but apparently only for players not on the Lakers or Jazz, so that doesn't help. What would help though, is the return of Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur for the Jazz. They are the number 2 and 4 rebounders and number 1 and 3 shot blockers for the Jazz, and will help supplement the 6'7" average duo of Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer against the 7'0" average duo of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Right now the Lakers have a 77.2% chance of winning the series, and without the return of Kirilenko and Okur (possible for game 3) it's only gonna go up.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kobe as Spy vs. Spy?

Which one is Kobe? Props to photographer Ruven Afanador. Must be a Clippers fan. More pics here.


Second Round Predictions

Running the second round games, with the same home court advantage, I end up with the following:
Cle-Bos: Cleveland in 5
Orl-Atl: Orlando in 5
Phx-SAS: San Antonio in 6
LAL-Utah: Utah in 6
You may or may not point out that Cleveland, Utah, and even kind of San Antonio have me in trouble. I just say that it's proof that I don't just make these up, and it really is the math (if you want actual proof I guess I can put it up, but that's a lot of math).
As a non-math biased basketball fan, I personally would've said Cavs in 5, Magic in 5, Lakers in 6, and Spurs in 7. I think more so than any other team, my Power Rankings underestimate the Lakers because it's an average of all games, while the Lakers have the skill to turn it up another level that we haven't seen all season (this may be going on with the Celtics also).
Note: For those of you questioning the Lakers over Utah pick, the computer only has Utah winning 50.2% of the time. So I'm not super optimistic about a comeback.

First Round Predictions.

Running the numbers with a home court advantage of .6 (among equal teams home team wins 60% of the time) these were the first round predictions of my Power Rankings:
Cle-Chi: Cleveland in 5
Orl-Cha: Orlando in 5
Atl-Mil: Atlanta in 5
Bos-Mia: Boston in 7
LAL-OkC: LA in 7
Dal-SAS: SA in 6
Phx-Por: Suns in 7
Den-Utah: Utah in 6
That's right, all 8 series winners were right! Using the TrueHoop Stat Geek scoring system (5 points for winners, 2 for the right number of games) that's 46 points in the first round, which would put me in first place. What's that Hollinger? You say you're looking for an intern?
If so, please ignore my second round predictions. You'll see why in the next post.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One Game Matters

The championship percentages I just put up don't include the first Cavs-Celtics game. What happens if it is included?
Before the series the Cavaliers had a 73% chance of winning the series. Now with their one win they have an 82% chance of winning. Had they lost, it would've been 53%. How does this affect championship odds? With the win they now win the NBA championship 27.7% of the time, as opposed to 18.0% if they had lost. So with just a Game One win (a game they were expected to win anyways) the Cavs have increased their championship odds by 53%. Which just goes to show: in the playoffs every game matters.

Championship odds

This Utah comeback is making for a spectacular start to the second round. The end of the first round though came earlier this morning, and with it some ease of calculation. Therefore, here are the odds that each team wins the Larry O'Brien trophy:
Orlando 32.14 percent
Cleveland 24.68
San Antonio 10.44
Utah 9.76
Lakers 8.96
Phoenix 7.09
Atlanta 4.25
Boston 2.68
Note: These odds don't count the Cavs-Celtics game yesterday.
Also, can some body get Kobe something for that lower jaw? It looks ridiculous. I see him winning the 2011 Kevin Garnett award for former star most overusing scripted intensity to try to compensate for lost skill.

New Name

In what I'm sure will prove to be an ongoing search, I've already changed the name of the blog. Welcome to (probably temporarily) Kobe, Tell Me How My Stats Taste. Thanks to Shaq for inspiration. Suggestions (good ones) are encouraged.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Unlikely Sweeps

As the playoffs progress into the second round, it may seem surprising that there's only been one sweep so far. It turns out though that even a heavy favorite is more likely to win in five playoff games then to sweep. For example, the most uneven first round series was the Cavs Bulls series. Based off of the power rankings (and a slight home court advantage) the Cavs were supposed to sweep 31.1% of the time (0.32% of the time for the Bulls). 35.5% of the time though they would win in 5 games. So despite all 7 True Hoop stat geeks predicting a sweep, a 5 games series was most likely. It was also what happened.
For the numbers intensive, what sort of power rankings lead to a sweep? Team A must be at least 3.67 times better than Team B for a sweep to be more likely than a four game series. That's a bigger difference than the difference between Orlando, the highest rated team, and Chicago, the lowest rated playoff team. That doesn't mean there won't be any sweeps this playoff, just that I won't be predicting any.

Power Rankings

The penultimate column in my rankings is the power ranking of the team, but what does that mean? It's a concept that's similar to the Bill James's log5 concept (explained more here) and results in an easy comparison of teams. A sample calculation is as follows:
Team A PR of 2
Team B PR of 1
in a neutral site game, Team A's chance of winning if 2/(2+1) = 67% of games.
similarly, Team B's chance of winning is 1/(2+1) = 33% of the time they will win.
Looking at these rankings it means that Orlando (2.82) will beat New Jersey(.26) about 91.5 % of the time (that seams high. How does New Jersey only have 12 wins? They were a little unlucky this season, but we'll get to that later). Using these power rankings it's possible to calculate the likelihood of any team beating any other team.

Final Rankings.

In the spirit of the NBA playoffs, I'll throw up my end of season power rankings.
The second to last column is power ranking (how many times better that team is than the average team). The last column is average opponent strength.
1 Orlando 59-23 2.815868391 0.949349748
2 Cleveland 61-21 2.475705707 0.951574391
3 San Antonio 50-32 2.099605268 0.994607927
4 Utah 53-29 2.040630591 0.999981323
5 LA Lakers 57-25 1.914643734 1.00796228
6 Phoenix 54-28 1.843129789 0.968984263
7 Atlanta 53-29 1.800489528 0.973212682
8 Denver 53-29 1.720817891 1.010443954
9 Oklahoma City 50-32 1.662839199 1.008636178
10 Portland 50-32 1.656185421 0.978911546
11 Boston 50-32 1.655360311 0.960296242
12 Dallas 55-27 1.405119654 0.994864654
13 Miami 47-35 1.395848321 0.958722482
14 Milwaukee 46-36 1.314908089 0.95324784
15 Charlotte 44-38 1.17474918 0.978936317
16 Houston 42-40 1.01655323 1.048451625
17 Toronto 40-42 0.807318824 0.993061034
18 Memphis 40-42 0.795320854 1.019402944
19 Chicago 41-41 0.789491537 1.002853777
20 New Orleans 37-45 0.729163378 1.026340145
21 Golden State 26-56 0.649510873 1.043133791
22 Indiana 32-50 0.646648112 0.989278576
23 New York 29-53 0.585446377 0.971573422
24 Sacramento 25-57 0.563340084 1.044135306
25 Philadelphia 27-55 0.558430246 1.000526986
26 Detroit 27-55 0.491750076 1.015007465
27 Washington 26-56 0.482613298 1.013300502
28 LA Clippers 29-53 0.428004806 1.049270796
29 Minnesota 15-67 0.286250438 1.07571216
30 New Jersey 12-70 0.262339548 1.033702744


Yo yo welcome to Shaq's Big Brickhouse. My name is Austin Link and I'm a 20 year old physics major at Stanford University with a background in math competitions and basketball. Currently I play with the Stanford Club Team and with the women's varsity practice squad. I've been messing around with sports statistics for my whole life, but this fall I created a rankings system that can be used to compare teams and predict winners. With the onset of the NBA playoffs I decided to publish some results. I really just wanna write some posts, but hopefully it's interesting to people who read (specifically my mom, dad, and Stan Kamande who are probably the only people who will read this).