Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 NBA Finals

Although they lasted longer than expected, the young guns have been eliminated now leaving only two members of the (kinda) old guard standing: the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. This sort of performance was expected from the Heat (I predicted they would win 67 games. I was wrong, but after these playoffs it seems pretty reasonable). They Mavericks have come our of nowhere, even in the playoffs, starting off with less than a 5% chance of winning it all. Two of the games best scorers have taken over (with the help of some serious luck) and Lebron and Dirk will be on a collision course for not just their first ring, but their first Finals MVP also.

It turns out though, that the finals may not be the close battle you'd expect from two teams that dominated their respective brackets. Through out the regular season the Bulls were consistently better than the Mavs, and they only managed to last 5 games (although there were some pretty lucky Lebron J's to keep the Heat in games 4 and 5). The free throw discrepancy which was the story of the 2006 finals also is apparent between the Heat and the Mavericks regular season attempts. Even without Bennett Salvatore's help, the MiAmigos will likely get to the line more. Here's the breakdown of the occurrence rates of possible results:

Miami in 4: 9.9%
Miami in 5: 15.1%
Miami in 6: 23.0%
Miami in 7: 20.1%
Dallas in 4: 3.1%
Dallas in 5: 9.5%
Dallas in 6: 9.3%
Dallas in 7: 10.0%

Because of the 2-3-2 format things break down a little bit differently, and the home team is almost always most likely to win in 6 games. The overall odds of winning don't change though, the Heat should take the Larry O'Brien trophy 68.2% of the time. While as in any sport, there's enough chance involved to make all outcomes possible, but the most likely outcome is Miami in 6. A dynasty of the MiAmigos may be upon us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

True Hoop 2011 Third Round

As the playoffs go on the picks necessarily get harder, and the odds get worse. The Bulls-Heat series is a prime example. Under the ratings currently posted, the Bulls win just over 50% of the time, and the most likely outcome is Miami in 6. In order to nail this pick down though, I started playing with the ratings a little bit. Turns out that for the NBA they are overly generous to teams that win low scoring contests (read: The Bulls), so I tweaked things a little bit. Now the power ratings match up a little closer to the points ratings (almost exactly for Bulls Heat it turns out) and favor the Heat to win the series 53.1% of the time. On the other side of things, no matter the results of Game 7 Dallas will be favored to win in 7 games (although by just .05% over 5 games against the Griz). So for round 3 I have:
Miami in 6
Dallas in 7
Neither of these look to catch me up much on the top half of TrueHoop guys, but if OkCity wins tomorrow I'll pass David Berri despite picking fewer winners than him (master of series length!). And this point, I'm rooting against myself anyways, GO BULLS!

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 NBA Top 5

Last year at the end of the year I created an index to help figure out the NBA's top 5 players that year. It used the top 5 in Roland Rating, PER, Win Shares, Points Per Game, MVP voting, and the All NBA first team. This year I also added adjusted plus minus, although it's high variance can give some weird results. Here are this year's top 5 players, along with the points they have in the index:

Lebron James - 24
Dwight Howard - 22
Derrick Rose - 9
Kevin Durant - 9
Dwayne Wade - 8

There are a few things that stand out to me. First, Lebron James is once again the best player in the NBA, marking the fourth consecutive year by this index. It was a lot closer this year though as Dwight Howard stepped up his game to become the second best basketball player in the world. Next, the bottom became much more bunched together this year. Rose, Durant, Wade, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant were all within two points of each other, which is pretty unusual. Finally, Kobe dropped out of the top 5 this year (and his post season performance supports that) marking for the first time a top 5 full of the leagues new stars. This is a generation that never really played in MJ's shadow, and is bringing the league back in the national spotlight. It's a fun group to watch.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One Year (plus)

I missed it by four days, but May 1st was the one year anniversary of Kobe, Tell Me How My Stats Taste (at the time it was Shaq's Big Brickhouse). While there were a couple of breaks throughout the year, the posts have been coming at a surprisingly regular frequency and I think the quality of work now far surpasses what I would've imagined when I started. I'm not going to recap the work (that was done well in the 100th Post) but I am going to provide something that I could not have a year ago: mid series odds.
Bulls vs Hawks
Current Standings: tied 1-1
Favorite's odds: Bulls win 86.9%
*Impact of game 3: .226
The Bulls were dealt a shocking blow in game 1, but they're enough better it should just be a bump in the road.
Heat vs Celtics
Current Standings: Miami leads 2-0
Favorite's odds: Heat win 88.3%
Impact of game 3: .171
Unless something drastic happens (Delonte West & Lebron's mom part 2?) the Heat are gonna be in the eastern conference finals.
Thunder vs Grizzlies
Current Standings: tied 1-1
Favorite's odds: Thunder win 51.3%
Impact of game 3: .383
The Grizz's game 1 win makes the series pretty even odds going forwards. Game 3 will decide a lot.
Lakers vs Mavericks
Current Standings: Dallas leads 2-0
Favorite's odds: Mavs win 78.3%
Impact of game 3: .298
One dynasty fell in round one. The Lakers need to win game 3 in Dallas to keep a second one alive.

*Impact measures how much of a series swings on a given game. Every game 7 has an impact of 1, because the winner wins the series. It's a teams odds of taking the series with a win minus their odds with a loss. A bigger number means more importance.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Andre Ethier vs. Raul Ibanez

There are two spectacular hitting streaks going on in baseball right now. One has Andre Ethier playing strong with hits in 27 straight games. The other has Raul Ibanez going 0 for his last 34 at bats. PTI just asked which one is more impressive, and with a little help from probability I aim to answer that here.

This season the league-wide MLB batting average is .250. That's interestingly considerably below the usual league total which got as high as .269 in 2006. However since we're looking at which is more impressive (less likely) in the MLB this year, I think .250 is a good number to use.
For Ibanez, it's simple to just take .750^34 to get his odds. The chances of going 0 for 34 over any given set of 34 at bats is just 5.65*10^-5, a very small number. On the other had, with well over 5000 at bats in any given year, there are many chances, so it should happen every 3 or 4 years.
For Ethier we have to make some assumptions about his at-bats per game. He has 111 at bats over his 29 games this season (slightly less than 4 per game). While average doesn't work perfectly because it's especially hard to get a hit with just 2 or 3 at bats, some games he may have been taken out only because he already had a hit. The two cancel out, so we'll go with 111/29 at bats per game. He then has about a 2/3 chance of getting a hit in any given game, and a 1.82*10^-5 chance over any 27 game stretch. Even without compensating for few chances, that's less probable than Ibanez's streak. Overall, Ethier 27 game hit streak is less likely for an average player, and therefor more impressive.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

NBA Second Round Odds and Analysis 2011

The first round of the NBA playoffs has ended (and the second round actually started, oh well), so here are my odds for the remaining teams going forwards:

Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4
Chicago 0.932 0.541 0.379
Atlanta 0.068 0.006 0.001
Boston 0.302 0.103 0.052
Miami 0.698 0.35 0.246
Memphis 0.409 0.131 0.029
Oklahoma City 0.591 0.222 0.06
Dallas 0.366 0.214 0.064
LA Lakers 0.634 0.433 0.17

Many teams have drastically increased their odds at the championship, but the effect is due more to the Spurs loss (my second most likely upset last round!) than to overcoming any hurdles so far. Here are the current Championship odds:

Championship Odds
Chicago 0.379
Miami 0.246
LA Lakers 0.17
Dallas 0.064
Oklahoma City 0.06
Boston 0.052
Memphis 0.029
Atlanta 0.001

Chicago has emerged as even more of a favorite than before, and they can thank Atlanta for that. While all signs indicated that Dwight Howard and Orlando would meet the Bulls in the second round, Atlanta pulled a shocking upset by tricking the Magic into not making any of their threes. Threes were never a specialty for the Bulls though, and they should easily take care of the Hawks (who in reality kinda stink) on their way to the conference finals. Because they have such an easy schedule, along with their #2 power rating, the Bulls have emerged as a true favorite.
The Lakers have also upped their odds, both through dispatching a decent first round foe, and by gaining home court advantage in the West. A Bulls Lakers finals may be in the horizon.
Last round I gave three teams to look for going forwards, (one hit, but the other two missed wildly). The round there are two teams that are getting underestimated. I swear I picked these before today's games.
Miami: People are down on the Heat because they haven't lived up to their lofty expectations. Nonetheless, they are number one in the power rankings and have home court advantage. They should take care of business relatively quickly over the Celtics. Today's 9 point win belonged to the Heat the whole way, and is a trend that will likely continue.
Memphis: The Grizzlies are not the favorites in the second round, but are the most likely team to pull an upset. The have even become a dark horse championship contender almost on the level of the Celtics and Thunder. With their game 1 win, they now have a 60.8% chance of winning the series.
Last year the second round spat in the face of my rankings, giving me only 1 winner and adding three sweeps to boot. Things look like they should go better this year, but no winner are decided. What is certain though is that there are four terrific matchups to watch in the second round. I'm pumped.

True Hoop 2011 Second Round

After the first round of the NBA playoffs I've accumulated 29 total points which would put me in 5th in the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown. It's not as good of a start as last year, but I'm still in the game. Here are my picks for the second round (full odds and analysis will come sometime tomorrow).

Chicago over Atlanta in 5
Miami over Boston in 5
Oklahoma City over Memphis in 7
Los Angeles over Dallas in 7

It's pretty bland, going with all favorites, but I'm hoping to gain a couple points in series length. 2.83 expected series wins plus .97 expected series length picks means I should hope for about 16 points this round. A little better would be a nice boost too.