Small sample sizes and you: 2012 Preseason Numbers thru 10/24

Life is made up of a series of judgments on insufficient data, and if we waited to run down all our doubts, it would flow past us.
-Judge Billings Learned Hand “On Receiving an Honorary Degree” (1939).

Somehow, I ran out of time.

I’ve noted before that this  offseason has progressed for me like a personal checklist:

  • Rank all the draft prospects and rank them (Check)
  • Prepare a list of all the free agents (Check)
  • Create a full historical database using new Wins Produced and rank all the players (Check , Double Check and Triple Check)
  • Quantify the running value of a win under the new CBA (Check)
  • Develop an improved Age Model (Check)
  • Evaluate every teams roster at the end of the 2012 season (Check)
  • Develop a model for ranking Euro prospects (Check)
  • Rank all the current NBA players and project them out and use that to do a baseline projection of this season  (Check)

I really only have two items pending to close out my preseason checklist:

  • Evaluate the preseason numbers
  • Consolidate all the numbers into a projection for the year that we can track ( Which may just look like this (hint-This is an easter egg) )

I do wish I had a bit more time to get this all done but at the end of the day we have to make due with the data that we have.

Substitute Insufficient data for Hydrogen and you have the elements behind all my posts. (Image courtesy of

Let’s get those numbers up first. A lot of credit for this goes to to dougstats for gathering and compiling the data in an easy to use format. With that in hand I worked out everyone’s Win Score like so:

Win Score =  PTS + STL + ORB + 0.5*DRB + 0.5*AST + 0.5*BLK – TOV – FGA –0.5*FTA – 0.5*PF

Win Score per 48 (WS48) = 48* Win Score/Minutes played

Then I mapped it to Raw Wins Produced per 48 (ADJP48). using the equation from the chart below.

Then I worked out position assignments and used that to figure out Wins Produced per 48 minutes for all players.

The detail, for those amongst you that are intrepid souls, is in the provided file:

12-13 preseason

The numbers (for all players who’ve played greater than 40 minutes in the preseason) are below with rookies and Free Agents highlighted in Gray and Dark gray respectively.

The results were a bit surprising.

We are going to party like it’s 1999?!?!?

Duncan and Kobe seem to be having a bit of a late career surge this preseason. This bears serious observation.  Enes Kanter seems to have translated a new focus on training and conditioning into production on the court. Mike Conley could be helping the Grizzlies be a dark horse out west again. The Corey Brewer thing is probably just a ploy by the basketball gods to confuse George Karl. Kevin Martin and Omer Asik seems to be benefiting from playing with Jeremy Lin. Stephen Curry is good but fragile (we knew this). Serge Ibaka is possibly making a leap. Guys like Bargniani and Austin Rivers are who we though they were.

Can we put any stock in this data though?

To answer the question previously,  I looked at 2009 pre-season stats and compared them to 2009-2010 stats and looked for correlation. That’s here:

So the answer to the question does the pre-season tell us anything is kind of.  The preseason is a mall sample and as such is limited in what it can tell us but there’s an interesting caveat here. What happens if I look at a similar sample of regular season games for that season vs the rest of the year?

The correlation is eerily similar. So preseason data is a small sample with limited predictive ability but it’s value is as strong as similar small in-season samples. A good preseason or bad preseason is as good a data point as a good or bad group of in season games.
Let’s get back to the preseason numbers.
Let’s review it by team now:
  • The Atlanta Hawks should be a different team with the return of Al Horford .
  • The Boston Celtics have their big three in Rondo, KG and Pierce. Terry being good would be critical to their chances in the east. Sullinger or Darko are both high risk, high rewards plays for them. They need a dominant post player to challenge the Heat.
  • Is Reggie Evans rubbing off on Brook Lopez? Brook has 10.8 rebouns per 40 minutes. Add to that 82 points in 49 FGA and all of the sudden Brook is channeling his inner Shaq. I do not trust this as of yet but it bears watching. It’s the difference in the Brooklyn Nets hosting a playoff series or staying home for the playoffs.
  •  Let’s not Talk about the Charlotte Bobcats. Pray for Cardboard Gerald.
  • The Chicago Bulls still have Joakim Noah and Loul Deng right? Yeah, they’re still very good.
  • The Cleaveland Cavaliers get Anderson Varejeao back. I don’t think that’s enough even with Kyrie Irving.
  • The Dallas Mavericks commited highway robbery in getting Jae Crowder in Round 2. If only someone had told the league. Seriously, we love you Mark. Seems like you maybe, just maybe, may have been right on Kaman. Must be the environment. Still don’t think this is a playoff team.
  • For the Denver Nuggets, Gallinari seems to be back however the Iguodala, Lawson, Faried combo isn’t quite working yet. Brewer is trying to confuse my man Geroge Karl, I just know it.
  • The Detroit Pistons may just have found two quality bigs in Drummond and Monroe. The rest of the team makes me sad though.
  • The Golden State Warriors have a fantastic team on paper. With Curry and Bogut as critical cogs in their plans, they better make sure their medical staff is more Phoenix than Portland.
  • The Houston Rockets didn’t get their A or B plan this offseason but what they did get is very interesting. They look to be a ridiculously young team that hovers at .500 . This is a good thing in the long term.
  •  I do not think the Indiana Pacers are a playoff team in the East. It all comes down to a belief in Roy Hibbert and if he’s made a leap. I say no.
  • The Los Angeles Clippers should contend for the #1 seed in the West. CP3, Bledsoe or Chauncey, Barnes, Blake and Deandre with Lamar of the bench should be great. Lamar needs to get in shape and they need to play Barnes and not Grant Hill at the 3. You trust Vinnie del Negro right?
  • I like the Lakers big Four (Howard ,Nash, Pau and a seemingly rejuvenated Kobe) but I hate,hate, hate their bench. I may have underrated the Nash upgrade and it’s impact on Kobe. Good playoff team, so so regular season one.
  • The Grizzlies looked locked into their rotation. Zach being back could push them back into contention.
  • The Miami Heat are going to be a sight to behold this season. Health permitting. Easy #1 seed in the East (particularly with that Chandler injury). I still do not trust their size outside of Lebron. The larger teams coming from the West could be a huge matchup problem.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks look like a likely first round victim for Miami. Let’s keep going.
  • We officially love the Minnesota Timberwolves. I think they’re a .500 team without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio particularly since Roy is showing signs of life.  Where I coaching or GM’ing a west contender, I would avoid this team like the plague in round 1 of the Playoffs.
  • The New Orleans Hornets drafted a superstar in Anthony Davis. They signed the criminally underrated Ryan Anderson. They also brought in the criminally unproductive Austin Rivers. I want to beleive they can get an eight seed but I really don’t.
  • The New York Knicks may have just struck again in finding an underrated and unknown Point Guard that will enamour their fanbase in Pablo Prigioni, He might be good enough for them to lose him thru an offer sheet they won’t match. This team should contend but they really,really need a healthy Chandler.
  • Anyone who wants to discount the Oklahoma City Thunder needs to get their eyes checked. Ibaka possibly making the leap and Aldrich make Perkins very much aa luxury though.
  • Are the Orlando Magic a candidate for the Ewing theory? No, just no.
  • Are the Sixers any good? I don’t know and neither do you. Stop lying.
  • The Phoenix Suns morphed into the timberwolves this year. A core of good players (gortat, Dudley,Dragic) surrounded by terrible ones (Beasley). I suspect with similar results.
  • The Blazers may have gotten the steal of the draft in Damian Lillard. If only someone could have seen this coming.
  • The biggest question for the Sacramento Kings is if Demarcus Cousins finally gets it. 5.5 orebs per 40, 13.1 total rebs per 40 and 91 pts on 71 shots looks very promising combined with his second half of last year. I just wish he stopped chucking up three’s.
  • The San Antonio Spurs are getting 16 to 1 odds to win the NBA title? That’s really interesting.
  • The Toronto Raptors may have just found their new Center in Jonas Valanciunas to pair with their outstanding power forward in Ed davis. They have a killer backcourt in Calderon and Fields. Now, if they would only overcome the sunk cost fallacy and trade their old center (Bargniani) and shooting guard (Demar Derozan) for anything they’d be a top three team in the east. It’s actually kinda sad.
  • The Utah Jazz season pivots on the Enes Kanter transformation. If he has truly made a leap, then this team is a dark horse out West.
  • I like the Washington Wizards and their rookie Bradley Beal. I just wish Nene and Wall where healthy. Very hard to gauge this team right now. Close to the eight seed in the East is what I think.

As a final bonus, Let’s end with the rookies.


Team Raw wins generatedper Game Off % vs Baseline Raw wins Allowed per Game Def % vs Baseline Differential
CLE 2.20 109% 1.79 88% 41%
ATL 2.17 107% 1.80 89% 37%
ORL 2.20 109% 1.81 89% 40%
SAS 2.14 105% 1.85 91% 29%
LAL 2.18 107% 1.85 91% 33%
POR 2.10 104% 1.85 91% 25%
UTA 2.26 111% 1.87 92% 39%
DAL 2.12 104% 1.89 93% 23%
DEN 2.17 107% 1.90 94% 27%
PHO 2.13 105% 1.90 94% 23%
OKC 2.19 108% 1.91 94% 28%
BOS 2.19 108% 1.94 95% 26%
MIA 2.09 103% 1.94 96% 15%
MIL 2.11 104% 1.94 96% 18%
CHA 2.10 103% 2.04 101% 5%
HOU 2.01 99% 2.06 102% -5%
TOR 1.89 93% 2.09 103% -20%
NOH 1.94 96% 2.10 103% -16%
CHI 1.93 95% 2.10 104% -17%
MEM 2.00 98% 2.10 104% -10%
PHI 1.94 95% 2.13 105% -20%
IND 1.95 96% 2.15 106% -20%
DET 1.88 93% 2.15 106% -27%
GSW 2.05 101% 2.15 106% -10%
NYK 1.91 94% 2.16 107% -25%
WAS 1.85 91% 2.19 108% -34%
SAC 1.87 92% 2.19 108% -32%
LAC 1.81 89% 2.26 111% -45%
NJN 1.72 85% 2.33 115% -60%
MIN 1.73 85% 2.40 119% -68%

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