NBA Power Rankings for the 2012-13 Season volume #3: Love Hurts

As you may or may not know, I’ve been doing Power Ranking and projections as the season has gone on.

  • Part 1 and a full explanation of method is here
  • Part 2 is here

You’ll note that several tweaks have been made for the sake of clarity, accuracy or, well, because I thought they were cool.

All numbers are thru games scheduled for 01/06/2012 (Feliz dia de tres reyes magos!).

Let’s get to the numbers shall we? We’ll start by teasing the playoff projection:

Playoff proj

We’ll get back to that one. Schedule strength as always, comes first:

Shed Strength

The Hornets,Rockets, and Raptors have faced the roughest schedule. The Pacers, Hawks and Pistons have faced the easiest schedule.

How’s it look for the rest of the season?

Shed Strength 2

Again I did simulate every game for the rest of the season to do that table. You may notice that I added what the delta is for schedule strength in win percentage before and after. The Hornets can’t catch a break and stay with the toughest schedule. Denver and Utah sees a significant softening of their schedule.  Portland and the Lakers see a significant hardening of theirs. This is a significant problem for LA. Other notables are at the top of the west where San Antonio should ride their softer schedule to the 1 seed over the Thunder and Clipps. Popp willing that is.

Let’s talk rankings.

The Rankings as of 12/25/2012

The game data is courtesy of Basketball Reference.

The rankings are built by working out the following numbers:

  • Point Margin per Game: Pts scored by team -Pts scored by opponent divided by games played
  • Home court Point Margin per Game: Point Margin per game due to the schedule and homecourt advantage.
  • Adjusted Point Margin per Game: Point Margin per Game -Home court Point Margin per Game. Schedule independent point margin (neutral site at sea level)
  • Adjusted Opponent Point Margin: The average Point Margin per Game of a teams opponents.
  • Real Point Margin (RPM): Point Margin per Game -Home court Point Margin per Game +Adjusted Opponent Point Margin. Expected Point Margin at a neutral site against perfectly average opposition. This is the Number I use to rank. Please note that I added the RPM for the last ten games to give me a more real time weighed estimate.
  • Neutral Site Win % : A win projection using the real point margin and the relationship between point margin and win% ( RPM/31 + .500 is a quick shorthand but not quite right, we gotta have some secrets)

Keep in mind that this is a guess (a very scientific one but still a guess) at the relative strengths of teams based on the data of the season to date with some weighing put in for more recent games. A more accurate projection would account for injuries and incorporate what we know of player historical performance. We will address this in a, say it with me, future post before the playoffs.

Power Rank

A few notes:

  • The West is still very,very strong with the top 3 teams in the league in a dead heat in the Clippers, San Antonio and the Thunder. San Antonio is looking like the top team there (who would have guessed that?) but if I were doing playoff rankings the Clipps , who play the best player per 48 in the league 33 minutes a night, would have a marked advantage. All three of these teams however are legit title contenders.
  • The Biggest x-factor continues to be the Houston Rockets. I said before that Houston features one of the youngest rotations in the league and should improve as the season goes along. Well, guess what, that is exactly what is happening.
  • The Heat are getting some separation from the pack in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have come back to the pack somewhat while Indiana and injury blessed (yes, you read that right) Toronto are making a move.  The biggest x-factor here is the Raptors. If they continue to play the current lineup or a able to deal the anchor that is Andrea Bargnani they should challenge for a home playoff series in the East.
  • The Lakers are sitting at 12th and eight in the West. This is bad for their playoff hopes. They really need Minnesota, Utah and Portland to falter. Portland with their harder schedule looks likely. Utah is probable given the quality of their roster. Minnesota though has an easier schedule and a better roster. The best news Mike D’Antoni got this weekend was the Kevin Love injury.

Let’s show you the full season simulation now. You’ll note that I did the sim based on the full season, the last ten games and the average of the two.

Playoff proj full

And that brings us full circle to the first table. This one shows the current projections sorted as minimum,average and maximum projected wins. The table also shows the numbers from the preaseason projection and whether that number was low,high or in range based on the current status of the league.

Playoff proj

19 of the 30 projections are in line with the preseason numbers. For the lows, we had Indiana (and the apparent Lance Stephenson leap), Detroit (and undervalued Drummond), the West top three (and the underestimated the level of suck in the East), Houston (and the hard to predict young player progress) and Golden State (and welcome back David Lee, we missed you!). As for the highs, we have Boston (and we still really haven’t seen their desired rotation), Washington, New Orleans and Minnesota (and injurypalooza 2012-13).

As noted earlier, the Lakers are virtually tied for the last spot in the west and need some real luck to make it in. I apologize to Twolves fans in advance because god and the league office are both Laker fans.


P.S. Again as a bonus, Here’s a table presented without explanation or context:


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