I recently read Basketball on Paper by Dean Oliver. In this book he, presents a formula for expected winning percentage. Given that we’re in such a weird situation with the current basketball season, I wanted to see what that formula would have to say about how things are shaking out. Using the formula for expected win percentage, we can examine how we would have expected teams to finish the season.

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The 76ers recent Christmas Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks got me thinking about garbage time. The Sixers held a fairly substantial lead for the whole game, but let it get close at the end (they were outscored by 15 points in the fourth quarter). I started to wonder, “When does garbage time start”? According to Wikipedia: Garbage time is a term used to refer to the period toward the end of a timed sports competition that has become a blowout when the outcome of the game has already been decided, and the coaches of one or both teams will decide to replace their best players with substitutes.

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With the NBA season fast-approaching (not fast enough for me), I wanted to play around with some NBA data and explore teams from recent history. My beloved Philadelphia 76ers have made a remarkable rise in the past two years, going from one of the worst teams in history to a contender for the conference championship, so there are some bragging rights invovled in this too. What’s the best way to rate teams?

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Joe Ciesielski

data analyst