Tuesday, March 16, 2010
NBA With One Month To Go
The people over at hoopsdata have an outstanding break down of how the NBA stands (statistically) with one month to go. For those unaware the four factors is the statistical holy grail to winning in basketball (the four factors are efg (shooting adjusted for 3 pointers), free throw rate (free throws made and attempted), offensive rebounding, and turnover rate. Pretty obvious stuff when you think about it.
As of now the four factors shows that Orlando and Cleveland are heads and shoulders above everyone else. Despite the presence of Vince Carter Orlando's defense is the best in the league. The Cavs are the Cavs...great rebounding, efficient scoring, good defense. Grouped below them are the Lakers, Nuggets, Spurs and Jazz. I would note that the stats (as opposed to records) shows that the Mavericks ....suck.
Now the obvious come back is that the current stats are non-reflective of how the playoffs work. The playoffs favor teams with better half court execution. Also the rosters might be different. So let's think how that would play out....
1) Denver - With an ailing Kenyon Martin and poor rebounding rates Denver doesn't have a lot of room to improve
2) LA Lakers - Kobe will be playing more minutes than he has previously would should increase the team's effeciency. However last year the Lakers got large bumps by Trevor Arizia. It's unclear at best which player besides Kobe can step up. As such it's unlikely (but not impossible) that the Lakers can improve to catch the Magic or Cavs
3) Orlando - Orlando's great defense and rebounding should (and did) translate to the playoffs. The outstanding question is about their shooting. At the beginning of the year Nelson and Carter were awful. This past month during their hot streak both are very efficient shooters. It reasons that Orlando is probably maxed out as they currently are (which statistically is best in the league).
4) Cleveland - As noted that Cavs are easily the 2nd best team with a profile that translates well to the playoffs in rebounding, defense, and shooting. Secondly, their profile should improve as both Mo Williams and Delonte West were hurt for large chunks of the season. The big question is about Antwan Jamison, Z, and Shaq. Theoretically all should be available in a series against Orlando. Z/Shaq would present a far more formidable defense against Howard while Jamison could nullify Lewis...both of whom tortured the Cavs last playoffs. In essence, the Cavs have the most room for improvement over their current numbers relative to any of the other contenders.
As of now it's looking like the Cavs and Orlando are by far the favorites to win it all with the Cavs having the higher ceiling (albeit Orlando currently slightly ahead) .