NBA Regular Season Wrap Up

With the NBA regular season over and the playoffs starting today, it’s time for the NBA regular season wrap up.

We’ll give you some data from the regular season that can help you analyze the first round playoffs more effectively.

Final NBA Regular Season Stats

Unlike most NBA fans, when the regular season ends we are not most excited that the playoffs are starting. We are excited that all of the regular season stats are in. One of the metrics that we were most excited about exploring was the difference between how a team performed and their estimated potential.

We learned something fairly obvious in hindsight – bad teams tended to over perform and good teams under-perform.  Even when standardizing the data and re-calibrating our models to try and get a more even representation of good teams and bad teams performance we got very similar results.

Turns out that it’s harder to live up to lofty expectations than to over-perform minimal ones. Unless you are the Wizards. For the record our model thinks that the average NBA team performed at 83% of it’s potential this year.

NBA Teams that Over-Performed

Three of the four teams that over-performed during the regular season are not bad teams in fact they are playoff teams. However nobody is picking these teams to make it to the NBA Finals.

  1. Sacramento Kings – 97%
  2. Brooklyn Nets – 95%
  3. LA Clippers – 93 %
  4. San Antonio Spurs – 90%

The only team on this list that didn’t make the playoffs fired their coach; even though, by our evaluations, The Kings performed about as well as they could with their roster.

NBA Teams that Under-Performed

On the other end of the spectrum every team on the under-performing list are good teams and they all made the playoffs:

  1. Boston Celtics – 67%
  2. Philadelphia 76ers – 72%
  3. OKC Thunder- 74%
  4. Golden State – 77%

It’s no surprise that the Celtics make the list as the most under-performing regular season team in the NBA.  Adding Kyrie to the team that made that playoff run last year with one of the best coaches in the game had us all thinking that Boston would be in the hunt for the best team in the East.

They did not play that way.  Our final model says that they were the third best team in the East and ninth best overall.

It’s a little scary that The Dubs played at about 3/4’s of their potential and still finished as the best team in the regular season…

2019 NBA Playoffs

While the twitterverse was all a twitter (heh) about the Warriors and the Rockets meeting in the second round instead of the Western Conference Finals; our model is not sure that the Rockets will even make it out of the first round.

We project that Houston has a 50.42% chance of winning the series and the Utah Jazz have a 49.58 chance. Damn near even money.

Alternatively our model gives the Milwaukee Bucks over a 90% chance of advancing over the Detroit Pistons.

We’ll follow up on Monday after the game ones have all been played.

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