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Category Archives: Expanding Horizons

Checking 2013-14 NBA Win Predictions & Projections

With 2013-14 NBA regular season in the books it’s time for some fresh projections about the NBA playoffs!
But wait a second, aren’t we forgetting about similar predictions for the regular season? As usual I’d like to expand the effort of APBR community in an attempt to measure how successfully basketball writers, bloggers and authors predicted what will happen during the regular season regarding teams’ wins.
So which writer, blogger or author had the most accurate projections before the 2013-14 NBA season?

To answer this question I saved on my hard drive predictions in early November [it’s a reason why not all of the links below work, they’ve changed since then] from most popular sites and some googled sources [but it’s not a closed list so if you want to add your’s predictions let me know in the comments] and compared them to actual wins for each team by Root Mean Square Deviation which is essentially average difference between each prediction and final total wins in terms of absolute value. Results of this exercise are in the table below…

But please keep in mind two important notes:
1) don’t think or assume it’s all about the skills of people involved because randomness plays a huge part here… injuries and trades in most cases simply couldn’t have been predicted before the season but they affected some of the results in a big way [for example, Gay trade anyone? Or Horford’s shoulder…].
Personally I treat it as fantasy basketball on a team level and I’m more interested in the year-to-year patterns than in actual results for one particular season because it’s basically a sample of one.

2) in most cases entries next to each other are interchangeable in terms of accuracy because difference between them can be translated into “2-3 more/less wins in the right direction would flip them”.

Onto the table…
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Expanding Horizons

 

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NBA Pioneers of Drafting and Stashing Foreigners

Recently at the end of every NBA draft there are foreign names, who even for hardcore fans, seem like they could be just randomly generated. But they are in fact long shot prospects who are drafted and stashed for later just for an outside chance they could be good someday [*]…

How did NBA arrive to this point?
Which team did start this trend? What did happen to those pioneers?

To find out, I used my list of all Draft-and-Stash players in history to identify such cases based on two criteria:
1) according to basketball-reference.com player didn’t play in US college,
2) player had a contract outside of US during his draft year.

There were over 100 players in history who fit (I’m assuming here that all of them were drafted with an understanding NBA team had to wait for them… even though it’s hard to prove this for everybody).
I think it’s the best to start this topic with a graph…

Number of Foreign Players Drafted by the NBA Each Year who Started Career Later than Their Draft Class

A couple of facts which may help explain this graph or could be just a coincidence:
– Oscar Schmidt and Greg Wiltjer participated in the 1984 Summer Olympics which I’m assuming was announced before the 1984 NBA draft.
– Peja Stojakovic debuted in the NBA in February of 1999 and made his first all-star team in 2002.
– in October of 2001 Andrei Kirilenko, Primoz Brezec, Predrag Drobnjak and Zeljko Rebraca joined the league from previous draft classes.
– in October of 2002 list expanded with Manu Ginobili, Mehmet Okur, Marko Jaric and Gordan Giricek.

So I would summarize history of Drafting and Stashing Foreigners like this…

According to various sources, including an interview with him, Greg Wiltjer did play in US college so he made the list only because of a rare bug on basketball-reference.com which means…
the grandfather move of drafting foreigner with a contract happened thanks to the Nets with their shot at Oscar Schmidt in 1984.
That makes sense, he was a truly dominant scorer not only on his clubs but also in the Summer Olympics.

Oscar Schmidt didn’t play in the NBA in the following years but it didn’t discourage Hawks and Blazers to take a chance at other foreign stars: Drazen Petrovic and Arvydas Sabonis (if you want to learn a lot more about the background of these transactions, and Drazen Petrovic’s life in general, I strongly recommend Drazen Petrovic retrospective podcast from inallairness.com). For the next couple of years one or two teams bought such a foreign lottery ticket but nothing materialised out of them until 1989 when Drazen Petrovic, Sarunas Marciulionis and Alexander Volkov joined the league.
All of them were reserves initially and only Petrovic reached a starter status but unfortunately he died in a car crash in 1993. It doesn’t change the fact that Nets, who acquired Petrovic’s rights from Blazers, were the first team not only to try this move but also to gain something out it. Maybe two solid seasons from Petrovic don’t seem like much but he was poised for more.

In 1994 and 1995 arrival of Sabonis, improvements from Kukoc and brief success of Dino Radja created a slight bump in foreign players being drafted. One of them in my opinion became the second milestone in the history of this strategy: Peja Stojakovic was drafted 14th by Kings in 1996.
Even though his first couple of seasons were underwhelming he was the first drafted and stashed player to join the NBA at the age similar to his American counterparts.
He debuted at the age of 21, not only 3 or 4 years earlier than all previous draft-and-stash players, but also at a point in his career where he wasn’t fully formed as basketball player and had some upside.
I’m guessing such a proof that talented young foreigners were willing to come over early led to the draft class of 1999 which featured, record at that time, 5 draft-and-stash players.

It created another wave of players who finally arrived in 2001 and 2002 which along the growing success of Peja Stojakovic created followers and another spike in interest of drafting such players later in the draft. It remains at the high level a decade later even though success rates has since plummeted… but that’s for another post.

Does it make sense? Have I missed anything important? Let me know.

[*] more probably those players are drafted for the certainty of not paying them anything right now.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Expanding Horizons

 

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Grading NBA Mock Drafts 2013 From Best To Worst

NBA Draft 2013 started with a huge surprise at the top and remained unpredictable through the rest of it.
Because I once again gathered data for my project accuracy of NBA mock drafts I accidentally measured just how unpredictable it was! Here are some key statistics… I processed 263 NBA mock drafts and among them:
Only 4 mock drafts had Anthony Bennett going number 1. F-O-U-R! That’s below 2 percent!
Congratulations to Todd Salem, Greg, Trey and Jason Quint for a really bold prediction which turned out to be accurate but, interestingly, overall their mocks were average.

66 different players appeared in at least one first round mock draft and I have to give props to Tim who was the only one with Solomon Hill included.

Around 22% of mock drafts nailed selection of Victor Oladipo at number 2 but only 6 mocks had Cody Zeller 4th to Bobcats, 21 mock drafts had Alex Len at #5, only 3 mocks had Ben McLemore at #7 and…
literally NOBODY had Nerlens Noel being drafted at #6!! How is that for unpredictable top picks?!?
For comparison, among Top7 picks in mock drafts in 2012 only Dion Waiters and Harrison Barnes were surprises on a similar scale.

On the other side, Otto Porter was at #3 in majority of mocks – 73% to be precise.

With all that said you can see why it wasn’t a great year for mock drafts’ accuracy but despite such wild Top7 and lower average score than in previous years, people at the top still managed to distance themselves from others. So…Who Had The Best and Worst 2013 Mock Drafts on the Internet?

To answer this question here’s what I did:

1) after the draft lottery I saved on my hard drive pages from as many first round mock drafts as I could quickly gather. Mostly from widely known authors/sources but I also added many googled ones and tried to include authors from last years’ post [hence the growth]. I repeated this exercise weekly up to the day before actual NBA Draft when I had a final push for the data.
In 2011 I checked 33 mock drafts, in 2012 I expanded efforts to 122, this year I ended up with 263 NBA Mock Drafts. So my quest to cover every mock available on the web continues ;-)

2) I graded every mock by an average absolute difference between the mocked and actual picks.
So for example, if you had Nerlens Noel at number 1 in your mock draft your score for #6 [where he went] was “5” but if you had him at #9 you would get a score of “3”. Simple, right?
I did the aforementioned thing for every pick in every mock and calculate an average for the entire first round so the lower the number the more accurate mock was. Players who were predicted as first rounders but were drafted in the second round counted but if a player went undrafted his position was “61”.

There are three important notes about this excercise:
– because I tried to capture content which was quickly changing some of the links provided won’t work. It’s not my fault that people use the same address or page for often changing content. I could just upload those saved files but that probably wouldn’t be legal so I just posted a PDF file with every pick of every mock I’ve processed.

– as in previous years, I didn’t try to include versions of mocks published in the last hours before the draft because not only I don’t want to chase last minute updates or rumors from teams or possible leaks but I also question the value of such mocks which are online for 50 minutes… especially when at this point you can just wait for the real event.

– it’s kind of obvious but, as a remainder, please don’t assume that mock drafts represent entire value of those sites or authors. Even if someone had a really good/bad mock it doesn’t mean their analysis of players was good/bad too. It may have been, I don’t know, I didn’t include it in any way.

OK, let the mock draft challenge begin! Here are the results…

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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Expanding Horizons

 

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Checking 2012-13 NBA Win Predictions & Projections

Just before every NBA season most basketball writers, bloggers and authors try to predict what will happen in the next year which is usually fun stuff to read and discuss. But I’ve always felt there’s a half of the picture missing – accountability for those predictions.
Recently pundittracker.com started to track single-winner picks which is great but I’d like to continue this blog’s “tradition” with comparing wins projected before the season to the actual ones after the season.
So which writer, blogger or author had the most accurate projections before the 2012-13 NBA season?

To answer this question I gathered predictions in early November from most popular sites and other googled sources [btw, it’s not a closed list so if you want to add your’s predictions let me know in the comments] and compared them to actual results by Root Mean Square Deviation which is essentially average difference between each prediction and result in terms of absolute value.
If you want to play with numbers or check any single entry just download NBA Predictions Accuracy 2012-13.pdf but if you are interested only in the results they are in the table below…

But please keep in mind two important notes:
1) don’t think or assume it’s all about the skills of people involved because randomness plays a part here… and it’s hard for the better example than Minnesota Timberwolves in 2012-13. Literally everybody thought they would be better this season but they were crushed by injuries and in the end the best prediction for this team turned out to be from… last years’ adjusted wins! So if someone predicted 45 wins for them his result was punished by bad luck more than someone who predicted 35 wins for them.
Well, unless someone can predict injuries…

2) in most cases entries next to each other are basically interchangeable in terms of accuracy because difference between them can be translated into “2-3 more/less wins in the right direction would flip them”.

Onto the table…

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Expanding Horizons

 

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Accuracy of NBA Mock Drafts in 2012, Best, Worst

NBA Draft 2012 is in the books so it’s time for a lot of grading… no, I don’t mean judging teams or drafted players because it’s too early but there’s one draft-related topic which doesn’t require waiting few years:
Who Had The Best and Worst 2012 Mock Drafts on the Internet?

After humble beginnings last season I expanded my efforts to 122 NBA Mock Drafts this year.
Obviously, it doesn’t mean I covered every mock available on the web but I think I was close ;-)

Seriously speaking though here’s what I did:
1) after the draft lottery I saved on my hard drive pages from as many 1st round mocks as I could quickly gather. Mostly from widely known authors/sources but I also added many googled ones.
I repeated this exercise weekly up to the day before actual NBA Draft when I had a final push for the data.

There are two important notes here:
a) because I tried to capture content which was quickly changing some of the links provided won’t work. The most extreme example was probably with Chad Ford from ESPN who published 10 mock drafts and the last 3 or 4 had multiple “updates” which by the way block the entry to original versions.
I could just upload those saved files but that probably wouldn’t be legal so I just posted a PDF file with every pick of every mock I’ve processed.
b) I included 3 mocks from the day of the draft from [my guess at] 3 most popular sources but I don’t feel great about it. On a draft day rumors from teams, possible leaks and updates are so rampant that I question the value of those mocks for 10 minutes… especially when at this point you can just wait for the real event.

2) I graded every mock by an average absolute difference between the mocked and actual picks
For example Bradley Beal was drafted third so if you had him at #2 you would get a score of “1” but if you had him at #5 you would get a score of “2”. Got it? If a player went undrafted I counted that as a “30” because of the entire second round. I did the aforementioned thing for every pick in every mock and calculate an average for the entire first round so the lower the number the more accurate mock was.

OK, let the mock draft challenge begin! Here are the results…
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Expanding Horizons

 

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NBA 2011-12, Revisiting Predictions for Wins

After checking accuracy of predictions for wins in the NBA in 2010/11 and two earlier seasons I’m hungry for more and thanks to passing time I can add most recent data! Farewell 2011/12! So which writer, blogger or author had the most accurate wins predictions for that lockout-shortened season?

To answer this question I gathered last season’s predictions from most popular sites and other googled sources [btw, it’s not a closed list so if you want to add your’s predictions let me know in the comments] and compared them to actual results by Root Mean Square Deviation which is essentially average difference between each prediction and result in terms of absolute value. If you want to play with numbers or check any single entry just download NBA Predictions Accuracy 2011-12.pdf but if you are interested only in the results here they are…
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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Expanding Horizons

 

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Advanced statistics agreed about those NBA players

Yesterday I explored topic of the biggest differences between perceived value for some NBA players among five advanced statistics and I don’t want to be only negative ;-)
So for a change let’s spotlight those examples where metrics mostly agree, shall we?

Again based on great database prepared by Alex at sportskeptic.wordpress.com and for the last 5 years I ranked each player [with at least 1000 minutes played] according to five different metrics [PER, Win Shares per 48 minutes, Wins Produced per 48, new RAPM and ASPM] and then I calculated standard deviation of each player’s ranking and below you will see only those with the lowest number each year meaning the differences in evaluation between statistics were the smallest.

Again let’s start with the most recent season…
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Expanding Horizons

 

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