Abacus’ Mid-season “Chalk-dust” Ratings (and maybe a few etcetera’s)
A funny thing happened on the way to – no longer the Fabulous Forum – the Staples Center. While LeBron James and a trio of elite contemporaries have migrated West in recent NBA times, the Association’s balance of power (particularly among its elite squads) has been evening out geographically … at least half of the Top Ten in each of my periodic (every three weeks) calculations has come from the Eastern Conference. [Only four East teams landed in the Top Ten for 2018-19.]
Through the games of Wednesday Jan. 15, 84 of this year’s 168 “playing dates” and 313 of its 1,230 scheduled Basketball Battles have been fought – about as “Mid-point” as a season can get … and for the third time in four tours through my simple counting machine, the Boston Celtic Algebra has graded out at the top of the class.
(1) Flow: An estimate of a team’s per-game performance (measured in “stops” of the opponent) in converting its possessions.
(2) Striping: An exact count (represented in “conversions”) of the impact of three-point shooting and foul shooting.
(3) SPOR-t: The calculation of a team’s total performance using percentages in overall FG shooting, Offensive Rebounding and Turnovers.
(4) Road Swag: The difference between a team’s Road wins and its Home losses – an attempt to measure a team’s “grit” and savvy.
For Flow, Striping and SPOR-t scores, the posted “plus or minus” is the differential between the team’s performance and that of its Opponents.
A team’s Final Grade is the sum of its four Category rankings. (An asterisk with a category ranking indicates a tie with one or more other teams.)
These ranking reflect all play through and including Wednesday’s slate of games. The Grading Scale is further explained below.
Which teams are performing the rudimentary skills of the game most proficiently at both ends of the floor? Let’s consider six elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, Points per Game, Offensive Rebounding, the matter of turnovers and the SPOR-t score of our ratings. These teams hold a Top Ten rank offensively and defensively:
FG%: Indiana, LA Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee, Utah
3FG%: Dallas, Indiana, LA Lakers, Miami, Toronto, Utah
PPG: LA Lakers, Milwaukee
OR%: Philadelphia, LA Lakers
TO%: Boston, Orlando, Washington
SPOR-t: Boston, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Ten offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t.
“Flow”: this calculation puts a number to a team’s unsuccessful possessions (i.e. the other guys’ “stops”). Just take their missed field goals (attempts minus makes), subtract the offensive rebounds, and then add the turnovers. The “scores” represent per-game performance.
“Striping”: this calculation measures the impact of missed free throws and made treys. By subtracting the former from the latter [3’s minus missed FT’s], we identify a team’s gain or loss in points through “specialty shooting.” Again the “scores” are per-game. (A further division by two converts “points” to “conversions” – thus they can be combined with the “Flow” score.)
"Road Swag": this calculation is a way to measure a team’s grit and savvy through its ability to defend its home court and win on the road, a simple calculation (road wins minus home losses) for generally reliable info.
“SPOR-t”: SPOR-t stands for “Shooting Plus Offensive Rebounds minus turnovers.” Add a team’s FG percentage and its offensive rebounding percentage (o. boards divided by the sum of those o. boards and the opposition's d. boards). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, offensive rebounds at a rate of .199, and commits a turnover on .143 of its possessions. So its SPOR-t is (488+199-143) or 544. Once again, our measurement will be the difference between the SPOR-t scores of a team and its opposition.
We’ll rank the teams from 1 to 30 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings. Low score wins, naturally.