Abacus’ 18-week “Chalk-dust” Ratings (and a few etcetera’s)
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images
Brad Stevens and his Boston Celtics reached this season’s Three-quarter Pole this past Tuesday with the second of consecutive overtime home losses, the coach uncharacteristically expressing criticism of his squad’s performance.
He had ample cause … especially when you consider these numbers. In their first 59 games, Boston’s opposition had misfired on 178 “rebound-able” foul shots and re-acquired but 18 of them with an Offensive Rebound (player or team)
The victorious Nets missed seven “live-ball” free throws and regained possession FOUR times, converting two of those additional scoring opportunities – the difference in the ballgame? (You decide.)
As for the Houston defeat three nights earlier – the C’s finished with 51 conversions (39 FG’s + 12 FT conversions) and 7 “stripes” (13 3FG’s “minus” 6 missed FT’s) for an “expected” 109 points. The Rockets produced 48 conversions (41 FG’s + 7 FTC’s) and 11 “stripes” (15 3FG’s “minus” 4 missed FT’s), an expectation of 107 points. (Alas, the Rockets’ FOUR “and-1” opportunities – which don’t boost the Conversion Count but do count on the scoreboard – trumped expectation.)
[And though it falls outside the timeline of this analysis, the theme of improbability maintained through Friday night’s encounter with Utah, in which the C’s lost despite holding a numerical edge in both Total Rebounds and Turnovers.]
Nevertheless – and at the risk of being labeled a “homer” – Boston’s seasonal statistical record sits them atop my Algebraic rankings … seems as if Brad’s boys are adhering to his mantra of “Make the right play on the next possession” with a fair degree of frequency.
These ranking reflect all play through and including games of Tuesday March 3. The Grading Scale is 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 Clippers, LA Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee
3FG%: Dallas, LA Clippers, Miami, Toronto
PPG: Boston, LA Lakers, Milwaukee
OR%: LA Lakers, New York
TO%: Boston, Houston, Orlando, Washington
SPOR-t: Boston, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Philadelphia
Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Four offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t.
FG%: Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Golden State, Minnesota
3FG%: Golden State, Memphis, Minnesota, New York, Orlando, Phoenix
PPG: Cleveland, Golden State
OR%: Atlanta, Golden State, Oklahoma City, Toronto
TO%: Brooklyn, Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans, Utah
SPOR-t: Atlanta, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota
“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.
Abacus Revelation for the Road
Just over one of every four NBA games (26.6%) this season has involved at least one team playing the second night of a back-to-back in 2019-20 … believe it or not, one of these games is more likely to produce a close contest decided by five points or fewer than a match-up of two rested teams.