Knicks Outrebounded by 20

by Jeff Fogle 3. February 2011 00:27

The New York Knicks dropped their eighth game in the last 11 with a 113-97 loss to Dallas Tuesday night. New York was outrebounded 54-34, making it the tenth time in those 11 games that the Knicks lost the battle of the boards...

REBOUND TOTALS THE LAST 11 GAMES
Utah 36, New York 26
Sacramento 60, New York 49
Phoenix 48, New York 38
Houston 48, New York 45
San Antonio 50, New York 44
Oklahoma City 57, New York 40
Washington 47, New York 40
Miami 49, New York 45
Atlanta 46, New York 34
New York 41, Detroit 32
Dallas 54, New York 34

Let's break it down by scoreboard wins and losses:

IN NEW YORK'S 3 WINS
Washington 47, New York 40
Miami 49, New York 45
New York 41, Detroit 32

The Knicks were only down a net two rebounds in their three victories, meaning they've got a chance to "outshoot" their lack of rebounding as long as they can be competitive on the boards.

IN NEW YORK'S 8 LOSSES
Utah 36, New York 26 (-10)
Sacramento 60, New York 49 (-11)
Phoenix 48, New York 38 (-10)
Houston 48, New York 45 (-3)
San Antonio 50, New York 44 (-6)
Oklahoma City 57, New York 40 (-17)
Atlanta 46, New York 34 (-12)
Dallas 54, New York 34 (-20)

Double digit deficits...which are rebounding BLOWOUTS in this league...in six of the eight losses.

In terms offensive and defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions), the Knicks' medians over those 11 games are:

102.1 on offense
109.5 on defense

That's basically Toronto Raptors or Minnesota Timberwolves territory...

103.2 on offense, 109.4 on defense for Toronto this year
102.3 on offense, 108.7 on defense for Minnesota this year
102.1 on offense, 109.5 on defense as medians for NY the last 11

If you're getting killed on the boards, opponents get extra chances to score on their possessions, while you're not getting those on your possessions.

New York kind of hit a wall the night they lost at home to Boston in a big national TV game a few weeks ago. Tuesday's loss is the bookend to a 9-14 stretch that began with that "reality check." All the talk about the Knicks being a possible force in the playoffs, and Amare Stoudemire winning an MVP award, has subsided.

No team may be waiting for the All-Star break with as much anticipation as New York. They play a fast tempo with a short rotation. The numbers suggest the legs just aren't there on a night in, night out basis right now. Rebounding is a great basic fundamental "hustle" stat. If your typical game is a double digit rebounding loss during any stretch of the season, that's a strong red flag indicator that something's amiss.

New York's loss to Dallas was also a Superleague loss. New York falls to 7-13 for the season within our subset of 13 top teams as selected awhile back (Boston, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, and NY in the East; San Antonio, Dallas, the LA Lakers, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Utah, and Denver in the West).

Dallas is 14-8, a very impressive mark that still trails Boston (14-5) and San Antonio (16-6) at the top of the heap.

Oklahoma City beat New Orleans 104-93 in Tuesday's other Superleague game. Both teams are 11-12.

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Superleague Update

by Jeff Fogle 28. January 2011 00:02

Time to update the records from games played between the top contenders in the NBA this season...

I've decided to add in Denver. They were a borderline team back when the first dozen squads were selected (6 per conference). And, rumors were rampant that their best player would be leaving soon. Seemed like a gamble to put them in when there was a chance they'd turn into an afterthought down the stretch.

Now...

*Carmelo Anthony DIDN'T leave, and it looks like he may stick around awhile (a classic jinx set-up if I've ever seen one).

*Denver is 27-18, which is obviously a quality record.

*Denver will be favored to win most or all of their next 8-9 games, meaning it would look really dumb to leave them out if they were sitting at 35-20 or so in a couple of weeks.

*Denver has a better record in the Superleague than a few teams who have been in it all along.

The only strike against putting them in? Denver still ranks last of the Western teams. They're better than a few teams in the East. The Nuggets could still just be an afterthought when it's all said and done. 

For now I'll stick them in, making it a lucky 13 teams in our elite group.

West: San Antonio, LA Lakers, Dallas, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Utah, and Denver.

East: Boston, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York.

Here are the standings this year based ONLY on games where these teams have played each other. The records are updated through Thursday Night, which means New York's 93-88 victory over Miami is included.

WESTERN CONFERENCE
San Antonio 16-6
Dallas 12-8
LA Lakers 7-6
New Orleans 11-10
Oklahoma City 10-11
Utah 8-10
Denver 8-10

The Spurs are still playing the most impressive basketball in the league. They're even dominant in the Superleague. That 16-6 record equates to about 60 wins if they maintained the winning percentage through an 82-game Superleague schedule. The Lakers have seen their schedule toughen up recently, but they're still way behind everyone in games played. From low to high, games played in the Superleague in the West are 13-18-18-20-21-21-22. That means the Spurs have the best record, against the toughest schedule!

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Boston 13-5
Chicago 7-9
Miami 7-11
Orlando 7-11
New York 7-11
Atlanta 5-10

Some eye-openers here. Miami and Orlando have yet to establish the kind of consistency vs. quality you need to win in the postseason. Embarassing lower division teams just doesn't matter much once you're playing upper division teams. Only Boston is thriving in playoff style basketball vs. playoff caliber opposition.

Upcoming Superleague games:

Friday: New York at Atlanta, Orlando at Chicago

Saturday: Atlanta at Dallas

Sunday: Miami at Oklahoma City, Boston at the LA Lakers (an ABC doubleheader)

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SuperLeague Update

by Jeff Fogle 12. January 2011 01:14

It's been awhile since I updated the standings in our NBA "Superleague," the subset of six quality teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Counting only the games that Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, San Antonio, Dallas, the Lakers, Utah, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans have played against each other, here are the standings heading into Wednesday...

Boston 10-5
San Antonio 10-5
Dallas 10-5
Utah 7-6
Miami 7-7
Orlando 7-7
LA Lakers 4-4
Oklahoma City 7-8
New York 5-7
New Orleans 6-10
Chicago 4-8
Atlanta 4-9

I like how the top teams have stabilized at 67% around the 15 game mark. It may not mean anything, but maybe that's a hint of the sample size you need before being confident in any conclusions you may draw.

Of course, pollution is still an issue. Orlando is playing better ball lately, and could easily be better than 50/50 from this point forward. Miami has been on fire for weeks, and will also likely be better than 50/50 going forward barring injuries. Boston and Dallas have suffered recent injuries which led to a cooling off since last time.

Again the Lakers trail the pack in terms of games played. They've picked up the pace after having only four games in our initial sample. Still, from low to high, games played for the dozen look like this:

8-12-12-13-13-14-14-15-15-15-15-16

If the Lakers played three Superleague games this weekend (which they don't), they'd still have the fewest games. They're six away frome the median.

Superleague games this week...

WEDNESDAY
Orlando at New Orleans
New York at Utah

THURSDAY
Orlando at Oklahoma City (b2b for both)

FRIDAY
Dallas at San Antonio

SATURDAY
Miami at Chicago

It's going to be awhile before the Lakers catch up with the field. Just checked their schedule. They'll reach their 12th Superleague game on Sunday January 30th at home against Boston in an ABC telecast. That comes in the middle of a challenging stretch where 9 of the Lakers 13 overall games will be in the Superleague, starting Monday January 17th with Oklahoma City, and ending Sunday February 13th at Orlando. So, the team will face a stretch of testers before the All-Star Break.

Transition Points

*Cleveland's no-show in Los Angeles Tuesday Night (it's 81-31 in the third quarter as I type this, so I'm assuming there won't be a dramatic comeback!) made their record an amazing 1-19 since the emasculating loss to Miami and LeBron James on national TV. The streak is actually 1-21 the last 22 games. But, you get the sense that the loss to LeBron was a bomb that blew up the franchise. The Cavs were 7-10 before the game, but are 1-19 since. 

You can see the differential in efficiency (points per 100 possessions) from prior years on both sides of the floor:

2008-09: 109.7 on offense, 99.4 on defense
2009-10: 108.8 on offense, 101.5 on defense
2010-11: 98.1 on offense, 108.5 on defense so far

That last line includues the 7-10 start. Since the LeBron game, I eyeballed the medians at 99.0 and 111.0 heading into last night. Few offensive weapons. And, now nobody's playing defense.

*Phoenix would be in an emasculating slump of its own if not for a win over the Cavs last week! Phoenix is 4-12 the last 16 games after getting routed in Denver 132-98 Tuesday Night. And, Denver had been slumping before that game amidst the Carmelo Anthony distractions.

Phoenix had its own potential gut punch game when Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks routed the Suns last week in a national TV game on their home floor. Parallel storyline in some ways to LeBron and Cleveland, except Steve Nash was supposed to keep the Suns slump proof. He's matching career norms this year on a per-minute basis, but the team has fallen apart around him.

And, to be fair, the Suns were slumping long before Amare came to town. That 4-12 stretch saw wins over Cleveland, Detroit, and Minnesota...amongst the worst teams in the league. Phoenix is basically one of the worst teams in the league over those last 16 outings, as hard as that is to believe. They were 11-9 their first 20 games.

Maybe I need to start a Stuporleague.

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NBA Superleague

by Jeff Fogle 29. December 2010 01:33

LeBron James' contraction brouhaha got me thinking about an exercise I like doing periodically in all the professional sports. Focus on what the best teams in the league are doing only against each other to see if you develop a better sense of how everyone really stacks up.

When I saw that the LA Lakers were visiting the San Antonio Spurs tonight, it seemed like the ideal time to present the concept of a Superleague to you. I have to say...what I learned from crunching the numbers took me by surprise.

Wherever you make the cut-off for a Superleague study is always going to be arbitrary. The last team in is going to be borderline. The first team out would whine if they knew what you were doing. I try not to let my personal feelings get in the way. I let won-lost records or key indicator stats suggest a logical cut-off. For today's exercise, I decided to use the differential between offensive and defensive efficiency (points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) for each team.

It's good to have about a third of the league involved, so it's not too small...but we don't get too big and drift down to .500 caliber teams. Let's see what the differentials show.

(Compiled Tuesday afternoon 12/28)
1...Miami +11.6
2...Boston +9.7
3...San Antonio +9.3
4...Dallas +7.4
5...LA Lakers +6.4
6...Orlando +5.8
7...Chicago +5.2
8...New Orleans +3.1
9...New York +2.6
10...Oklahoma City +2.5
11...Utah +2.3
11(tie)...Atlanta +2.3

That's an even dozen right there, a little more than a third of the league. Next in line would be Denver, who entered Tuesday action at +1.5 (0.8 to 1.1 behind that compact cluster of four teams that closes out the sample). I'm sympathetic to the thought that Denver belongs...but their record was just 16-13 entering the day, and there's a chance Carmelo Anthony won't even be on the team in the very near future. It's not hard to add them down the road if they take their efficiency differential up to +2.5 or better.

For now, let's stick with those dozen and call them the Superleague. Here's everyone's won-lost record through Tuesday Night's games within the Superleague. Again, these are only games played within the subset of elite teams. You don't get any credit for beating the lesser lights. An upset loss to somebody like Milwaukee or Indiana doesn't count against you either. We want to see what the best teams are doing against each other.

(Including Tuesday Night's action)
Dallas 10-2
Boston 9-3
San Antonio 8-3
Miami 7-7
Utah 7-5
New York 4-5
Orlando 5-7
Oklahoma City 5-7
New Orleans 5-8
Chicago 3-8
Atlanta 3-8
LA Lakers 1-4

Whoa, what's happened to the World Champs?! They were 1-3 entering tonight's game at San Antonio, then lost badly. You probably watched their loss on Christmas Day to Miami. They were just 1-2 before that.

So:

*The Lakers are playing poorly vs. quality.

*The Lakers are playing an amazingly soft schedule! Most teams are up around 11-12 games in the Superleague. The Lakers lag behind everyone with just five.

This is either evidence that the Lakers are less likely than everyone realizes to finish off their three-peat. Or, it's evidence that the Lakers are pacing themselves for the long haul. There's no trophy for being great in December.

Time will tell. Monitoring Superleague results throughout the season should help us see when the Lakers kick things up a notch. Or, it will show us that they've lost that extra gear they thought they had.

Right now, the standings are showing us how much better Dallas, Boston, and San Antonio are than everyone else. Miami has surged to 7-7 with a string of recent victories, so it's probably better to think of them as part of a "big four" at the top of the league than a 7-7 team.

I'll monitor Superleague results as the season progresses, and provide updates periodically. On the schedule in the coming week:

WEDNESDAY

LA Lakers at New Orleans

THURSDAY
New York at Orlando
San Antonio at Dallas

FRIDAY
New Orleans at Boston
Atlanta at Oklahoma City

SATURDAY
Oklahoma City at San Antonio

SUNDAY-MONDAY

None

Challenging week for the Spurs.

Would you have guessed that the Lakers had only won 20% of their efforts vs. the top dozen teams in the NBA? Or that they had played only half as many games vs. quality opponents as most everyone else?

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