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Comments on: I Beg To Differential

A Lakers Blog. Thoughts, reflections, and the odd rant on the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA (even the Clippers).

Last Build Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2017 22:45:28 +0000



Tue, 30 Jan 2007 04:54:18 +0000

I'm so sick of hearing about the Suns and the Mavericks dominance. Since the 1999-2000 season only two teams have had the best record and won the championship (the 00 Lakers and the 03 Spurs). As well, only two teams with the best record have even made the Finals (same two mentioned above). And have we forgotten that the Pistons were 32-5 at this time last year and that most people had them pegged as a sure fire NBA champ? No one expected them to get into the playoffs and fall apart, yet that is exactly what they did. Basically what I am saying is that the Phoenix streak means nothing. If they want to waste their energy upholding regular season streaks, then by all means do it. I think they would be better served winning 10-15 straight going into the playoffs like the Spurs and Lakers championship teams earlier in the decade did.

By: DrRayEye

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 20:13:36 +0000

Rob L, I see nothing wrong with the logic of making progressive probabalistic rankings based on cumulative performance comparisons. I was merely trying to point out the simplifications necessary to make such comparisons--and the somewhat solipsistic consequences. When the Mavs keep in their regulars against the Lakers until the last two minutes (when they appear to have already won the game early in the 4th), it strongly suggests that they want to get home court advantage in the playoffs over resting thier veterans. It also pads their point spread. Other teams may want to rest their veterans as much as possible so that they have another gear available for the playoffs. Even though virtually any "statmaster" who plays games with outcomes as the season progresses will be forced to rate a team like the Mavs very highly--right now #1, the playoffs might be another story. Nobody on the Lakers has been overplayed. Lamar has had a month off, Kwame comes and goes--even Kobe has missed games. Against some opponents, the Lakers use two "teams" interchangeably. Experienced teams like San Antonio, Miami, and even Detroit may have an extra gear for the playoffs. The high flying Mavs and Suns may find that their playoff gear boxes are stripped and that they need a new tranny.

By: Rob L.

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 18:18:00 +0000

Jay - You're right. Head-to-Head should be a component of any ranking system. In this article, I was merely trying to "point out" that the point differential argument for placing the Suns #1 in the West had some holes in it.

By: jay

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 17:45:12 +0000

No mention of head-to-head? Any rankings formula needs a head-to-head component. Right now every thing is pretty close between the Suns & Mavs--basicallly the same records, point differ., & both teams are equally hot. Well, then let's go to the ultimate tiebreaker--head-to-head. Mavs are 2-0, one road win, one home. In the Suns' current hot streak of the last 33 games where they have beaten all comers home or away, I find it interesting that one of their 2 losses came vs. the Mavs.

By: Craig W.

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 15:38:29 +0000

With two developing big men, LO, and the best player in the game I think the Lakers have a chance. Oh, and that doesn't even count the coach. Mostly statistics are only used to boost the fans view of their particular team. They really don't say too much about injuries or player development (a big deal for younger teams) or system vs free-flowing situations. Me, I just look at each game as it's played and notice what I said in the 1st sentence + we are a young team and inconsistent. Trying to figure out whether we are .5pts better or worse than Dallas/Phx/S.A. seems like too much work for me.

By: Rob L.

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 08:03:02 +0000

DrRayEye - You are correct that the ratings of NBA teams fluctuate during the season. While technically, the Suns were not a top 10 team when the Lakers beat them, they're still the same team. Does it make more sense to count that win against the Suns as a vs top 10 win, or as a vs sub-16 win? Record rankings from early season are quite volatile. I think it makes more sense to go with the longer term ranking. The ranking that comes from about a half-season's worth of play at this point. It is my feeling that, no matter the Suns relative standing when the Lakers played them on the first day of the season, the Suns should count as a top ten team. This is an attempt to counteract the small sample size problem you cite.

By: DrRayEye

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 07:14:27 +0000

Like the "computers" in college football rankings, the NBA rankings become more and more circular as more and more assumptions are being made. For example, the standings of all of the teams fluctuate. When the Lakers defeated the Suns early in the season, the Sun were NOT one of the top teams. When the Lakers defeated Utah early in the season, they may have been #1. When the Lakers lost to Memphis at Memphis, the team had been changed and was on a winning streak--likewise the Hornets. By using cumulative rankings to retroactively rate whether a top or bottom team was played, teams are gradually leveraged into more and more static possibly questionable evaluations as the season goes on. We "know" that the Hornets will win more games when two more starters return, but will that be true? We "knew" that the Lakers would lose without Kobe and win when he came back--except it didn't always happen that way. With such small sample sizes made into similar proportions and differences, we can't reject the hypothesis that the differences and fluctuations are within the range of chance. Your statistician says that Dallas is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the Lakers, and the Riverboat Gambler (who makes prediction s with no knowledge based on chance and always says that there is no REAL difference) says the measured proportional differences from a sample of games could be chance fluctuations from a binomial 50/50. If one calculates the 90% confidence limits for Dallas proportions, it will overlap with many other presumably "lesser" teams that it cannot statistically separate itself from. The apparent superiority of certain teams (which may be real) are statistically close enough so that (with a small sample size with a mean proportion that fluctuates substantially by chance alone) may not be statistically REAL. It sort of agrees with the common sense of the fan. If the Lakers make it to the playoffs with similar proportions and proportional differences compared to the other teams, they will have very similar likelihoods statistically of winning it all! We can dream, can't we?

By: Cary D

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 05:36:14 +0000

Good argument for the Colts vs. glaring problem: the Colts just made it to the Super Bowl!!!! the Suns have way too much talent to not keep them in that short list of contenders. 2 straight years of being in the Western Conf. Finals is also a terrific feat. I'm with you, I don't care about the Suns and I always root against them, but it is quite hard to write them off as a one trick pony. This is also the first year they really have a refined and healthy roster as well. Imagine Amare in that series last year against us! The one thing i will say is that their numbers are misleading in point differential, and the Mavs do have more QUALITY wins. The Mavs also beat the Suns twice, which cannot be forgotten in this statistical debate.

By: paul

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 04:50:26 +0000

Raw point differential is especially inaccurate when ignoring the total points in those games. I believe most stat gurus call this a team's "pace."

By: Exick

Thu, 25 Jan 2007 02:42:47 +0000

"Personally, Iâ€(image) m sick of all the Nash/Suns glorification. How is he not the Payton Manning of the NBA (Simmons needs to write this article, and will when the Lakers bounce Pheonix from the playoffs :) ?" I've tried to make this argument with people with little luck. Not so much that I think either of them are chokers, but I wondered where all the "Nash can't win the big one" articles were. The ones about Manning were all over the place, but somehow Nash has avoided them.