Monday, February 23, 2009

Retrodicting the 2008-09 Season With Statistical Plus/Minus

What follows is not an excuse for this but part of examination of why I was so wrong about a team I watch and think about so, so much.

Neil Paine's post on the Basketball-Reference.com blog (HT: True Hoop) may be of interest primarily to those with interest in and/or tolerance for math-intensive advanced stats. I'm not that strong on the math, myself, but I find this stuff fascinating and not just because the Hawks, with 28 games remaining, are 2 wins away from matching my predicted win total for the season.

As the tables at the bottom of the post show, even if you knew before the season started the exact year-to-date minutes played for the Hawks and were using what appears to be a fairly useful prediction tool, you might predict the Hawks to have the opposite of their record (22-32) through 54 games.

Why?

Well, further down, Paine lists (by team) each players' actual vs. expected Statistical Plus/Minus Score (SPM). Of the eight players in the Hawks' primary rotation, Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, and Flip Murray are all outperforming their projections; Zaza Pachulia is matching his projection almost exactly; Josh Smith and Mo Evans are underperforming* their projections.

*Both Bibby and Horford are outperforming their projections by a greater margin than Evans and Smith's combined underperformance.

I don't think it's news that the Hawks are playing well because a majority of their players are having better than average years by their various individual standards. For Williams and Horford there's reason to believe this season will serve more to raise their established standards rather than live forever as a career year.

For Bibby and Murray, who will both be free agents at season's end, I maintain my hope that the Hawks don't pay for or expect to see a season this good from either player in 2009-10 or any year thereafter. I don't envy Rick Sund at all.

1 comment:

ATL_Hawk_Luv said...

Completely irrelevant to this post - Bret, give me a shout when you get a chance...I don't have an e-mail for you, but I have a blog related question.

Larry 'How bad is it when you are hoping for Mikki Moore or Robert Horry to sign with your team? Or what if we had just talked to McDyess so he could see that Detroit wasn't a contender this year' Stewart