Monday, January 14, 2008

Scoring Differential: Truth In Numbers

In the past, scoring differential has been as good as anything at predicting playoff teams. It's pretty simple. It's just how many points a team has scored versus how many points a team has allowed. We're not talking Wages of Wins complexity, here. But it is interesting to look at scoring differential and see where teams end up. It doesn't necessarily mean anything, and there are caveats on anything you can draw from this, the same as with the wins and losses. But when you're looking at indicators of quality, put simply, they make more buckets than they let their opponents. It's a pretty gosh darn good measure. Here's the Eastern Conference (stats thanks to Yahoo! Sports) before Monday night's games:

Team Pts
Boston Celtics 11.6
Detroit Pistons 8.5
Orlando Magic 2.8
Washington Wizards 2.5
Toronto Raptors 1.8
Atlanta Hawks -0.5
Indiana Pacers -1.6
Cleveland Cavaliers -2.5
Philadelphia 76ers -2.6
Chicago Bulls -3.8
New Jersey Nets -4.1
Charlotte Bobcats -4.2
Milwaukee Bucks -5.6
Miami Heat -6.1
New York Knicks -7

Things we find interesting here:
  • The Cavaliers are as bad as we keep telling people they are. Which is still not bad enough to miss the playoffs.
  • The Nets are also a bunch of suckheads. This has to catch up with them at some point.
  • The Wizards may be quietly playing better than anyone suspects.

Here's the West:

Team Pts
Los Angeles Lakers 6.6
San Antonio Spurs 5.9
Phoenix Suns 5.2
Dallas Mavericks 5.2
Utah Jazz 4.6
New Orleans Hornets 4
Denver Nuggets 3.3
Houston Rockets 2.1
Golden State Warriors 1.4
Portland Trail Blazers 1.2
Sacramento Kings -2.9
Memphis Grizzlies -4.3
Los Angeles Clippers -5.2
Seattle SuperSonics -7.4
Minnesota Timberwolves -9.6

And from the West we see:

  • The Lakers being up top doesn't surprise us. The Lakers being up top by such a wide margin does.
  • The Hornets don't look so hot on this chart, coming in at the 6 seed.
  • It also bring the Dubs and Blazers back down to Earth a little bit. Now both teams have had hot streaks and cold streaks but the overall numbers suggest a pretty accurate assessment. Slightly better than average. Which to the Dubs translates to "Either really freaking great or so terrifically bad."
Some other general comments.

  • See, we told you the Grizz weren't that bad!
  • You realize it's 4.3 points that separates the Kings from Golden State? Yikes.
  • I know this sounds nuts, but the Knicks may not be as good as we think they are.

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