I never understood those basketball purist snobs who see the NBA as something that would make James Naismith roll over in his peach-basket-woven coffin.
I love the Association more than cotton candy ice cream on a hot day and I’m right more often than wrong about how the ball bounces in David Stern’s puppet theatre.
To get us ready for the Christmas Day kickoff, I put together some of the more intriguing statistics from last campaign.
There’s been plenty of player turnover and new coaches in new cities, but it never hurts to look back at last season to see how teams stacked up in different areas of the game.
Hoopsstats.com does an excellent job detailing the best benches in the league. The site uses a long formula to come up with a plus/minus number for every team in the league. Here are Hoopsstats.com’s top 5 benches from last season:
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs
Dallas Mavericks: Average age: 29.5. Seven rotation guys over 30.
Boston Celtics: Average age: 28.4. Six rotation guys over 30.
Miami Heat: Average age: 28.4. Five or six rotation guys over 30.
Los Angeles Lakers: Average age: 27.3. Seven guys 30 years old or older in rotation.
PACE + TRUE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
ESPN.com NBA writer John Hollinger produces all sorts of goodies for stats heads. Pace combined with True shooting percentage is a really good way to handicap for over/under bettors.
Pace is determined by the average number of possessions a team uses per game. True shooting percentage (TR%) is a combination of field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting percentages.
Here are three teams that finished close to the top in both categories along with their O/U and ATS records from last season.
Denver Nuggets: No. 1 in pace, No. 3 in true shooting (37-42-3 O/U, 44-34-4 ATS)
Phoenix Suns: No. 8 in pace, No. 8 in true shooting (41-41 O/U, 37-42-3 ATS)
Houston Rockets: No. 10 in pace, No. 7 in true shooting (41-41-0 O/U, 43-37-2 ATS)
- The Milwaukee Bucks had the worst TS% and were the second-best under bet last season (32-50).
- The New Orleans Hornets had the second-lowest pace in the Association and finished with the best under mark (31-51).
Covers Expert Marc Lawrence is a database guru and luckily he helps us out with requests all the time. He dug up these goodies for us on teams that did the best and worst on the second night of a back-to-back set last season.
Best SU: Lakers (12-3)
Best ATS: Grizzlies (16-3-2)
Worst SU: Nets (3-19)
Worst ATS: Pacers (5-16)
- Two older teams had completely different results on the second game of a back-to-back. The Celtics went 8-11 SU and 5-14 ATS, while the Mavericks went 14-6 SU and 13-7 ATS.
- Overall in league play home teams were 87-95-3 ATS while road teams were 208-196-9 ATS.
HANDICAPPING STAR PLAYERS
They say the NBA is all about star players but twice last season we saw teams lose an All-Star caliber guy and have remarkable ATS success afterward.
The Denver Nuggets went 32-25 SU and 24-30-3 ATS with Carmelo Anthony but played much better once he was shipped off to New York. Denver went 18-7 SU and 20-4-1 ATS the rest of the season sans Melo.
The Grizzlies lost Rudy Gay, who was enjoying a career year, midseason but finished as the best bet in the league and upset two teams on their way to the Western Conference finals. In all games without Gay, the Grizzlies went 27-12-1 ATS.
We’ve discussed which players are worth the most to a pointspread and what the value is before but 82games.com takes a different approach. It looks at each player’s production and puts it against the opponent and also factors in the team’s success with the player on the court and without him.
Anyway, it all boils down to a simple rating and there are some surprises at the top of the list.
Coaching doesn’t mean as much in pro basketball as it does in college, but bettors should pay attention when there’s been a switch on the sidelines. Here’s a quick look at the new head coaches and the area of their expertise:
Lakers: Mike Brown, defense.
Timberwolves: Rick Adelman, offense.
Raptors: Dwayne Casey, defense.
Pistons: Lawrence Frank, defense.
Rockets: Kevin McHale, former GM of the Timberwolves
Warriors: Mark Jackson, Jackson jiggle
BEST AND WORST
Best home court
Chicago Bulls: 36-5 SU, 24-15-2 ATS
Worst home court
Utah Jazz: 21-20 SU, 15-26 ATS
Best road team
San Antonio Spurs: 25-16 SU, 25-15-1 ATS
Worst road team
Washington Wizards: 3-38 SU, 13-28 ATS
Best rebounding team:
Chicago Bulls: plus-5.8 differential.
Worst rebounding team:
Golden State Warriors: minus-4.3 differential.