AFG%

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

— “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here”
Weezer

I find it interesting that Paul Pierce is the only player in the league to currently lead his team in points, rebounds, and assists. There are a few people that lead their team in two stats, Shaq, Garnett, etc., but no one leads in the “big three.” Usually stats like this are meaningless, but it means in a sense that the Celtics don’t have stability at three positions, center, power forward, and point guard. Usually PGs lead their teams in assists, and Cs or PFs lead their teams in rebounds, because that is the nature of their positions.

The Celts have won their past five games. The most impressive is the last one against Minnesota, 80 to 77. As far as I can tell from the box scores, they won despite shooting a lower percentage and having less rebounds. So how did they win? First Boston attempted twice as many three pointers (24 to 12). This lowered their FG%, but increased their adjusted field goal attempts. {Definition: Adjusted FG Percentage = [(PTS – FTM)/(FGA*2)}

Adjusted field goal percentage (AFG%) compensates 3 point shooters for their poor FG%. A FG% of 45% isnt very good for a guy that works primarily in the paint, but is a pretty good percentage for someone that lives beyond the arc. Field goal percentage is a little bit outdated in the modern age due to the added reward of the three point shot. It’s good for players that both don’t shoot any treys. FG% can’t even be used to compare two players that shot some three pointers, unless their ratio of three pointers to two pointers are close.

For example, let’s say player A attempts six layups and hits two. His FG% is 33% (2-6), and he’s scored 4 points. Now player B attempts six three pointers and hits two. Player B’s FG% is still 33%, but this time he’s scored 6 points. Player A’s AFG% is (4-0)/(6*2) or 4/12 or 33%. Player B’s AFG% is (6-0)/(6*2) which is 6/12 or 50%.

AFG% is one of the few “advanced” stats ESPN has on their main stat page. Here’s a quick rundown of the top 25 in this stat:

NAME	................. GP	PPG	FGM	FGA	FG%	PPS*	AFG%
1 S. O'Neal, LAL.....	47	22	8.2	14	0.587	1.57	0.587
2 P. Stojakovic, SAC	61	25.4	8.4	17.6	0.479	1.44	0.567
3 Mark Blount, BOS...	64	9.3	3.8	6.9	0.55	1.33	0.55
4 James Posey, MEM...	63	12.7	4.3	9	0.473	1.42	0.545
5 Yao Ming HOU.......	62	17.5	6.5	12.1	0.539	1.44	0.539
6 D. Marshall, CHI/TOR	63	15.4	6	12.7	0.474	1.21	0.534
7 Nene Hilario, DEN...	59	11.4	4.2	7.8	0.531	1.45	0.531
8 Sam Cassell, MIN....	62	20.6	8	16	0.497	1.29	0.529
9 Erick Dampier, GSW	61	12	4.6	8.8	0.522	1.36	0.522
10 Mike Bibby, SAC....	62	18.4	6.3	14.1	0.451	1.31	0.522
11 A. Jamison, DAL....	62	14.2	5.8	11.2	0.514	1.27	0.52
12 Brad Miller, SAC...	55	15.2	5.6	10.9	0.513	1.4	0.52
13 Steve Nash, DAL....	58	14.6	5	10.9	0.459	1.34	0.519
14 Carlos Boozer, CLE	56	14.9	6.1	11.8	0.517	1.27	0.517
15 Elton Brand, LAC...	49	20.7	7.2	14	0.515	1.47	0.515
16 Jim Jackson, HOU...	61	12.3	4.6	10.9	0.419	1.13	0.512
17 Mike Dunleavy, GSW	54	11.9	4.4	9.9	0.441	1.2	0.51
18 M. Finley, DAL.....	57	19.2	7.3	16.2	0.447	1.18	0.51
19 Kerry Kittles, NJN	62	13.2	5.3	11.7	0.457	1.13	0.51
20 Bobby Jackson, SAC	49	13.9	5.3	12	0.442	1.16	0.509
21 R. Jefferson, NJN	62	17.4	6.4	13	0.491	1.34	0.508
22 Tim Thomas, MIL/NYK	52	14.3	5.4	12	0.455	1.19	0.502
23 K. Van Horn, MIL/NYK	56	16.7	5.9	13.2	0.45	1.27	0.502
24 Gary Payton, LAL...	62	14.8	6	12.7	0.475	1.17	0.501
25 D. Armstrong, NOR	63	10.7	3.8	9.3	0.409	1.15	0.501

It’s no shock to see Shaq and Peja at the top two spots, despite doing it in radically different ways. Shaq has done it without any three pointers, Peja on the other hand shoots his fair share of threes. The biggest benefactor of this is Jim Jackson of Houston. Despite a low FG% (42%), almost half of his shots were for three, and he hits them with a good enough percentage to warrant a spot among the top 25. Even more interesting is Tim Thomas and Keith Van Horn occupying adjacent spots. By the way the column next to AFG%, PPS, is points per shot. This factors in points from free throws as well. Boston’s Mark Blount is #3, but he scores only 9 PPG.

Getting back to the story, the Celtics’ edge in three point shots gave Boston a slight edge, but it wasn’t the only edge. They had a slight edge in turnovers, and went to the charity stripe 8 more times. It doesn’t sound like much, and it wasn’t. They only won by 3 points.

Putbacks

I say why on earth do you revolve around me
Aren?t you aware of the gravity

— Another Satellite
XTC

Since some of you may not have thought to check this blog on a weekend, I’ll make today’s entry short. This way you can catch up on Saturday’s column on Lenny Wilkens (right below this one). I’d like to take a quick look at some previous entries. A few days ago I talked about the Knicks’ chances to win their upcoming games. Well they’ve won all three, despite being statistical underdogs in two of them. In case you were wondering, the chance that they would win all three was only 11%. Now some of you may be dying to email me and tell me that I was wrong to give the Knicks such poor odds. However, 11% isn’t as impossible to overcome as you would think. It’s about the same odds as flipping three coins and getting three heads. Not that bad when you put it in that light.

By the way I’ve checked out the Knicks’ updated chances versus the next two teams. Before they had a 64.9% chance to beat Boston at home, and a 38.2% chance away in Philly. Now that the Knicks and Celtics have won a few games, and the Sixers lost a few, the probabilities are different. New York has almost the same chance against Boston (65.5%) and slightly improved odds against Philly (40.6%). The Knicks have a 27% chance of winning both games. This is a little better than the odds you would get with flipping two coins and getting both heads.

That’s twice where I’ve compared the Knicks’ probability of winning to the flipping of a coin. That makes sense when both teams have similar records. Intuitively, they should have slightly better odds against their next two opponents than a coin flip, since their record is slightly better.



In a few of my previous posts, I’ve talked about fouls. Well if there were an official stat for this blog, it might be the personal foul. In one of these entries, I said in recap of a game:

Nazr Mohammad only scored 2 points because he was in foul trouble all night. If you didn’t watch the game, you would know this by looking at the box score. When someone who would probably play 25-30 minutes, plays only 14 and has 4 fouls in that span, you can conclude that they had foul trouble.

Well unfortunately yesterday’s game was not televised anywhere. Actually I’m sure if I had a satellite dish it would have been on some channel, but there’s a few huge buildings between my roof and their satellite.

In any case I didn’t get to watch the game, but I did listen to it on the radio for a little bit, before getting bored and leaving the house. It’s not the same listening to the radio, because I don’t always trust the announcers’ judgements. Later in the day, I checked the box score to see all of the Knick starters perform well, except for one: Kurt Thomas. His time was limited to 22 minutes due to 5 fouls. Obviously his low minute total was due to his foul trouble. He scored 4 points, and had 8 rebounds. Thinking back I remember the radio announcers saying two things about Kurt. Early in the game they said that Kurt was off to a good start. Later in the second quarter they said he had just received his third foul, which sent him back to the bench, only a few minutes after coming off the bench.

Nazr Mohammed is a good rebounder on both ends of the floor, and a good low post scorer. Kurt Thomas is their best low post defender, gets to the defensive glass, and has a decent outside shot. The Knicks are a much better team with them on the court instead of Mutombo, Harrington, and Sweetney. It’s as simple as when Mohammed and K.Thomas get into foul trouble, which limits their minutes, the Knicks are a weaker team. That’s why it’s so important for these two to keep out of foul trouble.

Lenny Wilkens: Good Or Bad?

captain, there are doubts
regarding
your ability
to lead them
the men

— “Brave Captian”
fIREHOSE

Scott’s guest column yesterday gave me an idea. It seems that Toronto fans aren’t at all pleased with the job Lenny Wilkens did as coach of their team. So far as coach of the Knicks, I’ve had no complaints. Well maybe one, giving any minutes to Moochie Norris instead of Frank Williams. Noticing that the Knicks have a problem in the middle, Lenny tried a few different lineups, including starting Othella Harrington and Michael Sweetney, seeing if they could rise to the task (neither could). He’s settled on Nazr Mohammed as the center, which has added stability to the Knicks.

So how can we tell if a coach is good or bad? Phil Jackson fans will point to his championships with two different teams to attest to his greatness, while those that would mock him as “Chief Big Triangle” will be quick to point out that the credit should go to the great players he’s always had.

Bill James created something called Pythagorean Expected Win Percentage. It basically says that a team should win a certain percentage of their games depending on how many points scored for and against a team has over a season. So another theory (which I will call the Rob Neyer manager theory) says that if a coach consistently wins more games than expected, he’s probably a sound coach when it comes to in game strategies. Digging up Lenny Wilkens’ actual and expected wins I came up with this chart:

Year	Team	WINS	LOSS	ExpW	ExpL	ActW%	ExpW%	DIFF	SIG
1969	SEA	36	46	33	49	.439	.402	+.037	+1
1970	SEA	38	44	38	44	.463	.463	+.000	+0
1971	SEA	47	35	42	40	.573	.512	+.061	+1
1974	POR	38	44	42	40	.463	.512	-.049	-1
1975	POR	37	45	37	45	.451	.451	+.000	+0
1977	SEA	42	18	46	36	.700	.561	+.139	+1
1978	SEA	52	30	49	33	.634	.598	+.037	+1
1979	SEA	56	26	55	27	.683	.671	+.012	+0
1980	SEA	34	48	35	47	.415	.427	-.012	+0
1981	SEA	52	30	53	29	.634	.646	-.012	+0
1982	SEA	48	34	48	34	.585	.585	+.000	+0
1983	SEA	42	40	40	42	.512	.488	+.024	+1
1984	SEA	31	51	24	58	.378	.293	+.085	+1
1986	CLE	31	51	29	53	.378	.354	+.024	+1
1987	CLE	42	40	43	39	.512	.524	-.012	+0
1988	CLE	57	25	62	20	.695	.756	-.061	-1
1989	CLE	42	40	39	43	.512	.476	+.037	+1
1990	CLE	33	49	33	49	.402	.402	+.000	+0
1991	CLE	57	25	57	25	.695	.695	+.000	+0
1992	CLE	54	28	60	22	.659	.732	-.073	-1
1993	ATL	57	25	57	25	.695	.695	+.000	+0
1994	ATL	42	40	45	37	.512	.549	-.037	-1
1995	ATL	46	36	45	37	.561	.549	+.012	+0
1996	ATL	56	26	59	23	.683	.720	-.037	-1
1997	ATL	50	32	53	29	.610	.646	-.037	-1
1998	ATL	31	19	31	19	.620	.620	+.000	+0
1999	ATL	28	54	23	59	.341	.280	+.061	+1
2000	TOR	47	35	48	34	.573	.585	-.012	+0
2001	TOR	42	40	39	43	.512	.476	+.037	+1
2002	TOR	24	58	21	61	.293	.256	+.037	+1

[DIFF is the difference between actual win% and expected win%. SIG means was the difference significant enough to say it was a positive or negative season. I used a .025 difference to determine this. The first four years in italics are when Wilkens was both a player and a coach. I’ll ignore them for now, since we can’t split his contribution as a player from his contribution as a coach.]

So what does this chart tell us about the different stops Lenny has had?

Seattle: 8 seasons, 4 significantly better than expected, 0 worse.
Cleveland: 7 seasons, 2 better, 2 worse.
Atlanta: 7 seasons, 1 better, 3 worse.
Toronto: 3 seasons, 2 better, 0 worse.

According to this Seattle was his best tenure, which most people would agree with since that’s where he won his only championship. It’s ironic that Atlanta shows up as his worst job, since he’s credited with taking an average franchise and turning it into a contender. Even more ironic is Toronto, where he was booed last night, because Wilkens has no negative seasons.

Another way to measure a coach’s effectiveness is how the team performed before and after the coach’s arrival. When Wilkens took over Seattle in 1977 the team changed radically, so it’s impossible to say whether the impact was Wilkens or let’s say Gus Williams. After he left the Sonics, Bernie Bickerstaff took over the reigns. Bickertsaff had the same exact record, despite adding the 4th overall pick Xavier McDaniel to their starting lineup. I would say that this could be a “plus” for Wilkens.

George Karl’s ’85 Cavs bear little resemblance to the ’86 team that Wilkens led. In fact all 5 starters were different, as Ron Harper, Brad Dougherty, and Hotrod Williams all played their first year in the NBA. When he left Cleveland, Mike Fratello won 7 less games the next year. An old Larry Nance played half a season, but the Cavs did make a few additions in Tyrone Hill and Chris Mills, so it’s hard to make a determination either way. You could argue another “plus” or “neutral.”

Wilkens won 14 more games than his predecessor in Atlanta his first year there. Danny Manning was an addition for that team, but I don’t see Manning as making a team 14 games better, so I’ll credit Wilkens with some of this improvement. Lon Kruger won 3 less games than Wilkens, but the team was significantly different, so I can’t credit or condemn Lenny there.

In Toronto Butch Carter’s ’99 team had Tracy McGrady and won 45 games. McGrady left via free agency for Wilkens’ first year, but the coach ended up winning 2 more games than his predecessor. That could be a “plus” as well. As for last year, Vince Carter missing half a season is not enough an excuse for winning only 24 games, and I have to give Wilkens the blame.

The three methods I’ve used:

Visual (a.k.a. my opinion) – Wilkens looks good as the Knicks coach, but it’s very early.
Actual Wins vs. Expected Wins: Good for 2 teams, bad for 1, 1 tenure neutral.
Wilkens’ vs. other coaches with similar teams: 2 to 4 times he was better vs. only 1 worse.

These are only three methods of evaluating a coach, and even though I tried to be as objective as possible and use statistics (except in the first), it’s nearly impossible to get a non-subjective viewpoint of a coach’s impact on a team. Of course I didn’t even touch any other things like player development, rotation management, or chemistry.

As for the Raptor fans dislike of Lenny I can say that it might be warranted. Dean Oliver’s Basketball On Paper goes in depth on the 2002 Raps, if you ever want to read a whole chapter on them. That team had three extended winning and losing streaks. That kind of inconsistent play will draw the ire of fans. Last year’s expectations were much higher than the 24 games he won. It gets worse when the team’s franchise player criticizes the coach.

As for his current role, it’s unknown if Wilkens will be the coach of the Knicks after this year. But as far as I can tell, he’s a good coach for ths team.

International Relations

In the spirit of international friendship between our two nations and because our two favorite teams will be facing each other Friday night, Scott from RaptorBlog.com and I will be swapping blogs for a day. You can catch my blog on the “new” Knicks there.


Cuz this life is too short
To live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless
What are you gonna do?
So say what you want

— “Powerless”
Nelly Furtado

Since I’m guest blogging for Mike, I figured I’d drop some Canadian content on y’all with the opening lyrics. Also, they’re an apt summary of my current state as a Raptors fan. Toronto’s recent injuries and pathetic performance have me feeling powerless and all I can do is bitch about it.

Knicks fans have undoubtedly been watching the Raptors’ recent struggles with great interest due to the effect they have on your playoff position. Toronto has lost 10 of their last 11 games with six of those losses occurring while Vince Carter and Jalen Rose were sidelined. Jalen is on the IL recovering from his broken hand but Vince is back in uniform. Even though he’s still suffering from his ankle injury from two weeks ago, he’s still the key to any hopes we have of making the post-season.

In his current condition, Carter does not have the explosiveness to beat your defenders off the dribble nor does he have the mobility to defend your quick guards. It won’t surprise me if Allan Houston gets the open looks he needs on Friday to rediscover his shooting stroke. Raptors’ coach Kevin O’Neill’s best bet would be to put Morris Peterson on H20, since Mo Pete is our best perimeter defender right now.

Down low, Chris Bosh will probably be unable to stop Nazr Mohammed and Kurt Thomas from dunking and rebounding at will. Bosh is woefully undersized at center and his bum ankle negates any athletic advantage he might have. I’m not particularly hopeful for a repeat performance of his 18-point, eight-rebound, four-block performance against your team in January. In his current emaciated, crippled condition, he’s as well-suited to play center as Al Sharpton is to become your next president.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if the Raptors have any hope whatsoever of preventing an old-fashioned New York beatdown at the Air Canada Centre. If Toronto has a secret weapon, it’s Donyell Marshall. Jalen Rose was the biggest name in November’s trade with Chicago, but Marshall has proven to be the true stud in this deal. He’s averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a Raptor while shooting 42 percent from three-point range. Donyell is our “stealth bomber”. Several times a game, Vince will drive and draw a double-team before dishing out to Marshall for a wide-open trey. The Thomas boys would be wise to stick to Donyell like glue rather than worry about Carter taking it to the hole. These days, his drives are mostly decoys.

I’m not even going to bother discussing Friday’s point guard matchup. Marbury vs. Palacio is more lopsided than a dance-off between Usher and William Hung. On Wednesday night, Starbury outscored Milt 36-0. I just threw up in my mouth while writing that last sentence.

Once your current group gets used to playing with each other, I think the Knicks could really make some noise in the post-season. Unfortunately, I can’t bring myself to root for your team even after the Raptors are inevitably stomped in the first round like a narc at a biker rally. I could never support a team run by a cold-hearted snake like Isiah Thomas. Oh, you’re cheering him now. But one day, you’ll see what a complete bastard, what a psychotic megalomaniac he is. And when that day comes, I’ll laugh and have a sandwich. Isiah has failed at everything he’s done since he retired from his playing career. It will be particularly sweet to see him crucified once and for all by the ruthless vipers in the New York media. Peter Vescey is sharpening his knives as I write this, waiting for the right moment to strike the killing blow…

Whoa, sorry about that. I got a little carried away with my Zeke-hate there. Anyway, good luck on Friday. But don’t count on seeing too many “Welcome back, Lenny” signs in the stands. The only reason we’re glad to see him again is that he’s coaching our opponents this time.

Email Scott

OR

Illadelph

Aiyyo I’m all the way way, Phil Phil-lay-lay
People wanna see the way the Illadel play
Yo, look in the mirror, watch what yourself say

— “Dynamite”
The Roots

In our continuing saga, Nazr Mohammed stays out of foul (4) trouble to play 40 minutes. For those without a calculator (or any semblance of math skills), his average last night of 4.8 PF/48min is much lower than his season average (5.8). It could have been even lower except he picked up a foul on a weak call on a loose ball. The Sixer defender (Dalembert?) was falling on the ground without control of the ball, and Nazr just took a swipe at it. If I recall correctly, that was his third foul, and he came out of the game. The last time Nazr played 40 minutes was on January 21, 2002, more than two years ago. It was his third 40+ minute game in a 4 game span. In those 4 games, he averaged 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Othella Harrington and Kurt both were in foul trouble. ‘Thella had 5 fouls in 14 minutes. That’s an average of 17PF in 48min! He scored a grand total of 0 points. His days as the backup PF are numbered. You can see that Wilkens is trying to get Sweetney more minutes, because he would love to have Sweetney as the primary backup. It’s just that the rookie out of Georgetown isn’t ready yet. Wilkens even tried to start Sweetney, but that was a disaster.

The case against Othella Harrington being around much longer keeps growing. Consider:

  • He makes stupid fouls, and the Knicks already have enough big guys to send them into the penalty every quarter.
  • Their most prized rookie (Sweetney) plays the same position.
  • Isaiah Thomas is trying to make the team younger, and Harrington is 30.
  • Vin Baker might sign with the Knicks.
  • Rasheed Wallace has said he would like to sign with the Knicks.
  • Next year will be the last year of his contract.

I doubt he’ll be wearing a Knick uniform next year. His $3.15 million dollar expiring contract will be attractive to a team looking for a little cap space.

One more thing: don’t miss tomorrow’s column, with a special post for the Friday game against Toronto.

Miss Cleo or KnickerBlogger?

you can’t tell the future in a cookie
but do you ever get the hint?
and you can place your hand on a crystal ball
do you ever think you’ll win?

— “Tales From Tomorrow”
Pulsars

Today Lenny Wilkens proclaimed (for the second time) that Nazr Mohammed will be the Knicks starting center. I’m glad I predicted in my last column that he would be the Knicks starter. Of the numerous articles I’ve read, none have mentioned the one problem that keeps Nazr from being the Knicks’ starter: his foul trouble. Here’s a quick recap of Nazr’s Knick history:

2/20 – His first game as a Knick, Mohammed backs up Mutombo. Nazr plays 17 minutes, but commits 4 fouls. He only scores 2 points, but has 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.

2/22 – Again the backup, Nazr only plays 12 minutes, and again he gets 6 rebounds.

2/24 – Wilkens decides to make Mohammed the starter (for the first time). He plays well for 33 minutes, scoring 15 points, and grabbing 8 rebounds. He stays out of foul trouble, with only 2 PFs.

2/25 – Nazr starts again. This is the game Tim Thomas hurts his elbow, and the Knicks are shorthanded. Mohammed’s time is limited to 17 minutes due to 4 fouls.

2/27 – Unhappy with Mohammed’s foul trouble, and fed up with Mutombo’s inability to cover his own man, Wilkens plays Kurt Thomas at center, and Harrington at PF. Nazr plays well of the bench for 23 minutes, with 12 rebounds and 5 points (and only 2 fouls). Harrington shows he’s not the answer as the starting PF.

2/29 – Wilkens continues with his Kurt Thomas at center (again) experiment, but this time Sweetney starts at PF. The rookie gets into foul trouble quickly in the first quarter, and the PF/C minutes are split between Harrington (8), Mutombo (14), and Nazr (17). Nazr is a non-factor with only 2 points and 2 rebounds.

3/03 – Mohammed to start at home against the Sixers.

In his 6 games, Mohammed has had 2 good games, 2 games where he’s had foul trouble, and 2 non-factor games due to not enough minutes. If being in foul trouble in 2 out of 4 or 6 games seems to be a lot, it’s because it is. His average this year of 5.8PF/48min is below his career average of 6.1. In case you think this might be inflated due to his limited minutes (small sample size), when he started 73 games in ’01, he averaged 5.6. Keith Van Horn who was criticized for committing dumb fouls, only had 4.6FP/48min. Across the river, Jason Collins (5.2) and Kenyon Martin (4.8) foul less than Mohammed. The Knicks have a problem in this area, since Sweetney (6.0) and Harrington (7.3) are also foul prone. Only Deke stays out of trouble with 4.5PF/48min. I guess arguing with the refs on every play pays off for Mt. Mutombo.

At this moment, the only thing stopping Nazr Mohammed from being the Knicks starting center is himself. I think even if Nazr can’t stay on the court, he’ll still start, since the Knicks don’t have any options in this area. I’ll be shocked if Mutombo or Harrington starts again (unless players get injured). If Sweetney develops into a solid contributor, then Wilkens might be pushed into putting him into the starting role, and moving Kurt to center. However I don’t think that will happen this year.

Mohammed would be smart to make a name for himself now, before Vin Baker comes to town. If he?s plays well and becomes entrenched as the starter, it will be harder for Baker to take that spot away. That’s the only legitimate threat Mohammed has, other than the officials.

The Next 5 Games

There was something I really wanted to show you
But I just can’t find it

— “Can’t Find It”
Smoking Popes

I was reading the newspaper this morning (online of course), and one of the lines caught my eyes:

SOFT SCHEDULE: All of the Knicks’ next five games are against teams with losing records.

The sentence implies that the Knicks will be at an advantage their next few games, since they are playing “bad” teams. But is this really true? There is a well known formula that you can use to try to predict who will win a certain matchup. According to Dean Oliver:

In a 0.500 league, i.e., where all we have are the overall records and no information about home court advantage, etc.:

Win%A_B = [Win%A*(1-Win%B)]/[Win%A*(1-Win%B)+(1-Win%A)*Win%B],

where Win%A_B is the chance that A will beat B, Win%A is A’s winning percentage against the league, and Win%B is B’s winning percentage against the league.

So I took the Knicks next 5 opponents, and plugged their records into a spreadsheet. Using the above equation, I was able to figure out what the Knicks’ chances are to win each game (KN_w%).

Knicks Opponent	W	L	Pct	KN_w%
 Philadelphia	24	36	.400	.527
 Toronto Raps	25	34	.424	.503
 Washington	19	39	.328	.604
 Boston Celts	26	36	.419	.507
 Philadelphia	24	36	.400	.527

According to this equation, the Knicks have about an even chance at beating the Raptors and the Celtics. They have slightly better odds against the Sixers (twice), and pretty good odds against the Wizards. In fact according to this, the Knicks should be favorites in 3 of the five games, and at least even in the other two. However, a keen eye might notice that this equation doesn’t care who is at home or away. If teams do better at home, wouldn’t we want to take account of this?

The answer is yes. Since I already had the NBA standings in my spreadsheet, I decided to calculate the home records for whole league. The home team in the NBA this year wins 64% of the time. That seems to be a huge advantage, so can’t we account for this in our matchup equation? Luckily someone already thought of this as well. Back to Dean’s web page:

For example, if Team A is the home court team and Win%H is the percentage of times the home team wins, we have

Win%A_B = [Win%A*(1-Win%B)*Win%H]/[Win%A*(1-Win%B)*Win%H+(1-Win%A)* Win%B*(1-Win%H)]

So recalculating:

H?	Knicks Opponent	W	L	Pct	KN_w%	KN_w%lgw
H	 Philadelphia	24	36	.400	.527	.667
A	 Toronto Raps	25	34	.424	.503	.360
A	 Washington	19	39	.328	.604	.459
H	 Boston	Celts	26	36	.419	.507	.649
A	 Philadelphia	24	36	.400	.527	.382
Home teams in bold

Now things have radically changed. The Knicks are substantial favorites in their two home games against the Sixers and the Celts. They are underdogs against the other three teams, and substantially more against the Raptors and Sixers. What’s especially noteworthy is that they play the Sixers twice. Against Philly, they go from being a 67% team at home to a 38% team on the road. Also in a neutral site, they are most likely to beat Washington, but accounting for home court advantage, they are no longer the favorite.

Of course these are just percentages. The Knicks could win all 5 games (1 in 37 chance), or they could loose all 5 (1 in 40 chance). Going back to the newspaper quote, you might expect the Knicks to win 3 or 4 of their next 5 games, but in reality they’re expected to only win 2 or 3.

On a final note, this equation doesn’t take into account many factors. The two most important I can think of are injuries, and whether the records used are indicative of a team’s true strength. For example this Knick team is radically different from the one that started 2-8. Let’s say with the additions of Marbury, Hardaway, Nazr, Tim Thomas, and Lenny Wilkens the Knicks are better than their record. If they were let’s say a .500 team, things would change even more. The Knicks would become heavy favorites at home against Philly (73%) and Boston (71%), slight favorites away against Washington (53%), and slight underdogs against Philly (45%) and Toronto (43%).