Saturday, December 7, 2013

NBA Rankings Now Available

NBA team rankings for the 2013-2014 season are now available (they've been available for a few weeks now, but I've been trying to see if I can fix the issues where some users can't view the table). My rankings are an attempt to reverse engineer what the betting market "thinks" are the best and worst teams. See here for more background, or my Methodology page for a broader overview.

Just mouse over the column headings for a description of what they mean. Each metric has an associated sparkline showing the season-to-date trajectory.

I've also updated The Ticker as well, which displays each team's progress over time in chart form (there are also alternate versions with additional detail).

The Pacers crash the party

For much of last season, the Heat, Thunder, and Spurs dominated the top 3 spots in the rankings. Owing to their strong 17-2 start, the Pacers have displaced the Heat in that top 3 (for now).

The market is still playing "wait and see" on a few teams this season, despite stronger than expected starts. The Lakers are above 0.500, with the 12th best record in the league, but are ranked #22 according to the market. It will be interesting to see how the rankings move in response to Kobe Bryant's return.

The 76ers have also performed somewhat above expectations (although 7-13 is nothing to brag about), but the market has stayed firm in its estimation of Philly as a bottom dweller this season.

What the hell, here's a look at the playoff picture

As I did last year, I provide playoff seed projections in the ranking table, where I simulate future games using my team rankings, and summarize each team's playoff seed probability in a bite sized bar graph. Here is the outlook for the Brooklyn Nets:



Playoff seeds 1-8 are on the right in blue. The 9-15 lottery seeds are in red on the left. Despite the Nets' disappointing start, they still have an 18% shot of making the playoffs.

I add a random term to each team's rankings for each simulation to account for unforeseen movements in team strength. Given that, these projections still feel a bit overconfident at this point in the season. As a Pacers fan, I would love to think that they have an 88% chance at the #1 seed, but I think the Heat probably have a larger share of that probability than what my model gives them credit for.

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