Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top Games of the 2013 NBA Season (so far)

Win probability graphs have been updated with last night's New Years Eve games. To start off the New Year, I thought I would highlight some of the top (and bottom) games of the NBA season.

The Most Exciting Games

Each win probability graph has an associated "Excitement Index" (EI), which just sums up how far the win probability graph travelled over the course of the game. The most exciting game of the year, according to EI, was the December 2 triple overtime game between the Bulls and the Pelicans. The distance travelled by the win probability graph covered 16.9 "wins". The margin graph (shown below the win probability graph) shows that this was a game filled with multiple lead changes, particularly in the 4th quarter and overtime.

Ryan Anderson was the MVP of the game, amassing 85.9% in total Win Probability Added (WPA), in part due to two key three pointers, late in both the second and third overtimes.

Here are the top 5 games of the season, according to the Excitement Index:


The Biggest Comebacks

I can also use my win probability graph to quantify the biggest comebacks of the NBA season. The "Comeback Factor" for each game takes the winner of the game and calculates its odds of winning at its lowest point in win probability. The higher the number, the bigger the comeback.

With 2:10 left in regulation, the 76ers faced a 10 point deficit against the Bucks. Their odds of winning were 1000-1. The 76ers ended the 4th quarter on a 14-4 run to force overtime, thanks in part to two late three pointers from game MVP Spencer Hawes. The 76ers went on win handily in overtime.

Here are the top 5 comebacks of the season:


The Worst Game of the Season

The worst game of the season, as measured by the Excitement Index, was the Celtics' December 8 blowout of the Knicks, with an EI of just 1.7 (the theoretical minimum EI is 0.5). 

As I have mentioned before, both the Excitement Index and Comeback Factor definitions were stolen from inspired by the Advanced NFL Stats win probability graphs.

2 comments:

  1. How would the Cavs' win against the Magic the othernight compare on the comeback scale? If anything it seemed even more improbable than Bucks-76ers...

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    1. You are correct. I round my win probabilities to three digits. The Cavs win probability was literally zero with 1:03 to go. It's why the comeback factor shows zero for that game (I'll try to fix that).

      See here for a nice breakdown: Anatomy of a Collapse

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