Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Recent scoring margin + schedule strength for every team

When at ESPN, John Hollinger found (not surprisingly) that recent performance mattered more in determining a team's current strength than dated performance from early in the season. He reflected this in his Power Rankings by including both team scoring margin and strength of schedule (SOS) over their most recent 25% of games, as well as season-long margin and SOS.

So how does every team stack up right now in recent performance?

Having trouble seeing this chart? Click here.)

Some takeaways:

  • It's interesting that so much attention has been paid to the Heat's recent malaise, when the Pacers' woes have been both deeper and more sustained. Indiana is 21st in offensive efficiency for the season as a whole, and bottom-five over the past month. And that's despite paying a Charmin-soft schedule. Paul George and Roy Hibbert have both really cratered since the first two months. It's not an exaggeration to say this offense is really only good at one thing right now: getting to the free-throw line (and hitting those freebies at an excellent 78% rate).
  • Most of the teams in the top and right sections won't surprise most viewers, but... holy Bobcats! As Zach Lowe detailed this week, the Al Jefferson-fueled offense and a shockingly elite defense have combined to create a real, viable playoff team. This squad won't be an easy out for anyone in the playoffs.
  • Hmmm, lots of blue circles in the "good areas", and lots of red circles in the bad areas. The gap between the East and West has actually closed just a teensy bit over the past month or so, but it's still ginormous.
  • I don't know what to say about the Sixers. Their recent scoring margin is an entire standard deviation lower than every other team in the NBA. In case you're not well-versed in statistics, that is comically, awe-inspiringly awful. They're the worst offensive team by a mile, and since the calendar turned to 2014, also the worst defense. Someday Michael Carter-Williams is going to be part of a really good team, but I suspect he'll still be haunted by nightmares of 2013-14.
Data source: Hollinger Power Rankings

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