Bucks Diary

Friday, October 31, 2008

T minus 37 hours to Opening Night at the BC

"Overture... current, lights... this is it, the night of nights..." T minus 37 hours until the Scotty Bucks make their home debut at the BC against the Toronto Raptors. Are you ready?? (That's what they ask in the sweet intro they just put up on Bucks.com. Its got a 70s psychedelic feel to it). Get pumped BucksNation. I'm totally pumped for Opening Night... especially after the display of "Scotty Ball" defense we saw in Oklahoma the other night. It was stifiling!

I've got no specific subject to cover today, but I just wanted to post quick before I have to go out on the road. Hopefully I will think of something, because I want to do some major posting this weekend. I might even have my first PVOA Power Rankings up... using efficiency numbers from the late preseason and the early season games.

Rock the Green and Red!! If anyone is going to Opening Night at the Bradley, please post a comment.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big Night for Bango's New D: Total Win Contribution Boxscore from Game 2

I finally completed the Total Win Contribution boxscore from last night's Bucks win. The boxscore shows what would have been obvious to anyone watching: the Bucks defense, not its offense, won last night's game.

Remember Nintendo's NHL hockey? Whenever you finished a game, you would see 3 "Stars of the Game". Well, whenever the Bucks win this season, and provided I complete a TWC boxscore afterward, I am going to award 3 "BucksDiary Stars of the Game" to the 3 Most Valuable Bucks, as mathematically determined by Total Win Contribution. Here are the 3 MVBs from last night's game:

BucksDiary Stars of the Game:

1. Richard Jefferson (+0.996)
2. Luke Ridnour (+0.698)
3. Andrew Bogut (+0.451)

Notes on the TWC boxscore results:

1. Last night's result was actually a combination of the Bucks defense and the Thunder's udderly incompetent offensive display. Kevin Durant was brutal (I may have a post comparing him to Tony Mandarich later today). Jeff Green continues to be useless... only PG Westbrook, among their young talent, seemed to show a pulse. The NBA really screwed OKC. They should have the Hornets playing their now, instead they have, essentially, the Supersonics. So they traded one of the NBA's rising young teams for a collection of junk. Nice job, Stern.

2. Last night I almost decided to stop doing the TWC boxscores and just go back to comparative Win Contribution boxscores, like I did for the NBA Finals last season. TWC's take too long... Comparative WC boxscores would be a lot quicker. But today I decided I wanted to keep doing as many of the TWC boxscores as possible. Why? If you just looked at a comparative WC boxscore, you would probably not pick up on the fact that Ridnour, Bogut, and Moute all had huge games. None of them shined offensively, but defensively they were all big.

3. Special commedation to Charlie Bell. He was the Bucks MHP (Most Harmful Player) on Opening Night, but he bounced back huge last night. He and Richard Jefferson were the only "+/-" players on the Bucks. ("+/-" means they were above the average Win Score at their position on offense, and their counterpart opponents were below the average Win Score on defense... Ridnour's box makes it look like he was a third "+/-", but he was actually just average on offense, so technically he was not a "+/-" last night).

4. The first shall be last: Redd and Gadzuric were two of the few Bucks who had good offensive nights in the Opener, but both had very poor offensive nights last night.

5. If you look at the bottom of the TWC boxscore, you will notice that the Bucks offensive WC was just the same as last year's Bucks. It was the defense that carried the day. I like that, because defense is a much more stable platform on which to build a team. It doesn't go into slumps, as they say.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Postgame Notes: Game 2 vs OKC Thunder

My pregame "PVOA-based" prediction was the Bucks would win the game, 95-91. I was off by 3 on the Bucks score and -4 on the Thunder score, but I got the ultimate result correct. Pretty good.

The game was obviously decided by either the Bucks defense or the Thunder's incompetence. Its hard to say for sure. I texted that question to the Diesel during the game (he's got impeccable basketball judgment) and even he said "Unsure".

One thing is sure. The Thunder sucked. Their team Win Score was an unbelievably bad 20.5. Going by last season's NBA average team Win Score per game (43.6), the Thunder averaged a remarkable -4.6 Win Score per on-court player. That is bad to the bone (by the way, that is the Milwaukee Bucks team Defensive Win Score, meaning the Bucks defensive Win Contributions will be simply awesome).

The Return of RJ???
Wow was it great to see the RJ of three seasons ago show up for the first time in a Bucks uniform. Jefferson had an Offensive Win Score of +7.8. When you figure in his percentage of playing time, that computes to a huge Win Contribution of +1.130. Of course I temper myself because he was matched up against last season's Bizarro MVP, Jeff Green. But still, he hadn't done it against anyone yet so it was great to see. Go RJ!!

Redd, how bout some boards, buddy??
I hate to be negative on such a positive night for the Green and Red, but what the hell is with Michael Redd grabbing a big ZERO rebounds?? Redd was brilliant in the opener, that's for sure, but tonight his offense was awful evidenced by his Offensive Win Score of -7.41. His numbers were so low because, besides shooting the ball, he was unproductive. He's the team's highest paid player so I think I am within my rights to demand that he bring it every night, and tonight he did not.

When did Ridnour become Rodman?
Tonight Luke Ridnour demonstrated the value of rebounding when you can't score. He was pathetic offensively, but for the second straight night he was all over the boards (for a guy his size), grabbing 6 rebounds. That boarding effort gave him an Offensive Win Score of +0.0. That's how you can contribute and give your team a chance to win when your offensive game aint working.

Good game for Lue
Tyronn Lue has established himself as the backup point guard. Tonight the veteran had an excellent game, scoring a +3.0 Offensive Win Score. We need good play from the point, and tonight he provided it.

Dont get down on his Royal Highness
Coach Skiles said he loved Luc Richard Moute's performance in the preseason, but he wanted to see if it would carry to the regular season. Thus far it sort of hasn't but I hope Coach Skiles doesnt give up on the Rook because he can play and he is going to be a very important Milwaukee Buck in the years to come.

Where'd Joe go?
We are witnessing one of the perks of having an established coach at the helm. On a team with the Bucks modest prospects, there is normally enormous political pressure to play a high draft pick whether he deserves the minutes or not. Last season Coach K, being a rookie coach, was forced to play high pick Yi Jianlian. As my Win Profiles showed, Jianlian had a negative impact on the team. He was given minutes he probably did not deserve.

Coach Skiles, faced with the same situation and a similarly unready player in lottery pick Joe Alexander, has thus far resisted any political pressure to play Joe Alexander. Playing Alexander would hurt the Bucks and Skiles knows it, and, more importantly, has the juice to avoid it.

The 2007-08 Bizarro MVP
As you remember, my "Bizarro MVP" for last season was Thunder SF/PF Jeff Green. He had the largest negative impact of any player in the NBA. He's at it again. Against the Bucks tonight, Green recorded an absurdly bad Offensive Win Score of -12.1, and an Offensive Win Contribution of -1.379. And, when you figure that Bucks SF Richard Jefferson was his Counterpart Opponent for most of the night, and RJ had a huge night, that means the reigning Bizarro MVP is at it again.

Halftime notes Bucks Game 2: Holy Thundersuck!

They sucked as the Supersonics... apparently they suck worse as the Thunder!!

The Bucks defense is not this good. The Thunder currently have a halftime Team Win Score of... get this... 3.0! That's the whole team! If you follow my Win Score team calculations, you will know that is only about 40.3 points below average!

Some of that has to be Bucks defense, most of it has to be a shocking amount of incompetence and indifference on the part of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

...And how about Kevin Durant? When are we going to finally pronounce this guy El Busto?? He certainly is nowhere near the player his college numbers suggested he would be. At the moment he has a halftime Win Score of -17.3, and a halftime Offensive Win Contribution of -1.585. He shouldn't be playing shooting guard, but I don't even know if he could make it as a small forward.

...And OKC small forward Jeff Green is a pure joke. I pointed out that last season he was the NBA's Most Harmful Player (the Bizarro MVP) and his after that title again it seems. At halftime he has a Win Score of -23.8 and an Offensive Win Contribution of -2.975. Holy shit is he bad!

...Big first half for Bucks PF Charlie Villanueva. He has really bounced back big time from a horrible game last night. He is currently a +5.3 Win Score. His Offensive Win Score is +0.750.

... In fact, almost everyone on the Bucks is doing well on offense, and obviously on defense. It will be a privilege to do the Win Contribution boxscore tonight if this continues.

Pre Game 2 Forecast: Bucks vs. Thunder

Here is my pregame forecast for the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder:

Milw Bucks 95
OKC Thunder 91

I am assuming around 92.5 possessions for the game. And if I do that and go strictly by "Point Value over Average" I should be forecasting a Bucks loss of around five points: Thunder 92 Bucks 87. That's because the Bucks have averaged -4 on offense and around +9 on defense.

But, I am going to go by "trend" instead, and the Bucks offense has been trending up. The Milwaukee Bucks defense has remained by and large below average, but their offense has, over the course of the last three or four games (including exhibitions and last night's opener) been slightly above average. If they can do that same thing tonight, they will win, even if they play bad defense.

I am out on a limb a bit, because there will be a large home court advantage in favor of Oklahoma, being their Inaugural Game with the New Supersonics, and the Bucks are coming off a game last night. But something tells me the Milwaukee Bucks will pull it together and get a win.

Possible Live Bucksdiary tonight

There's a 50-50 chance I will be live blogging for tonight's Bucks vs. Thunder game. If I am not I will certainly be posting sporadic thoughts on how the game is unfolding.

I blew it... again!

If any of you have tried to contact me by email, you know I can sometimes be a little unreliable when it comes to responding. Partially because I get so much junk email, partially because I can just be a little unreliable.

Its cost me several times. In fact, when it comes to promoting this little blog, I never miss a chance to miss a chance.

First, I was supposed to move the blog to SBNation, by invitation from the guy who writes one of the gold standard NBA blogs "Blog-a-Bull", where it would certainly have garnered more traffic than it now gets. Basically, 75% of all the cool basketball blogs are on that site, and mine could have been amongst them.

But, I dragged my feet, hemmed and hawed, and finally they said "OK... fuck you." Once again my tardiness alienated people I did not in any way mean to alienate. Basically, I was noncommital only because I didn't know if I could make the kind of commitment they wanted and deserved, and also I was at the time I a little leery of any form of editorial oversight, which in retrospect was rather stupid on my part. So that opportunity passed. No hard feelings, I hope. (the outstanding blog BrewHoop is there now, and they are ten times better than what I would have provided anyway).

Then recently Dan Walsh contacted me and asked me to move my little Bucks blog over to Sportsbubbler. Well, at the time I never heard of Dan Walsh (which didn't really matter) nor Sportsbubbler (which kind of mattered). So once again I mee-mawed a bit (partially because I was going through some issues at the time, so I wasn't really focused on the blog), and I guess Dan moved on.

Now all I hear about whenever I listen to any bigtime Wisconsin sporting event is "Sportsbubbler this... Sportsbubbler that..." and its like a kick in the groin. Just to kick me harder, I now see Dan Walsh all the time on my favorite TV show (SportsRoundtable) and he seems really cool. So that one I really regret.

Now, about 10 days ago I get an email from the man I consider THE GURU when it comes to the NBA Draft -- and a very cool guy -- Erich Doerr (you may have read his writing; it is featured on both "The Wages of Wins Journal" and "Draft-Express") asking me to do a prognostication on the NBA using the metric I feature here -- Defensive Win Score. I overlooked that email and only got back to him yesterday.

Now I see on the latest post on Wages of Wins Journal that I missed a chance to really make a name for myself as a "Moneyball" influenced basketball blogger. Goddamn!! I can't get out of my own way!!

Oh, well. I'm seriously happy just to provide a service to BucksNation. As I always say, Wisconsin newspapers knock themselves out when iLinkt comes to providing indepth analysis and insight on the Green Bay Packers, but when it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks, their coverage is Stone Age quality. Hopefully I and other bloggers and posters (BrewHoop, Bratwurst, the board at RealGM, etc) help a little to fill in the gap. That's good enough for me.

Anyway, I hope to be on tonight and to provide a "Total Win Contribution" boxscore afterward. Go Bucks. I'll do a projected score also prior to tipoff. Thanks for reading.


An awful beginning: Bucks Total Win Contribution boxscore from last night's opener

Click Here to view the Total Win Contribution boxscore from last night's Bucks game. I only finished the numbers for the Milwaukee Bucks. I meant to also do computations for the Chicago Bulls, but I just finished the Bucks computations... and its 2:09 am. Maybe I'll get at it tomorrow.

For those unfamiliar with these boxscores, Total Win Contribution is a numerical expression of the positive or negative IMPACT each player's offensive and defensive efforts had on the Bucks chances of winning compared with the impact one would expect the average NBA player at that position to have (with the average player's expected impact expressed as +0.000). Total Win Score, on the other hand, is a numerical expression of the EFFECTIVENESS of the player's performance compared with the effectiveness one would expect the average NBA player at the same position to have (with the average player's effectiveness expressed as the Win Score of +0.0).

Thus, while Charlie Bell had the largest negative impact on the Bucks, because he produced the lowest Total Win Contribution (-0.995), Charlie Villanueva actually had the worst performance on the team, with a Total Win Score of -13.3. Coach Skiles minimized Villanueva's impact by getting him the hell out of the game.

Here are some notes from the putrid Bucks Opener:

1. The Bucks cumulative Total Win Contribution for last night's game was somewhere under -3.000. By my calculations, not only would the Bucks not have won a single game last season with such a poor performance, they would have had the Bizzaro World negative record of (-11)-93, meaning they would have lost 11 more games than they played. I have no idea what that means, but it ain't good.

2. The only player on the Bucks who had a good game was Michael Redd. Dan Gadzuric had an average game. The rest of the team ranged from well below average to simply awful.

3. Chuck Diesel texted me around the third quarter "Derrick Rose is going to be awesome". I think the Bucks point guard tandem of Luke Ridnour and Tyronn Lue would second that. Rose ate them alive last night. Ate them alive!

4. If last night's rotation is going to be the pattern for the season, Coach Skiles is doing what I hoped he wouldn't do. He is using Luc Moute in the same role he used Andres Nocioni in Chicago. As an undersized power forward. As I explained a couple of posts ago, Moute, by basketball height (meaning "standing reach") is way undersized as a power forward. He is at an extreme disadvantage there. Last night he was guarding Tyrus Thomas, a player who has about an eight inch standing reach advantage over Moute. That's not the best deployment of assets.

5. Bucks Diary is the only place to go for accurate player deployment information. None of the sports websites, besides 82games.com, even try to get it right. For instance, all of them had Moute listed at SF. He did not play a minute at SF. I'm sure they don't think fans care. But they have an obligation to get it right. How stupid would it be if baseball boxscores started calling Derek Jeter the Yankees 1st basemen? That would be absurd. But that's the kind of erroneous information that compilers of basketball boxscores, including the ones at NBA.com, are passing on to basketball fans. We're not idiots.

6. I had some other comments regarding last night's game. They are listed in the previous posts.

7. Here's to a much better second act for "Scotty, Year One". I gotta get some sleep.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Game One Quick Thoughts

The second half played out the way I was afraid it would at halftime. The Bucks were hanging with the Bulls at the half because of an extraordinary offensive performance by the bench. But that performance was uncharacteristic of the personnel on the Bucks bench. Therefore I was afraid it could not be sustained, and it wasn't.

Here are some quick thoughts on the game, and then I will have a "Total Win Contribution" Boxscore up in the next couple of hours:

1. It looks as though second round pick Luc Richard Moute will get many more minutes than lottery pick Joe Alexander this season. That is clearly the correct move, but I am surprised Bucks brass is allowing Skiles to run a meritocracy. Very good sign.

2. Charlie Villanueva is on a short leech, and with the addition of Austin Croshere he may find himself on the way out of town. Villanueva is clearly not a favorite of Coach Skiles. As soon as he missed a few jumpers he was immediately pulled from the game and never heard from again... despite the fact that he was one of the only Bucks frontliners who was rebounding.

3. Cheers to Andrew Bogut... he had a very poor offensive preseason, but he came out and played hard in the opener. One caveat : just as in the first Golden State exhibition, Bogut was not playing against a real center.

4. As I thought, PG Ramon Sessions poor preseason has left him out of the rotation in Milwaukee. I had high hopes for him based upon the way he closed last season and his big summer league... but he absolutely stunk in the preseason.

5. Bad sign for the Bucks: Richard Jefferson was awful, and he did not rebound. It may not be long before I am calling for him to be moved... while he still has some value. He was just brutal tonight, and my Total Win Contribution boxscore will most likely show that.

6. Was Michael Redd dead during the 1980s? I ask that because he can obviously score, but the thing that seperated the flashy players (Dominique Wilkins, Bernard King, etc) from the decade's champions (Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, etc) was all around production. Redd scored tonight, but showed no inclination to do anything else. Its frustrating because he has the potential to be so much more than he is -- he proved it during his first two seasons -- but he doesn't seem to think secondary statistics have any value. Which makes me wonder whether he had a television growing up.

In Game Post: How bout Ridnour on the boards

Last season I did an informal study of how rebounds are acquired. I tracked about 5 games, and in each game, at least 93% of the rebounds were acquired as a result of position or hustle. About 7% had to do with height or leaping ability. Very few of the rebounds were acquired while the rebounder was off his feet; fewer still while the rebounder was above the rim.

The point is this: anyone can rebound. Rebounding is about desire. Luke Ridnour is proving that tonight. As I type this, Ridnour, the smallest man on the floor for either team, has the second most rebounds at 6, and he leads the Bucks in that category.

I'm beginning to be sold on Ridnour. He's got attitude.

Food for thought: How many days does Charlie Villanueva have left as a Milwaukee Buck? Scott Skiles is clearly no CV fan, and which guy do you think will outlast the other?

Also, where has Joe Alexander been? Bravo to Skiles for realizing JA may not be ready for prime time but that Luc Moute clearly is.

Halftime Game One: Bench keeping Bucks in game

At the half, the Bucks bench is keeping the game against the Bulls close. The bench has a collective offensive Win Score of +13.8. That's exceptional.

The starters, meanwhile, have been awful. Their collective offensive Win Score has been -3.1. That's putrid.

I don't like the fact that the Bucks are basically relying on bench offense, however. That is not a stable platform for securing a victory. I'll have more later.

As the second half has begun, Redd has picked up the pace... perhaps sensing, unfortunately, that Jefferson is not going to provide quite as much help as he had hoped.

Projecting NBA records using each team's relative preseason performance

I used each Team's Win Score and their Opponent Win Score in the preseason to project their record in the regular season. But instead of comparing those two numbers against the NBA average, as I normally would, I compared those two numbers against the cumulative averages of each team's opponents. In that way, the projections are "strength of schedule" neutral. I call this method "Team Win Score Over Average".

Some of the results are patently ridiculous. For instance, I will eat my shoes if the Lakers finish with a 43-39 record, and I am dubious that the Pistons or Cavaliers will finish below .500. I would also doubt that the Denver Nuggets will win 61 games as their preseason performance suggests.

That said, here are some extrapolations I think you can make:

1. Watch out for the New Orleans Hornets. They finished first by a wide margin in both the Straight Efficiency Rankings and the schedule neutral TWSOA Rankings.

2. I also think Orlando will be tough, Indiana will be better, the Trailblazers will be much better, the Timberwolves will be better, the Heat will be better, and the Hawks will continue to build on last season's finish despite the loss of Josh Childress.

3. I also think the Pistons might come back to the pack a bit, and I am not convinced yet that the Sixers are going to be quite as tough as people believe.

4. I have no idea what to make of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought they would make a move toward the top this season. They may underperform again during the season, and then come on strong in the playoffs. I don't know.

Welcome to the Scotty Era in Milwaukee

Happy Opening Night, NBA fans!

I wanted to do a full Win Prediction for every NBA team, but time did not permit. Instead, I'll stick to doing one for the Milwaukee Bucks, and possibly I will add predictions for other teams as the day wears on (with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic receiving precedence because those teams were specifically requested).

Of course, doing any Win Prediction is necessarily dicey because its nearly impossible to forecast events. But, I tried my best.

My prediction for this season's Bucks is based on several factors. First I looked at preseason performance, Then I factored in Scott Skiles track record, my Win Profiles for each Bucks player from last season, the career numbers for each Bucks veteran, and the rookie prediction model designed by Professor Berri for both of the Bucks rookies.

Efficiency Differential and PVOA

If you consider only the preseason numbers, the Bucks are in for a rough season. Using the efficiency differential predictive model, the preseason numbers suggest an 11-71 season is in the offing. If you consider Point Value over Average, and then plug those adjusted numbers into the efficiency differential, you get the only slightly better result of 13-69. Both those records seem way too pessimistic.

Preseason Team Win Score

You can also predict the Bucks record by using the Bucks preseason Team Win Score average and the Team Win Score average produced by their Opponents this preseason, and then offsetting them against the NBA average Team Win Score for the Preseason: 36.7.

If you do that, and you assume a 19860 minute season, you end up with a record of 12-70 for the Milwaukee Bucks. Eerily similar to the Straight Efficiency and PVOA predictions... but, again, I'm sticking to my earlier assessment that such a record is too pessimistic.

Adjusted Preseason Team Win Score

You can also adjust the Win Score model to account for preseason competition. Rather than judging the Bucks Win Score against the NBA average, this method measures the Bucks against the average Win Score of the teams on their schedule.

Doing this produces a 22-60 record (because the Bucks opponents Offensive Win Score was higher than average and their Defensive Win Score was lower than average). That number feels a lot closer to right, but still low.

Using the Past as Prologue

After considering the aforementioned models, I went back into the careers of each veteran on the roster, computed their average Win Score, factored in each player's age and career trajectory, and came up with a range of numbers for the Win Score I thought each would produce this season.

Scotty Effect and last year's Win Profiles

Finally, I looked at the so-called "Scotty Effect" -- the idea that his coaching can improve the team's defensive numbers -- and assumed a modest defensive improvement for each Buck

I guessed the Scotty Effect would collectively improve the Bucks defensive Win Score by 50%. That would mean each Bucks player would average about a +0.4 on defense (which is a pretty hefty assumption considering that even under the adjusted Win Score model, each Buck averaged a +1.32... but I'm going to put faith in Scotty).

Minutes Played

I'm not good at predicting minutes played, so I based that entirely on the work of Pro Basketball Preview 2008-09.

Prediction: 31-51

The Bucks will finish the season 31-51. I'm sorry to say, that sounds a couple of games too high, based upon where their starting point, but I'm going to stick with it.

Click here to see how I arrived at my Milwaukee Bucks prediction

Notes on the prediction

1. They are predicated on a substantial defensive improvement, but steady offensive numbers.

2. They are predicated on Richard Jefferson's continued decline. I didn't want to do that, but his preseason left me little choice.

3. They are predicated on Bogut and Redd each getting their defense near the average mark, but not really improving their offensive outputs.

4. They are predicated on Moute being above average, Griffin being above average, but Joe Alexander being severly below average. Thus, if Alexander surprises, there is room for upside.

5. They are also predicated on Villanueva being just a bit better than last season. So if he is much better, there is another avenue for greater win generation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Preseason Efficiency Differentials for every NBA team

I meant to rank every NBA team's Preseason performances by both raw Efficiency Differential, and by "Point Value over Average". PVOA gives a theoretically schedule neutral assessment of every team's performance by comparing their points scored and points allowed per possession against the points scored and points allowed by every other team on each opponent's schedule.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to complete the arduous Point Value over Average calculations for any team other than my Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks fans, I'll have the complete rundown for the Bucks in the next post, which I want to have up by Midnight sharp, Opening Night... which gives me 35 minutes here.)
But I did complete raw Efficiency Differentials for every team. The Hornets and Magic were the best teams this preseason by a long shot. The Blazers also look improved, as do the Timberwolves, Knicks, and Pacers. On the flip side, the Bucks, Hornets, and Bullets have a lot of work to do. That said, be careful of my rankings when assessing established teams like the Lakers and Celtics. Those type teams rarely play their stars for anything like their regular minutes, so their differentials are probably quite depressed.

Who's responsible for Bucks offensive woes?

Later tonight I'm going to assemble a chart showing a number of different preseason statistical calculations I did this weekend for the entire National Basketball Association. Some of them will show some teams who may be on the rise (Indiana, Orlando, New Orleans). But each one them, unfortunately, will show that the Milwaukee Bucks have been among the worst, if not THE WORST, performing team in the NBA this preseason, both on offense and on defense.

As you know, I'm not so worried about the defense. History suggests Coach Skiles will get that fixed in due course. In fact, I'm assuming in my preseason projections that he will have the Bucks at the middle of the pack defensively by the end of the season... a HUGE leap forward if he can do it.

But the offense is another story. Few noticed (because of the putrid defense) how absolutely awful the offense was last season -- if you remember my NBA "Win Splits" chart from last year, I actually credited the Bucks defense with more "halfwins produced" than the Bucks offense. So the Milwaukee Bucks offense was an under performing unit, to say the least, last season.

Thus far in the preseason, things have gotten no better. The Bucks offensive efficiency per possession this preseason has been 90.9 pts/100 possessions. That ranks them around 27th in the NBA (although their near-average PVOA offensive numbers suggest some of that might be due to the defenses they have faced in the preseason).

Nevertheless, I wanted to find out which specific Bucks are responsible for the low numbers, so I broke the numbers down to the individual level. Here's what I found:

Notes on the chart

1. All of the individual efficiency numbers were calculated using the preseason data provided by Bucks.com, and plugged into the traditional formula Offensive Efficiency = Points Scored/FGAs + .44FTAs + Turnovers - Off Rebounds * 100.

2. The "Positional Averages" that are used to make the parenthetical comparisons were calculated by me using positional research provided on the blog, The Wages of Wins Journal.

3. Fransisco Elson's top-rated efficiency numbers are not as impressive as they seem at first blush, because Francisco has used far fewer possessions per 48 minutes than the average NBA center would use, and therefore his high "points per possession" numbers have not translated into big point production for the Green and Red.

4. Richard Jefferson's poor numbers, on the other hand, clearly indicate how far his game has fallen. Offensive efficiency was the last bastion of strength in his once impressive statistical portfolio. Now that appears to be eroding as well. What does he have left? He doesn't rebound, he doesn't pass... and his once-vaunted defense is a "here one day, gone the next" phenomenon at this point in his career. Prove me wrong, RJ... please.

5. Andrew Bogut's woes make me a little angry. I think he needs to give up his quixotic association with the Australian national team and start doing what is best for his employer: resting his legs in the offseason. Australia is never going to win anything anyway.

6. Ramon Sessions is a good all-around player, but I guess he's never really been an efficient offensive player... and his numbers reflect that this season.

7. The raw truth in my numbers is the Bucks really lack reliable scoring... so defense is really going to have to carry the team where ever they go this season. I can't believe I just wrote that line about the Milwaukee Bucks.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Gradual Rise Theory... I like it

The current popular theory regarding the Bucks season is that they will struggle early and rise late.  I buy that, and I think it will come to pass.

The theory is predicated on several things.  First, the Bucks early schedule is brutal (as every Bucks representative now seems to point out).  The pre-Christmas run is heavily loaded with road games.  I agree with that.

The second predicate is it will take time for new coach Scott Skiles to implement his Lockdown defensive system.  I agree with that as well.

Thus I buy into the Theory of the Gradual Rise, as all Bucks fans should. 

So be patient.  Things may be a little ugly at first for the Green and Red.  Be ready for that. But the Bucks will improve with time. 

Because defense is all about effort.  Coach Skiles will demand that, and the team will eventually have to buy in.  Those that don't will be run out of Milwaukee (like Lombardi's famous first speech "There are buses and trains leaving Green Bay every day...").  Once that happens, things will get better.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bucks playing like a 23 win team

This is a quick post from the road regarding last night's Bucks vs. Bulls exhibition.

First of all, here are the "clean" Point Value over Average numbers for the Bucks from last night:

Bucks Offense: -5.3 points scored
Bucks Defense: +8.0 points allowed
Bucks PVOA: -13.3 points

PVOA, or Point Value over Average measures the Bucks offensive and defensive performance "per possession" against the "per possession" performance of the other teams who have played the Bulls in the exhibition season.  The results are not good for the Green and Red faithful.  The Bucks offense was a -5.3 points, and its defense was a +8.0 points.  That means that in the same number of possessions the Bulls previous opponents scored 5.3 more points and allowed 8.0 less than the Bucks did last night.

In theory, you can take the Bucks PVOA averages for the preseason (Off: -2.5; Def: +11.4), plug them into the efficiency win prediction model, and then project the Bucks record for the season (this is the preseason, obviously, so the results shouldn't cause any panic... yet).  

If you did that, you would come up with a Bucks winning percentage of 0.282, which projects to an 82 game record of approximately 23-59... worse than last year. 

No statistics tonight

I'm going on the road for the weekend. I will be in the Twin Cities, so I will not be able to provide statistical analysis of tonight's Bucks exhibition game against the Bulls. But I will obviously have my eye on the game, and I hope to be able to jot down a post.

I'm only writing this because my goal is to provide a reliable place for Bucks fans to go for a unique statistical breakdown of every Bucks game this season. And if I can't do it on certain nights, I want to give advance warning.

Anyway, have a good one, Bucks fans. We're gonna turn this sucker around eventually! Keep the faith. Go Green Go Red.

Bucks "Total Win Contribution" Boxscore vs. Twolves

I have completed the Total Win Contribution Boxscore from last night's game. Total Win Contribution is a numerical expression of the impact each player's statistical output, and the statistical output of the opponents the player was assigned to guard, had on the Bucks chances for victory. As always, +0.000 represents the contribution of an average NBA player at the player's position-- a 41-41 player in other words.

Here's what the Boxscore says about each of the participating Milwaukee Bucks:

1. Richard Jefferson continues to struggle mightily on offense, but his defense has begun to come around.

2. Charlie Villanueva continues his maddening pattern of being brilliant one night and pure garbage the next.

3. Dan Gadzuric had an outstanding game offensively. The problem is, he got Hannibal Lectered by Al Jefferson and Kevin Love on the other end, and thus his overall impact on the game ended up being a net negative.

4. Redd kind of half-assed the entire game, and his TWC reflects that.

5. Ridnour's a scrappy ballplayer, but last night his defense wasn't as good as it has been. I'm beginning to like him, though... his attitude seems great.

6. Joe Alexander cannot produce at all on the offensive end. He just keeps having bad game after bad game. But his athleticism, I think, is paying off on defense, and that is almost allowing him to keep his head above water. Under Professor Berri's system, he would register as complete garbage. By adding the "defensive" component, we can see that his contribution to the Bucks is usually a bit closer to average than it seems... which is promising.

7. Elson had a lesser version of Gadzuric's night. Again, I think this affirms my model. The two Bucks centers, who together couldn't score on my Grandma, had big nights against Al Jefferson. Under the Berri Model, Jefferson is a complete stud. And, indeed, on offense he is a stud. But he has to pay the piper for his matador defense. If you remember in my Win Profiles, I had him producing many fewer wins than the original Berri Win Score model would suggest, because I thought his defense undermined his other contributions, and tonight seemed to affirm my belief

8. Charlie Bell is back to doing his Charlie Bell thing. And that's not all bad. Sure, his offense left town about two years ago, but his defense is forever scrappy and usually helpful.

9. Luc Moute is becoming a straight up stud. He is simply a basketball playing Jesse. Last night he showed he could handle a combination of small and power forward role. That's after brilliantly manning the shooting guard spot in the Warrior series. What a player. He is a shutdown defender at 3 positions, possibly 4, and he is a "do the little things that help us win" offensive player. He's becoming a Bucksdiary favorite for sure.

10. Tyronn Lue is just begging to be passed up on the depth chart by Ramon Sessions, but Sessions just won't do it. Last night Lue was awful on both ends, but it wont matter because Sessions was even worse.

11. Malik Allen is just workmanlike. He is what he is. A lunch pail Buck. And if the Bucks had better primary talent, he would probably be a valuable part of a successful team. They don't and so he isn't.

12. The Timberwolves announcers were wondering what happened to that phenom we saw late last season? So was I. Wasn't he named Ramon Sessions or something? Wasn't he phenomenally productive at the end of last season. Oh, yeah there he is on the end of the bench. Sessions didn't help his case for getting off the bench by getting lit up by in the final nine minutes, and turning the ball over incessantly on offense. A brutal showing for Session in what has been an overall brutal training camp for him. He will be lucky to work his way into the rotation before Easter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bucks PVOA looks terrible.. plus more game notes

Here are some more notes on the Bucks vs. Timberwolves exhibition:

Same old Bucks... giving up in the second half

What the hell was that effort in the second half? The Bucks basically jonesed around the whole time. As a result, their Point Value Over Average numbers ended up being terrible. Point Value over Average is a Bucksdiary.blogspot statistic which measures how the Bucks performed per possession against the Timberwolves vs. how the other teams the Timberwolves played this preseason performed against them per possession. Here are the PVOA numbers for tonight's game (and they are "clean" numbers, as I washed out the Bucks vs. Twolves opening exhibition game):

Bucks Offense PVOA: -10.6 points scored
Bucks Defense PVOA: +11.5 points allowed
Bucks Total PVOA for the game: -22.1 points

That's terrible. Very disappointing second half effort. Skiles said the team's reputation was that they would quit in the second half, and he was going to change that. It didn't look like it tonight. The Bucks went away and did not compete in the second half. Come on! We can do better. I'm going to be putting together a "Total Win Contribution" boxscore in the next hour or so which will let you know exactly who was to blame for the embarrassing collapse.

Give Love A Chance, Minnesota

The Timberwolves commentators were fretting and apologizing for Kevin Love all night. He actually had a huge night. His Win Score was an incredible 26.7 per 48. That's phenomenal. The problem is, he looks slow and white doing it. So I think he's always going to be somewhat underappreciated... until you notice the team winning with him in the lineup.

McGlocklin momentarily semi-delusional

I just heard Jon McGlocklin, whom I love, describe the Bucks acquisition of Richard Jefferson as "up there with the Oscar Robertson trade". Huh? Jonny Mac, you can't be serious. RJ is no Big O. Plus, Robertson put our Bucks over the top of the mountain. At the moment, we're buried way down in the valley. The mountaintop is, as Joey Tribiani would say, "a dot to us".

In Game Post: Twolves vs. Bucks

I'm watching the Bucks play the Timberwolves, and here are my random thoughts which I will be updating throughout the game...

Is Love going to make me look bad?

If there's one guy I've stuck my neck out for, its been Kevin Love. I virtually guaranteed he would be a productive professional... risking and getting ridicule for it. And I labeled the Love-for-Mayo deal a win for the Twolves.

Well, so far not so good. Actually, let me get specific. Mayo is currently putting up a Win Score per 48 of 6.4, which would be average for a shooting guard, but well above where his college numbers would have him. Love is putting up a 7.6, which is way below average for a power forward, and way, way below where his college numbers would project. Minnesota babblers already have him down as a bust.

So will Love fall into the Kevin Durant/Adam Morrison category... a phenomenal college producer who mysteriously becomes unproductive in the pros?

I say not so fast. Early on in the exhibition season, he was right where I projected him... a 13.2 Win Score. Its just that in the last couple of games he's been awful shooting the ball.

That may bring into play the issue of conditioning (1 for 10 indicates dead legs). I'm certainly not bailing out on him yet, nor am I sold on OJ Mayo.

Thank you Al Jefferson

One of the players who was severely downgraded by my concept of "Defensive Win Score" was Al Jefferson, center for the Timberwolves. Under Professor Berri's straight Win Score, he is a huge Win Producer. Under my Offense/Defense concept of Win Score, he's just slightly above average.

Tonight, he's giving evidence that my reading is correct. He's lighting it up on offense, but he's giving it all back to two Bucks stiffs on defense.

Defense matters. As I type this, Al Jefferson has 11 points on 5-5 shooting, but he's also allowed a combined 12 points and 10 rebounds on 6 of 7 shooting to Bucks stiffs Dan Gadzuric and Fransisco Elson. And the Bucks are leading 34-27.

When you can make Dan Gadzuric into "former Piston center James Edwards" as Minnesota's color commentator said, you have to be penalized in some way. That's what my model does, and I think its right to do so.

Look at Redd's consumption

Did you read my "The Michael Redd Paradox"? Well, as I type this, Michael Redd is using possessions at a rate of 26.9 per 48 minutes, and he has produced a measly 0.4 pts/poss. Less is more Mike. Less is more!

What a difference!

This looks like a whole different Bucks team than the one that debuted against the Wolves in LaCrosse. The Bucks defense has looked aggressive and active, and the offense is actually clicking. As I type this, the Bucks are allowing only 83.4 points/100 possessions. Very good defense. Let me check the offense quick. Whoa! The Bucks are hitting at a 110.6 points/100 possessions. Rock the Green and Red!!!

Ooops, the tide is turning

The Bucks have played a very loose third quarter. They are now at 103.7 pts/100 possessions. Did you hear Alexander's speech in China? What a Gomer! I think I'll have a Offensive/Defensive Win Score Boxscore for the Bucks following the game.

The NBA's 50 most valuable performers according to "Total Wins Above Average"

"Total Wins Above Average" is my attempt to mimic the successful baseball statistic known as "Total Player Wins". Total Player Wins was developed years ago by the authors of the book "Total Baseball".

Total Player Wins is an estimate of the number of wins a baseball player added to his team over and above the number of wins produced by the average player at his position. Total Player Wins is based upon the number of Runs Created (batting runs) and Runs Prevented (fielding runs) above those created and prevented by the average baseball player at the player's baseball position... converted into wins.

Similarly, Total Wins Above Average is also an estimate of the number of wins a basketball player added to his team over and above the number of wins produced by the average player at his position in the same number of minutes played. Total Wins Above Average, however, is based upon the number of Win Score Created (the player's Win Score per 48 average) and Win Score Prevented (the player's Counterpart Opponents Win Score per 48 average) by a basketball player above the amount you would expect to be created and prevented by the average basketball player at the player's basketball position... also converted into wins. (I use Win Score because, like Runs Created in baseball, it accurately reflects a player's statistical contribution to his team's success.)

Because they both describe the same thing, Total Player Wins and Total Wins Above Average can be read in the same manner. A player with a +8 in Total Wins or Total Wins Above Average would turn a .500 team into a team 16 games above .500 (in baseball that would be an 89-73 record, in basketball it would be 49-33... both results phenomenal in terms of value added by a single player).

In theory at least -- either measurement allows you to look at a particular roster and determine approximately how many actually wins the team produced. If you want to do this for the NBA last season, I did a Win Profile for every NBA team here that includes each player's "Total Wins Above Average" in the last column... even though I call it a bunch of different things. (Note: Both TWAA and Total Player Wins have about a 92.7-93.7% accuracy rate... pretty good).

Note: Bear in mind, my list is not a "skill" ranking, it is a "value" ranking. Thus, Dwayne Wade, for example, does not appear anywhere on the list, because injuries and uncharacteristically unproductive play drastically limited his value to the Heat last season.

Could Win Score figure in a multimillion dollar lawsuit?

If you have not heard by now, the career of man/mountain Kenny George of UNC-Asheville appears to have been tragically cut short by a staph infection he contracted while attending Pete Newell's Big Man Camp. As a result of complications from the infection, doctors were required to amputate part of George's foot. (Suddenly, Kellen Winslow's complaints take on a whole different light, don't they?).

Undoubtedly, Newell's camp and its insurer will soon have to defend themselves against a rather large lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. George. And the central damage issue in that suit will obviously be "How much could Kenny George have earned had he played in the National Basketball Association?"

That being so, if I were counsel to Mr. George, I would have a post-it note with the name "Professor David Berri... Wages of Wins" attached very prominently to the case file.

That's because, in the unlikely event such a suit were not settled out of court, the defense would undoubtedly march a parade of experts to the stand who would undermine George's potential earning capacity by describing him as too injury prone, too clumsy, too unathletic, and just too slow to have any realistic hope of making an impact in the NBA.

But this is the information age. Clear, objective, and easy-to-explain numerical evidence will often trump even the strongest subjective opinion evidence in the minds of a jury. And that's what Professor Berri can provide. Using his Win Score metric, he can blunt any unflattering "eyeball" assessments of George's physical ability by pointing to George's proven collegiate production and explaining what that production suggests about his professional prospects. (I'd also mix in a clip of Tyler Hansborough and the rest of the top rated UNC Tar Heels looking like the University of Lilliput against him last season... with this facial edited out, of course.)

Professor Berri (and Erich Doerr) has demonstrated the existence of a fairly strong correlation between the Win Score a player produces in college and the Win Score he could be expected to produce at the NBA level. And by Win Score measurement, Mr. George -- while slow, unathletic, and downright clumsy looking at times -- was the most productive player per minute in college basketball last season. Thus, Berri's Win Score research could be used to establish George's potential to be a very productive professional basketball player... which in turn might have made him a "Refrigerator Perry" type of commercial sensation (a 7'9'' player? Could you imagine the endorsement possibilities if he were legit?) Which all adds up to a fairly substantial amount of potential earnings foregone by Mr. George as a proximate result of the Newell Camp's negligence (hell, two years ago the Bucks were so concerned about staph infections they practically nuked their St. Francis training facilities).

That, combined with Mr. George's obviously tragic storyline -- he went to the camp to make himself better, and it ended his career -- should be enough to win a sizeable award from any jury.

But would that make him whole? At this point, I doubt anything could.

The Michael Redd Paradox

The irony of Michael Redd's career is that he could have been a legitimate superstar if he had just remained a role player.

Instead, by trying to be a superstar, or at least trying to fulfill what I assume his vision is of a superstar's role ("Its time for him to take over the game"... how many times have we heard that vapid cliche during NBA telecasts?), Redd actually ended up becoming an overpaid second-tier player.

The good news for Bucks fans is, with the help of Coach Skiles, Redd could be returning to his better form.

As the chart clearly shows, there is an inverse relationship between the number of Bucks possessions Michael Redd uses per 48 minutes and the amount of wins he produces for the team (gauged by his Win Score per 48 minutes). This preseason, Redd has gotten back to the usage numbers he had in his first two seasons, and his productivity has risen in kind.

In Redd's first two seasons, when he was just a role player, he was fantastically productive. His Win Score was comparable to Kobe Bryant's.

Once he signed his big money contract, things changed. He took it upon himself to become the focal point of the Bucks offense, consuming many more of the team's offensive possessions, and his productivity slipped. By trying to do more, Redd actually did much less (in terms of Wins Produced).

But this preseason, under Coach Skiles new "Be more judicious, Mike" dicta, Redd has used far fewer possessions and has gotten back to his formerly productive self.

Will it last? I have my doubts. Its one thing to make a big show in meaningless preseason games, its another thing to carry that mentality into meaningful regular season games (in fact, my cynical side thinks the fewer possessions used by Redd this preseason might just be Redd pouting, or Redd trying to make a point to Skiles and to the fans. Did you see his Dennis Krause media day interview? His body language, if not his words, clearly indicated he was extremely annoyed by the "Do you shoot too much?" and "Can you accept critical coaching?" questions Krause asked).

Lets wait and see what happens when the real bullets start to fly after Opening Night. What will happen then? Will Redd fall back on his inefficient habits? And if he does, will Skiles tolerate the reversion, or will he clip Redd's ears?

The answer to those questions will tell us whether Redd's seeming offensive renaissance is real or not.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A cool NFL blog and some random NBA notes

The Bucks exhibition schedule has hit a lull following their return from China. Seems like a great time for the ever unpopular "random notes" post. So fire up the non-sequitur machine, and here...we...go:

1. "Advanced NFL Stats" a blog worth checking out
I am not a statistician, nor is Bucks Diary a statistical blog. I'm just an ordinary fan who tries to use statistical evidence (along with historical precedent and just plain intuition) to answer questions about my favorite team and about Pro Basketball in general.

If you want to see what a true statistical blog looks like, and if you are interested in the National Football League, check out Advanced NFL Stats by Brian Burke. I stumbled on it Saturday and loved what I read. (Note: Truth be told here's what really caught my eye. Brian was the only "expert" I could find anywhere last weekend who favored the Packers over the Colts in Sunday's game. In fact, he established the Pack as a 53%-47% favorite. I was also particularly impressed when I went back in time and saw that prior to the Packers-Falcons game he had Atlanta established as the favorite. Now, he doesn't hit on every game, but clearly he knows somethin about somethin).

There is one feature on the blog that I found particularly cool. Brian provides real time "Win Probability" charts for every NFL game. The charts update at 30 second intervals, and provide continuous time, possession, and down and distance information. Watching the Pack on Sunday, I was getting up after every significant play and shuttling over to the computer to see how that particular play affected the Packers chances of winning. Pretty interesting stuff. (For instance, when the Packers missed a field goal right before the half, their odds of winning dipped from 93% to 85%... so I cursed the shit out of the kicker Mason Crosby. But the odds went right back up to 93% when the Colts did the same exact thing minutes later. And Brian's Win Probability estimate told me I could relax because the game was in the bank and earning interest at 100% at least ten real minutes before Aaron Rouse went "99 yds" on Peyton Manning. Btw, true story: Do you remember George "Ice" Teague from the 90s Packers? Around that time I saw him driving around GB in his Mercedes and his license plate said "101 YDS". I almost went off the road I was laughing so hard! If you are a Packer fan, or a Detroit Lions fan, or if you watch ESPN's "NFL's Greatest Games" series, you get the reference).

If I could rig one of those Win Probability charts for Bucks games... how sweet would that be?! Don't hold your breath.

2. Lazy is as Lazy does
I just KNEW when I put that sarcastic note about Charlie Bell being an "Amber Alert" candidate in my previous post that it would blow up in my face. I knew I shouldn't have relied on the NBA's boxscores. But I did and it did.

For both China games the NBA boxscores had Bell listed as a "DNP--Coaches Decision", not "DNP--Ankle injury" but I should have done a little research to verify. Those boxscores are often wrong about the player's positional deployment, so I don't know why I decided to consider them reliable when it came to playing status. Although, if Bell was unavailable to play, wouldn't it have made more sense for him to stay in Milwaukee and concentrate on rehab, rather than flying half way around the world to grab pine?

3. I Mayo have been wrong... but its early
Given the strong correlation between a rookie's preseason performance and his subsequent regular season play, I revisited the predraft evaluations I did back in June checked them against "Doug's Stats" preseason numbers to see how those evaluations are faring. Most are, surprisingly, still on point.

The glaring exception is my definitive "OJ Mayo will be a bust" prediction. So far, he's not. He's producing average to slightly above average Win Score per 48 statistics for a shooting guard... and I consider "average" to be pretty good production for a rookie.

There is one caveat, however. If you remove OJ's suspiciously high number of steals (compared with his collegiate per minute theft rate), the rookie would actually be right where I predicted he would be in terms of Win Score per 48 (in the 4.4 range... in other words, well below average).

But you can't do that. So, at the moment, he looks like he's going to outplay his college production and become a productive NBA player. We'll keep an eye on that.

4. Yi's cold start revisited
I have nothing against former Milwaukee Bucks sensation Yi Jianlian. The only reason I'm bashing him is this: I don't want Bucks fans to conclude that the Bucks gave up on him too soon unless the evidence supports that conclusion. At the moment it doesn't.

According to the aforementioned "Doug's Stats", the 7'0'', 238 pound Yi... a man masquerading as an NBA power forward... has grabbed a whopping total of 5 rebounds in 73 minutes of preseason action, for a pathetic per minute rebounding rate of .068. By comparison, the 5'6'', 133 pound Spud Webb had a career per minute rate of .087, and the even more diminutive 5'3'', 133 pound Muggsy Bogues had a career per minute rate of .091.

Hey Yi, Richard Jefferson says that's an embarrassingly low rebound total... and Mark Pope thinks you might be allergic to paint.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bucks preseason production and the history of the Scotty Effect

If the Bucks could only produce the NBA average number of points per shot attempt, and limit their opponents to the same, they would be having a great preseason. (And if President Lincoln hadn't got shot he probably would have enjoyed the play).

Seriously though, this Bucks per minute statistical production chart I did shows that the team has been slightly below average in several offensive and defensive categories. But the one glaring area where the team has been severly below average on both offense and defense is in points per shot attempt, which is calculated as: "points" minus "free throws made" divided by "field goal attempts".

The good news is that lowering opponents' point scoring efficiency is among Coach Skiles "defensive rehabilitation" specialties. He did just that in his previous two NBA coaching stints.

This chart shows the relevant defensive numbers for the two Skiles-lead organizations for seasons: Pre, During, and Post Scotty (the season he wore out his welcome).

As you can see from the numbers I compiled, teams tend to become dramatically better during Coach Skiles first full season in the key defensive areas of: Opponents' Points per Shot, Opponents' Adjusted Field Goal %, Opponent Assisted Field Goals, and Defensive Point Value Over Average (the average difference between the number of points you would expect an opponent to score in a given number of possessions, and the number of points they actually score against your defense in that same number of possessions) .

Unfortunately, the chart also shows that the Bucks will be Scotty's greatest "repair job" to date. While the team's he previously took over were certainly below average defensively, neither was quite the all-out "Ole" Bullfighters the Bucks were in 2007-08.

On the other hand, the new Bucks regime ran most of the team's worst defenders out of town this summer. So Scotty's task may not be as difficult as the numbers suggest. And, as I noted in the last post, we're already beginning to see signs of progress.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

True PVOA numbers show Bucks are improving a bit

Last week I did "Point Value over Average" computations for each of the Bucks exhibition games, but those were "dirty" averages because I included the Bucks games when I calculated the opponents overall efficiency averages (I had to because of the small sample sizes for each opponent).

I've gone back now and "washed out" the Bucks games from the opponents efficiency averages to provide a true "points allowed/scored per possession" comparison between the Bucks performance against each opponent and the collective performances of that opponent's other opponents.

Improvement... in baby steps

The True PVOA numbers are, if I recall, fairly close to the dirty PVOA numbers (although those numbers, of course, didn't include the recent two Golden State Warrior games). That is, the team is slightly below the comparative average on offense, and way below the comparative average on defense. But the Bucks overall PVOA trajectory -- on both sides of the court -- is starting to turn upward.

Now, let's not get too excited about this yet. I write that warning because the "Good" defensive games have both come against the same opponent, and in a highly unusual setting (China), and therefore may not reflect a true trend.

But, hey, its better than the opposite, isn't it?

Oh, one last point... you notice the one game that Michael Redd sat out the Bucks had by far their best defensive performance against average? I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin'.