Bucks Diary

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

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.

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