2011 NBA Power Rankings – Week 2

Wow, is it ever a long season.  It is hard to reasonably say that the season is taking shape, but we can draw some trends from the first couple of weeks.  The methodology is outlined here:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Heat 5 2 104.681 (4) 91.061 (2) 2 4.42 (5) 20.039
2 Lakers 7 0 111.797 (1) 98.553 (10) 1 2.285 (14) 16.529
3 Hornets 6 0 102.624 (11) 94.345 (5) 1.75 6.047 (1) 16.076
4 Nuggets 4 3 103.214 (8) 96.771 (7) 2 5.406 (3) 13.849
5 Magic 5 1 102.206 (12) 90.265 (1) 1.167 0.188 (22) 13.296
6 Celtics 6 2 100.549 (15) 93.642 (3) 1.75 2.796 (11) 11.453
7 Mavericks 4 2 99.547 (18) 94.062 (4) 1.167 3.504 (8) 10.156
8 Hawks 6 2 107.564 (2) 101.264 (18) 2.188 -1.105 (29) 7.384
9 Knicks 3 3 101.418 (13) 99.101 (11) 1.75 2.151 (15) 6.217
10 Suns 3 4 105.156 (3) 107.06 (28) 2 5.742 (2) 5.837
11 Sixers 2 5 100.832 (14) 98.253 (9) 1.5 1.712 (17) 5.79
12 Blazers 5 3 104.105 (6) 101.59 (19) 2.188 0.912 (20) 5.614
13 Warriors 5 2 102.793 (10) 100.653 (14) 1.5 1.27 (19) 4.91
14 Bulls 3 3 99.388 (19) 99.357 (12) 1.167 3.104 (9) 4.301
15 Rockets 1 5 104.175 (5) 106.129 (27) 1.75 3.968 (6) 3.764
16 Grizzlies 4 4 99.935 (17) 100.831 (16) 2.188 2.362 (13) 3.653
17 Spurs 5 1 103.004 (9) 100.622 (13) 1.75 -0.902 (28) 3.23
18 Jazz 3 3 99.042 (20) 97.455 (8) 1.75 -0.424 (24) 2.912
19 Raptors 1 6 98.651 (21) 102.285 (20) 2 2.688 (12) 1.054
20 Bucks 2 5 91.424 (29) 95.098 (6) 2 1.359 (18) -0.316
21 Cavaliers 3 3 100.031 (16) 104.17 (23) 1.75 0.283 (21) -2.107
22 Nets 2 4 96.117 (25) 105.029 (25) 1.167 4.755 (4) -2.99
23 Bobcats 1 6 96.651 (24) 101.095 (17) 2 -0.742 (27) -3.186
24 Pistons 2 5 98.574 (23) 104.059 (22) 1.5 0.017 (23) -3.968
25 Clippers 1 6 94.551 (26) 103.414 (21) 1.5 2.933 (10) -4.43
26 Wizards 1 4 94.029 (27) 105.076 (26) 2.1 3.93 (7) -5.017
27 Thunder 3 3 98.579 (22) 104.919 (24) 1.75 -0.523 (26) -5.113
28 Kings 3 3 103.319 (7) 108.112 (30) 1.75 -3.14 (30) -6.183
29 Pacers 2 3 92.889 (28) 100.71 (15) 2.1 -0.486 (25) -6.207
30 Timberwolves 1 6 91.059 (30) 107.777 (29) 2 2.147 (16) -12.57

As we know, the rankings are based on normalizing offensive efficiency based on possessions.  Using a possession view, one way we can look at any offensive possession is that all possessions result in two outcomes – either a possession gives a team at least one chance to score (a FT trip/FGA) or a team turns it over.  It follows that teams that covert lots of scoring chances and/or GENERATES a lot of scoring chances can be successful.  How do you generate scoring chances (in my best Hubie Brown voice)?  By grabbing missed shots or by not turning the ball over.

Obviously most great offenses succeed with a combination of both quality and quantity.  The Suns last year led the league in offense and true shooting percentage (essentially shooting percentage counting threes and free throws), the Magic as the #2 offense was 2nd in TS%, the 3rd rated offense was Cleveland with a TS% that was 3rd in the league.  But 4th in offense was the Hawks, which was an ordinary 14th in TS%.  They were not efficient at converting shots relative to other great offenses, but the Hawks were the best show generating team in the league.  Last year, the Hawks were 4th in offensive rebounding and the best at not turning the ball over.  Their playoff failures showed that maybe this was not the best way to deal with really good teams – that shot selection might take on a premium.  But their method in the long run was very solid.

Once again this year, the Hawks are still elite offensively, but doing it in a nearly upside down way compared to a year ago.  This year the Hawks (granted against a not at all inspired schedule to date) are actually making shots, leading the league in true shooting percentage.  In contrast, they have slipped noticeably in their shot quantity stats, dropping from 4th to 15th in offensive rebounding and from 1st to 14th in turnover rate.  What is particularly notable is that the team is virtually identical to last year – the only change was Larry Drew taking over as coach, and he was a holdover assistant.  Much has been made of the Hawks change of offense to a more motion and passing oriented attack and less of an isolation one.  The change of their offensive composition seems to point to a chance in underlying philosophy – I’d be interested to see for myself.

On the other side of the scale are the Washington Wizards and their 27th ranked offensive attack.  We all know that their team this year lacks many nuclear physicists with the likes of Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Gil Arenas and Javale McGee.  John Wall is going to be a megastar, but we know rookies are full of turnovers.  What is interesting is that usually efficient offenses are a hallmark of Flip Saunders coached teams.  However, this team is different.  First, there is the 20th ranked true shooting – which is not good, but at least in the ballpark of average – it could be redeemed with quantity.  However, the Wizards offense has really been plagued by a simple inability to get shots up, good or bad.  The Wizards have been the worst offensive rebounding team in the league, and are 28th in the league in turnover rate.  Put simply, they cannot afford bad shooting nights, the marginal value of each shot is too precious.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s