Uhmmmm.............. Yeah. Are you gonna go ahead and have those TPS reports on my desk?
Hello chickens! We are just about a quarter through the season and I've been meaning to throw up a stats discussion post to see what we might be able to learn ourselves about statistics behind the Nuggets play this far. Hence the first quarterly Totally Pimpin' Stats! ® report! Yeah!!!
Before we begin, I want to let everyone know that this post is not meant to be an uber-negative whine-fest flaunting my newfound reputation as a chief Doomsayer on Denver Stiffs (thanks SDCat). I intend for this post to be a forum where we can constructively explore the good and the bad behind behind the Nuggets statistical production so far, 21 games in. Meany of the things I found researching this post left me with a more positive outlook than I expected.
I realize this isn't for everyone, cause it's nerdy and sometimes so convoluted that it's hard to take any solid conclusions away from a bunch of messed up formulas with mathematics and whatnot. That's why I'll start with some very broad, already number-crunched collection of advanced stats - the Simple Rating System and then John Hollinger's automated "power rankings" formula. Bear with me!
Click here to be cybernetically transported to basketball-reference's season summary page. Now, click on the SRS text in the Western Conference table to sort the teams by their Simple Rating System rank. As you can see, this shows the Nuggets are playing about the 6th best basketball in an absolutely STACKED Western conference. Now allow me to explain why this is important - the simple rating system is a measure of average point margin, relative to the strength of your opponents and the rest of the league. So basically - this factors in offense, defense, plus the strength of every team you have played, normalized across the entire league. Winning a tough schedule versus a pillowy soft cakewalk schedule factor directly into your rating. A 3.09 rating is solid (NOT including the Boston loss just yet), and that puts the Nuggets in the top 10 of the league - even WITH a totally shit-tastic 3-7 road record! Going by this simple, yet extremely complicated formula there's clearly a lot further to fall before we can declare the Nuggets borderline non-contenders.
Next exercise - click here to warp your computer to ESPN's Hollinger power rankings. This is a similar ranking to what I just explained, but has additional factors to account for home and road record, and recent performance. If you want a detailed explanation of this go here. This system, which I used to ABSOLUTELY LOATHE - has proven conventional wisdom wrong time and time and time again. By the time the playoffs come around, it almost always predicts the strongest teams likely to make it the furthest and the most likely upsets. It has proven me wrong so many times - predicting the Nuggets run 2 years ago, the Suns run last year, the Spurs upset of the Mavs as a virtual guarantee, and many more. About the only time I have seen this totally off is the Celtics last year, as they fell into a deep slump to finish out the year before getting red-hot in the playoffs. I really hated this a lot, but over the years I have found it to be incredibly telling and I'm forced to at leats pay some attention to it - you should too.
Hollinger's system clearly exposed the Nuggets shaky play through their recent hot streak. Denver is 7-3 in their last 10, while New Orleans is 4-6, yet the numbers don't show we have actually been better than them. A big reason for this of course is the wildly inconsistent defense and the road record. That's why Hollinger could have easily predicted a losing streak upcoming on this current road trip as the Nuggets - who have been winning games - continue to barely tread water and are now plummeting in the power rankings. Remember, this is a purely mathematical exercise - no human element ever comes into the picture. When you look at the underlying math behind our play, it seems Denver is struggling bad and could be headed for a serious lull in their play. In fact, we are already firmly in the middle of the pack and in need of a serious jolt badly.
Lastly, I'm just going to list some random Nuggets of statistics I found interesting. Please read the comments and contribute your own to this - I don;t have time to point out all the important ones
- Denver plays at the second fastest pace in the league, which explains some of their poor defensive numbers. They are ranked a solid 6th in offensive efficiency, right behind Miami. Oddly enough, we are really shooting poorly this year, at a very pedestrian 50.3% effective field goal percentage. Denver can shoot A LOT better than that. If our EFG% ever comes back to the level we've been accustomed to we have one of if not the most dangerous offenses in the league.
- Melo's recent slump has really hurt him so badly. He literally went from playing the best ball of his career all the way to the worst. I can't get into it, but it's very depressing. He should return to a much better, acceptable level of play if he ever gets healthy. Let's all hope it's sooner rather than later. Something has clearly been wrong with him.
- Denver has gotten more of their shots blocked than any team in the league. You can blame selfish play and shit shot selection for this one.
- Denver ranks first in free throw rate in the whole NBA. Their model for success is based on getting to the line.
- Nene is now Denver's best player going by PER, due to Melo's slump. He is so far and away the most efficient player on the team, it's not even funny. For all the crap he gets, he is by far and away our most valuable player in terms of production that helps you win games. He leads the league in True Shooting percentage and Effective FG%. He is one of the most underrated players in the whole league.
- Chauncey Billups averages 6.4 assists at home and 3.9 on the road. That is a pretty huge disparity. Nate pointed this out yesterday. Also, Chauncey pretty much sucks ass this year if you hadn't noticed.
- Carmelo Anthony is the team leader in rebounds per game with 8. Shelden Williams leads the team in rebounds per 36 minutes with 11. No other player on the Nuggets besides Shelden averages double digit rebounds per 36 minutes.
- The OKC Thunder are the most over-hyped team in the league. They are still very young and just not nearly as dominant as they are made out to be. Everyone declaring them a strong second best in the West are doing so very prematurely. I just don't see how they are that great. Furthermore, they get the most calls out of any team in the NBA and lead the league in free throw attempts.
I really hope you guys add your own stat observations, especially for all the individual players I couldn't get to. Also let me know what you think of this post. I am really not that bad of a dude and I'm not all doom and gloom. If you read all this - word up. Drop some of your own thoughts in the comments. Go Nuggets!