Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here’s a little something to chew on while you decide if there's room for some more of that pumpkin pie. Don’t worry, it’s not to heavy. More like a little whipped cream for that pie you're going to get.
Point Differential of course is a simple stat calculated by taking Points For (PF) minus the Points Against (PA) which yields the difference.
Don’t be deceived. Diff is simple, but highly correlated to number of wins and even NBA titles. A very good indicator of how a team is performing as a unit. Here's about 14 years of NBA data: Diff on the left and wins at the top.
Only 3 teams in the last 15 years had a scoring margin above 9.8 and all 3 were NBA Champs (Blazers were at 9.8 for the last 21 games of last year).
The above charts and tables come from a couple posts I put up last year, and I have combined them and put them all in this post. Now a glance at this year.
A Look At This Year With Adjusted Point Differential
Stats really should always be adjusted for pace. I’m sure someone here convinced me of that with regard to the Blazers offense and rebound rates.
So here’s point differential adjusted (DIFFa) as if every team always had 100 points (PAa) scored against them, and also the corresponding Points For (PFa). The standard PF, PA, and DIFF are included, but this table is sorted by the adjusted DIFF, i.e. DIFFa. If you look closely you’ll see some teams rose/declined a few spots with adjusted Diff.
The Blazers arguably have one of the best defenses in the league this year. It’s interesting that with the brush stroke of adjusted point diff, we now have the best offense in the league. Of course we’re tied with 29 teams for defense.
In fact, if we had been a little more ready for the start of the season and had 2 more wins, we’d be leading the league with a whopping .824 win%. Considering that our actual PF (points for) is 22nd in the league, adjusting so all teams can be compared equally truly shows how well the Blazers are doing, and brings out the aspect of our slow pace.
We can complain all we want about this player, that player, coach, etc.
The truth is, we all know this team is just barely beginning to gel as an offense.
So me, I’m giving thanks today.
So Where Are We
Pythagorean Wins (a formula based on DIFF that projects number of wins for the year) had us at 44 wins after the first 5 games. After 17 games it currently places us at 63.8 wins.
I wouldn’t put to much stock into this stat until at least 25 games or so, if not more. It does not consider strength of schedule.
The current win% of our opponent in these first 17 games is .407
If New Jersey (0.000) was a .500 team this would bring our opponents average up to .437
Last year our opponents win% for the year was .493. So really, all we need is for the poor teams we’ve played, New Jersey (.000), 3x Minnesota (.067), Memphis (.333), Charlotte (.357), Detroit (.333), Golden State (.357) to step it up a little just a little and bingo, our easy early schedule becomes a tough schedule.
Ok, that was a little bit in jest. But there is also some truth to it. Is New Jersey going 0 & 82, I doubt it. And they certainly didn’t look like a 0 & 14 team out there last night.
Another thing to consider with this weak early schedule is the amount of games we’ve played. After Saturday it will be 19 games in 33 days, the most rigorous schedule in the league. Nobody has played more games.
What does all this boil down to: it’s a little difficult to judge just how good we’re doing at the moment.
Probably doing about what we should be doing at this time. Take into consideration the slow start, where we were clearly out of sync, and we couldn’t ask for a better start.