No Place Like Home: An Investigative Report On The Degree To Which NBA Players Are Affected By The Hostilities Of The Road

No Place Like Home: An Investigative Report On The Degree To Which NBA Players Are Affected By The Hostilities Of The Road

The NBA regular season is one heck of a marathon. From the dawn of October all the way through the ides of April, NBA teams compete in eighty-two 48-minute basketball contests—41 in their hometown venue and another 41 in a range of various road cities and stadiums. Out of this, a natural “home-court advantage” tends to materialize. Teams, for as long as the Association has been around, have been more successful at home than on the road. In fact, home teams, in any one season in league history, have never won less than 54% of their games, and have even managed to establish single season winning percentages as high as 68.5% in the past forty years. This kind of home-court advantage has been theorized to exist for a multitude of reasons; for instance, players and team personnel may be more comfortable performing at home, where they have an established routine and a consistent schedule. After all, being at home allows for a player to sleep in his own bed, drive to the game in his own car, and surround himself with his own friends and family. Meanwhile, visiting teams may be at a disadvantage because road venues are inconsistent in their divergence from home (there’s only one “home,” but twenty-nine different “road” environments, after all), give rise to various unforeseen circumstances, breaks from routine, hostile environments, and the like. Furthermore, it has been found that visiting teams often tend to be given fewer days of rest between games than do their home counterparts. Even still, these factors, in their multiplicity, materialize before the game itself, which brings forth a...
Home Vs. Road: A Quick Primer on What’s to Come

Home Vs. Road: A Quick Primer on What’s to Come

The NBA regular season is one heck of a marathon. Starting from the end of October and running all the way through the middle of April, NBA teams are tasked with competing in eighty-two 48-minute basketball contests—41 in their hometown venue and another 41 in a range of various road cities and stadiums. Out of this, a natural “home-court advantage” tends to materialize. Teams, for as long as the Association has been around, have been more successful at home than on the road. Indeed, this idea of a home-court advantage in the NBA is widely acknowledged to be an incredibly important factor towards the general outcome of games. Home teams, in any one season in league history, have never won less than 54% of their games, and have even managed to establish single season winning percentages as high as 67% in the past forty years. Despite this, however, the manner in which individual players’ performances wax and wane given home or road venue remains largely uninvestigated. For instance, many assume that star players, those at the absolute height of the NBA game, are less dependent on their surrounding environment(s) than less-heralded players. Bench players—on a general scale–, meanwhile, seem to carry the reputation that their quality of play is far less reliable on the road, where fans are more hostile, hotels and strangers replace homes, families, and friends, surroundings become unfamiliar, and otherwise uniform schedules fall prey to all kinds of unforeseen circumstances. As such, to further explore and clarify the public’s understanding of home-court advantage and the manner in which it influences not only teams but also individuals in...
Taking Attendance: An Investigative Report On How Certain Intrinsic Variables Dictate The Rates At Which NBA Fans Show Up For Games

Taking Attendance: An Investigative Report On How Certain Intrinsic Variables Dictate The Rates At Which NBA Fans Show Up For Games

Amongst NBA fans and players alike, fan attendance is often a matter of much back-and forth. Diehard NBA supporters often lament fanbases of other franchises for being fair-weather or fickle in their loyalty, while platitudes such as “we have the best fans in the world” or “our fans stick by us no matter what” are a common feature of post-game press conferences and preseason rallies. While such commentary has largely become synonymous with NBA culture as a whole, however, the manner in which preseason hype, variability in team success, or autonomous factors such as location relate to regular season attendance–not only on special, nationally televised occasions, but on a daily basis–is rarely, if ever, investigated. While many NBA aficionados may like to believe that their respective NBA fanbases are superior to those of others, for whatever special reason, the truth is that many exterior, overarching variables—ones largely out of the hands of any regular, everyday NBA fan—significantly impact the rate of attendance throughout the NBA. As such, after speculating as to the identity of these factors and the manner in which they dictate NBA attendance, I chose four particular variables—projected wins, regular season wins, market size, and recent playoff success—and plotted them against fan attendance for each and every team, as a means to investigate how highly each correlates with the rate at which NBA fans tend to turn out. The following table displays all of my potential explanatory variables, along with my response variable. In order, “Projected_Wins” denotes each team’s projected win total (which I gathered via ESPN, the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports), “Real_Wins” denotes each team’s regular...
Offense To Defense: An Investigative Report On How Each Side Of The Ball Relates To Success In The NBA

Offense To Defense: An Investigative Report On How Each Side Of The Ball Relates To Success In The NBA

An oft-repeated adage in the NBA states: “Offense wins eyes, but defense wins games”. While this type of platitude has become a commonly perpetuated cliché throughout NBA circles, its statistical applicability is rarely, if ever, challenged. In order to investigate whether there is some kind of significant difference in how offense, as opposed to defense, relates to wins altogether, I decided to investigate, with the 2014-15 NBA season serving as my personal guinea pig. Using team wins as my response variable, I plotted each team’s offensive and defensive rating, as explanatory variables, against the other, in order to differentiate between the predictive power of each as it pertains to regular-season wins in the NBA. All of my corresponding data for this investigation is displayed in the following table, and teams are sorted alphabetically, with “ORtg” denoting each team’s offensive rating (points scored per one-hundred possessions and “DRtg” denoting each team’s defensive rating (points allowed per one-hundred possessions—so, less is more): Furthermore, the following medley of scatterplots, equations, and explanations in context serves to parse the data I have collected. First, for the initial explanatory variable: The above scatterplot shows the relationship between team offensive rating, my first explanatory variable, and total teams wins, my response variable. Here, there is a moderately strong, positive, linear relationship between the strength of a team’s offensive rating and the number of games it won. The correlation for these variables is r=0.819. Evidently, teams that score a high number of points per 100 possessions tend to also win a good amount of games. In order to model the relationship between offensive rating and wins,...
Home-Court: An Investigative Report On The Dwindling Nature Of One Of The NBA’s Most Standard Advantages

Home-Court: An Investigative Report On The Dwindling Nature Of One Of The NBA’s Most Standard Advantages

It is often speculated by NBA fans and talking heads alike that the impact of home-court advantage has become less significant in the modern era than it was in the days of old. Various arguments have and continue to be made in this regard. For one, many cite the increasing marketability of the league, via ESPN, national TV broadcasts, and modern technology in general, as one reason fan attendance has become less regional and more “bandwagon”-oriented. Fans, nowadays, are less inclined to merely cheer for teams in their own cities; unlike, say, thirty years ago, when games broadcast in a certain city would include the home team almost exclusively, ESPN, TNT, ABC, and NBA League Pass have allowed for fans all across the world to watch whichever team interests them just about whenever they like. This, in theory, would create a phenomenon in which larger and larger proportions of fans in cities are likelier to attend games to root for (and, in turn, prop up) the opposing team, and diminish the inherent home-court advantage that the home team holds. Furthermore, many cite the rise of hubs such as “SeatGeek” and “Stubhub”, sites that have made ticket distribution far more frequent and easy, as a reason fan attendance has become a lot less homogenous. It is a whole lot easier to use one of these databases not only to find a favorable deal, but to book an adjacent flight, plan ahead of time, and even distribute tickets to fans in other cities. This kind of secondary distribution of tickets can take the authority out of the hands of team officials...
NBA Rookie Ladder: Second Edition

NBA Rookie Ladder: Second Edition

A recurring note: This Rookie Ladder is essentially a running “rookie of the year” tab. Certain weeks were not, are not, and will not be weighed more heavily than others because they are more memorable or recent. Rather, each edition will provide an update on how the list of top-10 rookies stands on the season to date, one week at a time. Furthermore, neither age nor draft position will affect a player’s prospective standing here. As long as said player qualifies as a rookie, he can be as high or as low on this list as his play dictates. With that said, enjoy the first edition of HoopsCritic’s “NBA Rookie Ladder”, brought to you by The Committee (of one). NBA Rookie Ladder   1. Karl-Anthony Towns PTS TRB AST STL BLK TOV TS% FG% 3P% FT% MPG NET RTG 15.3 9.3 1.0 0.7 2.2 2.1 57.9 53.2 43.8 80.7 28.1 -0.5   Almost two months into his rookie year, Karl-Anthony Towns has headed the Rookie Ladder for each of the first seven weeks of the season. And despite a recent four-in-five-game stretch in which the Kentucky product saw his minutes dwindle, Towns’s numbers have hardly hit a lull. The big man remains the most efficient double-digit scorer in his class and paces all of his peers in both rebounding and blocked shots, while ranking tops amongst rookies according to just about every single all-in-one metric known to the world of advanced statistics. Yet, despite filling up the stat sheet so amply, the most impressive aspect of his impact on the game remains absent from the box score: with Towns...
NBA Rookie Ladder

NBA Rookie Ladder

A quick note: This Rookie Ladder is essentially a running “rookie of the year” tab. Certain weeks were not, are not, and will not be weighed more heavily than others because they are more memorable or recent. Rather, each edition will provide an update on how the list of top-10 rookies stands on the season to date, one week at a time. Furthermore, neither age nor draft position will affect a player’s prospective standing here. As long as said player qualifies as a rookie, he can be as high or as low on this list as his play dictates. With that said, enjoy the first edition of HoopsCritic’s “NBA Rookie Ladder”, brought to you by The Committee (of one). NBA Rookie Ladder   1. Karl-Anthony Towns PTS TRB AST STL BLK TOV TS% FG% 3P% FT% MPG NET RTG 15.4 10.5 1.0 0.5 2.1 2.2 54.7 48.9 20.0 91.4 28.9 + 2.7 Just eleven games into his career, 19-year old Karl-Anthony Towns has already proven far ahead of the learning curve. Holding opponents to 37.5% shooting (9.7% lower than usual), rebounding and converting free throws at rates less than 10 players in the entire league have managed, and pacing all fellow rookies in player efficiency rating, there’s simply not much the early favorite for ROY hasn’t been able to do. Go ahead and add another tally mark in the ‘University of Kentucky’ column. 2. Jahlil Okafor PTS TRB AST STL BLK TOV TS% FG% 3P% FT% MPG NET RTG 19.2 7.6 1.4 0.3 1.8 3.0 50.3 47.9 – 64.4 33.7 – 25.3 Logging a rookie-leading 33.7 minutes per contest,...
Shaquille O’Neal: An Investigative Report On The Legitimacy Of A Clutch Factor

Shaquille O’Neal: An Investigative Report On The Legitimacy Of A Clutch Factor

Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant big man in NBA history. He is widely recognized as one of the absolute greats, one of the few truly special players to ever grace a basketball court. Where his reputation falters quite a bit, however—and for good reason—is at the free throw line. The 7’1’’, 325-pound behemoth, affectionately dubbed ‘Shaq’, is routinely, and often comically, chided for his historically poor free throw shooting. It’s become such a popular diss amongst naysayers, former on-court rivals, and colleagues alike, in fact, that the big man has fashioned a go-to rebuttal in recent years. Nowadays, upon being called out for his failures at the charity stripe, most frequently on the post-game talk show “Inside the NBA” he co-hosts with former on-court rival-turned-funnyman Charles Barkley, Shaq will quickly shoot back: “Sure…but I made ‘em when they count.” Of course, this is an easy, off-hand assertion for the big man to make, and being that fact check is not a particularly prominent feature on the show, Shaq’s claim largely goes unchecked. In the interest of statistical reasoning (and sheer curiosity), I decided to go back and look at whether Shaq, in fact, “made ‘em when they count”—in the clutch—and whether his performance in the clutch varied enough from his success rate in non-clutch situations to suggest that his ability was, in fact, somehow enhanced (or whether it faltered) in the clutch. To do so, I began by determining the two sub-categories O’Neal’s free throws would fall into. As such, I decided that “clutch” shots would be represented by free-throw attempts that came in the fourth quarters of...