Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NBA 2014-15 15-week Power Ratings

The National Basketball Association’s initial All-Star Extravaganza under the auspices of Commissioner Adam Silver lacked not for entertainment and novelty. For the fifth time in the event’s 64-year history, the Stars treated NBA-nation to a 300-point scoring output. Timberwolf Teenager Zach LaVine injected more life into the Slam Dunk contest than it’s seen since Afros were in style. And the Long Distance Shootout boasted its most impressive field since Larry Bird was taking bets for runner-up. It nearly seemed as if the league’s best and brightest were playing the game itself as an homage to Curry the Younger’s triumph – the squads combined to launch 133 three-points field goals versus 130 two-pointers. That’s an All-Star first.

It actually took four years for NBA All-Stars to attempt as many as ten three pointers – not in a single game, bear in mind, but all-time. My, how the game has changed in three decades, eh? Such neglect of the ARK is obsolete as well as costly – and not just amidst All-Star Fun and Frolic, either.

Six teams have earned a Top Ten rank in both converting and defending “threes,” including the surprising Milwaukee Bucks (third in each category). The others – Atlanta (1/7), Golden State (2/4), Portland (7/2), the Bulls (6/8) and the Clippers (5/10) – are in good position to own some home-court advantage come playoff time.



Ratings reflect play through Thursday February 12. (The Criteria is explained below.)


No. 1 Golden State Warriors (5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 2
12-week Abacus rating: 1
9-week Abacus rating: 1
6-week Abacus rating: 1
3-week Abacus rating: 5]

42-9, .824; 1st in Pacific Division / 1st seed / 1st overall
KK:  +17; (19 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 1 overall
CQ:  +41; (.511 [5th] - .470 [1st]) / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  +52; (576 [8th] – 524 [3rd]) / No. 2 overall


No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies (11)

[15-week ESPN rating: 3
12-week Abacus rating: 2
9-week Abacus rating: 3
6-week Abacus rating: 2
3-week Abacus rating: 1]

39-14, .736; 1st in Southwest Division / 2nd seed / 3rd overall
KK:  +11; (16 Road Wins – 5 Home Loss) / No. 3 overall
CQ:  +35; (.512 [4th] - .477 [4th]) / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  +45; (576 [8th] – 531 [6th]) / No. 3 overall


No. 3 Dallas Mavericks (23.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 8
12-week Abacus rating: 2
9-week Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 3
3-week Abacus rating: 2]

36-19, .655; 3rd in Southwest Division / 5th seed / 7th overall
KK:  +10; (19 Road Wins – 9 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
CQ:  +26; (.515 [3rd] - .489 [12th]) / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  +18; (582 [4th] – 564 [18th]) / No. 8 overall


No. 4 Atlanta Hawks (27)

[15-week ESPN rating: 1
12-week Abacus rating: 5
9-week Abacus rating: 8
6-week Abacus rating: 13
3-week Abacus rating: 15]

43-11, .796; 1st in Southeast Division / 1st seed / 2nd overall
KK:  +15; (18 Road Wins – 3 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall
CQ:  +29; (.502 [11th] - .473 [2nd]) / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  -6; (533 [24th] – 539 [8th]) / No. 20 overall


No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers (27.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 10
12-week Abacus rating: 8
9-week Abacus rating: 9
6-week Abacus rating: 8
3-week Abacus rating: 19]

35-19, .648; 2nd in Pacific Division / 6th seed / 8th overall
KK:  +7; (14 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 8 overall (tied)
CQ:  +24; (.525 [1st] - .501 [19th]) / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  +29; (578 [5th] – 549 [13th]) / No.  5 overall


No. 6 Washington Wizards (28.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 16
12-week Abacus rating: 4
9-week Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 5
3-week Abacus rating: 4]

33-21, .611; 2nd in Southeast Division / 4th seed / 11th overall
KK:  +5; (13 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
CQ:  +25; (.506 [8th] - .481 [7th]) / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  +55; (570 [10th] – 515 [2nd]) / No. 1 overall


No. 7 San Antonio Spurs (31.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 6
12-week Abacus rating: 7
9-week Abacus rating: 11
6-week Abacus rating: 4
3-week Abacus rating: 10]

34-19, .642; 4th in Southwest Division / 7th seed / 9th overall
KK:  +7; (14 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 8 overall (tied)
CQ:  +12; (.492 [15th] - .480 [6th]) / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  +19; (543 [21st] – 524 [3rd]) / No. 7 overall


No. 8 Toronto Raptors (34)

[15-week ESPN rating: 5
12-week Abacus rating: 6
9-week Abacus rating: 2
6-week Abacus rating: 7
3-week Abacus rating: 7]

36-17, .679; 1st in Atlantic Division / 2nd seed / 4th overall (tied)*
KK:  +6; (15 Road Wins – 9 Home Losses) / No. 10 overall
CQ:  +11; (.516 [2nd] - .505 [22nd]) / No. 8 overall (tied)*
SPOR-t:  +16; (590 [2nd] – 574 [24th]) / No. 10 overall


Abacus Revelation:

A mere 13 of the 2015 All-Star Game’s 321 points were registered at the free-throw line – and only two foul shots were missed. While such numbers are uncommonly low, the concept of limiting an opponent’s opportunity to attempt undefended shots would seem a worthy goal, wouldn’t it? And a consequent edge over one’s opposition in free-throw attempts likewise advantageous?

Well, inexplicably, the Minnesota Timberwolves (6/5) are among the eight teams who hold a Top Ten ranking by these two measurements. Utah (7/9), Charlotte (1/7) and perhaps Detroit (4/3) may raise an eyebrow or two. Memphis (3/6), Chicago (9/2), the white-hot Hawks (5/8) and gelling Cavs (2/4) round out this Elite Eight.


No. 9 Houston Rockets (40.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 7
12-week Abacus rating: 8
9-week Abacus rating: 10
6-week Abacus rating: 9
3-week Abacus rating: 3]

36-17, .679; 2nd in Southwest Division / 3rd seed / 4th overall (tied)*
KK:  +10; (18 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
CQ:  -1; (.484 [24th] - .485 [10th]) / No. 16 overall
SPOR-t:  +6; (550 [18th] – 544 [10th]) / No. 15 overall


No. 10 Oklahoma City Thunder (41)

[15-week ESPN rating: 13
12-week Abacus rating: 11
9-week Abacus rating: 14
6-week Abacus rating: 22
3-week Abacus rating: 28]

28-25, .528; 2nd in Northwest Division / 9th seed / 15th overall
KK:  +4; (12 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 13 overall
CQ:  +11; (.495 [14th] - .484 [8th]) / No. 8 overall (tied)*
SPOR-t:  +31; (568 [12th] – 537 [7th]) / No. 4 overall


No. 11 Chicago Bulls (42.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 11
12-week Abacus rating: 12
9-week Abacus rating: 7
6-week Abacus rating: 11
3-week Abacus rating: 8]

34-20, .630; 1st in Central Division / 3rd seed / 10th overall
KK:  +8; (19 Road Wins – 11 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)
CQ:  +11; (.506 [8th] - .495 [15th]) / No. 8 overall (tied)*
SPOR-t:  +3; (577 [7th] – 574 [24th]) / No. 16 overall (tied)*


No. 12 Portland Trail Blazers (43)

[15-week ESPN rating: 9
12-week Abacus rating: 10
9-week Abacus rating: 6
6-week Abacus rating: 5
3-week Abacus rating: 9]

36-17, .679; 1st in Northwest Division / 3rd seed / 4th overall (tied)*
KK:  +8; (13 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)
CQ:  +1; (.485 [22nd] - .484 [8th]) / No. 14 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +3; (549 [20th] – 546 [11th]) / No. 16 overall (tied)*


No. 13 Cleveland Cavaliers (51.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 4
12-week Abacus rating: 17
9-week Abacus rating: 12
6-week Abacus rating: 10
3-week Abacus rating: 12]

33-22, .600; 2nd in Central Division / 5th seed / 12th overall
KK:  +3; (12 Road Wins – 9 Home Losses) / No. 14 overall
CQ:  +9; (.509 [7th] - .500 [17th]) / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +7; (585 [3rd] – 578 [27th]) / No. 13 overall (tied)


No. 14 Milwaukee Bucks (52.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 15
12-week Abacus rating: 15
9-week Abacus rating: 16
6-week Abacus rating: 16
3-week Abacus rating: 13]

30-23, .566; 3rd in Central Division / 6th seed / 13th overall
KK:  +5; (15 Road Wins – 10 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
CQ:  +10; (.489 [20th] - .479 [5th]) / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  +3; (542 [22nd] – 539 [8th]) / No. 16 overall (tied)*


No. 14 New Orleans Pelicans (52.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 12
12-week Abacus rating: 13
9-week Abacus rating: 13
6-week Abacus rating: 14
3-week Abacus rating: 11]

27-26, .509; 5th in Southwest Division / 10th seed / 16th overall
KK:  0; (10 Road Wins – 10 Home Losses) / No. 16 overall
CQ:  +1; (.510 [6th] - .509 [26th]) / No. 14 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +24; (601 [1st] – 577 [26th]) / No. 6 overall


Abacus Revelation:

The 2015 NBA Elite combined to amass 41 offensive rebounds during the All-Star Game, the most since 2011’s 43 retrievals. Offensive rebounding is as old as the game itself, has been a tracked statistic for over four decades now, and confounds all logic. The possession extended by a crucial offensive rebound frequently determines the difference between victory and defeat, right?

Well, there are three teams that rank in the Top Ten in both Offensive Rebounding Percentage and its defensive equivalent: Detroit (3/7), led by the tag team of Drummond and Monroe and the defending league champs in ORP; Utah (1/9) and Sacramento (9/6). And even the atrocious Nuggets come close, No. 11 by both standards.

Little wonder the NBA Championship has never been won by the best offensive rebounding team in the league, huh?


No. 16 Charlotte Hornets (60.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 17
12-week Abacus rating: 16
9-week Abacus rating: 24
6-week Abacus rating: 24
3-week Abacus rating: 21]

22-30, .423; 3rd in Southeast Division / 7th seed / 17th overall (tied)
KK:  -6; (9 Road Wins – 15 Home Losses) / No. 20 overall (tied)*
CQ:  +5; (.481 [26th] - .476 [5th]) / No. 13 overall
SPOR-t:  +17; (526 [27th] – 509 [1st]) / No. 9 overall


No. 17 Phoenix Suns (71)

[15-week ESPN rating: 14
12-week Abacus rating: 14
9-week Abacus rating: 15
6-week Abacus rating: 15
3-week Abacus rating: 18]

29-25, .537; 3rd in Pacific Division / 8th seed / 14th overall
KK:  +2; (13 Road Wins – 11 Home Losses) / No. 15 overall
CQ:  -7; (.496 [13th] - .503 [21st]) / No. 19 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  -12; (556 [14th] – 568 [21st]) / No. 22 overall (tied)


No. 18 Detroit Pistons (74)

[15-week ESPN rating: 19
12-week Abacus rating: 20
9-week Abacus rating: 26
6-week Abacus rating: 29
3-week Abacus rating: 27]

21-33, .389; 4th in Central Division / 11th seed / 21st overall (tied)
KK:  -7; (11 Road Wins – 18 Home Losses) / No. 23 overall (tied)
CQ:  -6; (.489 [20th] - .495 [15th]) / No. 18 overall
SPOR-t:  +13; (570 [10th] – 557 [15th]) / No. 11 overall


No. 19 Indiana Pacers (75)

[15-week ESPN rating: 18
12-week Abacus rating: 22
9-week Abacus rating: 21
6-week Abacus rating: 23
3-week Abacus rating: 23]

21-33, .389; 4th in Central Division / 11th seed / 21st overall (tied)
KK:  -4 (10 Road Wins – 14 Home Loss) / No. 18 overall (tied)
CQ:  -15; (.477 [28th] - .492 [13th]) / No. 23 overall
SPOR-t:  +9; (533 [24th] – 524 [3rd]) / No. 12 overall


No. 20 Utah Jazz (78)

[15-week ESPN rating: 23
12-week Abacus rating: 23
9-week Abacus rating: 22
6-week Abacus rating: 25
3-week Abacus rating: 22]

19-34, .358; 4th in Northwest Division / 12th seed / 24th overall
KK:  -6; (9 Road Wins – 15 Home Losses) / No. 20 overall (tied)*
CQ:  -7; (.498 [12th] - .505 [22nd]) / No. 19 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +7; (578 [5th] – 571 [22nd]) / No. 13 overall (tied)


No. 21 Miami Heat (81.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 22
12-week Abacus rating: 21
9-week Abacus rating: 23
6-week Abacus rating: 21
3-week Abacus rating: 14]

22-30, .423; 3rd in Southeast Division / 7th seed / 17th overall (tied)
KK:  -2; (13 Road Wins – 15 Home Losses) / No. 17 overall
CQ:  -9; (.491 [18th] - .500 [17th]) / No. 21 overall
SPOR-t:  -44; (523 [28th] – 567 [20th]) / No. 26 overall


No. 22 Boston Celtics (84.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 20
12-week Abacus rating: 25
9-week Abacus rating: 19
6-week Abacus rating: 18
3-week Abacus rating: 17]

20-31, .392; 3rd in Atlantic Division / 10th seed / 20th overall
KK:  -7; (8 Road Wins – 15 Home Losses) / No. 23 overall (tied)
CQ:  -12; (.482 [25th] - .494 [14th]) / No. 22 overall
SPOR-t:  -3; (550 [18th] – 553 [14th]) / No. 19 overall


Abacus Revelation:
Unlike the forced and unforced errors charted in competitive tennis, basketball turnovers are not categorized by cause – poor offensive performance or stellar defensive execution; an inevitable consequence of offensive aggressive or the reward for strategic diligence.

You might be surprised to discover the only two Top Ten teams in both taking care of the ball and forcing turnovers. They present a contrast in playing styles but share a lofty status, here and elsewhere. They are the high-scoring Dallas Mavericks (3/4) and the grind-em-down Grizzlies (6/4).

Who’d’a thunk?


No. 23 Brooklyn Nets (86.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 21
12-week Abacus rating: 24
9-week Abacus rating: 18
6-week Abacus rating: 19
3-week Abacus rating: 15]

21-31, .404; 2nd in Atlantic Division / 9th seed / 19th overall
KK:  -4; (11 Road Wins – 15 Home Losses) / No. 18 overall (tied)
CQ:  -16; (.485 [22nd] - .501 [19th]) / No. 24 overall
SPOR-t:  -43; (529 [26th] – 572 [23rd]) / No. 25 overall


No. 24 Denver Nuggets (90)

[15-week ESPN rating: 27
12-week Abacus rating: 18
9-week Abacus rating: 19
6-week Abacus rating: 17
3-week Abacus rating: 24]

20-33, .377; 3rd in Northwest Division / 11th seed / 23rd overall
KK:  -6; (8 Road Wins – 14 Home Losses) / No. 20 overall (tied)*
CQ:  -18; (.492 [15th] - .510 [27th]) / No. 25 overall
SPOR-t:  -7; (556 [14th] – 563 [17th]) / No. 21 overall


No.25 Sacramento Kings (90.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 24
12-week Abacus rating: 19
9-week Abacus rating: 17
6-week Abacus rating: 12
3-week Abacus rating: 6]

18-34, .346; 4th in Pacific Division / 13th seed / 25th overall
KK:  -10; (7 Road Wins – 17 Home Losses) / No. 26 overall
CQ:  -4; (.503 [10th] - .507 [24th]) / No. 17 overall
SPOR-t:  -12; (554 [17th] – 566 [19th]) / No. 22 overall (tied)


No. 26 Los Angeles Lakers (104)

[15-week ESPN rating: 30
12-week Abacus rating: 27
9-week Abacus rating: 27
6-week Abacus rating: 26
3-week Abacus rating: 29]

13-40, .245; 5th in Pacific Division / 14th seed / 27th overall
KK:  -12; (6 Road Wins – 18 Home Losses) / No. 27 overall
CQ:  -26; (.492 [15th] - .518 [29th]) / No. 26 overall
SPOR-t:  -23; (556 [14th] – 579 [28th]) / No. 24 overall


No. 27 Orlando Magic (106)

[15-week ESPN rating: 28
12-week Abacus rating: 26
9-week Abacus rating: 24
6-week Abacus rating: 20
3-week Abacus rating: 20]

17-39, .304; 5th in Southeast Division / 13th seed / 26th overall
KK:  -8; (10 Road Wins – 18 Home Losses) / No. 25 overall
CQ:  -27; (.480 [27th] - .507 [24th]) / No. 27 overall
SPOR-t:  -46; (511 [29th] – 557 [15th]) / No. 28


No. 28 Minnesota Timberwolves (113.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 25
12-week Abacus rating: 28
9-week Abacus rating: 28
6-week Abacus rating: 27
3-week Abacus rating: 26]

11-42, .208; 5th in Northwest Division / 15th seed / 29th overall
KK:  -16; (5 Road Wins – 21 Home Losses) / No. 29 overall (tied)
CQ:  -28; (.491 [18th] - .519 [30th]) / No. 28 overall
SPOR-t:  -45; (560 [13th] – 605 [30th]) / No. 27 overall


No. 29 Philadelphia 76ers (115)

[15-week ESPN rating: 26
12-week Abacus rating: 29
9-week Abacus rating: 20
6-week Abacus rating: 30
3-week Abacus rating: 30]

12-41, .226; 4th in Atlantic Division / 14th seed / 28th overall
KK:  -14; (5 Road Wins – 19 Home Losses) / No. 28 overall
CQ:  -37; (.448 [30th] - .485 [10th]) / No. 29 overall
SPOR-t:  -77; (470 [30th] – 547 [12th]) / No. 30 overall


No. 30 New York Knicks (118.5)

[15-week ESPN rating: 29
12-week Abacus rating: 30
9-week Abacus rating: 29
6-week Abacus rating: 28
3-week Abacus rating: 25]

10-43, .189; 5th in Atlantic Division / 15th seed / 30th overall
KK:  -16; (3 Road Wins – 19 Home Losses) / No. 29 overall (tied)
CQ:  -43; (.470 [29th] - .513 [28th]) / No. 30 overall
SPOR-t:  -48; (537 [23rd] – 585 [29th]) / No. 29 overall


Power Ratings --The Measurement Instrument

Our team-ranking tool utilizes four elements. Two scales are based solely on team wins and losses; the others are measures of the efficiency of team performance in comparison with the competition. First, we’ll simply use win-loss record irrespective of conference.

The second criterion will be the difference between a team’s road wins and its home losses. Since this cute little metric is said to be a personal favorite of veteran NBA coach George Karl, let’s call this the Karl Kount (KK).

Criterion No. 3, Conversion Quotient (CQ), involves the rate at which a team converts its possessions into a successful field goals or free throw attempts. Like the KK, the computation is simple subtraction—a team’s rate of offensive efficiency minus that of the opponent.

Lastly, please allow Abacus to introduce the “SPOR-t” score. SPOR-t stands for “Shooting Plus Offensive Rebounds minus turnovers.” Add a team’s FG percentage and its offensive rebounding percentage (o. boards divided by the sum of those o. boards and the opposition's d. boards). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, offensive rebounds at a rate of .199, and commits a turnover on .143 of its possessions. So its SPOR-t is (488+199-143) or 544. Once again, our measurement will be the difference between the SPOR-t scores of a team and its opposition.

We’ll rank the teams from 1 to 30 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings. Low score wins, naturally.