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Old 04-29-2009, 01:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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76ers Raptors HQ: Should the Raptors be a Playoff Team over the 76ers?

Good read courtesy of Raptors HQ.

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Originally Posted by Raptors HQ
Now, I work in analytics outside of RaptorsHQ so I realize that what follows is by no means a purely scientific assessment. What I really wanted was the ability to examine only data from the post-Jermaine O’Neal trade period for both teams in terms of sample size, but without having all of the raw data and a way to chop it up, that proved impossible at this point in time.

However that’s not to say we don’t get some interesting results in any event. So let’s dive in and start with a comparison between the Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Was the final version of the Raptors worthy of spot in the playoffs over the 76ers?

1) Starting Unit Efficiency:

82games.com has an interesting section that examines each team’s top 5-man units. It looks at various combinations so it’s therefore quite possible to compare Toronto’s starting five through the final few months, to that of Philadelphia’s. I felt this comparison was quite important because it’s been well documented that the Raptors’ starting unit holds up quite well and is one of the league’s top-scoring units.

Case in point – the Raptors won 60 per cent of their first quarters, sixth-best in the league. However after that, it was all downhill. The Dinos were one of the four worst teams in terms of winning percentage after the second quarter and didn’t fare much better in the third.

Interestingly, Philly’s results were essentially a carbon copy.

The 76er starters were a percentage point behind Toronto in terms of winning percentage after the first quarter and were actually WORSE in the second, finishing second last in the league to only Sacramento.

Therefore it’s not surprising that things were pretty close statistically between Toronto’s starting five of Calderon, Parker, Marion, Bosh and Bargs and Philly’s crew of Miller, Green, Iguodala, Young and Dalembert. The Raptors’ group had a winning percentage of only 27% but had similar numbers in terms of points per possession, and points allowed.

In addition, both clubs had similar “effective” field goal percentages (field goal percentage adjusted for the value of the 3-point shot) but Philly was the slightly superior defensive club, allowing an effective field goal percentage of 51% from their opponents as opposed to 55% from the Raps.

Finally, on the glass, the Raptors sported a 47% rebounding rate while the 76ers were superior in that capacity, nearly 51%.

Just based on those numbers alone one could reason that things would be pretty even between these two clubs after essentially the first quarter. It’s when the teams would be forced to go to their benches that things might get sketchy.

Advantage – Toronto slightly.


2) Bench Efficiency:

For starters, the 76ers don’t play a good portion of their bench many minutes. Take last night’s game against Orlando as an example; only Theo Ratliff and Louis Williams played over 10 minutes while the likes of Reggie Evans, Royal Ivey and gasp, Donyell Marshall got between four and eight minutes of burn. Contrast this to the Raptors who at times this past season played Jason Kapono, Joey Graham, Roko Ukic and even Jake Voskuhl for extended periods.

It’s hard therefore to do an accurate comparison, as rarely did Philadelphia not have at least two starters on the floor with the second group. As we know, the Raptors on the other hand sometimes had Roko, JK, Graham, and guys like Hump, Big Jake or Pops out there with either Bosh or Bargs.

Therefore instead of looking at the effectiveness of various combinations of bench units, I thought it might be more interesting to look at the PER, ESPN stat guru John Hollinger’s measure of a player’s efficiency, for each option for each team off the pine. I’ve always been a strong believer in this measure in terms of gauging players’ individual values and in fact, the use of this metric in this scenario is quite telling.

The average PER for the Raptors’ bench group that finished off the year, that is to say Jason Kapono (8.97), Roko Ukic (9.84), Joey Graham (11.99), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (14.73), Patrick O’Bryant (11.65) and Quincy Douby (10.26) was 11.24 – not exactly anything to write home about. (I didn’t include Marcus Banks or Kris Humphries obviously because of injury, and Nathan Jawai and Jake Voskuhl were eliminated as well due to insufficient playing time.)

Looking at Philadelphia’s back-up group, the numbers were very revealing. Their top six players off the bench, that is to say Reggie Evans (10.42), Royal Ivey (7.67), Theo Ratliff (12.01), Marreese Speights (18.01), Louis Williams (16.39) and Donyell Marshall (18.97) had an average PER of 13.91.

This difference in average PER (13.91 to 11.24) is a big one. Considering that the league average in terms of PER is 15.00, you see just how far away Toronto’s back-ups were from being able to effectively keep the Dinos in games with the starters sitting out.

Now as mentioned, you won’t see any five of these six on the court together at once for either team but the point here is that Philadelphia certainly had a lot more effective options to turn to then did the Raptors. As a result, while the starting units for both teams were close in various statistical areas, bench metrics were much further apart.

Advantage Philly.

3) Team Statistics:

Earlier in this post I discussed the difficulty of looking at overall team statistics due to the fact that most that I could find, only examined both teams’ bodies of work over an entire season. I of course wanted to scrutinize only that period of time from Shawn Marion’s arrival on the scene because over an entire season, both teams have quite similar statistics.

Neither club ranked well in terms of John Hollinger’s offensive efficiency marks (20th and 22nd respectively for Philly and Toronto) and defensively things weren’t much better (14th and 22nd respectively.) The most revealing team stat on the year to probably no one’s surprise was rebounding rate, where the 76ers were a top 10 team (sixth overall with a rate of 51.2) while Toronto – they finished in the bottom 10 (22nd with a rate of 49.1).

Again, because a good chunk of these stats for both teams are misleading (Philly was missing Elton Brand for part of the season while Toronto had yet to scoop up The Matrix and Pops) I thought that a better way of looking at the team’s effectiveness would be with David Berri’s “wins produced” metric. While Berri doesn’t have a list of all player Wins Produced rankings posted on his site yet, he does have lists of the top and bottom 10% of NBA players regarding “wins produced.”

Comparing the two teams, Toronto has a ghastly four players in the bottom 25 regarding “wins produced” (Andrea Bargnani, Jason Kapono, Roko Ukic and Jake Voskuhl) whereas Philly, has but one, Willie Green.

On the flip side, the Raptors Chris Bosh, Shawn Marion and Jose Calderon are all among the top 30 in the league in terms of wins produced, whereas the 76ers have only Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller in the vicinity.

In addition, Philadelphia simply has players that produce a higher amount of wins than does Toronto. On average, each 76 produced 1.65 wins. The Raptors? 1.43.

At first glance that doesn’t look like a huge difference, but if you take out the top 3 Raptors scores provided by Bosh, Calderon and Marion, and do the same for Philly by subtracting Iguodala, Miller and Dalembert, the discrepancy becomes quite large. This only reinforces something we’ve all suspected for quite some time. Yes, the Raptors’ starters are on par with most of the league, but the drop-off to the bench is akin to going from dating Samantha Diaz to dating Samantha Ronson.

One note however regarding the wins produced calculation. It may surprise some that Andrea Bargnani’s name was included on the list of players who produce the fewest (and in fact negative in this case) wins in the league, especially considering his play towards the end of the year. However considering that wins produced is calculated by heavily factoring in rebounding, obviously not a strength for Bargs, and discounts scoring to a great degree, Andrea’s true strength at this point in time, then things become more clear. A full mathematical description of how “wins produced” is calculated can be found here but this paragraph from rotosynthesis should suffice:

“At its simplest, “wins produced” is a measure that looks at offensive and defensive efficiency in one stat. Briefly, offensive efficiency is defined as points scored divided by possessions used, and defensive efficiency is defined as points surrendered divided by possessions used. These efficiencies, as well as several other factors, are combined to produce a player’s calculated production relative to their position average.

The coolest aspect of “wins produced” is the concept of assigning a fixed amount of a win to box score statistics, and as the “wins produced” stat theoretically measures player value independently of teammate caliber, it can be used as a predictor for how a player and team should be expected to produce after player movement (i.e. free agency or trade). The most famous success story for Berri in this capacity is the Allen Iverson/Andre’ Miller trade of 2006. That trade was supposed to benefit Denver, as Iverson is considered an All-time great with Miller just a solid player. Using “Wins Produced”, Berri predicted the exact opposite, that Philadelphia would thrive after the trade because Miller was the better player. This was obviously a controversial stance, but Berri’s prediction proved accurate all the way down to the exact number of wins that Philadelphia would end up with that season.”

Now is that to say that the “wins produced” is an infallible statistic?

Of course not, but again in this context, I think it’s safe to say that it goes a long way in illustrating not only the gap in talent between the clubs, but also in explaining just what went wrong with the Raps this season. As Mr. Berri put it:

"Toronto employs both Jose Calderon (20th most productive player) and Chris Bosh (26th most productive player). But the Raptors also have Andrea Bargnani (5th least productive), Jason Kapono (6th least productive), Roko Ukic (27th least productive), and Jake Voskuhl (28th least productive). When Toronto fans seek to understand why this season was so unsuccessful, this quartet - that played more than 25% of the team’s minutes - should certainly come to mind.proving just how much of a talent upgrade the Raptors need going into next season."

Advantage - Philly

4) Conclusion:

Looping back to our original question then, was the final version of the Raptors worthy of spot in the playoffs over the 76ers?

I think from our overall analysis above, the answer is no.

That’s not to say it’s out of the question, but considering the defensive issues that plagued the club, and the team’s inability to field anything much greater than a D-League level bench, I wouldn’t rank Toronto in the same class as Philadelphia. (I think Philly’s surprising play against Orlando so far in the playoffs offers some empirical evidence to support this notion as well.)

The bottom line is that from day one, Raptors’ fans were left with a club short on talent after the top five options, and although the situation improved after the trade for Shawn Marion, BC needs to do some major upgrades this off-season.
Source - Figures and Facts - Should the Raptors be a Playoff Team over the 76ers? - RaptorsHQ.com
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i think we all could have answered that question without the stats. philly has wing depth and scoring, perimeter defense, solid rebounding and a true c. add all this to a vet pg that can score, distribute and defend, and you see why they made it (even without their 'best' post player) and we didn't.
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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it should also be added that neither team is very good. in a more balanced league, neither one makes the playoffs.
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, really.

Comparing the two is like saying the dump I just took smells worse than the dump you just took.

Bottom line is regardless they're both still smelly dumps.
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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an apt description acie. i didn't really want to read it while eating lunch, but apt nonetheless...
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My apologies 'trane.

Funny thing is, I was actually eating lunch when I wrote it.
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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strangely i'm not too surprised...
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Old 04-29-2009, 02:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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One thing is for sure, Orlando would eat us alive, whereas Philly is making a series out of it.
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Old 04-29-2009, 04:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It's always about stats. Why don't people understand that sometimes there are other things that aren''t stats. Phily tried and went to the playoffs we didn't try and look where we were. Shit people get this stats shit outta your head
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Old 04-29-2009, 05:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm kind of surprised at how bad offensively we were this year, that was as much a problem as the d. Considering we seemed to improve once Marion started fitting in the last couple weeks, for the first half or 3/4s of the year we must've been bottom 5 in the league, which is unreal with Calderon and Bosh on the same team.

This furthers my belief that when Calderon was injured for a large portion of this year, he was playing as bad as any PG in the league and was running the offense as bad as he was defending. Now when he did get healthy he was more impressive, but yea.

Also, it should be noteable that by every statistic out there, Bargnani's impact on the floor was quite bad. I think he started to pick it up near the end, but unless he vastly picks up his atrocious help defense, we won't win anything with him playing C. Now he has the quickness and size so if he gets it mentally, he should improve. But still if Bosh is traded we should move him to PF and get a real center.
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Old 04-29-2009, 05:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Orlando is pretty much a dump too, but a nicely formed dump that sinks to the bottom of the bowl and leaves little smell behind.

I agree with Gurk about the stats being just nuts.

If you could somehow put Philly and Toronto together, you could morph a pretty nice team. But those kinds of teams don't really exist anymore.
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Stats are huge.

Anyone who disagrees just doesnt understand them and their uses.

Numbers are the best way to measure, in the case of stats they are numbers used to measure a player or teams performance. Disagreeing with this is moronic.
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:53 PM   #13 (permalink)
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what does it matter?
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:54 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The only stat that counts is wins.

Philadelphia had more.

The end.

75% of people with half a brain will agree with me.
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Old 04-29-2009, 07:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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this is like asking is lebron ganna win mvp someone might say no but most of the time theyll say yes... pointless
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Old 04-29-2009, 07:59 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Show me stats that measure effectiveness accurately, instead of efficiency, and I might be on board. Oh wait there is such a measurement. Yep - it's the one ACIE refers to.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:26 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Stats are useful when used with discretion and when youre able to see the variables. I like team stats for example. Offensive rankings, defensive rankings, point differential, rebounding rankings, etc. Theyre legit and dont lie when it comes to a teams performance over the year. Theres very little extra variables to consider there... thats just how they performed. In fact the first 3 can often be more accurate than pure win total, which includes how many lucky bounces or not a team had in the year (for example when Dallas had their 67 win year, point differential had them more as a 61 win team, which was 2nd best in the league... behind San Antonio, who won the title.)

I like TS%, which measures a players points compared to his volume of shots. This is superior to FG% because it takes into account 3P% and FT%.

PER is very useful to take into account a players statistical production measured with pace, it provides a much better picture than just the ppg rpg apg that most people go by. Of course as we all know that doesnt prove the entire picture, as individual defensive stats are still severly lacking.

Last edited by The MVP of West Hollywood; 04-29-2009 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 04-29-2009, 09:26 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I think I heard this before but statisticians came into the game and ruined it. What is the freaking point of them. They tell you who scored the most points on the team ans shit. In the end the only thing that matters in the end is that you win and those wins are the only things that should be recorded. Because who cares if a players has this many 50 point games or this many double doubles. In the end what matters the most is winning the game. Sometimes it is fun to look at stats but sometimes people look at them way to much and base the whole entire game around stats. I just don't understand the hype around stats. The stat that makes me the most mad is this shit that Hollinger made up, PER. WTH is that. SHIt

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Old 04-29-2009, 09:41 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Best stats are ones that are pace adjusted.

Some teams run and score more than others and that can inflate certain statistics.

Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating are my favorites.

"Offensive Rating" is a statistic used in basketball to measure an individual player's efficiency at producing points for the offense. It was created by author and statistician Dean Oliver.

The formula is: Offensive Rating = (Points Produced / Individual Possessions) x 100

Points are be produced through field goals, free throws, assists, and offensive rebounds.

This is also transferred into team performance as well.
Philly 2009 Offensive Rating 107.9 defensive 107.8
Toronto 2009 Offensive Rating 107 Defensive 110

Philly was statistically better on offense and defense-and also in their record.

In fact in regards to the NBA as a whole:
In terms of net effeciency(difference between offensive and defensive efficiency) Toronto ranked as the 8th worse team in the NBA, they finished with the ninth worst record.

Philly came in as the 15th best, barley ahead of Chicago and Detroit. Ranking them as the sixth best in the East.

For a little more comparison, Orlando came in 3rd best in the east, 4th overall.
Orlando finished with the 3rd seed in the east and the 4th best record in the NBA overall.

Now it isnt all there is because Strength of Schedule definatley plays into it all, but those are the performance based numbers on the season.

Individual possessions are the sum of a player's scoring possessions (field goals, free throws, plus partial credit for assists), missed field goals and free throws that the defense rebounds, and turnovers.
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Old 04-29-2009, 10:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Stats are not the end all and be all of an arguement, but anyone who fails to recognize their significance in helping to support an arguement is just being stupid.
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