Using Math to Predict the 2010-11 Season and the NBA’s Math Doesn’t Add Up

Posted on October 28, 2010 by


A number of people have made predictions for the upcoming season as part of The Wages of Wins Network 2011 Super Stat Geek Smackdown.  Andres Alvarez – at Nerd Numbers the Blog – has collected these predictions for both the Eastern and Western Conference.  These two collections are reposted below.  In addition, there was an excellent article by Kurt Badenhausen at Forbes on David Stern’s recent arguments concerning the NBA’s finances.  These arguments might mean that there won’t be a Smackdown before the 2011-12 season because that season might not be played.  So the Badenhausen article is certainly something each NBA fan should read. 

The Eastern Conference Selections

Various writers from the Wages of Wins Network got together for a friendly competition; Who could predict the regular season best? Arturo showed off a little by modeling the entire NBA! Below we go over how the Wages of Wins Network analysts (we need a short nick name, any suggestions?) predicted the Eastern Conference. This is followed by a discussion of the Western Conference.

Make sure to check out the actual picks here

Wages of Wins Network 2011 Stat Smackdown

I sent out an invitation to the Wages of Wins Network Stat Smackdown a week before the season started. This may seem like a very short period of time, but amazingly we had eight writers sign up! I’m very excited about this and I’ll be reporting on our progress through out the season. For those of you wondering my plan currently is to update the Automated Wins Produced Site once a week starting next Tuesday. As I mentioned the Stat Smackdown has indeed started (oddly with Boston proving Arturo right but by a larger margin than he expected). Anyway in the next few days I’ll give a run down of how the Wages of Wins Network thinks this season will shake down.

Again, let’s get the party started by looking over the Eastern Conference. 

Wages of Wins Network Eastern Conference Breakdown. Seeds and Records are average of all writers.


#1 Seed: Miami Heat

By unanimous decision Miami takes the East. No analyst has them out of 60 wins, although a certain Miami fan has them the greatest of all time.


#2 Seed: Orlando Magic

One of only three teams in the East all of the analysts have confidence to get 50 wins. They’re a pretty steep drop off from Miami and in a dog fight with the next team for their spot.


#3 Seed: Chicago Bulls

This team pretty much rated as an Orlando light. Some analysts don’t think they’ll crack the 50 win ceiling, but all of them think they’ll be in the top four seeds.


#4 Seed: Boston Celtics

Going by record predictions this team is slated to be as good as Orlando. Going by seed predictions they’re fighting with Chicago. Essentially all of the analysts think the East goes Miami with Boston, Chicago and Orlando fighting over second place.


#5 Seed: Atlanta Hawks

No one thinks they’ll repeat their 50 win season from just a season ago. In fact Atlanta just barely edges out Milwaukee for the distinction of “best team likely to exit in the first round”.

#6 Seed: Milwaukee Bucks

It was a coin flip between 5 and 6 for all the writers between Atlanta and Milwaukee. I was tempted to take the plunge and put them at 50 wins. I balked and it looks like I wasn’t the only one.

#7 Seed: Cleveland

Cleveland doesn’t even win this seed convincingly. Let’s be honest as well Cleveland wants the 8th seed and a chance to make Miami reenact Dallas’ debacle. Still as has been mentioned, life is not as dire in Cleveland as everyone thinks.


#8 Seed: Charlotte

Welcome to the East, all the analysts predict a losing record and yet Charlotte is still slated as a playoff team. Sadly all the momentum from last year seems to have come to a halt.

#9 Seed (tie): New Jersey Nets

They missed out on the free agent bonanza. However trading for Troy Murphy and some young players means this team could be fighting for a playoff spot. I hope they trade Murphy for Melo, but I suspect many of our predictors don’t.

#9 Seed (tie): New York Knicks

Well it’s a step forward right? I wonder what snake oil Walsh is going to sell the fans this year. In other fun news in their terrible years apparently New York was cheating by illegally scouting players. New York, where you can spend tons of money, cheat, have a superstar and still be terrible!

#11 Seed: Indiana Pacers

So begins a streak of teams slated to have wins records in the 20s. I don’t know what Larry had planned for this team but it sure isn’t winning.


#12 Seed (Tie): Detroit Pistons

“If we stay the course, we are dead! WE ARE ALL DEAD!“ – John Conner Terminator: Salvation

They stayed the course and the writers have spoken. Sorry DJ, maybe next year?

#12 Seed (Tie): Toronto Raptors

Without Lebron Cleveland is a playoff team (in the East). Without Bosh Toronto is better than Washington. At least they have a statistically sound fan base.


#14 Seed Philadelphia 76ers

I have a player crush on Andre Iguodala. It breaks my heart that when Philly had Iverson they got Mutombo and made a championship push but with Iguodala they’ve actively shipped any talent around him. If they trade Iguodala at least it would make for a fun experiment.


#15 Seed Washington Wizards

The most “optimistic” authors have Washington matching last season’s debacle. The most pessimistic have them as worst of all time. Sorry for any disrespect Ted.

Western Conference Selections

And here are the Western Conference Selections

Wages of Wins Network outlook of the Western Conference. Seeds and Records are the average of all analysts picks.

#1 Seed: Portland Trail Blazer

They barely edge out the Lakers as the favorites. They’ve won over 50 games the last two seasons while battling injuries. They have depth at every position. Even accounting for Oden being out this team should still be great. When they rock the NBA remember we said it! (And if they fail, feel free to forget)

#2 Seed: Los Angeles Lakers

They’re defending champs. They have three talented big men. They were weak at the small forward and point guard position. In the offseason they acquired a good small forward and point guard. This season looks a lot like last season, but the competition has gotten stronger.


#3 Seed: San Antonio Spurs

Ginobli and Duncan still have some life left in them. Tiago Splitter and Dujain Blair look poised to help push this team forward. They’re not as cut and dry among the analysts as the Lakers and Blazers but they’re still favored to keep the dynasty running another season.


#4 Seed: Oklahoma City Thunder

The good news is they’re slated to join the top half of the west. The bad news is that most analysts have them below 50 wins. We’ll see if Durant keeps up his great play and if the Thunder can find a way to plug the big hole at center.


#5 Seed: Dallas Maverick

Will this be Dirk’s year? Most analysts say no. They’re still slated to make the playoffs but they look like they’ll take a step back from next year. The plan looks like putting a bunch of hope in older and recovering players. We’ll see how that pans out, but the predictions aren’t great.


#6 Seed: Golden State Warriors

The Wins Produced metric has been a huge fan of David Lee for a while. Finally he’s moved to a good team (and more importantly one that isn’t intentionally tanking). If Stephen Curry keeps up his stellar play and Biedrins comes back then this team looks in great shape.


#7 Seed: New Orleans Hornets

A healthy Chris Paul is enough to help this team move forward. Many of the analysts have them back in the playoffs and one has them breaking the 50 win mark. It looks like Paul will go another year without a ring but at least he should return to the playoffs.


#8 Seed (Tie): Phoenix Suns

Let’s give them some credit for self control with letting Amare walk. Unfortunately the truth is they now are very weak in the middle. They also have Dallas’ problem of hoping older players in Nash and Hill can keep them running. The sun has probably set on their championship chances but hopefully they can give some one a battle in the first round.


#9 Seed (Tie): Denver Nuggets

Yipes, what happened? Well Billups has gotten older, Martin and Birdman are injured and Harrington will be taking important minutes from better players. I wanted to be upset by these predictions as a Nuggets fan but I can’t. What really upsets me is that Melo may actually get to leave town and convince people he was a big reason the Nuggets were good.


#10 Seed: Utah Jazz

They will really miss Carlos Boozer. People that think Jefferson is an acceptable replacement are kidding themselves. Add in the fact that their competition has improved and they look poised to fall off the top of the Northwest Mountain.


#11 Seed: Sacramento Kings

This may seem a little low but remember last season they only won 25 games. Sacramento looks in great shape with Tyreke Evans, Samuel Dalembert and a top prospect in Demarcus Cousins. This team will improve greatly this year and look great for the future.


#12 Seed: Houston Rockets

This team has a few issues. They don’t really have any superstars (no Yao doesn’t count). Also even though Yao is coming back he is not helping them as much as you’d think as the Rockets actually are pretty good in the front court. I really wish Yao could have won a ring with McGrady but at least he’ll go to another All-Star game this year.


#13 Seed: Memphis Grizzlies

What have they done to move forward from last year? Not much except tank their cap by signing one of the most overrated players to a long term contract. With most teams having two talented bigs would make me happy. Say hello to the exception.


#14 Seed: Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love should keep a poster of Kevin Garnett in his locker to remind himself there is hope. A possibility is that Michael Beasley pulls a Chris Andersen and sees a huge jump in his performance playing clean. Even then the rest of the roster will keep this team from having any hope of improving.


#15 Seed: Los Angeles Clippers

Hoopsworld does not seem to agree with us. For those of you that haven’t checked the Wages of Wins analysts really like Blake Griffin. The rest of the Clippers are just that bad. Last year they won 29 games. You’d figure adding Blake Griffin would improve them. However they let Marcus Camby, Drew Gooden and Steve Blake (or their best players) go. As such don’t expect improvement from this team. Be happy if they hold serve from last year.

– Dre

And here is the article from Forbes on the NBA’s Math.

NBA Math Doesn’t Add Up

from Kurt Badenhausen of

NBA owners held a two-day Board of Governors meeting last week in New York and the message that came out of the meetings was that the league is doomed. Commissioner David Stern delivered the bad news which includes $370 million in losses last year for owners, an expected loss of $350 million this season and the contraction of teams on the table to help stem losses.

The owners’ collective bargaining agreement with the player is set to expire after the season which kicks off tonight. Some type of lockout seems like a foregone conclusion. Do NBA owners really have it that bad? Stern’s posturing on the issue deserves its own Saturday Night Live Weekend Update “Really!?”segment. With apologies to Seth and Amy, here goes.

Really, David Stern. You had buyers agree to pay record prices for two under-performing, dysfunctional franchises in the Wizards ($550 million) and Warriors ($450 million) over the past 6 months, but no one can make money owning an NBA team. Really? That is $1 billion for 2 teams that have lost 70% of their games the past two seasons. Really!

And NBA players salaries need to be cut by $750-$800 million because owners are losing so much money.  Really? Who offered these contracts to Rudy Gay ($84 million), Joe Johnson ($124 million), Drew Gooden ($32 million) and DarkoMilicic ($20 million). And that was just this summer. Don’t even get me started on past deals for Eddy Curry, Larry Hughes and dozens of others. Really.

NBA revenues last season topped $3.8 billion and player salaries are capped at 57% of revenues. Really? The 57% is based on basketball-related income which excludes 60% of arena signage and luxury suite revenues as well as 50% of naming rights revenue. So the NBA actually pays out around 54% of revenues to players. For the NBA to collectively lose money teams must spend more than $1.75 billion (or $59 million per team) on non-player costs. Really? Are trainers rubbing liquid gold on players?

Really, commissioner. Last summer you said that basketball-related income was expected to decline 5% during the 2009-10 season, but BRI actually rose 1%, a swing of $215 million. And teams still lost $370 million? Really!

And ratings for the NBA Finals on ABC this year were up 26% and the highest since 2004. Really! The season begins tonight with one of the most anticipated regular season games ever when the Boston Celtics face-off against the remade Miami Heat and their trio of stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. No money to be made here though. Really?

The league is hurting for sponsorship revenues right now. Really? This summer league sponsor Southwest Airlines did walk away from the NBA, yet the league added a new partner in banking giant BBVA. It also renewed agreements with long-time sponsors Anheuser-Busch, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola Kia Motor and Right Guard. Really!

There are 10 NBA teams owned by billionaires including the latest addition to the club Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov who is worth $13.4 billion. Really! How did these guys all get so rich? By buying money losing assets? Really!

– Kurt Badenhausen

So there you go.  You can see what might happen in 2010-11.  And we also can see that the arguments that might cancel 2011-12 are not very good.  Nevertheless, you might want to really enjoy this season.  There is a possibility that we won’t get another season as quickly as we might like.

– DJ