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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Which Statistics Best Predict Championship Success?

Which statistics best correlate with championship success? I wrote about this subject for NBCSports.com in 2006 and then updated that article in 2009. My newest article for The Roar compares the 2015 Golden State Warriors to NBA champions since 1990: Which Statistics Best Predict Championship Success?

Also, here is a list of how the past seven NBA champions ranked in point differential and defensive field goal percentage:

2008 Boston Celtics: 10.2 ppg point differential (1), .419 defensive field goal percentage (1)
2009 L.A. Lakers: 7.6 ppg point differential (2), .447 defensive field goal percentage (6)
2010 L.A. Lakers: 4.7 ppg point differential (6), .446 defensive field goal percentage (5)
2011 Dallas Mavericks: 4.2 ppg point differential (8), .450 defensive field goal percentage (8)
2012 Miami Heat: 6.0 ppg point differential (4), .434 defensive field goal percentage (5)
2013 Miami Heat: 7.9 ppg point differential (2), .440 defensive field goal percentage (6)
2014 San Antonio Spurs: 7.8 ppg point differential (1), .444 defensive field goal percentage (8)

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posted by David Friedman @ 4:39 PM

10 comments

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10 Comments:

At Tuesday, April 14, 2015 9:54:00 AM, Blogger Keith said...

David, I was curious, what are your thoughts on the Bulls' chances this year?

They've been dealt a lot of nasty injuries and have been playing maddeningly inconsistently throughout the year but seem to be coming together a bit at the end stretch with Rose back and mostly everyone healthy and focused.

I'd take a healthy Bulls over everyone else in the East except the Cavaliers if James continues to play as focused in the playoffs as he has since January. Thoughts?

 
At Tuesday, April 14, 2015 1:45:00 PM, Blogger Nick F said...

David-

Do you think there are other, less flashy stats that meaningfully correlate? Rebound percentage, crunch time points per possession, etc.?

And are there title teams that outright defy these metrics, performing below, let's say, a top 15 level in any of the "important" categories?

 
At Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:34:00 AM, Blogger Awet M said...

Hello David, thanks for continuing this blog the entire season.

Will you preview the playoffs like you've done in the past?

 
At Thursday, April 16, 2015 8:29:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Keith:

Yes, a healthy Bulls team would be formidable but the Bulls have trouble keeping their nucleus players healthy.

I agree that, if healthy, the Bulls could beat anyone in the East other than a Cavs team led by a focused LeBron James.

 
At Thursday, April 16, 2015 8:30:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Awet:

Thank you for your interest. Yes, I will be posting a playoff preview.

 
At Friday, April 17, 2015 3:52:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Nick:

There are probably other stats that meaningfully correlate but when I wrote the original article I found that point differential and defensive field goal percentage--which are favored by coaches who I respect--correlate very strongly.

The 1993 Bulls ranked 15th in defensive field goal percentage. That is an unusually low ranking for a championship team.

 
At Friday, April 17, 2015 4:06:00 AM, Blogger Awet M said...

Extenuating circumstances. The 1993 Bulls underperformed because their main stars were exhausted from the Olympics and two straight deep playoff runs. Hence they fell to third place in the league behind the Suns and the Knicks but picked it up for the playoffs.

 
At Friday, April 17, 2015 4:15:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Awet:

All of that is true. I was just answering Nick's question about teams that won a title despite ranking 15th or lower in a key category.

 
At Thursday, April 30, 2015 2:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defensive field goal percentage is a pretty good stat. There have been only three teams that went on to win the championship that didn't rank in the top tem in the year they won it. You already mentioned the 1993 Bulls but also add in the 1991 Bulls, who ranked 13th in field goal percentage defense and the 2001 Lakers.

 
At Thursday, April 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

The 1991 Bulls and 2001 Lakers are cited in my 2009 article but in my comment I was specifically addressing Nick's question about a team winning a championship despite ranking lower than 15th in one of these key categories.

 

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