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Fun With Numbers - Smallball Edition

After tonight's game, with all the requisite teeth-gnashing induced thereby, I thought I'd run the numbers to see if smallball is as bad as we think it is.

Conclusion? It's probably worse.

To date, we have played nine games under a small ball regime and the remaining 27 under... Well, I don't quite know the precise term, so let's just call it, say, "professional basketball".

In the nine games in which we have employed small ball, we are 5-4, with an average margin of victory of +0.1. Hmmm... Not bad. Until you factor in the quality of competition.

Those nine teams have a combined record of 124-217, which translates to 30-52 over the course of an NBA season. Worse, six of those games were at home. Factoring in the expected margin of home court advantage, we play like a 29-53 team while employing small ball.

In those games in which we have played professional basketball, we are 17-10. Not quite as good as it sounds, as our scoring margin is only +1.3, against competition that has been 511-506, with fifteen of our games at home. As such, we play like a 47-35 team when utilizing professional basketball.

Of course, the sample size is small (and the comparison between the two samples uneven) and there are other factors that go into two point losses to the Bobcats. Caveat, caveat, caveat...

But if this trend holds, and Coach Curry keeps the small ball regime for the remainder of the season, we can expect to finish 38-44 if we anticipate average competition, which we cannot.

If, however, Coach Curry comes to his senses and recognizes that professional basketball, we could anticipate a finish of 48-34, or slightly worse if we factor in the tough schedule ahead.

Basically, this is the difference between having home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and missing the playoffs entirely. This also doesn't take into account the fact that we were short either Allen Iverson or Rip Hamilton for a substantial portion of the professional basketball era. Adding either to the bench under the right system could push us to the 50 win threshold.


(edit: DBB reader Brad noticed that our defense is much better when Amir plays 20+ minutes. I will add that we are 8-2 in those games. Using the formula above, we would predict the Pistons to play at a 50-32 clip. In fairness, Amir's fouls both keep him off the court, and negatively effect scoring margins, but it might be worth finding ways to keep him on the court.)