3 Playoff Stats that Should be Probable

There are three statistics that should be probable this time of the year: rebounds, steals, and assists.

Rebounds:

The Golden State Warriors led the league with a +8.6 differential in rebounding during the regular season. The Milwaukee Bucks were second best with a +4.6 differential.

In the playoffs, these two teams have been even better. The Warriors lead all playoff teams with a +11 differential (49-38) while the Bucks are second at +9 (133-124).

Steals:

In steals per game, the Bucks lead all teams by averaging 8.3 per game. The Boston Celtics are right behind at 8.0 steals per game, good for second place among playoff teams.

Assists:

The Celtics also lead all playoff teams in assists per game at 25.3 assists per contest while the Warriors have 25.0 assists per game (2nd).

The NBA playoffs are when the real season begins. The teams that make it to the playoffs are the best of the best and this is where they will be tested. Some teams have players that step up, while others dont. Some players show why they are superstars, while others show why they are in the G-league or just not good enough to be in the NBA. But there are some playoff stats that most people should be able to do, but they cant. These stats could be made into a probability chart like there is for shooting percentages.

The first one is free throws. Every player has shot a free throw before so you would think that every player can make a free throw during the playoffs. This is a stat I looked into because I thought there was no way that teams shot below 60% from the line. But every single team has shot below 60%. The lowest percentage by any team was 53.8% by Orlando Magic in 2009 and the highest percentage made was 79% by Golden State Warriors in 2017. The league average for FT% in the playoffs is 70%, which still seems low for players who have been playing basketball for their whole lives, but it is better than 53%.

The last stat is 3 point percentage, this one just makes

Even though the NBA playoffs have started, there are many blogs that are talking about the regular season. Although, one thing that is for sure is that many people are eager to know about the playoff series. Some of these topics have included “Who is going to win MVP this year?”, “Where will Lebron James sign next year?” or even “Did Russell Westbrook average a triple-double this season?”. But something that all of these topics have in common is that they are all probable. Not only probable, but also very predictable.

Let’s take a look at some stats from this past regular season and see if we can make some of them probable.

Stat

We are currently in the middle of the NBA Playoffs. There are less than a handful of games left until we crown our next champion.

The playoffs can be a crapshoot sometimes, so I wanted to look at some interesting stats that might happen this year. The following stats are based on past playoff results and have been calculated with the help of machines.

1. LeBron James will play more than 548 minutes, but less than 593 minutes

Based off past data, LeBron is projected to play between those two numbers. He has played over 548 minutes once before in 2017 when he played 551 minutes. This year he has already played 502 through 3 rounds and last year he only played 487 through 3 rounds. So if we take this years pace and add it to last years total, he should end up around 565 minutes, which falls within the projections above.

2. Kevin Durant will shoot over 14 free throws per game, but less than 15 free throws per game

This one might seem strange since it seems like KD shoots alot of free throws every night, but looking at his career numbers he only averages 10.1 free throws per game in his playoff career and 11.0 in the finals alone (this season excluded). He has shot

The NBA playoffs are in full swing and the Western Conference Finals are set to begin tomorrow. Before we get there, I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the statistics that have been floating around about the 2014 NBA Playoffs.

One of the first stats that jumped out at me was that this is the first time since 1984 that all four number one seeds have made it to their conference finals. This stat originally came from ESPN Stats & Info.

I am not sure if this information is necessarily useful (it doesn’t necessarily mean anything), but rather than just taking their word for it I decided to investigate further. The most accurate way to do this would be to take a look at the historical seeding for each playoff team, but instead I took a short cut and looked at the historical records for each team in their conference championship series games:

West: Lakers, Warriors, Spurs, Suns

East: 76ers, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons

I put together a simple spreadsheet that contained each matchup and its results by year dating back to 1949 (the earliest year available on basketball-reference.com). After sorting by year and looking at playoff matchups between teams with home court advantage, here’s what I found:

For the current NBA season, there has been a new stat added to the box score called Player Impact Estimate (PIE). According to Basketball-Reference.com, PIE measures a player’s overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play in. PIE yields results which are comparable to other advanced statistics (e.g. John Hollinger’s PER) using box score data. I have calculated the PIE for all players who played in at least 1 playoff game and sorted them from highest to lowest. Below are the top 10 playoff performers in PIE:

Player PIE

LeBron James 0.354

Stephen Curry 0.236

James Harden 0.216

Dwight Howard 0.212

Andre Iguodala 0.203

Tony Parker 0.197

Kevin Durant 0.194

Russell Westbrook 0.192

Chris Paul 0.187

Tim Duncan 0.185

In the NBA, there are a lot of statistics that are misleading. For example, when watching basketball, we always hear the announcers say “he is shooting 40 percent from three.” Although this might be true that he has shot 40 percent on a small sample size, this doesn’t mean much.

To make matters worse, this one stat is used to make another bad assumption: “he is a 40-percent shooter.” This is just plain wrong. In fact, this is an example of survivor bias.

In order for a shooter to be considered a good shooter, he needs to have been given many opportunities to shoot the ball. When this happens, we can assume that his skill will start to show through in the numbers. Therefore, we need to have patience.

With patience comes time. One of my favorite stats in basketball is Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%). This stat takes into account that shots from behind the arc are worth more than shots from inside it.

Example: Team A made 10 threes and 5 shots inside the arc for a total of 35 points (10*3 + 5*2 = 35). This team also missed 10 threes and 5 shots inside the arc for a total of 20 misses (10*3 + 5*

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