Monday, April 05, 2004

Some thoughts on professional basketball

Now that college basketball has ended, it's time to ask....how bad is the NBA's eastern conference?
  • With 2 interconference games left to be played, the east is 154-264 against the west, for a .368 winning percentage. This is quite a bit worse even than last year when the east batted .405 vs. the west.
  • A few days ago, all but 3 eastern teams were below .500. There is still a reasonable chance that a team in the east will not only make the playoffs but actually have homecourt advantage without a winning record (although this will probably not happen because most of the games in the last few weeks of the season are within conference, and somebody has to win those games.)
  • All but 3 teams in the east are worse than the entire midwest division.
  • Every eastern team except Indiana and Detroit has a losing record against the western conference.
Despite this huge gap between the conferences, the effect on team records is smaller than you might think. If you moved an eastern team into the west, it would mean they would have to play an additional 24 games against western opponents. Thus we would predict that the average team in the east would have 3.16 fewer wins if it played in the west.

One small and simple change that could help (slightly) fix the balance of power would be to base the draft order only on won-loss record, with no reference to playoff position. As it stands now, there will likely be 5 playoff teams in the east that will draft after the 9th and 10th teams in the west, despite having worse records.

UPDATE: The east lost their final two games against the west. Final talley: 154-266, for a .3667 winning percentage.

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