Stat Pack: Evaluating Team Improvement

Published: April 3, 2008

About the mid-point of the season I did an evaluation of which teams had improved the most from last season, basing the ranking on the Defensive and Offensive Efficiencies of the teams from year to year.  Now that we are near the end of the season, and the numbers probably won't fluctuate much any more, I decided to update those numbers now that the schedules have pretty much evened out for everyone in the league.

(Just a refresher, the efficiencies I use are a measure of the number of points a team scores or gives up for every 100 posessions.  This allows us to compare teams like the Hornets, who play a slow game and only get 91 posessions a game, to teams like Denver, who gets 102 posessions.  The differential is the difference between those two numbers.  I.E. the Hornets score 109 points per 100 posessions and give up 102.9 points per 100 posessions for a differential of 6.1.)

Overall, thirteen teams improved this season and seventeen took a step backwards.  There are a clear top 4 most improved teams, all of whom have improved their overall efficiency differential by more than 5 points: The Celtics(16.1), Hornets(8.1), Lakers(7.1), and Magic(5.7).  Conversely, there are five teams that have posted efficiency differentials that have declined by more than five points: the New York Knicks(-5.1), Sonics(-5.8), Clippers(-6.2), Bulls(-8.9), and Heat(-9.2).

Here is a table listing all the teams and their changes:

Team Efficiency Differentials Improvement

A couple other items of note I drew from that table:

  • The Spurs, despite being near the top of the conference, are actually quite a bit weaker than last year.  That bodes well for us Western Conference hopefuls.
  • The Pistons have improved over last year, no small feat considering how good they were then.  You have to point to that solid bench mob.
  • The Trailblazers have made a nice improvement over last year, but in order to compete with the big boys, they are going to have to make that same improvement again next year, plus some.  I'm fascinated to see if they can.
  • The Bulls suck, and I'm still completely flabbergasted by them.

After looking at the overall numbers, I broke down the teams even more, since its always nice to see just where their improvement is coming from – offense or defense?  Lots of fascinating tidbits came out of this one:

  • Overall, Defense is still the priority of most teams this year.  Only 6 teams have worse defenses than last year, while only 9 teams have managed to improve their offense.
  • The Hornets have improved more on the offensive end(+4.3) than the defensive(+3.8), but both were very nice increases.
  • The Celtics improved the most on both ends of the floor.  Screw them.
  • If Kevin Garnett is such an incredible defender, why is it the offense of the Timberwolves that has suffered(-3.7) and not their defense?(-0.1)
  • I am not insanely jealous of the Celtics success.  Screw them.
  • As noted all year, the Wizards defense has improved greatly.(+4.2)  What isn't mentioned is their offense has gotten correspondingly worse.(-4.3) Its interesting the net change of Agent Zero being out is essentially zero.
  • The Trailblazers offense has gotten a little worse this year(Randolph, anyone?), but their defense has gotten MUCH better.(Randolph, anyone?)
  • The Lakers offense hs improved slightly(+1.4), but its their defense that has gone from awful to good(+6.1).
  • The Spurs defense hasn't changed at all,  It is their offense that has suffered.(-3.8) probably due to all the old shooters slowly transitioning to using walkers.
  • The Supersonics actually improved at defense this year by a significant amount(+3.5).  Too bad their offense is now non-existent.(-9.3)
  • The Grizzlies have offset a nice defensive improvement(+3.6) by forgetting how to score efficiently.(-4.3)
  • Jason Richardson hasn't helped the Bobcats offense at all.(-2.0) Their defense got better though(+1.2), probably when Brezec went north.  Literally.
  • The Milwauke Bucks improved their defense!(+2.6)  They are now only the 29th worst defensive team.  Unfortunately, their offense has fallen apart(-4.3). (Desmond Mason, anyone?)
  • The Bulls suck.

Here is the table:

Offensive and Defensive Differential Changes 06-07 to 07-08


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