2011 NBA Playoffs, by the numbers…

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh (L), LeBron James (C) and Dwyane Wade sit on the bench while their team plays the Toronto Raptors during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Here’s a look at each first round matchup, taking into account Dean Oliver’s Four Factors of winning:

1. offensive and defensive effective FG% (which weight three-point shots with an extra point)

2. turnover rate (percentage of possessions ending in a turnover, both on offense and defense)

3. offensive and defensive rebound rate (percentage of available rebounds on each end of the floor)

4. FTM/FGA (which shows how well a team gets points from the free throw line)

Since we’re using both offensive and defensive numbers, I’ll call them the Eight Factors.

I have also included pace (possessions per game) and offensive and defensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions) for reference. Below the two rows for the two teams is a third row that shows the difference in each category. A positive number is good for the first team listed (which will always be the higher seed). A negative number means the higher seed is worse in that category.

I’ll put the season series results in parenthesis next to each matchup.

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Who should win Defensive Player of the Year?

Milwaukee Bucks’ Andrew Bogut (R) defends against the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (L) in the first half during their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

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Dwight Howard certainly seems to be the consensus pick, but let’s think about this for a moment. What’s really the best way to judge which player has had the best year on the defensive end of the court?

I’m sure there are all sorts of advanced metrics that the teams/stat companies use that the general public are not privy to. There are only four player-by-player basic stats that are defensive in nature: steals, blocks, defensive rebounds and fouls. The first three are positive, and the last one is obviously negative. Whether a player steals or rebounds the ball, he’s ending the opponent’s possession. Not all blocks will end a possession — just look at Howard, who still insists on swatting balls into the stands instead of trying to direct them to his teammates — but there is the difficult-to-quantify “changing of shots” that goes unaccounted for, so blocks are still vitally important. Fouls give the opponent another possession or worse yet a pair of free throws. (Note: I would like to also use charges drawn, but for some reason Hoopdata hasn’t tracked that number this season.)

When I saw HoopsHype’s list of DPOY finalists, I noticed two names was missing — Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. I thought Bogut deserved the DPOY last year, but he was instead rewarded with an All-NBA Third Team bid. Iguodala is one of the best perimeter defensive players in the game, but unfortunately for us that’s more based on reputation than (basic) statistics.

Let’s take a look at the league leaders in DTOT, which is my abbreviation for Defensive Total, which is simply the sum of steals, blocks and defensive rebounds, minus fouls. I’ve also included each team’s defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) while the player is on the court along with each player’s Opponent Player Efficiency Rating. These last two stats were found at 82games.com.

1 Dwight Howard 10.12 1.34 2.40 3.3 10.56 103.2 11.8
2 Kevin Love 10.71 0.62 0.37 2.0 9.67 112.7 16.1
3 Andrew Bogut 8.02 0.72 2.58 3.3 7.98 102.1 13.5
4 Kevin Garnett 7.72 1.35 0.77 2.1 7.76 98.8 14.3
5 Tim Duncan 6.65 0.67 1.92 1.6 7.67 102.8 15.9
6 Blake Griffin 8.79 0.77 0.54 3.0 7.05 110.8 14.5
7 Marcus Camby 7.19 0.69 1.53 2.4 7.02 108.1 14.5
8 Josh Smith 6.87 1.29 1.58 2.9 6.88 105.9 16.9
9 Zach Randolph 7.84 0.84 0.33 2.3 6.68 106.9 14.5
10 Kris Humphries 7.38 0.46 1.09 2.3 6.66 110.9 15.2

First, notice that all 10 players on the list are big men. This is due to the way that defensive rebounding drives the DTOT stat. Perimeter defense is tougher to quantify for this reason.

Howard certainly has a strong case. He leads the league in DTOT by a fairly wide margin, and the guy in second place (Love) doesn’t do much in the way of blocks or steals. But look who’s sitting at #3 — Andrew Bogut. Of everyone on the list, Bogut has the second lowest defensive efficiency (next to KG) when on the court. He also holds his opponent to the second-lowest PER. Second to Howard, of course.

Wondering about Iguodala? He is #22 in DTOT, the fourth highest non-PF/C on the list after LeBron James (#11), Gerald Wallace (#14, but more of a PF) and Kevin Durant (#16). Iggy’s team defensive efficiency is a respectable 104.1 and his Opponent PER is an eye-popping 9.9, which is better than LeBron (11.4), Wallace (14.3 while in Charlotte) and Durant (12.2). He is also tied with Tim Duncan for the fewest fouls per game in the Top 30. Iggy has truly embraced his inner Scottie Pippen this season.

Interestingly, Landry Fields (#32), Dwyane Wade (#33) and Jason Kidd (#40) are the first three guards on the list, which is clearly dominated by big men due to the aforementioned defensive rebounding issue.

So does Dwight Howard deserve another DPOY? Probably. But there are other players like Bogut and Iguodala that deserve a few votes as well. This will likely be a landslide, but it shouldn’t be.

Who will win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award?

Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry reacts after hitting a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during second half NBA basketball action in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It’s award season in the NBA and today I’ll take a look at the top Sixth Man of the Year candidates. Not only will I try to predict who will win the award, I’ll also discuss who should win win the award. Those are two separate questions and they may have two separate answers.

First, to narrow down the candidates, I took a look at the winners from the past 10 seasons:

2001 Aaron McKie PHI 76 33 43% 31.5 11.6 4.1 5.0 20.7 56
2002 Corliss Williamson DET 78 7 9% 21.8 13.6 4.1 1.2 18.9 50
2003 Bobby Jackson SAC 59 26 44% 28.4 15.2 3.7 3.1 22.0 59
2004 Antawn Jamison DAL 82 2 2% 29.0 14.8 6.3 0.9 22.0 52
2005 Ben Gordon CHI 82 3 4% 24.4 15.1 2.6 2.0 19.7 47
2006 Mike Miller MEM 74 9 12% 30.6 13.7 5.4 2.7 21.8 49
2007 Leandro Barbosa PHO 80 18 23% 32.7 18.1 2.7 4.0 24.8 61
2008 Manu Ginobili SAS 74 23 31% 31.1 19.5 4.8 4.5 28.8 56
2009 Jason Terry DAL 74 11 15% 33.7 19.6 2.4 3.4 25.4 50
2010 Jamal Crawford ATL 79 0 0% 31.1 18.0 2.5 3.0 23.5 53

Notice that all 10 winners had the following in common:

— They started fewer than 45% of their teams games.
— They averaged at least 11.6 points per game.
— They averaged at least 18.9 total points, rebounds and assists.
— They were all on teams that won at least 47 games. Eight of 10 winners were on teams that won 50+ games.

Using this criteria to narrow down the legitimate candidates for the 2011 Sixth Man award, we’re left with this list of 11 candidates. To give us a little leeway, they all started less than half of their teams games, they averaged at least 17.3 total points, rebounds and assists, and they play on teams that have at least 38 wins on the season.

I also included Efficiency Per Minute to see how productive each player is in the minutes he gets. Bigs tend to do better in this statistic because it’s easier to post rebounds than it is to register assists and big men tend to shoot at a higher percentage because they play close to the basket (so they have fewer misses, which weight efficiency down).

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Who is the best overall big man in the NBA?

Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (R) drives on Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California March 14, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

For an explanation of my methodology, check out my point guard post from a few days ago. Marcin Gortat was the only big man in the study that was traded and since he was traded early and played much bigger minutes in Phoenix, I just ignored his Orlando numbers.

Below is a chart of 51 big men. Why 51? Because it’s my study, that’s why. Round numbers are overrated anyway.

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Who is the best overall wing in the NBA?

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (R) steals a rebound from Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant during third quarter NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida March 10, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

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For an explanation of my methodology, check out my point guard post from yesterday. The only difference with the wings is that I found a way to account for a full season of Opponent PER and Net Defense stats for those players that were traded, so we won’t see the outliers that we saw in the point guard study.

Below is a chart of the Top 52 wings in the NBA. I took the Top 48 in terms of Efficiency Per Game and then added four players (Marcus Thornton, Tony Allen, Ron Artest and Ben Gordon) that I was interested in studying. As always, click on the chart to see a bigger version.

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