jueves, 7 de mayo de 2015

Analysis of the NBA coach of the year award

Julio del Corral (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, @jdelcorraltm)

Andrés Maroto (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, @jazzandmar)


On April 21st Mike Budenholzer was named as NBA coach of the year, Atlanta Hawks’ head coach. Atlanta Haws has been the East Conference Champions (with the historical record of the franchise) and the 2nd team with the highest number of victories in the NBA season (only behind the Golden State Warriors). It is well known that this kind of prizes used to reward the head coach of one of the strongest teams as it can be seen in either in the list of NBA coach of the year or in the list of World Soccer coach of the year. However, this kind of prizes should not be to one of the head coach of the best teams but to coach that has obtained the most given its rooster.
Budenholzer received 513 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr, who led the Pacific Division champions to a franchise-record and NBA-high 67 victories in his first season as an NBA coach, finished second with 471 total points. Jason Kidd of the Milwaukee Bucks was third.
Last year we published a post in this blog analyzing the efficiency of the NBA coaches since 1993 onwards. In doing so, we evaluate objectively the coaches’ performance by comparing the actual results with those expected from betting odds. The probability of the two possible outcomes in a game (i.e., local victory and away victory) is embedded in betting odds so that it is enabled to calculate the probability of getting each of the possible number of victories. In the next table it is shown the results for the current season 2014/2015.

Coach
Team
TE
Wins
TE ranking
NBA ranking
Mike Budenholzer
Atlanta Hawks
0.99
60
1
1
Steve Kerr
Golden State Warriors
0.97
67
2
2
Kevin McHale
Houston Rockets
0.96
56
3
6
David Joerger
Memphis Grizzlies
0.92
55
4
Brad Stevens
Boston Celtics
0.86
40
5
4
Jason Kidd
Milwaukee Bucks
0.83
41
6
3
Quin Snyder
Utah Jazz
0.8
38
7
8
Monty Williams
New Orleans Pelicans
0.8
45
8
12
Tom Thibadeau
Chicago Bulls
0.68
50
9
7
Terry Stotts
Portland Trail Blazers
0.68
51
10
10
Doc Rivers
Los Angeles Clippers
0.64
56
11
10
Lionel Hollins
Brooklyn Nets
0.62
38
12
Brett Brown
Philadelphia 76ers
0.53
18
13
Rick Carlisle
Dallas Mavericks
0.51
50
14
12
Erik Spoelstra
Miami Heat
0.5
37
15
Randy Wittman
Washington Wizards
0.5
46
16
Gregg Popovich
San Antonio Spurs
0.48
55
17
5
David Blatt
Cleveland Cavaliers
0.48
53
18
9
Dwane Casey
Toronto Raptors
0.43
49
19
12
Frank Vogel
Indiana Pacers
0.33
38
20
Scott Brooks
Oklahoma City Thunder
0.3
45
21
Jacque Vaughn
Orlando Magic
0.27
25
22
Stan Van Gundy
Detroit Pistons
0.27
32
23
Steve Clifford
Charlotte Hornets
0.26
33
24
Michael Malone
Sacramento Kings
0.24
29
25
Byron Scott
Los Angeles Lakers
0.23
21
26
Jeff Hornacek
Phoenix Suns
0.22
39
27
12
Brian Shaw
Denver Nuggets
0.14
30
28
Derek Fisher
New York Knicks
0.08
17
29
Flip Saunders
Minnesota Timberwolves
0.04
16
30


The most important result comparing both rankings (ours and the NBA official one) is that both Budenholzer and Kerr appear in the two first positions in both rankings. But differences arise in the following standings. David Joerger (who has led to Memphis Grizzlies to the fifth overall position in the regular season and is currently completing the semifinals of the Western Conference) seems to have been forgotten in the press elections although he reached the third position in terms of efficiency. On the contrary, Gregg Popovich (winner of the Prize in 2012 and 2014) and David Blatt obtain less than the 50 per cent of efficiency although they have been positioned in the 5th and 9th official positions, respectively. The results from odds efficiency suggest that it was more difficult to obtain 18 victories with the Philadelphia 76ers than to obtain both 55 victories with San Antonio Spurs and 53 victories with Cleveland Cavs. In the “popularity” contest which is the NBA coach of the year Brett Brown got no points while Popovich got 38 and Blatt 3 points.
It is obvious that these prizes should only analyze the performance of the coach within the last year. The methodology developed by us is far from perfect but at minimum it provides an objective ranking that seems quite sensible. Therefore, we suggest that in these prizes the votations will be replaced by an objective measurement such as the proposed by me.

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