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Does Inverse Analytics Really Help the Tanking Process?

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Phil has plenty of things for us to talk about and he wants to hear from you Sonics fans!!

NBA: Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Sonics Rising,

Best Games to Watch in Week 21

Another week has come and gone in the NBA. The regular season is nearing an end and this week there is plenty of meaningful games. Below are the ones I am looking forward to and I hope you enjoy them also!

Monday March 5: Detroit Pistons at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons are desperately trying to make the playoffs. The Cavaliers are trying find some chemistry for another playoff run. Should be a fun game in Cleveland.

Tuesday March 6: Houston Rockets at the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets and the Thunder on TNT; this should be dynamite!

Wednesday March 7: Utah Jazz at the Indiana Pacers. Utah is one of the hottest teams in the NBA and fighting for a playoff spot. Indiana is trying to hang onto their own playoff dreams. Should be a fun night in Indianapolis!

Thursday March 8: San Antonio Spurs at the Golden State Warriors. This would be the perfect situation for Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard to return. It should also be a terrific game!

Friday March 9: Houston Rockets at the Toronto Raptors. The top seed in the West and the top seed in the East collide in what might be a preview of the 2018 NBA Finals!

Saturday March 10: San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder. This potential first round playoff preview is must see TV.

Sunday March 11: Indiana Pacers at the Boston Celtics. It’s always fun to watch games in March between two playoff teams. Especially when it’s a possible first round playoff preview.

Checking in on the Cleveland Cavaliers

Nearly one month ago the Cleveland Cavaliers were struggling; they had lost 15 of 19 games since January 1 and looked more like a tanking team than a Championship contender. Than they shocked most of the NBA by turning seven of their less than reliable players and a first round Draft pick into George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson.

Since the trade the Cavs have made tremendous strides on the defensive end; prior to the trade the Cavaliers couldn’t stop anyone and were ranked near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency. With 21 games left on their 2018 regular season schedule they sit in the top ten in both offense and defensive efficiency and that’s exactly where they want to be.

Inserting Cedi Osman into the starting lineup has brought the Cavs some added energy that they seemed to be lacking and it’s only a matter of time before Larry Nance Jr moves into the starting lineup to replace the struggling Tristan Thompson.

Kevin Love is still a couple of weeks away and will need a bit of time to adjust to his new team but if anyone is used to adjustments on the Cavs it’s Love so he will be fine.

From the All Star Break until the time of this writing the only the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are statistically better than the Cavs. This bodes well for them as they march into the playoffs.

I don’t think anyone in the East is going to beat this version of the Cavaliers and not even J.R. Smith and his soup throwing fit will mess this up.

Commissioner Adam Silver and Tanking

This past week NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has decided to lay down the law and warn NBA teams once again not to tank and if they do try and at least not be as obvious about it.

So let me get this straight; Silver wants to punish teams for doing EXACTLY what NBA rules allow these teams to do. Rules mind you put in place by former Commissioner David Stern. Please don’t let me get started on that guy.

I also find it interesting how Silver implies that it’s okay to tank just don’t be so obvious about it. Especially when the bottom three teams in 2019 still have a 14 percent chance of getting the number one pick. That’s still a pretty good incentive for Front Offices to lose games on purpose.

Putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm and pronouncing the bone cured is all this draft reform is. As long as NBA teams have an incentive to build lousy rosters the tanking will continue, the product will suffer and the Commissioner’s Office will continue to point their crooked finger at everyone else.

The fairest draft reform I have seen comes from 2013. Like anything else it has it’s flaws but at least the incentive to lose games on purpose would be eliminated. The other flaw is that the NBA would have to find another way of generating income instead of fining owners for telling the truth.

Zaza the Terrible

So this happened between Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook last weekend;

It wasn’t the first time in the past calendar year Pachulia was involved in a controversial play either. Remember this one in the 2017 playoffs?

There have been enough questionable plays from Pachulia that a compilation was made.

Depending on who you ask he is either seriously clumsy or deliberately trying to hurt people. I decided to invite a Spurs guy and a Thunder guy on my show this week; J.R. Wilco comapared Pachulia to a hockey “goon” and the most balanced assessment of Pachulia came from our friend Sherm from Welcome to Loud City.

Poll

Is Zaza Pachulia a Dirty Player?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    Yes he is
    (27 votes)
  • 15%
    No he isn’t
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    I don’t care about Zaza
    (7 votes)
40 votes total Vote Now

Do NBA Teams Really Need Inverse Analytics to Tank?

According to Brian Windhorst some teams are using analytics in order to put the worst possible rotations on the floor. Have a listen to what Windhorst has to say then please join me for my take.

I’m fascinated by the “Inverse Analytics” method of tanking but whatever happened to the good old days when all you needed to do was hire Rick Sund or Isiah Thomas?

I suppose whoever is in charge of determining what teams are “obviously” tanking are going to have their work cut out for them.

Before I comment I want to nip something in the bud. I am NOT AGAINST analytics. I use them every single day. What I am against is analytics without context to support the analysts conclusion. I see that everyday.

Stat nerds want us to believe that it analytics is everything. My counter? If that is true then whoever is reading and interpreting the reams of data provided either doesn’t know what they are doing or the data isn’t conclusive. Maybe there is a third option but that’s above my paygrade.

I’m assuming that many if not all NBA teams already dp rely on advanced stats when drafting, trading and signing free agents .I think it’s also a safe assumption these teams are trying to win with these players. This seems to beg the following question.

Do these analysts send everything they have to the coach and who decides what makes up these reams of data?

Okay that was two questions, but I got greedy.

I don’t need reams of data to figure out a lineup of JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin, Mario Chalmers, Dillon Brooks and Ben McLemore aren’t going to win many games. They may be extremely competitive but they are going to lose a bunch of games. That’s easy to do.

Reams of data isn’t why the Cavaliers blew up their team at the trade deadline. The data might have suggested something was wrong but wouldn’t identify the issues happening in their lockerroom.

Where reams of data is useful is when Denver Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris is knocking down 41 percent of his three point catch and shoot opportunities. If I am Mike Malone I want to know this so I can devise schemes and plays to get him more catch and shoot three point opportunities. I would find it useful to know Chicago Bulls shooting guard Justin Holiday averages 5.1 points per game shooting spot up jumpers. Fred Hoiberg did a great job getting him the ball until he fell out of the rotation when Zack LaVine returned.

I’m going to be very curious as to what if anything comes of this and as soon as I find out I will report on my findings right here at Sonics Rising.

Thanks for putting up with me again this week!!