The STEVE NASH Power Rankings: Week #2

Hey, everybody! This is the second edition of the STEVE NASH Power Rankings. The object of these is rather simple -- the ratings intend to take the predictions that STEVE NASH spat out before any games were played and update throughout the season with what teams have shown so far. The long and short of it? They're a simple re-weighting of current season SRS with the STEVE NASH projections then ran through our Gibbs sampler to predict playoff probabilities, projected records, and other various stats. Upon re-weighting, I apply the mean-regressed HCA estimates from Evan of The City and calculate predicted home wins and predicted road wins remaining in the season and add them to the team's current record. Which leads to the STEVE NASH end-state projections of what this season will look like -- an odd way to do Power Rankings, but hey. We're an odd blog. Without further ado: the updated NASH rankings. Keep in mind (once again) these are completely and utterly automated -- there's no human input on these rankings, at all. So don't lynch me, Mavs fans. Without further ado, here are the rankings as of the close of all games played on January 10th

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Courtesy of (again) Evan, I now know how to embed spreadsheets. This week's spreadsheet:

A few observations, as I try to create a proper format for these ranking posts.

THREE UP, THREE DOWN

  • UP: OKC, PHI, UTA. An interesting group, these three. The Thunder's rise in the rankings has less been the model becoming convinced of their dominance (note their predicted SRS is just 3rd in the west, barely ahead of the Lakers) and more based on their simply continuing to win games. The model currently predicts the Thunder will go just 31-24 to end out the year, but their torrid 9-2 start has them in pole position to win the West's top seed. In Philly's case, it's simply the model updating the preseason projection (6th seed and a 0.500 record) to match what we've seen already -- a team that has destroyed all comers and looks far superior to most teams in the east. Utah is an interesting case -- nobody really knows WHY they're doing so well, but they're doing pretty incredibly well at this point, and need to be taken seriously as an actual threat to make the playoffs. Not that they really want to make the playoffs, as that'll set their rebuilding back a year, but still.
  • DOWN: DET, HOU, MIN. Less interesting. All of these teams had terrible weeks -- Detroit got blasted by a team ranked rather low in the NASH view of things, and Minnesota continued to punt winnable games   with low execution. And, you know, get blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers. That doesn't help. Houston, on the other hand? They're coming off of a remarkably dismal performance against a poor Charlotte defense, and (like the Wolves) continue to barely-show-up for games they should have in hand. Kyle Lowry being out is the main driver, but really, their atrocious defense falls squarely on McHale's broad shoulders for imposing a terrible system and refusing to properly leverage the pieces he has to make a coherent whole. Just a disappointing team overall, and while NASH still has it in the playoffs, you have to assume the picture gets darker fast if they don't shape up.

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GENERAL DISCUSSION.

This week, in an effort to fix a few errors in the last edition (the spreadsheet is updated, tho the image that accompanied the post isn't) I enacted some changes. First, I reweighted the predictions post-generation in order to have a season with the correct number of games won and games lost. In STEVE NASH's case, it was predicting teams would win about 930 games this season and lose 1050. That may seem like a wholly reasonable prediction given how dismal many of the games have been this season, but that isn't actually possible. I also added a home/away component. The rankings are now well aware of how many home/away games a team has played up to this point, and generates its predictions with some help from Evan's aforementioned HCA rankings. So those are some model improvements that are immediately evident. The "previous week" part of the rankings is a re-ran version of week #1's rankings to account for these changes. They aren't all perfect, but they're improving.

Overall, the picture is rather customary of what we tend to see in the regular season. The model predicts that the worst western team (the Sacramento Kings) will still manage to post a better record than five Eastern teams. Which is crazy, silly, but completely expected given the paucity of talent on those particular five eastern teams. The West is wide open, though the Thunder have finally pulled away from the pack in the NASH rankings. Even though it projects the Thunder to end the season with an SRS below San Antonio and Denver, the Thunder now have around a 30% chance to win the West in STEVE's estimation. And beyond the Thunder, the West is stuck in what essentially amounts to a holding pattern with four teams tied for second. The Spurs and the Nuggets are projected at 41 wins, with the Lakers and Blazers both projected at 40. On the plus side for fans of those 5 teams, no team in the West looks remotely as good as any of those five, giving each of those five greater than 90% odds of making the playoffs. Beyond those five, a remarkable 8 teams have > 10% chance of making the playoffs -- from Minnesota to Houston -- which points to how incredibly wide open the Western playoff picture is right now.

As for the East, it's as starkly contrasting as the West is open. The Bulls and Heat are easily the two best teams in the East, and there's an 80% chance that one of those two teams gets the 1 seed. The Sixers are still on a starkly upward trajectory, and rate out as the only other 40 win team in the conference right now. Beyond them? Only 9 teams have a >10% chance of making the playoffs (as opposed to the West's 13) and there's an incredibly stark dropoff after the 3 seed, with a bunch of middling teams vying for just-over-0.500 records (including the disappointing Celtics and Knicks). The only real drama that STEVE predicts comes from Milwaukee's quixotic playoff quest -- despite their awful turn without Bogut earlier this week, they still project out as a 0.500 team the rest of the season. If they can get some luck with injuries and their defense resumes form, STEVE believes them to have a great shot at knocking either Atlanta or Indiana out of the playoffs.

And that's about all we've got for you today. Go back to bed, STEVE NASH.

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That's all for now, friends. We'll be back tomorrow with, most likely, the resumption of our Player Capsules series. Perhaps some other stuff. We've got a lot of content coming down the pipeline for you all, it's just a struggle to find time to get it all done. But we'll live. Hope tonight's games are fantastic, and we'll see you next week as STEVE NASH is proven wrong in hilarious fashion about the Mavs once they go on a 20 game win streak (in one week) and lead the league with a 243.2 SRS in seven days' time. That's how it goes, sometimes.

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