Some Records Aren’t What They Seem

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – On Monday afternoon, the Charlotte Bobcats were 7-5. On Monday night, the ‘Cats lost by 45 points in Oklahoma City.

The result may not have been a big surprise given how bad the Bobcats were last season. It also wasn’t a big surprise given how inflated that 7-5 record was.

Wins are wins and losses are losses, but all 7-5 records aren’t the same. When you add context, specifically point differential and strength of schedule, to a team’s record, you can get a better idea of just how good they are.

Six of the Bobcats’ seven wins were by four points or less. And though you give them credit for executing better than their opponents in those close games, you also have to acknowledge that results in close games should (mostly) even out over time. Indeed, the ‘Cats lost by three in Atlanta on Wednesday.

And before that game in Oklahoma City on Monday, Charlotte had played the easiest schedule in the league. So, even at 7-7 after Wednesday’s loss, the Bobcats still have one of the most inflated records in the league. They’re tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but their chances of staying there are pretty darn slim.

Who else might be better or worse than their record says they are? Here are a few teams of note…

Not as good as their record

1. Philadelphia (9-6)
The Sixers are tied for the eighth-best record in the league, but they have the 15th best point differential per 100 possessions, having been outscored by 15 points over their 15 games. Eight of their nine wins have been by 10 points or less and they’ve been blown out three times.

This is a complete reversal of the Sixers’ fate last year, when they were absolutely awful in close games. They were the eighth seed in the East last year, but had the fifth-best point differential in the NBA. Yes, they benefited from Derrick Rose‘s injury in the first round, but they weren’t nearly as mediocre as their seeding indicated.

So, if you look at it in a macro scale, the Sixers are more than due for some late-game fortune. But they’ve also played the second-easiest schedule in the league. They’ve played 10 of their 15 games at home, and they’ve played five against the Cavs, Pistons and Raptors.

We’ll see exactly whose record is more inflated on Friday, when the Sixers visit Charlotte.

2. Utah (9-7)
The Jazz were a playoff team last year and should be improved with their talented youth and new 3-point shooters. Maybe they are, and their point differential (11th in the league at +1.3 points per 100 possessions) is on par with their record. But they’ve also played the easiest schedule in the league thus far.

Though they’ve played 10 of their 16 games on the road, the Jazz have also played 10 of the 16 against teams under .500. That includes six games against the four teams (New Orleans, Sacramento, Toronto and Washington) at the bottom of each conference.

3. Memphis (11-2)
It’s hard to knock the team with the best record in the league, especially when they’ve got wins over the Heat, Thunder, Knicks and Lakers. The Grizz have the league’s third-best point differential (+7.7 points per 100 possessions) and aren’t benefiting from a bunch of close wins like the Bobcats.

Furthermore, if you just look at opponent winning percentage, Memphis has played a relatively tough schedule. But when you factor in location and days of rest, they’ve actually played the third-easiest schedule in the Western Conference.

Eight of the Grizzlies’ 13 games have come at home, and they’re the only team in the league to have played just one back-to-back. They’ll play their second this weekend when they host the Pistons on Friday and visit the Spurs on Saturday.

Better than their record

1. Toronto (3-13)
This is an obvious one, given the Raptors’ failures in close games. They’re 1-8 in games determined by eight points or less. They have the second-worst record in the league, but have only the seventh-worst point differential, even after getting blown out in Houston and Memphis this week.

The Raps have also played the second-toughest schedule in the league. They’ve played a league-high six back-to-backs already and have faced only one opponent on the second night of a back-to-back.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Raps are a playoff team, but they’re certainly a better team than their record suggests. And they can be expected to turn their season around somewhat, perhaps in the second half of December and early January, when eight of their games in a nine-game stretch are against the Rockets, Cavs, Pistons, Magic, Hornets, Blazers and Kings.

2. L.A. Clippers (9-6)
The Clippers are tied with the Sixers for the eighth-best record in the league, but they’ve been almost six points per 100 possessions better. They’re one of only five teams that ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but they’ve lost four games by seven points or less.

The Clips have played nine of their 15 games at home, but they’ve also played a pretty tough schedule, with only two games against truly bad teams (Cleveland and New Orleans). Of course, they lost both of those.

Their schedule really lightens up over the next few weeks. Ten of their next 12 games are against teams currently at .500 or worse. And the other two are at Utah and Milwaukee. You could argue that they don’t face a real tough opponent until they play the Nuggets on Christmas night.

3. L.A. Lakers (7-8)
Even when you put Steve Nash‘s injury, the coaching change, and all-around drama aside, the Lakers should be better than 7-8. They have the league’s sixth-best point differential (+5.5 points per 100 possessions) with a losing record, thanks to blowout wins over the Pistons, Warriors and Mavs.

The Lakers’ schedule hasn’t been too tough, but they’re the only team in the league that has yet to play a team on the second night of a back-to-back. They’ll get their first chance to do so on Friday, when they host the Nuggets. The Portland Trail Blazers already played eight games against teams on the second night of a back-to-back.

23 Comments

  1. pierre says:

    Wow, what does the Grizz have to do in order to prove their dominance? We’ve beat OKC, MIA, NYC and LAL. Sure, we’ve had lots of time to rest but these are the league’s best teams. Of course, it’s hard to market the Grizz and Memphis as a whole; I guess we’ll just have to go to the West Finals to prove a point.

    I’m done reading these hang-time columns.

  2. Trevor Dylan says:

    The Grizzlies fans seem to think you are hating on the Grizzlies. They don’t like it

    http://boards.grizzliesonline.com/index.php?showtopic=14631

  3. Amir says:

    incredibly stupid article, im gonna laugh when a lot of these teams make schumann look like an even bigger idiot come playoff time

  4. Dennis - Bulls Fan says:

    Rubbish article. Cats wins dont count? Im a Bulls fan so i dont care, but a win is a win bro. And the Cats have gotten theirs so move on. D**K.

  5. Ben Colar says:

    Schuhmann,

    I’m gonna give you one reason and one reason only, why you are wrong about the Grizzlies. Greg Popovich cost his club $250,000 by sending his starting squad home to rest after only 17 games into the season. You know why? Look at who the Spurs play after their rest. I guaranty you Pops don’t think the Grizz’s record is inflated.

    • i know bs says:

      The spurs rest their starters to play a Grizz team who you called overrated. And, they went into overtime. Terrible article. You play what’s on your schedule. A win is a win.

  6. LakeFan 4 says:

    Memphis Grizzlies is unstoppable period. big time powerhouse beyond elite, my lakers are semi-elite right now

  7. TrueNBAFan says:

    This article was very poorly researched. The Jazz have had a very hard schedule, the Grizzlies are at the top for beating some of the best, and the Lakers schedule has been a cakewalk thus far. Schuhmann does it again, spouting off things he doesn’t fully comprehend, such as saying the Jazz beating the Raptors doesn’t make them good cause the Raptors are at the bottom, but then hypocritically turning around and saying the Raptors are actually a good team and shouldn’t be at the bottom.

    Personally I think he’s just upset his teams aren’t doing well.

  8. Griffin Brown says:

    So you write an article about how win-loss records can be misleading, and then to back up your claim you use current win-loss records? “…the Jazz have also played 10 of the 16 against teams under .500.” 2 of those under .500 teams (the Lakers and Raptors) are then listed under teams better than their record indicates.

    Then with Memphis, you start factoring in location and days of rest, which you didn’t do in any of the other scenarios, to somehow determine they’ve had the 3rd easiest schedule? I don’t know how you would quantify those 2 measurements and somehow balance them with strength of schedule to make such a claim. And what about other teams who’s strength of schedule appears easier but have had to travel or have had little rest between games?

    It’s pretty clear you came to your conclusions before researching, and then went cherry-picking for stats to back you up while ignoring any stats indicating otherwise. There were some interesting stats in the article though.

  9. BigLace says:

    Memphis is underated based on them “only” having one back to back? Why dont we ever make excuses like this for the big name popular teams? Truth is they are a great team. Yes it is early in the season but to beat the World Champs (Heat), New York, and OKC says something.

  10. Mark says:

    Paul, come on! He devoted the entire first four PARAGRAPHS to the Bobcats! You’re killin’ me smalls!

  11. Hill says:

    This guy is a retard, this article is pointless anyways. Waste of time, try writing something someone cares about.

  12. Raf says:

    I’m not sure that blowing out a couple of teams by 30-40 points while going 7-8 makes you a underrated team (especially when the teams you blew out were not that good).

    Is New York less good because they sat Carmelo in the last quarter last night rather than blowing out the Bucks by more? Are Miami less good because they routinely sit the Big Three in the last quarter when winning easily?

    I buy that the Sixers and Bobcats are worse than their record. Less sure about the Jazz (this is a team which dominates at home and is awful on the road, and yet they are above 0.500 despite playing 10 of 16 on the road so far, so they’re in a good place from where I sit). Saying Memphis isn’t as good as their record when they beat the Heat, Thunder and Knicks is ludicrous. OK, they’ve had a good run with back-to-backs and such (especially when you compare to a team like Miami which had 2 of its 3 losses in that stretch where it played 4 road games in 5 nights) but maybe they’d have had one more “scheduling loss” in an average schedule. Who cares, they’re obviously a contender.

  13. Tyson Newman says:

    Just FYI Utah statistically has the hardest schedule in the NBA in November. Not the easiest. Do some research before you start saying stuff.

  14. steppx says:

    lol…yeah, ok, I am an LA hater.

    But honestly, losing close games consistently suggest problems with execution, maybe with the game plan…..but its like baseball. Those stats operate differently in the NBA. Also…….ok, Utah is a famously tough team at home, and so far have played most of their games on the road. But somehow the writer here thinks they dont deserve their record.

    Clips we can argue about. Someone else argued with valid points that the clips deserve their wins. OK, fine, its subjective…thats whats fun. I dont guy the clips……..there is always the donald sterling factor, too. The Bucks………..man, i want to believe in them, but I think everyone here can see the flaws on that roster. But…..if Ellis figures out his role and sanders continues to play so well. and now it seems Udoh is breaking out………….well, maybe the bucks ARE for real. I guess its just that the reasons this writer gives are so stupid. They also contradict themselves.

    and these sports writers might have to accept they were all wrong when they decided the lakers were the team to beat.

  15. chigchig says:

    Bit of a terrible article..
    You say the cats have the easiest schedule then turnaround and say the jazz have the easiest schedule. Both cant be the easiest.. especially when you state Philly has played the 2nd easiest
    plus you have memphis as worse then there record? constant playoff team over the past couple years with either gay or zbo hurt and now there both healthy, considered maybe this team is finally coming together to contend?

    • Mike Beast says:

      ‘And before that game in Oklahoma City on Monday, Charlotte HAD played the easiest schedule in the league.’

      So, after that game, the Jazz had had the toughest schedule, the Bobcats the second toughest.

      Bit of a terrible comment. Try reading a bit more carefully.

  16. dattebayo says:

    I also disagree with the article. Utah and the Clippers are just as good a team as their record indicates.
    Utah has a great front court that opens up the floor for their newly acquired shooters and they always play hard.
    The Clippers on the other hand will still struggle at times because they rely to heavily on CP360. Jordan and Griffin are limited offensively and they can’t consistently score against good set defenses. Both these guys can jump out of the building and are terrific in the open court, but they don’t rebound well they are not consistent in half court sets. They are also not a very good rebounding team and Vinny ain’t no help either.
    Milwaukee and Golden State are totally overachieving to me and they benefited from an easy schedule and playing banged up teams like Dallas or struggling teams or sub 500 teams.

    • WammyGiveaway says:

      The real problem is that the Clippers are just plain weak against lottery and bubble teams, who are like kryptonite. They underestimate the weaklings far too often, which led to painful losses against Golden State, Cleveland and New Orleans – all lottery teams. The only person on that group who can defeat lottery teams at will is Chauncey Billups, and with him back in the starting lineup, there’s no reason for them to lose against lesser teams anymore.

  17. steppx says:

    Wait a second. NO; memphis is good, they have played very tough teams and beat them. Period.

    But of course apologize for the two LA teams. NO, LAKERS ARE NOT BETTER THAN THIS….they are bad. Clippers have played an easy schedule. You make no sense in this article.

    I can buy sixers playing over their head. But wining and losing close is also an indicator of a team’s ability. This is moronic.

  18. Paul says:

    How can u leave off Bobcats? and im a fan!