Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Looking Through You

The Hawks and Suns are receiving lots of good press for their hot 10-2 starts, each team atop its respective conference. My initial reaction is "It's early yet. They'll cool off soon enough." Yet if this were the NFL, the season would be 75% finished and the Hawks would be undeniable favorites for the championship! I'm not sure what this reveals more: that sample sizes in football are a bit too small (the Colts are hardly as unstoppable as their record indicates, and Buffalo need not have fired its coach for missing out on a 55% win percentage by just two games), or that the NBA season drags on too long. How much more information about team quality will we learn over 82 NBA games compared to the first 12? Sure, on the margin between lottery teams and mediocre playoff teams there may be some churning (will the Raptors make it? the plucky Rox?) but it's already pretty clear which teams are best. Viz., the same teams, generally, that pre-season predictions thought to be contenders. Other than (not insignificant) revenue considerations, why play five more months and cause more injuries just to determine playoff ordering?

When I have more time on my hands, I will construct a database showing the number of playoff wins for each playoff team over 2000-2009, and run some correlations against my earlier data set of regular season wins. (Or if anyone out there would like to be an unpaid JPO intern...)

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