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NLL Insider - Ranking Based Predictions

by spudspace, updated on Sunday, July 23 2017, 10:15 pm EST

There has already been a lot of trades that have happened since the end of last season, Laddas, I’m looking at you! Many teams already look a bit different with rookies, or new stars. I have always been a proponent of NBA talent and not NLL talent. With the recent changes last year of updating players more often, our league has kept up with the NBA talent more closely. This, along with better rookie ratings has made the NLL as close a proximity to NBA talent as ever before. This is just a long way of saying that I believe ESPN ratings are more important to a talent level on a team than NLL rating. I wanted to see what more approximated winning, the top 3, top 5, or top 8 players from a team. The theory being that if you have 3 awesome players, but surrounded by crap, is that a better formula to winning than having a more balanced top 5 or top 8 players?

I went ahead and averaged the team’s top players from last season, and compared that with end of season record. It became fairly clear that actually having a better top 8 is more predictive of record, than top 5, or even top 3. So, what does this mean? Well, at least last year, in the NLL, teams that have a balanced lineup fair better than teams who have a few good players but a crap bench. The only teams this wasn’t really true was teams with true “Superstars” …i.e. LeBron and KD, but they were outliers. The following is the list of the top 8 player average for both last year’s team, along with the current rosters. I added rookies drafted in the 1st round to this year’s rosters and made an approximation of ESPN rankings for them. No need to go into details, but it was strictly based on draft position, pick 1 was rated an 80, and it went up from there to almost 300 for pick 30. I ranked the teams in net rating changes also, and one thing pops out, the teams that got multiple top picks shot up in average ranking. One thing to realize is that these teams were devoid of much talent before the draft, so it’s not surprising to see them jump up that far.

After seeing the difference in ratings, I went ahead and predicted record based on last season’s rankings, then applied it to this year’s rankings. One thing to notice is that my formula has trouble predicting either ends of the league, nobody is over .700, and only the Heat are below .300. However, I do think that the ranking of the teams in this is actually pretty close to what we shall see. Some teams may surprise you! The things that popped out at me were Cleveland being so far down, and the Clippers being so far up in their respective divisions. The Cavs are explained by the Superstar factor, you just can’t predict how adding LeBron to your team will improve them. This is similar to how when he went to the Cavs in the NBA, they went from a non-playoff team to making the finals. The Cavs are an anomaly that can’t be explained other than to say LeBron. The Clippers added so many young rookies, their top 8 players are actually going to be pretty good, however they don’t have 1 superstar yet, so this prediction may be bullish.

 What can change for this prediction? Injuries for one. For example, if the Spurs lose Embiid again for much of the season, they might struggle, however Davis is a borderline Superstar and does make up for some of this. The Cavs will surely be higher, as the LeBron effect is hard to predict. The Clippers and Hornets are curious, as both have been allergic to the playoffs in recent years. Will they push for the playoffs if playing well, or continue to try to tank to get more young players?

There is also a good chance that many of these rookies aren’t as good as I may have predicted. Dallas has a lot of young players that may not gel together, and 42 wins seems a bit high. I think we will see more teams at either end of these percentages, and less teams around .500. What can you use this for, well draft picks would be a good thing to look at? You don’t need to know a team’s record as long as you know who will have a lottery pick.

Once again, Portland’s pick is going to be good, but of note is that if Miami doesn’t improve, they have a good chance of keeping their own pick as there is top 3 protection on the pick. A tip to Miami GM, just tank this season, get a top pick and figure it out next season. One thing that always changes any prediction for any team is trades. This league is trade heavy, and we like it that way, however it makes it impossible to predict how this affects your team. But from a logical standpoint, you can look at any trade you make and say “How does this affect my top 8 players”. This could be a good help in predicting if a trade is good of bad for you. Trading for a good player, but giving up all your depth may not be the best strategy in the long run. With fatigue, and the minute cap on players, it’s important to have some good bench scorers, or you will struggle. I plan on following this prediction closely this season, and seeing where all these teams end up.

Depending on trades and injuries, it would be interesting to see if this prediction works. I know basketball happens, however over the course of 82 games that are simulated on a computer, I think it’s much easier to predict outcomes than in the NBA where sometimes the sum of all parts is not greater than the whole.

  Comments (14) 
07/25 09:18 pm
Very interesting article. Nice work!
07/24 11:05 am
Cool article Spud, appreciate the time put into this. 50wins though not sure. Clippers are the Bruno Caboclo's of NLL still 2yrs away
07/24 09:54 am
Appreciate the effort Spud, cheers mate.
07/24 09:53 am
Thanks for taking the time to write this up, Spud. It's more than lot of guys do around here and it's appreciated.
07/24 03:46 am
This is cool. Might be fun to sim some seasons in 2k17 also, and see what happens. Could possibly even sim the off-season to predict free agency.
07/24 03:23 am
This is a interesting article, a bit of work has gone into it. Nice work Spudspace. Love reading these kinds of stats. Greeny has a great point, I believe the most important thing to also consider is chemistry.
07/24 03:07 am
Lebron doesn't beat teams, injuries to the opposition team does.
07/24 02:23 am
Lors of work but I believe you have not considered coaching and or gm's manship in your equations. Having talent on paper is one thing but maximising said talent and converting it into W's is a fine art.
07/24 02:10 am
Yeah, my bad badwolf, I should have normalized for total wins in a season, but I think the order of teams holds true for the most part
07/24 01:10 am
Rough year ahead for the Kings lol! Nice work
07/24 12:54 am
Aren't there way more wins then losses?
07/24 12:52 am
There are only seven teams with losing percentage.
07/24 12:02 am
True, I thought about it, but it wasn't true for all stars, I mean John Wall, Steph Curry, Isaiah Thomas, these guys don't change your franchise in the NLL like they might in the NBA. If you look into it, most people agree there are only a few players who are gamechangers...Kevin Durant, LeBron James...crickets, can you name another NBA player that if he alone went to a non-contender would make them a finals contender?
07/23 11:52 pm
Nice bit of work there spud. If the Clips overtake me in the western conference standings I'd be a bit disappointed in the team. Maybe you could tweak your rankings and add weightings to account for the Lebrons by taking all top 15 ESPN guys and giving them a higher weight then tier the weightings down for 15-30, 30-60. ....


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· Team by Team: Atlanta Hawks

· Team by Team: Charlotte Hornets

· Team by Team: Portland Trailblazers

· Ranking Based Predictions

· Fixing the Past: Miami Heat

· What's Next? Pacific Division

· What's Next? Central Division

· What's Next? Northwest Division

· What's Next? Southeast Division




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