The “Smartest” NBA Teams

In our “Smartest” Teams series we are using simple statistical models to assess which teams over and under perform on the field, floor, or ice relative to how much they spend.  Thus far we have taken a look at the NHL and MLB.  We now turn to the NBA.

These analyses are in some respects simple, as what we do is estimate linear regression models that predict team performance as a function of team fixed effects and payrolls.  We use a bit more than a decade worth of data.

Astute readers might question the use of fixed effects, since team management (GMs) may change over time, and payrolls may be a point of concern given the prevalence of guaranteed contracts.  Folks might also complain that we don’t consider player ages since rookies are given set dollar value contracts.  Our feeling is that over the course of a decade, these factors (cap management, draft position, etc…) are within the control of teams.

Moving on to the list!  The smartest team in the NBA is San Antonio.  The Spurs are followed by Oklahoma City and the Mavericks.  Houston is a notable 5th.  The top of the list looks very much like a list of successful teams with well-regarded management.

At the other end, we aren’t going to say much.  The bottom two are the Washington Bullets (we are offended by all DC team names so we are going to use whatever we like best) and at the very bottom we have the NY Knicks.  The Knicks are a fascinating team.  They charge the highest prices in the league, have won our most supportive fan base both years, and make the worst player decisions.

1 San Antonio
2 OKC
3 Dallas
4 LA Lakers
5 Houston
6 Phoenix
7 Utah
8 Denver
9 Miami
10 Detroit
11 Indiana
12 Boston
13 Chicago
14 Orlando
15 New Orleans
16 Sacramento
17 LA Clippers
18 Memphis
19 Philadelphia
20 Cleveland
21 Portland
22 Atlanta
23 Milwaukee
24 Brooklyn
25 Toronto
26 Golden State
27 Minnesota
28 Charlotte
29 Washington
30 New York

Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi, Emory University 2014.

NBA Conference Finals: Spurs & Thunder Dominate Local Twitter Market

Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.  We were interested in examining the Twitter presence of both teams in their respective markets during the game.  Thus, we collected all tweets that included the word “Thunder” originating from the Oklahoma City market and all tweets that included “Spurs” originating from the San Antonio market, that were tweeted during the hours that the game was played.  We then divided the number of collected tweets by the total volume of tweets in the respective markets during the time period of the game.  This essentially gave us the “Twitter Share of Voice” for the Spurs in San Antonio and the Thunder in Oklahoma City.   11.8% of all tweets in Oklahoma City during the game included the term “Thunder”!  9.3% of all tweets in San Antonio included the term “Spurs”.  We performed a similar analysis for all other conference finals games thus far.  The results of the analysis are presented in the chart below.

Local Market Twitter Share NBA Conf Finals 2014

It seems as though tweets that mention the local team in the Western Conference Finals cities tend to have a higher Twitter Share of Voice than the Eastern Confernce Finals cities.  We can also examine the content of the team-related tweets to determine if the sentiment of the tweets is positive, negative or neutral.  The chart below presents the ratio of positive to negative sentiment for the team-related tweets in each market during the playoff games.

Local Market Twitter Sentiment Ratio NBA Conf Finals 2014So far, local market Twitter “happiness” in highest for San Antonio fans during the first game of the series, and for Oklahoma City fans during the third games of the series.  Indiana fans seem to tweeting progressively less about the Pacers, and the positive to negative tweet ratio has been decreasing as the series advances as well.

Manish Tripathi & Mike Lewis, Emory University 2014.