FanPost

Fouls and Market Size: Any Correlation?

(An excellent analysis from the FanPosts. - TZ)

In the Kings/Mavs recap thread, BrooklynFan asked if there is a discrepancy between how fouls are called for small-market teams vs. the big boys.  I was curious about this too, nobody else wanted to do it (too busy knitting car covers or some such), and I had some time at work this morning… so I looked up YTD 09-10 stats on StatSheet.com as well as the market rankings by TV households as listed at TVB.org, and I crunched the numbers. 

First, a couple of assumptions:

  • I included the Nets in the New York market.
  • Toronto was not included in the TV household rankings (not a US market), so I put them in the middle third of NBA markets at #14.  Completely PFS. (Plucked From Sky).
  • I did not adjust the market size for Nets/Knicks or for L*kers/Clippers; even if I were to split the NY and LA market sizes in half (with half going to each team), each of the four  teams would still have a top-ten market size ranking.
  • Large-market teams are defined as the top 10 NBA cities by market size; small-market teams are defined as the bottom 10 NBA cities by market size.

I then proceeded to calculate the differential for each team’s Fouls per Game against each team’s Opponent Fouls per Game – a positive number means that a team’s opponents commit (er, get called for) more fouls per game, and a negative number vice versa.  Basically, a positive number is good, and a negative number is bad.

Some interesting results:

  • The top 10 teams in FPG differential include (3) large-market teams, and (3) small-market teams.
  • The middle 10 teams in FPG differential include (4) large-market teams, and (4) small-market teams.
  • The bottom 10 teams in FPG differential include (3) large-market teams, and (3) small-market teams.

Here’s a scattergram of FPG differential (y-axis) against market size (x-axis):

4244435309_3bc38098f4_medium  

Based on this data, market size apparently has no statistical impact on how many fouls are called for or against.

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I also wanted to throw each team’s win percentage so far this season into the mix.  Some more interesting results (some of which are pretty much of the "well, duh" variety):

  • Best teams: Four of the top six teams by win percentage are large-market teams (L*kers, Celtics, Mavs, and Hawks).  There are only two small-market teams in the top ten by win percentage (Blazers and Spurs).
  • Worst teams: Four of the bottom six teams by win percentage are also large-market teams (Knicks, Sixers, Warriors, and Nets), with only one small-market team in that mix (Pacers).
  • Small-market teams are clustered in the middle of the pack – all but the aforementioned Pacers fall between 7th and 22nd rank by win percentage.
  • As mentioned above, large-market teams bookend the standings – they’re either really good or really bad.  Only two large-market teams make middle-of-the-pack status, with the Bulls at 18th and the Clippers at 20th.

Here’s a scattergram of FPG differential (y-axis) against win percentage (x-axis):

4244435339_f98fd83b27_medium 

This chart shows a much more clearly defined correlation between FPG differential and win percentage.  The question is one of causality: do teams earn their wins by committing less fouls than they draw, or do refs reward winning teams with a higher number of foul calls? 

FWIW – here’s where the Kings stand:

  • 21st rank market size (barely making the bottom third to qualify as a small-market team).
  • 21st in win percentage at 0.424.
  • 27th in FPG differential at -1.7.

Another interesting statistic: No team with a FPG differential of less than -0.5 has a winning record.  Only two teams with a FPG differential of greater than 0.5 have a losing record (Bulls at 0.6, and Bobcats at 1.5). 

The moral of the story: play aggressive offense and smart team defense, and your chances of winning go way up – regardless of your market size. 

Like I said earlier: well, duh.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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