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