WFNY Stats & Info: Lakers’ chances of making playoffs

Over the last few days, I’ve seen several fans complaining on Twitter about why some fans are monitoring the Cavs’ draft position constantly. For me, it’s a fun task. I love draft talk. I even wrote a significant amount about the NBA Draft prospects last Saturday.

But here’s another idea: How about we just stick to following the Lakers instead? The Cavs are currently tied for 6th in the lottery standings. At the moment, only 3.5 games separate the 3rd and 11th teams. But most likely, the Cavs will situate themselves somewhere in the 5-8 range. Not a whole lot of room for drastic changes.

Then, there’s Los Angeles. The Lakers are now 14-6 in their last 20 games. They’ve finally roared back to .500 and the playoff picture, especially with their miraculous win Wednesday night over the Pelicans (nee Hornets).

As a friendly reminder, if the Lakers make the playoffs, the Cavaliers will swap their current possession of Miami’s first-round pick (28-30 range) with LA’s (15-16 range). This doesn’t happen if LA ends up in the lottery — Phoenix would then own their pick. So this would be a pretty big bonus for Cleveland if it occurs.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz, the new No. 8 team in the West and the most likely contender to slip out if LA slips in1, are struggling. They collapsed at the last minute against the Cavs on Wednesday night (double whammy of goodness) and are fading to the tune of 1-5 in their last 6 games.

So how do these two teams’ remaining schedules add up? Let’s take a look at some quick peripheral numbers:

Team Games H/R P/L P: H/R L: H/R
LAL 20 10/10 9/11 5/4 5/6
UTH 21 11/10 12/9 5/7 6/3

 

The above table breaks down in general the remaining games for these two teams. P/L shows Playoffs/Lottery, then there’s a Home/Road breakdown of those two splits as well. Obviously, the Lakers have more of their difficult games at home and the Jazz have more of their difficult games on the road. Here are some more advanced stats:

Team W Pct H/R Pct JH Avg SRS Avg
LAL 0.480 0.489 99.57 -0.509
UTH 0.537 0.532 100.88 1.240

 

The first column is standard Strength of Schedule: opponent winning percentage. Then, I had a simple H/R win percentage, where I just took the opponent team’s home or road record, depending on the location of the game. John Hollinger ranking average and SRS ranking average are then the final two numbers.

So quite clearly, the Lakers have the edge in terms of the slightly more favorable closing schedule. Will they pull it off and make up the final 1.5 games? Entering Thursday, Hollinger’s playoff odds had the Jazz at 57.2% odds to make the playoffs, the Lakers at 52.6%2, their highest in several weeks at least. So it’s practically a toss-up at this point.

It should be fun to watch. And for fans craving daily draft lottery news — this might be the more fruitful (and less polarizing) chase to follow in the final five weeks of the NBA season.

[Related: 2013 NBA Draft: Second tier fits for the Cavaliers]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Playoff picture: LA is 1.5 games behind Utah and 2.0 games behind No. 7 Houston. But the Rockets are one of the most fun teams in the league, with one of its hottest offenses. They’re 11-7 in their last 18 games. So that’s why they’re being ignored and I’m picking on the Jazz. []
  2. Clearly, with simple math, that adds up to 109.8%, not 100%. That just reflects the slight uncertainty that exists with the playoff hopes of Houston and No. 6 Golden State. But more likely than not, it will be Utah and the Lakers down the stretch. []
  • MrCleaveland

    Jacob, nice analysis of something I wasn’t aware of. I’ll start keeping an eye on it.

    Love me some “double whammy of goodness”!

  • mgbode

    the only thing is that the rise in talent from 10 to 3 can be more significant than the rise from 30 to 15 :)

    I am definitely a Lakers fan until the end of the regular season. I’m not giving up on Houston faltering either though. Their defense is terrible and has been worse since they gave up all of their frontcourt depth in order to set themselves up for future seasons (smart move but may cost them the playoffs this year). Also, do not discount the fact that the Rockets and Lakers play the last game of the regular season as a potential play-in game.

    Golden State is also “only” up 4 games, but just keeping pace should be enough for them to sneak in.

    Utah is definitely the best bet to fall.

  • JNeids

    If I learned anything from Press Your Luck, it’s that whammies are never a good thing…so this must be one of those 2 wrongs make a right sitchus.

  • MrCleaveland

    According to Newton’s Fourth Law, the whamminess of any particular event always has a beneficiary as well as a detrimentary. So I think we’re good.

  • JNeids

    So we’re like the other contestant that just watched his opponent land on a whammy, knowing that we will most likely receive the remainder of his spins in hopes that we, too, shall become victim of the aforementioned whammy.

    No whammy, no whammy, no whammy, STOP! 15th pick and a spin!!

  • Harv 21

    yeah, all you stats geeks, lay’em out. My analysis is slightly more primitive but, I believe, considerably more reliable: Which tean has the best playoff face?

    Consider: Kobe, Mo Williams, Enis Kanter, Al Jefferson, James Harden, Jeremy Lin.

    Breakdown:
    Utah – weak playoff faces.
    Houston: Harden has real good playoff face.
    Lakers: Kobe best playoff face of his era, will rock in a fetal position for months without playoffs.

    Conclusion: Lakers in, Houston in, Utah out. Happy to share my algorithms with anyone interested.

  • Jaker

    Why haven’t we taken this into account before? The underbite/overbite ratio gives Kobe a staggering advantage over Al Jefferson! It’s a good thing we held onto Casspi, because his playoff face is a mix between Shawn Kemp and Vlade Divac. Pure terror.

  • Harv 21

    Oh, Vlade – positively Munchian come playoff time. But careful here, let’s always be sure to separate face from beard, which wannabes sometime grow in a feeble attempt to mask fear of blowing a lay up at the buzzer.

  • steve-o

    It could turn in LA’s favor this weekend. Tonight LA plays Toronto at home while Utah plays Chicago on the road. Tomorrow night Utah goes against the Nicks in NY, and LA is off. There is a good chance that LA will win and Utah will lose both, and the teams will be tied with the same number of games left to play. The team with an easier schedule has been tearing it up while the other has been struggling.