NBA Analysis: How Do Great Individual Games Impact a Team's Shot of Winning?

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In the last post, we looked at the best postseason games since 1986 and noticed that most of the time, the player with an amazing game also saw his team win. This begs the question, what happens to win probabilities when one player has a phenomenal game? Can one man win the game by himself, all else being equal?

Well, doesn’t it depend on how equal all else is?

Before we look at some data, let’s conceptualize this. The average NBA game finishes with a point differential of about 11 or 12 points. Around 14% of playoff games are decided by at least 20 points, 6% by at least 25 points and 2% by 30 points or more. That means if a random individual from a given team were to raise his impact on the game by 30 points, his team should win 98% of the time.

So what happens in games with our top Adjusted Box-Only Expected Value (BEV) performances? Let’s look at the chart from the last post, and add in a column for the team strengths. The “SRS Difference” is the difference in SRS (Simple Rating System) between the two teams, adjusted for home-court advantage in a given year per this table. For example, in the first game listed, when we account for home-court advantage, Vince Carter’s Raptors were 1.3 points better than the 76ers. Here are the results:

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