NBA fans and bloggers know John Hollinger as one of the most analytic NBA writers, objectively and thoroughly presenting well informed cases for the masses. Despite his incessant crowd-size ridicule on Twitter, he is one of the most respected numbers minds in NBA writing. He and Bill James represent what the Sabermetric movement has done for Major League Baseball by bringing qualitative analysis of players, teams and organizational actions to the mainstream audience.
He carefully crafted the prized metric Player Efficiency Rating or PER, which is a widely incorporating statistic that attempts to parlay all the contribution a player makes into one number that has been pace adjusted and is relative to league average performance. He is also a big proponent, as I am, of efficiency measures, such as offensive and defensive efficiency as opposed to rawer stats like points per game which may be skewed by how many possessions are available in a game.
To counterpart the “human” power rankings by Marc Stein, John Hollinger has a “computer” power ranking which is his attempt at a completely objective, numbers-driven power rankings. The first edition debuted this week here along with a piece here explaining the entire process and another one here describing some mildly surprising results so far (for all ESPN Insider is required). Hollinger notes the incredible parity of all 30 teams. Even though the Wizards are 0-11 and 30th in the rankings, he reasons, since they have only been losing games by a small margin, better results will come.
We can parse through some of the results, but none are particularly surprising. The Grizzlies, Knicks, Heat, Thunder, Clippers, and Spurs comprise the top 6 in that order, which is exactly the same as with Stein’s rankings save for swapping the Knicks and the Spurs. The Hawks come in at 10th after a week of 4 straight wins, including one against the Los Angeles Clippers compared with 7th on the Stein rankings. This ranking reflects Atlanta being first in defensive efficiency but 20th in offensive efficiency.
It is also easy to see on the 2012-13 Hollinger Team Statistics here (Insider) that the Hawks assist on a high percentage of buckets (4th in the league) and shoot efficiently (in the top 12 in both eFG% and TS%). However, their rebound rate and turnover rate is in the bottom 6 due to being a smaller team in the post and a less cohesive unit because of the offseason roster turnover.
John Hollinger’s rankings are weighted mostly to how the team has performed in the last week, so a poor spot in the rankings are not cause for concern in the future. Still, the signs are good for an Atlanta Hawks team that supposedly had to rebuild after losing Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.