Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Breakdown of NBA Playoff Minutes

I'll just run down the methodology really quickly before presenting the data:

I've seen various breakdowns across different sports where number of players are compared between certain categories. Here, I wanted to take a separate approach and weigh each player by his average minutes played (also possible to use total minutes played, but injured players get penalized). I originally wanted to do this with the regular season, but the data becomes insanely unmanageable. I could possibly do it in the future.

Instead, I looked at average minutes played for every player in the 2012 NBA Playoffs Round 1. I gathered some other information about the players. And here are the results.

The numbers in the graphs below are "sum averages". It might not make intuitive sense, but keep in mind that it is not total minutes.

First is a breakdown by college. Here I include only the top 20 schools (out of the total 77 represented). There were a few borderline cases, and there I tried to use the school played during the most time. I include High School and International players as well for comparison.

I had already expected UCLA to be high on the list. I really started the project to see if my suspicions were true, but the rest of the info that came out of it is pretty cool. We are also now entering the era where the "Straight-From-High-School" Era players are hitting their prime.

Then I grouped the data into conferences. It should be noted here that I used the most "current" alignments. So Syracuse and Pitt, for example, are listed under the ACC, not the Big East. I just had to choose some sort of rule that I could follow consistently. I also adjusted the numbers to a 10-member conference. Simply by dividing and multiplying so that conferences with fewer schools wouldn't be penalized, and conferences with more schools wouldn't benefit simply from having more members.

I grouped the data into a couple other variables that I thought would be interesting. The following is a breakdown of American players based on what year they left college (plus straight from high school players).

As a note, the top of the list is dominated by High School and Freshman players (and International), but as you move into the middle and bottom of the data, it is dominated by Soph-Jun-Seniors.

Lastly, I broke down the International players (strictly defined as players who did not play college or high school in the US). I determined "ethnicity" by the country in which they played in their first professional ball.


  1. Cool, thanks for putting the time into this, it is very interesting. Glad to see the PAC 12 being well represented in the NBA.

  2. Excellent post. I'd love to see one for the NFL.

    1. That would be pretty cool. I chose the NBA though because it was the easiest. The smallest roster sizes and an easy universal measure like minutes played. If anyone kept track of something like snaps played, then a football version would be possible too, but probably way more time consuming.

  3. Did you leave the WAC out for some reason? Sessions and McGee both played for Nevada. Also, Milsap played in the WAC

    1. Nope, it's because Nevada will be in the MWC starting in 2012, so McGee and Sessions' minutes went there, and LATech is going to CUSA, so Millsaps minutes went there. I had to just stick to the formula of using the most up-to-date alignments, to keep things consistent.