Points gained – Is this advanced stat really good for NBA predictions?


This might be a little confusing especially if you are not into basketball advanced stats but bear with me for this blog post and I will try to make it easy to understand. I only heard about this stat this summer listening to a podcast but at first, I did not give too much importance to it. However, after the first matches of the season, I am starting to believe the ‘Points Gained’ stats can help a lot when we want to predict how good a team will be. So let’s start this by explaining what points gained means. I won’t go in details but this state refers to how more points a certain player gain than the average player in the NBA. For example, the leader in points gained last season was Curry at +4.7 points which means that with the 19.5 scoring opportunities he has per game he scores 4.7 more points than the average NBA player would score with the same amount of scoring opportunities. The next players in the standings are Durant, Harden, Towns, Lebron and Davis so it is pretty safe to say that this stat is pretty good in measuring player actual contribution.

How does this stat actually helps us?

So the next step we need to take so we can predict a team performance is to add all their player’s points gained. Last season this worked pretty well and most notably the Rockets had almost the same number of points gained as the Warriors. As we saw last season the Rockets actually had more wins than the Warriors in the regular season and almost won in the Western Conference Finals.  This model also predicted 7 of the top 8 offenses in the Western Conference which is very impressive. So what is this model saying about the new season? Well… The Warriors are still number 1 as everyone could guess but we have a new number 2: the New Orleans Pelicans. I was not very sure what to believe about this team but the first 2 games of the season confirmed the points gained theory. The Pelicans offense was absolutely unstoppable and they actually became the first team in the last 20 years that managed to score at least 130 points in both of their first 2 games of a season. Is this a coincidence? Maybe, but considering other teams that are high in the points gained standings also started the season very strong I believe there is a chance it is more than that.

Why the points gained stat likes the Pelicans so much?

The main reason is their superstar Anthony Davis who is one of the best players in the world. He is very good in points gained too and considering that he is still young I expect him to have another huge season and lead his team to glory. However, the thing that makes the Pelicans so good in points gained is that the majority of their players are not negative in this statistic. Actually, many of their players including Mirotic, Holiday, Miller and Randle are above average. In contrast, a team like the Rockets may have some very good players in points gained like Harden, Paul or Capela but they also have some high negative players like Carmelo or Carter Williams replacing positive players like Ariza and Mbah a Moute.

Are the Pelicans good in real life too?

So if you read what I said so far it is clear that the points gained statistic likes the Pelicans a lot. The same statistic that predicted the Rockets will be great in 2017/18 says that this is the Pelicans year. But what is my opinion on the Pelicans in real life? I will only say that I absolutely loved what I saw in the first 2 matches and if they stay healthy I am pretty sure they will be a problem this year. Now let’s take a short look at their roster. Davis is one of the best players in the world, a two-way guy that will be a Hall-Of-Famer and have a good chance to win the MVP. Holiday is a great complementary star who also plays hard both on offense and defense. He is a former-Starr and if he would’ve stayed healthy in recent years his reputation would’ve been way better in my opinion. He showed how good he is in the playoffs last year dominating superstar Lillard in the first round sweep. Another important piece is Nikola Mirotic who started the season with 2 incredible performances. He won’t play like that all season long but he is an underrated player. Last year he played for the Bulls until being traded to the Pels and when he was available the team record was 14-11. Without him, they went 13-47. If that’s not impressive I don’t know what it is. The biggest acquisition this summer was Julius Randle and I was very impressed by this young man progress in the second part of the last season. In the first 2 matches of this season, he looked even better making some threes and being dominant attacking the paint. Randle is a unique player that is very hard to defend by shorter and weaker players. In a league that rely more and more on switching a player like Randle becomes even more valuable. Another acquisition this summer is Payton who was signed to replace Rondo. While I am not very high on the young guard I could easily see him having his most efficient season in his career considering that he never played for a team that had a good until the Pelicans. Some other important pieces are E’twaun Moore and Darius Miller and I like them both as rotation players . Moore is a versatile player that can have some scoring outbursts now and then while Miller is playing his second NBA season after some good years spent in Europe. If we also consider how good they looked in the playoffs last year I believe there are enough reasons to believe that they can have a very good season and actually be better than anyone in their division.

The Southwest Division and my free tip

So my free tip for you will be the Pelicans to win their division. There are 3 main reasons I like this bet: the Pelicans strength(see above), the other teams in the division got weaker and the value in the odds. Firstly I will say that I still believe the Rockets are very strong with the MVP James Harden and hall of famer point guard Chris Paul leading their offence. However, they already lost 2 of their 3 games so far including a big loss against the Pelicans in the first match. They were looking lost on defence and their moves this summer makes them weaker. The other team with chances to win this division is the Spurs but considering they lost Kawhi Leonard and some veterans like Manu, Parker and Green and also their starting pointguard Murray will be injured all season I can’t see them getting close to 50 wins. Betway still offers 10.0 odds for the Pelicans to win their division which I believe is way too high. Many other bookies offers between 7.5 and 9 odds which I still believe represents great value.

Hope you liked this blog post and if that is so I will post more when I find a good subject and time allow.

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