OFFICIAL 2020-2021 NBA Season Thread: Chapter 10- KD out of ASG, Sabonis in

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Joined Sep 5, 2010
Timely article since we talked about it earlier:

The NBA has a math (and scheduling) problem. Here’s a way to solve it

A few years ago, I was talking to a physicist friend of mine, and he had a theory. That theory was that humans fundamentally had trouble understanding the impact of exponential functions, and that contributed to a great many societal problems. Population growth, climate change, inflation … all these are examples of exponential functions, albeit with different exponents.

So, too, is COVID-19, and with a much higher exponent than my three previous examples. Back in the before times of last winter, one thing that made the threat hard to grasp was the non-intuitive math: It wasn’t immediately obvious that if the average COVID-19 carrier infects two other people within a week, the number can very quickly race spectacularly out of control. Model that out, unchecked, and it takes just a few months to go from one case to 368 million, which is the entire population of the U.S. and Canada.

Epidemiology, at its root, is a math problem. It’s one the NBA has mostly solved successfully over the past year, most notably in the bubble but also in the planning of the current season. The NBA, thankfully, did understand it was dealing with an exponential function in creating its COVID-19 strategy for 2020-21, at least in most respects. The emphasis on contact tracing and pre-emptively deactivating players who were deemed a risk to spread the disease certainly has been a major factor in preventing a bad situation from getting worse. To wit, the league went from a scary 16 positive tests a week ago to just 11 this past week.

I don’t think people get what a huge relief that is. Had things been left unfettered to follow their exponential path, it could have quickly torpedoed the season. If you have 16 active cases and no check on each one spreading it to two others, you know how many cases you have a month later? Most folks would probably say 75 or something. The answer is 2,000 — or roughly triple the entire player and coach population of the NBA.

Nonetheless, we’re still in the danger zone. Obviously, with new American cases in the hundreds of thousands per day — far greater than when the NBA originally created this strategy — the risk of a positive case entering the league is several times greater than imagined. The sheer number of new cases leaking in from the outside has made the league’s job dramatically more difficult.

That’s why we’ve recently seen more extreme prevention tactics from the league, including the new wrinkle of having bouncers at midcourt to prevent postgame hugs and dap-ups between opponents. As laughable as it sounds now, we may reach a point where making players wear masks on the court becomes a topic, especially if it can buy time until leaguewide vaccinations happen.

Even so, it feels as though the season is teetering. We’ve had 19 cancellations since Jan. 10, and that doesn’t include the far greater number of games that have been dramatically affected by inactivated players. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas, among others, all have been forced to play multiple games with skeleton-crew rosters.

Also, in a low-key bizarre twist, teams are actually being punished for having two-way players because they count toward the minimum eight players required to play a game. They’re better off not having them and rescheduling the game for later, instead of playing their 16th- and 17th-best players 20-plus minutes. The Sixers surely wish that had happened against Denver last Saturday, as do the Heat against those same Sixers two days later.

And in this respect, the league has one giant failure, one easily avoidable math error for which to blame itself: The schedule.

Why, oh why, did the league feel the need to have every team play every other team, home and away, in a 72-game schedule? Did it think it was unfair to deprive the fans in, say, Toronto or Charlotte, from seeing LeBron James in their arena? News flash: They can’t see him anyway. Most arenas are empty, and those that aren’t have just a few hundred fans. Raptors fans need a passport, a negative COVID-19 test and written proof that they don’t know Blake Murphy before being allowed in the country where their team plays, let alone entering the arena.

Moreover, this was a ridiculous consideration in light of everything else going on. The league is forcing itself into increasingly complicated gymnastics of contact tracing, scheduling and player rules and restrictions, partly due to the own-goal of the schedule it created.

A far, far better approach would have been to have each team play a heavily division-focused schedule, with the remainder of the games within the conference, and either entirely ditch or greatly reduce non-conference games.

For example, the league could have played a 72-game season with eight games against each divisional opponent and four games against each non-division conference opponent. Bang, done. As an added benefit, every single matchup could be set as a multi-game series. Yes, there are some scheduling hurdles to doing this with 15-team conferences (odd numbers of teams are always a problem), but none are nearly as onerous as, say, having to make up six extra Wizards game in the second half of the season.

How does the schedule minimize game cancellations? I’m glad you asked. By limiting both the number and exchange of opponents, the league greatly reduces the potential of one COVID-19 infection to rip through the league like wildfire. Moreover, it massively simplifies the contact-tracing task (and resultant absences) that has proven almost as problematic as the actual disease.

For a great example, look at “patient zero” in the most recent stretch: The Wizards-Celtics game Jan. 8. Washington went on to play Miami and Phoenix, which both were immediately hammered themselves (the Suns had three cancellations, while the Heat were forced to play with a skeleton crew for a week). The arrows pointing directly from that night to Boston, Phoenix and Washington account for 12 of the 16 recent cancellations.

The other thing to note is that the NBA actually got lucky here because Miami had played both teams in the previous two days and then played Washington again right after; as a result, it only had one team hammered by contact-tracing absences (and potentially spreading the disease to opponents) instead of three in the following days.

Additionally, having Washington play Phoenix was an unnecessary transmission point between the two conferences. You’re much better off with two 15-team pools rather than one 30-team pool because there is always a firewall blocking off the spread beyond one conference that way.

In other words, even as bad as this was, it could have been way, way worse.

This underscores what the league should be trying to do with the schedule, which is slow the velocity of opponent turnover as much as possible. It’s also where the first-half schedule dramatically failed because it needed to limit the pool of potential opponents and specify multi-game series against each. Instead, the NBA went almost completely in the opposite direction by playing a 72-game schedule but still having every team play every other home and away. This guarantees a “new” next opponent for at least 58 of every team’s 72 games, even with the occasional two-game series.

Again, it’s an exponential function. If teams exchange opponents every two days, one player can spread the disease to 16 teams within a week. Extend that period to four days, and it’s only four teams, which gives the league a far greater chance of putting out the fire.

This takes us to our next point: The league can still fix this. Not immediately, but it can. With the situation likely to get worse before it gets better, and the schedule locked in through March 4, the league faces no choice but to limp through the next six weeks, much as baseball did, and try to avert worst-case scenarios.

After that, however, the ball is in the league’s court. The schedule is not sacrosanct, people, and the league can get to 72(ish) games by mid-May any way it damn well pleases.

Given the situation and the stakes, the league should look really hard at a second-half schedule that puts teams in small groups of six to 10 teams, which would prevent team-to-team spread and contact-tracing situations. Save your whining about strength of schedule considerations for another day; the primary consideration here is completing the season in any way possible.

It’s a basic math problem involving exponential functions, and it’s one the league has mostly solved correctly. But the schedule was a glitch in the NBA’s strategy, and one it must rethink for the second half.
 

storm2006

Supporter
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Joined Aug 20, 2001
Didn't realize
Timely article since we talked about it earlier:

The NBA has a math (and scheduling) problem. Here’s a way to solve it

A few years ago, I was talking to a physicist friend of mine, and he had a theory. That theory was that humans fundamentally had trouble understanding the impact of exponential functions, and that contributed to a great many societal problems. Population growth, climate change, inflation … all these are examples of exponential functions, albeit with different exponents.

So, too, is COVID-19, and with a much higher exponent than my three previous examples. Back in the before times of last winter, one thing that made the threat hard to grasp was the non-intuitive math: It wasn’t immediately obvious that if the average COVID-19 carrier infects two other people within a week, the number can very quickly race spectacularly out of control. Model that out, unchecked, and it takes just a few months to go from one case to 368 million, which is the entire population of the U.S. and Canada.

Epidemiology, at its root, is a math problem. It’s one the NBA has mostly solved successfully over the past year, most notably in the bubble but also in the planning of the current season. The NBA, thankfully, did understand it was dealing with an exponential function in creating its COVID-19 strategy for 2020-21, at least in most respects. The emphasis on contact tracing and pre-emptively deactivating players who were deemed a risk to spread the disease certainly has been a major factor in preventing a bad situation from getting worse. To wit, the league went from a scary 16 positive tests a week ago to just 11 this past week.

I don’t think people get what a huge relief that is. Had things been left unfettered to follow their exponential path, it could have quickly torpedoed the season. If you have 16 active cases and no check on each one spreading it to two others, you know how many cases you have a month later? Most folks would probably say 75 or something. The answer is 2,000 — or roughly triple the entire player and coach population of the NBA.

Nonetheless, we’re still in the danger zone. Obviously, with new American cases in the hundreds of thousands per day — far greater than when the NBA originally created this strategy — the risk of a positive case entering the league is several times greater than imagined. The sheer number of new cases leaking in from the outside has made the league’s job dramatically more difficult.

That’s why we’ve recently seen more extreme prevention tactics from the league, including the new wrinkle of having bouncers at midcourt to prevent postgame hugs and dap-ups between opponents. As laughable as it sounds now, we may reach a point where making players wear masks on the court becomes a topic, especially if it can buy time until leaguewide vaccinations happen.

Even so, it feels as though the season is teetering. We’ve had 19 cancellations since Jan. 10, and that doesn’t include the far greater number of games that have been dramatically affected by inactivated players. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas, among others, all have been forced to play multiple games with skeleton-crew rosters.

Also, in a low-key bizarre twist, teams are actually being punished for having two-way players because they count toward the minimum eight players required to play a game. They’re better off not having them and rescheduling the game for later, instead of playing their 16th- and 17th-best players 20-plus minutes. The Sixers surely wish that had happened against Denver last Saturday, as do the Heat against those same Sixers two days later.

And in this respect, the league has one giant failure, one easily avoidable math error for which to blame itself: The schedule.

Why, oh why, did the league feel the need to have every team play every other team, home and away, in a 72-game schedule? Did it think it was unfair to deprive the fans in, say, Toronto or Charlotte, from seeing LeBron James in their arena? News flash: They can’t see him anyway. Most arenas are empty, and those that aren’t have just a few hundred fans. Raptors fans need a passport, a negative COVID-19 test and written proof that they don’t know Blake Murphy before being allowed in the country where their team plays, let alone entering the arena.

Moreover, this was a ridiculous consideration in light of everything else going on. The league is forcing itself into increasingly complicated gymnastics of contact tracing, scheduling and player rules and restrictions, partly due to the own-goal of the schedule it created.

A far, far better approach would have been to have each team play a heavily division-focused schedule, with the remainder of the games within the conference, and either entirely ditch or greatly reduce non-conference games.

For example, the league could have played a 72-game season with eight games against each divisional opponent and four games against each non-division conference opponent. Bang, done. As an added benefit, every single matchup could be set as a multi-game series. Yes, there are some scheduling hurdles to doing this with 15-team conferences (odd numbers of teams are always a problem), but none are nearly as onerous as, say, having to make up six extra Wizards game in the second half of the season.

How does the schedule minimize game cancellations? I’m glad you asked. By limiting both the number and exchange of opponents, the league greatly reduces the potential of one COVID-19 infection to rip through the league like wildfire. Moreover, it massively simplifies the contact-tracing task (and resultant absences) that has proven almost as problematic as the actual disease.

For a great example, look at “patient zero” in the most recent stretch: The Wizards-Celtics game Jan. 8. Washington went on to play Miami and Phoenix, which both were immediately hammered themselves (the Suns had three cancellations, while the Heat were forced to play with a skeleton crew for a week). The arrows pointing directly from that night to Boston, Phoenix and Washington account for 12 of the 16 recent cancellations.

The other thing to note is that the NBA actually got lucky here because Miami had played both teams in the previous two days and then played Washington again right after; as a result, it only had one team hammered by contact-tracing absences (and potentially spreading the disease to opponents) instead of three in the following days.

Additionally, having Washington play Phoenix was an unnecessary transmission point between the two conferences. You’re much better off with two 15-team pools rather than one 30-team pool because there is always a firewall blocking off the spread beyond one conference that way.

In other words, even as bad as this was, it could have been way, way worse.

This underscores what the league should be trying to do with the schedule, which is slow the velocity of opponent turnover as much as possible. It’s also where the first-half schedule dramatically failed because it needed to limit the pool of potential opponents and specify multi-game series against each. Instead, the NBA went almost completely in the opposite direction by playing a 72-game schedule but still having every team play every other home and away. This guarantees a “new” next opponent for at least 58 of every team’s 72 games, even with the occasional two-game series.

Again, it’s an exponential function. If teams exchange opponents every two days, one player can spread the disease to 16 teams within a week. Extend that period to four days, and it’s only four teams, which gives the league a far greater chance of putting out the fire.

This takes us to our next point: The league can still fix this. Not immediately, but it can. With the situation likely to get worse before it gets better, and the schedule locked in through March 4, the league faces no choice but to limp through the next six weeks, much as baseball did, and try to avert worst-case scenarios.

After that, however, the ball is in the league’s court. The schedule is not sacrosanct, people, and the league can get to 72(ish) games by mid-May any way it damn well pleases.

Given the situation and the stakes, the league should look really hard at a second-half schedule that puts teams in small groups of six to 10 teams, which would prevent team-to-team spread and contact-tracing situations. Save your whining about strength of schedule considerations for another day; the primary consideration here is completing the season in any way possible.

It’s a basic math problem involving exponential functions, and it’s one the league has mostly solved correctly. But the schedule was a glitch in the NBA’s strategy, and one it must rethink for the second half.


But in all seriousness, I'm happy to have basketball back this is getting ridiculous. Even though the the proposition given by the author would in fact be safer, it would fundamentally alter the seeding. I stand with with erupt erupt - cancel the season.
 

MVP

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Joined Feb 28, 2008
I'll be really interested to see how they fit these missed games in. Maybe some 3 days in a row. Wizards done missed 6 games in a row.
 

aepps20

Supporter
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Joined Feb 8, 2004
Inside the NBA, from his own lips. When Trump won, Ernie Johnson spoke of giving Trump a chance, Barkley chimed in, then did Shaq. He stated, "Let's give him a chance", and Kenny Smith went in another direction.

@0.31
L4bnFSK (1).gif
 

Sonny Corinthos

formerly joeclear
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Joined Nov 22, 2008
I see how you're coming to that, but I disagree. 3 is moses, 4 is calvin murphy, and 5 is rudy T. drex and CP3 weren't here nearly long enough to stake claim in the franchise's top 5.
Rudy T was a great coach , but as a player he wasn't seeing Drexler or CP3 . Before or after Kermit cracked him in the face
 
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Joined Aug 5, 2017
Timely article since we talked about it earlier:

The NBA has a math (and scheduling) problem. Here’s a way to solve it

A few years ago, I was talking to a physicist friend of mine, and he had a theory. That theory was that humans fundamentally had trouble understanding the impact of exponential functions, and that contributed to a great many societal problems. Population growth, climate change, inflation … all these are examples of exponential functions, albeit with different exponents.

So, too, is COVID-19, and with a much higher exponent than my three previous examples. Back in the before times of last winter, one thing that made the threat hard to grasp was the non-intuitive math: It wasn’t immediately obvious that if the average COVID-19 carrier infects two other people within a week, the number can very quickly race spectacularly out of control. Model that out, unchecked, and it takes just a few months to go from one case to 368 million, which is the entire population of the U.S. and Canada.

Epidemiology, at its root, is a math problem. It’s one the NBA has mostly solved successfully over the past year, most notably in the bubble but also in the planning of the current season. The NBA, thankfully, did understand it was dealing with an exponential function in creating its COVID-19 strategy for 2020-21, at least in most respects. The emphasis on contact tracing and pre-emptively deactivating players who were deemed a risk to spread the disease certainly has been a major factor in preventing a bad situation from getting worse. To wit, the league went from a scary 16 positive tests a week ago to just 11 this past week.

I don’t think people get what a huge relief that is. Had things been left unfettered to follow their exponential path, it could have quickly torpedoed the season. If you have 16 active cases and no check on each one spreading it to two others, you know how many cases you have a month later? Most folks would probably say 75 or something. The answer is 2,000 — or roughly triple the entire player and coach population of the NBA.

Nonetheless, we’re still in the danger zone. Obviously, with new American cases in the hundreds of thousands per day — far greater than when the NBA originally created this strategy — the risk of a positive case entering the league is several times greater than imagined. The sheer number of new cases leaking in from the outside has made the league’s job dramatically more difficult.

That’s why we’ve recently seen more extreme prevention tactics from the league, including the new wrinkle of having bouncers at midcourt to prevent postgame hugs and dap-ups between opponents. As laughable as it sounds now, we may reach a point where making players wear masks on the court becomes a topic, especially if it can buy time until leaguewide vaccinations happen.

Even so, it feels as though the season is teetering. We’ve had 19 cancellations since Jan. 10, and that doesn’t include the far greater number of games that have been dramatically affected by inactivated players. Miami, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas, among others, all have been forced to play multiple games with skeleton-crew rosters.

Also, in a low-key bizarre twist, teams are actually being punished for having two-way players because they count toward the minimum eight players required to play a game. They’re better off not having them and rescheduling the game for later, instead of playing their 16th- and 17th-best players 20-plus minutes. The Sixers surely wish that had happened against Denver last Saturday, as do the Heat against those same Sixers two days later.

And in this respect, the league has one giant failure, one easily avoidable math error for which to blame itself: The schedule.

Why, oh why, did the league feel the need to have every team play every other team, home and away, in a 72-game schedule? Did it think it was unfair to deprive the fans in, say, Toronto or Charlotte, from seeing LeBron James in their arena? News flash: They can’t see him anyway. Most arenas are empty, and those that aren’t have just a few hundred fans. Raptors fans need a passport, a negative COVID-19 test and written proof that they don’t know Blake Murphy before being allowed in the country where their team plays, let alone entering the arena.

Moreover, this was a ridiculous consideration in light of everything else going on. The league is forcing itself into increasingly complicated gymnastics of contact tracing, scheduling and player rules and restrictions, partly due to the own-goal of the schedule it created.

A far, far better approach would have been to have each team play a heavily division-focused schedule, with the remainder of the games within the conference, and either entirely ditch or greatly reduce non-conference games.

For example, the league could have played a 72-game season with eight games against each divisional opponent and four games against each non-division conference opponent. Bang, done. As an added benefit, every single matchup could be set as a multi-game series. Yes, there are some scheduling hurdles to doing this with 15-team conferences (odd numbers of teams are always a problem), but none are nearly as onerous as, say, having to make up six extra Wizards game in the second half of the season.

How does the schedule minimize game cancellations? I’m glad you asked. By limiting both the number and exchange of opponents, the league greatly reduces the potential of one COVID-19 infection to rip through the league like wildfire. Moreover, it massively simplifies the contact-tracing task (and resultant absences) that has proven almost as problematic as the actual disease.

For a great example, look at “patient zero” in the most recent stretch: The Wizards-Celtics game Jan. 8. Washington went on to play Miami and Phoenix, which both were immediately hammered themselves (the Suns had three cancellations, while the Heat were forced to play with a skeleton crew for a week). The arrows pointing directly from that night to Boston, Phoenix and Washington account for 12 of the 16 recent cancellations.

The other thing to note is that the NBA actually got lucky here because Miami had played both teams in the previous two days and then played Washington again right after; as a result, it only had one team hammered by contact-tracing absences (and potentially spreading the disease to opponents) instead of three in the following days.

Additionally, having Washington play Phoenix was an unnecessary transmission point between the two conferences. You’re much better off with two 15-team pools rather than one 30-team pool because there is always a firewall blocking off the spread beyond one conference that way.

In other words, even as bad as this was, it could have been way, way worse.

This underscores what the league should be trying to do with the schedule, which is slow the velocity of opponent turnover as much as possible. It’s also where the first-half schedule dramatically failed because it needed to limit the pool of potential opponents and specify multi-game series against each. Instead, the NBA went almost completely in the opposite direction by playing a 72-game schedule but still having every team play every other home and away. This guarantees a “new” next opponent for at least 58 of every team’s 72 games, even with the occasional two-game series.

Again, it’s an exponential function. If teams exchange opponents every two days, one player can spread the disease to 16 teams within a week. Extend that period to four days, and it’s only four teams, which gives the league a far greater chance of putting out the fire.

This takes us to our next point: The league can still fix this. Not immediately, but it can. With the situation likely to get worse before it gets better, and the schedule locked in through March 4, the league faces no choice but to limp through the next six weeks, much as baseball did, and try to avert worst-case scenarios.

After that, however, the ball is in the league’s court. The schedule is not sacrosanct, people, and the league can get to 72(ish) games by mid-May any way it damn well pleases.

Given the situation and the stakes, the league should look really hard at a second-half schedule that puts teams in small groups of six to 10 teams, which would prevent team-to-team spread and contact-tracing situations. Save your whining about strength of schedule considerations for another day; the primary consideration here is completing the season in any way possible.

It’s a basic math problem involving exponential functions, and it’s one the league has mostly solved correctly. But the schedule was a glitch in the NBA’s strategy, and one it must rethink for the second half.
great read
 
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