Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alternate History 3: NBA & Pro/Rel

I've already examined the NFL and NHL, so now it's time for professional basketball.

What if the NBA had implemented a system of promotion and relegation? There was no obvious point to start like with the NFL and NHL, so I settled on the 1967-68 season. That's when the league was expanded to 12 team, the same starting number I used for the NHL, and it also means that all three of these posts started right around the same time.

Like the other posts, I used the same number of playoff teams that would be used for one conference in real life. I also used the same number of promoted and relegated teams (three each).

NBA FINALS CHANGES

Due to the yearly dominance of the top seeds in the NBA, I wasn't expecting many changes. But there turned out to be five different champions, one more than the NHL. Losing their titles were 1969 Boston, 1975 Golden State, 1977 Portland, 1995 Houston, and 2008 Boston. They are replaced by Los Angeles, Washington, Philadelphia, Orlando, and Los Angeles. So the Celtics lose twwo titles, while the Lakers gain two. That would shift the current balance from 17-16 in Boston's favor to 18-15, LA.

Here's the full list of different finalists. Champions are listed as the first team. With pro/rel is on the left, and real life is on the right:

1968 Boston vs Philadelphia
Boston vs Los Angeles
1969 Los Angeles vs New York
Boston vs Los Angeles
1971 Milwaukee vs New York
Milwaukee vs Baltimore
1972 Los Angeles vs Milwaukee
Los Angeles vs New York
1975 Washington vs Boston
Golden State vs Washington
1976 Boston vs Golden State
Boston vs Phoenix
1977 Philadelphia vs Houston
Portland vs Philadelphia
1981 Boston vs Philadelphia
Boston vs Houston
1995 Orlando vs San Antonio
Houston vs Orlando
2002 Los Angeles vs Sacramento
Los Angeles vs New Jersey
2008 Los Angeles vs Detroit
Boston vs Los Angeles
2010 Los Angeles vs Orlando
Los Angeles vs Boston

Why did each finalist miss out?

In second division:

1968 Los Angeles
1975 Golden State
1976 Phoenix
1977 Portland
2002 New Jersey
2008 Boston

Didn't qualify for playoffs:

1969 Boston (relegated)
1971 Baltimore
1972 New York
1981 Houston
1995 Houston
2010 Boston


YEARS IN EACH DIVISON

(including 2011-12)



PCT 1st 2nd Playoffs
1 Los Angeles Lakers 86.67% 39 6 32
2 San Antonio Spurs 77.78% 28 8 21
3 Utah Jazz 71.05% 27 11 18
4 Phoenix Suns 70.45% 31 13 17
5 Portland Trailblazers 69.05% 29 13 13
6 Boston Celtics 62.22% 28 17 20
6 Houston Rockets 62.22% 28 17 12
8 New York Knicks 55.56% 25 20 13
9 Miami Heat 54.17% 13 11 8
9 New Orleans Hornets 54.17% 13 11 2
11 Detroit Pistons 53.33% 24 21 15
11 Oklahoma City Thunder 53.33% 24 21 13
13 Dallas Mavericks 53.13% 17 15 14
14 Denver Nuggets 52.78% 19 17 9
15 Milwaukee Bucks 52.27% 23 21 12
16 Chicago Bulls 51.11% 23 22 16
16 Philadelphia 76ers 51.11% 23 22 15
18 Atlanta Hawks 48.89% 22 23 10
19 Orlando Magic 47.83% 11 12 5
20 Sacramento Kings 42.22% 19 26 6
21 Minnesota Timberwolves 39.13% 9 14 4
22 Indiana Pacers 38.89% 14 22 5
23 Cleveland Cavaliers 38.10% 16 26 5
24 Golden State Warriors 35.56% 16 29 3
24 Washington Wizards 35.56% 16 29 7
26 New Jersey Nets 33.33% 12 24 5
27 Toronto Raptors 29.41% 5 12 0
28 Memphis Grizzlies 23.53% 4 13 2
29 Los Angeles Clippers 16.67% 7 35 2
30 Charlotte Bobcats 12.50% 1 7 0

Look at how good Utah, Phoenix, and Portland have been with little to show for it. Toronto and Charlotte have yet to make the playoffs, while the Clippers only boast two appearances in 42 years. Ouch. At least Golden State has 3.


MOST CONSECUTIVE YEARS IN D1/D2

The longest lengths of time spent in division one (bold means a current streak):


Years First Last
Utah Jazz 21 1985 2005
Portland Trailblazers 18 1988 2005
Los Angeles Lakers 17 1996 2012
Los Angeles Lakers 16 1978 1993
Boston Celtics 14 1981 1994
San Antonio Spurs 14 1999 2012
New York Knicks 13 1990 2002
Milwaukee Bucks 12 1981 1992
Philadelphia 76ers 12 1977 1988
Chicago Bulls 11 1989 1999
Dallas Mavericks 11 2002 2012

The Lakers can't quite match the 30 year streak of the NHL's Boston Bruins, but they are one of three west teams with a current double digit streak. They didn't get relegated despite missing the real life playoffs in 2004-05, as they were only the fourth worst team in the alternate reality D1 that year.

The longest lengths of time spent in division two:


Years First Last
Los Angeles Clippers 15 1978 1992
Washington Wizards 13 2000 2012
Golden State Warriors 12 1996 2007
Los Angeles Clippers 12 1995 2006
Cleveland Cavaliers 10 1980 1989
Dallas Mavericks 10 1992 2001
New York Knicks 10 2003 2012
Utah Jazz 10 1975 1984

The alternate reality Wizards join the alternate reality Redskins in having their league's longest current streak in D2. Not a great time to be a Washington sports fan, huh?

2011 DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

Here's how two divisions would look for the current, just finished 2010-11 season, with the real life W-L records.

NBA-1

Chicago Bulls 62 20
San Antonio Spurs 61 21
Miami Heat 58 24
Los Angeles Lakers 57 25
Dallas Mavericks 57 25
Boston Celtics 56 26
Orlando Magic 52 30
Denver Nuggets 50 32



Portland Trailblazers 48 34
Atlanta Hawks 44 38
Phoenix Suns 40 42
Utah Jazz 39 43



Milwaukee Bucks 35 47
Charlotte Bobcats 34 48
Cleveland Cavaliers 19 63

So the eight playoff teams would correspond to the real life top eight seeds, with the exception of Denver instead of Oklahoma City.

The three relegated teams are Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Cleveland.

NBA-2

Oklahoma City Thunder 55 27
Memphis Grizzlies 46 36
New Orleans Hornets 46 36



Houston Rockets 43 39
New York Knicks 42 40
Philadelphia 76ers 41 41
Indiana Pacers 37 45
Golden State Warriors 36 46
Los Angeles Clippers 32 50
Detroit Pistons 30 52
Sacramento Kings 24 58
New Jersey Nets 24 58
Washington Wizards 23 59
Toronto Raptors 22 60
Minnesota Timberwolves 17 65

Three western conference teams are promoted in place of the relegated eastern three.

That gives us the following divisions for the 2011-12 season:


2012 DIVISION ALIGNMENTS

The number represents the current consecutive number of years in the division.

NBA-1

Atlanta Hawks 3
Boston Celtics 4
Chicago Bulls 2
Dallas Mavericks 11
Denver Nuggets 8
Los Angeles Lakers 17
Memphis Grizzlies 1
Miami Heat 3
New Orleans Hornets 1
Oklahoma City Thunder 1
Orlando Magic 4
Phoenix Suns 7
Portland Trailblazers 3
San Antonio Spurs 14
Utah Jazz 6

NBA-2

Charlotte Bobcats 1
Cleveland Cavaliers 1
Detroit Pistons 2
Golden State Warriors 3
Houston Rockets 2
Indiana Pacers 5
Los Angeles Clippers 4
Milwaukee Bucks 1
Minnesota Timberwolves 6
New Jersey Nets 3
New York Knicks 10
Philadelphia 76ers 8
Sacramento Kings 5
Toronto Raptors 3
Washington Wizards 13


YEAR BY YEAR CHART

Orange = promoted
Blue = relegated
Green = playoffs

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Comments on "Alternate History 3: NBA & Pro/Rel"

 

Blogger Christian Sinclair, MD said ... (10:32 PM, May 11, 2011) : 

Just found your blog and have to say I am very impressed with your stats and analysis. These deserve some praise for completeness.

 

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