NHL Playoffs Round 2

The Wild bowed out early yet again, the Flames looked every bit the team with a <1% chance of winning the cup, and the Model went 7 for 8 in first round series predictions. The big (and only) miss came on the heels of the Chicago Blackhawks, who apparently decided they would rather be golfing than playing hockey. Despite the addition of Bruce Boudreau, the superstar-less Minnesota Wild proved once again that they lack a star goal scorer needed to make a deep run in the playoffs, such as a Vladimir Tarasenko. While Round 1 presented zero game sevens, the Model predicts we might see a nail biter or two in the second round.

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2017 NBA Playoffs Simulation

According to our NBA playoff model, the probability of the Clippers winning their first round match up is 0.41. However, what happens if they do win their first round matchup – and what is the probability of the Clippers making it to the conference finals? Or winning the NBA championship? While we can assume that these values would be less than 0.41, the initial predictions alone do not supply us with the answer.
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NBA Role Probability Model 2016

NBA Role Probability Model is used to predict the likelihood that a given college basketball player becomes an NBA All-Star, Starter, Bench player, or does not make the NBA. The model uses individual college basketball season-long box score statistics, team-level statistics (e.g. strength of schedule), physical measurements, high school scouting ranking, position, and age/experience to predict the probability of each NBA role. For more detail on this model, see here. In the following table, you can find our predicted probabilities for the 2016 NBA Draft prospects landing in each category:
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NBA Role Probability Model Methodology

With the 28th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Skal Labissiere, who perfectly fit the bill of a modern-day NBA big man: nearly 7’0″ and roughly 215 lbs, armed with a 7’3″ wingspan and a smooth jumper. However, Labissiere’s production in his one season with Kentucky was extremely minimal. Though he was Draft Express’s preseason number 1 overall pick, he averaged just 6.6 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 1.6 blocks per game while playing a measly 15.8 minutes per game. Given this production, Labissiere seemingly didn’t warrant any draft pick at all. But not only was he drafted, he went in the first round. Why? Potential. The idea was that Labissiere could develop his tantalizing tools and become the all-star caliber player many thought he would be prior to his time at Kentucky. While that would have been a great outcome, it was still more likely that Skal would not reach that all-star potential at all. With the combination of this potential and an unproven track record, it seemed that Labissiere’s role in the NBA would be either be an all-star or a bench warmer—or maybe even out of the league! Contrast Labissiere with Frank Kaminsky, who earned the Wooden Award in his senior season at Wisconsin. Most did not envision Kaminsky as an all-star, but rather a 4th, 5th or 6th man in the NBA. He had more polish than Labissiere, but a lower ceiling. These two seven-footers had very different profiles coming out of college.

In order to capture the likelihood that players like Skal Labissiere become NBA all-stars and players like Frank Kaminsky become NBA starters, we have created an NBA Role Probability Model that seeks to predict what role an NBA prospect will play in the NBA. Adding this to our previous prospecting work, we now have three components to help evaluate NBA prospects:
(1) PNSP, which answers the question, “How valuable will a player be?”
(2) Similarity Scores, which tell us about playing style by comparison to similar players
(3) NBA role probability model, which answers, “what roles might this player fill in the NBA?”

For a glimpse of how the 2016 draft class scored on this model, check out NBA Role Probabilities for 2016 NBA Draftees here.

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2017 NHL Playoff Simulation

Using the average probability from our NHL Playoff Models, we have run a large-scale simulation for the 2017 NHL Playoffs. This allows us to estimate how often each team makes the semifinals, conference championship, Stanley Cup Finals, and ultimately win the Stanley Cup. In order to do this, we took each series and generated a random number between 0 and 1. If the random number is less than our predicted probability of the home team winning, then we advance the home team as the winner of that series (and vice versa if the random number is greater than our probability). For example, Model 1 has a probability of 0.74 that the Chicago Blackhawks will beat the Nashville Predators. If the random number is 0.95, we would pick the Predators to advance, and if the random number is 0.55, we would pick the Blackhawks to advance. This methodology was applied to the entire NHL Playoff bracket, generating 10,000 brackets and 10,000 Stanley Cup champions.

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2017 NBA Playoff Bracket

Our NBA Playoff model calculates win probabilities for each series matchup based on each team’s regular season statistics. We used multiple regression techniques to develop a variety of models. We arrive at our consensus winners by taking the average prediction from a handful of our most successful models. For a more detailed breakdown of these NBA models, and to see our 2015 & 2016 brackets, check out our NBA Playoff Bracket Methodology. Our model has picked 78% of series winners correctly, along with 15 of the past 27 champions. In other words, on an average year, it gets 11.7 of the 15 series winners correct and has a 56% chance of getting the champion correct. Our predictions for the 2017 playoffs are shown below:
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NBA Modeling Methodology

Our data is built off of all regular season games since the 1989-1990 regular season, giving us 27 seasons in all. It was fun to test our models performance over the Jordan-dominated 90’s, the Shaqobe 00’s, and to the modern pace-and-space era. There is no doubt that the style of play in the league has changed drastically over this time. This poses a challenge for modeling the most recent seasons, as most of our training data will not reflect the boom in outside shooting that we are seeing in the game today.
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2017 NHL Playoff Bracket

Our NHL playoff models use team-level and individual player statistics to predict the probability that a team will win a given series. We build our bracket by advancing the team with the higher win probability for each series. For example, this year, our models give the Chicago Blackhawks a 74% chance of winning their first round series against the Nashville Predators, so we advanced the Blackhawks to the following round in our bracket. While we utilize multiple models to generate predictions for each series, the bracket below represents the average probability of all models for the 2017 NHL Playoffs. For more information on our NHL Playoff Models, see our methodology article here.

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NHL Playoff Model Methodology

The NHL Playoff Model uses team-level and individual player statistics to predict the probability that a given team will win a series (rather than predicting each game individually). Theoretically, one would think predicting a winner of a series would be easier than predicting the probability a team wins a single game, but many things can happen throughout the course of a series, most significantly, injuries that make predicting the series winner difficult.

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