Over-proclamations of tanking are wearing on me, fast. It’s become the last line of ego defense for frans who’ve put too much personal pride into their franchises—which, make no mistake, describes this writer—to either take a bit of schaudenfreude-soaked glee in this disarray of other organizations or, alternately, to suggest your own home city’s losing efforts are done meaningfully. Our losing is productive. “Tanking” has become an unavoidable final move in the logic of seemingly all NBA fans.

Or maybe once it’s said enough times, the word “tank” just becomes an illness. We can’t stop saying it. It’s the idiocy of the masses, turning in a word into nothing because it just couldn’t put it down for a minute, the masses couldn’t scratching their enigmatic itch with the way that single syllable felt, leaving their mouths.

It must be something like this that’s causing the hysteria over tanking, because those who apply individual scrutiny to the efforts of each NBA team will have a hard time naming more than four true blue tankers. Aside from the Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and potentially the Orlando Magic, teams in this league are trying to win. But winning isn’t easy in the NBA.

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The Rockets Daily – January 14, 2013

Weekly Rank – Marc Stein’s newest edition of ESPN’s Power Rankings is out, with the Rockets dropping one spot to number nine.

Maybe this will be the week that the Rockets dodge an injury curveball after Chandler Parsons was unexpectedly forced to miss three games with a sore knee last week. Another problem in Houston: At a mere 13-11 against the rest of the West, they’re living off an 11-2 record against the East. [read more…]

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Defense: Performance, Consistency, and Trends

Click for a full-sized interactive version

Measuring individual defense is tricky. Even our primary defensive measure, points allowed per 100 possessions (defensive rating), is arguably more dependent upon what other people do than what the player of interest does or does not do. For instance, I am confident that a lineup consisting of Francisco Garcia, me, my fat neighbor, and his two obnoxious little children could achieve pretty good individual defensive ratings if we were on the floor while JR Smith decided to go on one of his epic three-point chucking expeditions. Garcia would just stand still in front of Smith while the rest of us eat nachos in the corner. A defensive rating of  no more than 70 would be guaranteed for all of us.

For this reason, I created a new defensive measure, called net defensive rating. It is calculated by subtracting the team’s defensive rating for one game from an individual player’s defensive rating for that same game (player’s defensive rating – team defensive rating). Basically it compares a player’s defensive rating to his team’s defensive rating in order to better separate individual performance from team performance. The above charts show the net defensive ratings for each game for nine Houston Rockets players, their average net defensive ratings for the season, and the standard deviations for their net defensive ratings (as a measure of consistency).

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