Bodner’s Buckets: What Will Make This Sixers Season a Success?
As the Sixers begin the 2014-15 NBA season tonight, season 2 of Sam Hinkie's reign, many are asking themselves what qualifies as a success.
The won/loss record is the most obvious metric, and one that many look to, if for no other reason than gambling purposes. Vegas has pegged the Sixers at either 15.5 or 16 wins.
Many in the national media continue to assert that this could be a historically bad season. In what seems to be almost a counter-reaction, many among the Sixers faithful believe that picking the over would be easy money. It seems almost a defense of what Hinkie is doing, as if to say we're bad, but we're not THAT bad. That other teams have been comparably bad, but have not received the national attention that the Sixers have over the past 16 months.
And there's obviously some truth to that. The Sixers didn't even have the worst record in the league last season, which belonged to the Milwaukee Bucks, who had 4 less wins. There have been 19 teams with 19 or less wins during the 21st century, and only one of those happened during the lockout shortened 2011-12 season. Based solely on what the Sixers did last season, they are certainly not unique.
But when I'm looking at projecting this team for the upcoming season, the fact that the team won 19 games may not be an accurate representation. With an offensive rating of 99.4 and a defensive rating of 109.9, the Sixers -10.5 net rating was by far the worst in the league. The Bucks "only" had a -8.8.
In fact, since the 2000-01 season, only two teams (out of 417 team seasons) have had a net rating of worse than -10.5: The 2005-06 Portland Trailblazers (-10.8) and the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (-15.2), a team which won 7 games in the strike-shortened season.
Looking at the Simple Rating System, which is a formula used on Basketball-Reference which combines point differential with strength of schedule, the Sixers -10.66 SRS was also worst in the league, by a considerable margin, as the Bucks were once again 2nd worst at -8.41. In fact, only 10 other teams in the history of the NBA have had an SRS as bad as the Sixers did last season, and none of them won more than 15 games in a season.
Either the Sixers and Brett Brown found a way to win close games at a higher rate than any other bad team in NBA history, with an incredible ability to hit falling-out-of-bounds three pointers at a higher rate than normal, or they had relatively good luck last season. If the latter is the case, there could be some regression coming this season.