The introduction of the “result significance”

We are swimming in the uncharted waters of a new brave basketball world. We don’t know nothing of the upcoming games, but, now we can understand everything about the first round and the ground each team is holding until now. How come? Just leave the brand new “result significance” criteria do the work for us.

We are 15 games deep in the “new Euroleague”. And what we have learned? That is really really hard. For the clubs, for the players and everybody else who wants to predict the future. If you are reading these lines and you are not the Seer from Vikings, or any kind of oracle you can admit that what we know is that we don’t know anything. Nothing. Zero. Nada.

And that is a good thing. That’s what makes Premier League and the NBA so damn good. Everything is unpredictable. The last couple of weeks Fenerbahce lost to Darussafaka at home, went on to beat the (unbeaten in Moscow) champion team of CSKA and then lost badly at Pireus from the injury-prone Olympiacos. And that’s a typical three game stretch in Euroleague. That’s what can happen in any given Thursday or Friday. European basketball has entered in a “win some, lose some” mentality and we are looking forward to embrace it.

The only problem is that fans want to see beyond the next game, they love to make long term predictions. Who will qualify? Who will have the home advantage in the Playoffs? Who will make it to the Final-Four? Which is the best team? The only guide to do so is the standings table. Which says some, but barely enough. The 8–7 record for example brings Darussafaka in the 7th spot, but, what does it really mean? Is David Blatt’s team good or bad? Are they considered a final-four contender? Sure they are. The Turkish cinderella is the only team to beat CSKA, Fener and Real and moreover they have won four games away (second best behind CSKA’s 6 road wins). But, they are the same group of players that have lost to Milan, Efes and Olympiacos at home. So, who can really tell?

Another story is Panathinaikos. They have shown stability despite the fact that they have named three different head-coaches so far (Pedoulakis, Vovoras as an interim coach and Pascual). They have lost only one game at home (against their sworn rival, Olympiacos), but on the other hand have won only twice away from Greece (Bamberg and Milan). As the legendary John Wooden whould say “they have not let the peaks get too high, nor the valleys too low”. Not many ups and downs for the Greens. Not many big wins, or severe loses. Are they in a better place than Darussafaka? Or Efes? Or Fenerbahce?

In order to analyze in depth what the teams have done so far -and try to predict what’s coming- we have to use another scale. So, let me introduce the “win/lose significance factor”, which comes to the rescue. How important is a win or a loss for its team, in terms of its opponents “value”. In order to do so we can estimate the “significance” factor. An away-loss in Moscow doesn’t have the same magnitude as a home-loss from Unicks.

So, we have to estimate the significance of its result by the difficulty of the match-up, depending on the opponent’s winning record. CSKA has a 80% winning percentage (12–3 record), so a home win over the Russian powerhouse will count as +0.80 and an away win (good luck with that) will count as +1.80. On the other hand a loss from Milos Teodosic & Co on the road will be summed as -0.20 and a home deficit as -1.20. Another example: Milan has a 26% winning percentage, so a win against them will be added as 0.26 (home) and 1.26 (away) and a loss as -0.74 (away) and -1.74 (home). And by that we can tell that losing at Moscow (-0.20) is less important than losing at Milan (-0.74) and at the same time winning CSKA at home counts as 0.80, instead of the 0.26 of a win against the Italians.

Beat CSKA (12–3 / 80%): 1.80 (away), 0.80 (home) / Lose to CSKA: -0.20 (away), 1.20 (home)

Beat Real, Baskonia, Olympiacos (10–5, 66%): 1.66 (away), 0.66 (home) / Lose to Real, Baskonia, Olympiacos: -0.66 (away), -1.66 (home)

Beat Panathinaikos, Fener (9–6, 60%): 1.60 (away), 0.66 (home) / Lose to Panathinaikos, Fener: -0.60 (away), -1.66 (home)

Beat Darussafaka (8–7, 53%): 1.53 (away), 0.53 (home) / Lose to Darussafaka: -0.53 (away), -1.53 (home)

Beat Barcelona, Efes, Red Star (7–8, 46%): 1.46 (away), 0.46 (home) / Lose to Barcelona, Efes, Red Star: -0.54 (away), -1.54 (home)

Beat Bamberg, Zalgiris, Unicks (6–9, 40%): 1.40 (away), 0.40 (home) / lose to Bamberg, Zalgiris, Unicks: -0.60 (away), -1.60 (home)

Beat Maccabi (5–11, 33%): 1.30 (away), 0.30 (home) / lose to Maccabi: -0.70 (away), -1.70 (home)

Beat Milan, Galatasaray (4–11, 26%): 1.26 (away), 0.26 (home) / lose to Milan, Galatasaray: -0.74 (away), -1.74 (home).

Taking all these under consideration we have this:

CSKA has earned the biggest (10.95) spoils by its winning results. After all they have the best record and the most away wins (6). Olympiacos comes second, having celebrated big victories against Panathinaikos, Darussafaka, Baskonia and Zalgiris (all away). The same goes with Fenerbahce (CSKA away, Real at home), Real (Barcelona, Maccabi, Milano and Efes away) and Darussafaka (Fener away, CSKA and Real at home).

On the other hand Olympiacos was damaged by the home loss against Maccabi. So, does Fener with two home losses (Unics and Darussafaka). On the contrast, Real did some damage control. They have lost in Moscow and Istanbul, but managed to start strong at home. They have only one loss (Baskonia). Panathinaikos and Barcelona have a steady run so far. Small winning benefits and little losing damage. And it will be fascinating to see what will turn out to be the best: αsteady line throught our 30 games, or big ups and big downs? Efes, Fener, Darussafaka and Red Star try to fit in this category of “loose-cannon” type of teams.

It’s quite important to compare the teams that have the same record. Fenerbahce under the above criteria has an advantage against Panathinaikos and Real has the upper hand against Olympiacos and Baskonia, the other two teams with a 10–5 record. The same with Barcelona in comparison to Efes and Red Star of the 7–8 group and Bamberg.

In conclusion we cannot tell much for the upcoming games, but now we have a vivid of the past. In pop-culture terms we know what the 16 clubs did last fall.