NBA Moneyball

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Term Definition
Herfindahl Index

The Herfindahl index, also known as Herfindahl-Hirschman Index or HHI, is a measure of the size of firms in relationship to the industry and an indicator of the amount of competition among them.

The Herfindahl Index can be used to measure scoring balances for NBA teams.

To calculate HHI for each team: (1) divide each player's points scored by the total number of points scored by the team, (2) square that result for each player, (3) sum those squares.

Home Court Advantage

The home-court advantage is the net effect of several factors that may have an (generally positive) effect on the play of the home team and an (generally negative) effect on the play of the road team.

Possible Sources of Home Court Advantage in Basketball:

  • Psychological support of the fans.

  • Comfort of being at home, rather than traveling.

  • Referees give home teams the benefit of the doubt?

  • Teams are familiar with particulars/eccentricities of their home court.

  • Different distributions of rest between home and road teams

Calculating The Home Court Advantage:
Subtracting one teamís power rating from another can help predicting point diffential between the two teams. Unless the game is being played at a neutral site the "home court advantage" factor needs to be incorporated for more accurately predicting the point differential of a game.

Knowing the distribution of the teams' home and road performances provides predictive information on estimating home court advantage. The probability of a "random point is picked in the home team's point distribution being greater than the random point picked in road team's point distribution" gives an estimate of the home court advantage.

Comments: Home Court Advantage is usually valued at 3-5 points.
How the NBA Schedule is Made

Download NBA league or team schedules in Excel format including own and opponent rest days.

Matt Winick, who stepped down in September 2014 as Senior Vice President of Scheduling and Game Operations, had been the architect of the NBA schedule for more than 20 seasons. In his interview with ESPN, he unveiled how he responds to complaints about strength of schedule and common questions on building the NBA schedule. According to Matt Winick, the NBA sets the league schedule to accomplish both competitive balance and a reduction of costs. The goal of the NBA schedule, as it is constructed, is to be efficient from a competitive standpoint with an indirect consideration of travel costs.

Matt Winick has a complicated system that assigns a point value to each date or series of dates a team makes available. The point system rewards a team for making several consecutive dates available instead of insisting on a particular date. Each time team must amass at least 50 points. Generally, teams play 3.5 games in a week and those 82 games take roughly 165 days through the end of regular season.

In MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference 2016, Evan Wasch who is the Senior Vice President of Basketball Strategy & Analytics for the NBA has presented the most recent challenges and improvements in NBA scheduling.

Getting started in February, NBA schedule have usually been released in the first weeks of August.

Factors that have an impact on setting NBA schedule can be summarized as follows:


Each team have to play:
  • 4 games against the other 4 division opponents, [4x4=16 games]
  • 4 games against 6 (out-of-division) conference opponents, [4x6=24 games]
  • 3 games against the remaining 4 conference teams, [3x4=12 games]
  • 2 games against teams in the opposing conference. [2x15=30 games]

A five year rotation determines which out-of-division conference teams are played only 3 times.


All teams, about a month before the end of the preceding regular season, have to submit to the NBA office a list of:
  • at least 50 dates on which their home court will be available,
  • 4 Mondays
  • 4 Thursdays (to help TNT plan its telecasts).

3. OFFICIAL BREAKS (on which no games are played)

  • Christmas eve,
  • The all-star game,
  • NCAA championship game,


The conflicts such as NHL games on the same court have to be resolved.


Games can be moved to satisfy the NBA's TV partners (ABC, ESPN and TNT). Game times can be tweaked.


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