How much can we take from the killer Preseason Bulls?
It's only a two game sample, but this level of dominance has to mean something
If you’re like me and a total twitter addict, then you’ll already know all of this information. But for those of you that have a life and weren’t refreshing your feeds on Saturday night, I had a fairly interesting discussion with a bunch of people much smarter than me about how much we can take from the Bulls becoming the greatest team on Earth over the course of two preseason games. Here’s a quick recap.
It all started with John Hollinger’s tweet during the last Bulls game:
Side note: Hollinger has been a pretty good sport about playing the heel role for Bulls fans and by all accounts is a very nice guy away from the interwebs. It’s fair in my book to critique bad takes but let’s dial back the personal attacks.
Hollinger’s tweet piqued my curiosity, so I decided to look up how the best preseason teams fared in the regular season. A summary of the findings:
The Bulls’ 32.5 net rating through two games is the highest in the NBA stats site’s 15 year database, making them the G.O.A.T of preseason basketball
I used a net rating of 17.5 as a cutoff for preseason dominance. There have been nine teams that have historically hit that mark. All nine have been really good regular season teams, ranging from 47-65 wins. The list:
That’s about it for my rudimentary research. Luckily, there are geniuses on Twitter that will jump in and help you advance your work for free.
I’m more of an analytics groupie, but Kostya Medvedovsky actually knows what he’s doing. He’s the creator of DARKO, which is in my opinion the best NBA projection system out there. Kostya jumped in the twitter thread to provide his two cents on what this data means, even if it only is for two games.
Steph Noh @StephNohI was curious, so I looked it up. NBA Stats has 15 years worth of preseason data. Here's every team that crushed (had > 17.5 net rating). Not exactly a rigorous analysis, but all had between 44-59 regular season wins. Also, Bulls currently the GOAT of preseason NBA history 💪 https://t.co/22RiPLiTtv https://t.co/QJ4qfIaCvr
Kostya gives his methodology in that twitter thread for those interested in checking it out. The gist of it as I see it is that, assuming Vegas had pinned them at 43 wins prior to these preseason drubbings, we should now bump expectations up by around four wins.
This is not a rock-solid forecast. Kostya notes that the estimate would be more accurate if we could segment games and filter out some of the garbage time minutes, for example. But the biggest thing to note is that we should be adjusting our expectations of this team upward. Dominating at this level is meaningful.
In other words, get the banners ready.
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