Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PBA Power Rankings: Week 1

Okay, so we aren't exactly on Week 1. In fact, we're practically halfway through the elimination round. Still, better late than never. So here we go with the first of our weekly rankings for the conference.

1 Smart Gilas Nationals (4-0)
The youngsters from the controversial Smart Gilas team have not disappointed in their second guest stint in the PBA. The Nationals are the only unbeaten team in the field, handed elite teams like TNT and Alaska their only losses, and are coming from an incredible 109-68 beatdown of San Miguel where they made 16 three-pointers. The Gilas players shoot a lot of threes, even when the shot isn’t falling, and the fact that head coach Rajko Toroman lets them keep taking it is a testament to how hard they work on that shot. And when it falls the way it did last Saturday against the Beermen, there isn’t much opponents can do about it. And while Marcus Douthit will get most of the credit for the dominating performance of the Nationals so far, guys like Mark Barroca, Chris Lutz and even Japeth Aguilar are quietly putting up extremely efficient performances in the time they spend on the floor, contributing greatly to the 4-0 start.

2 Talk N Text Tropang Texters (4-1)
The All-Filipino champs stumbled in their opening assignment against Smart Gilas but have found their flow, winning their last four games, three of them convincingly. What you have to like about TNT is the way they win their games. They can win with great offense, twice breaching Offensive Efficency levels of 110 points per 100 possessions. And they can win with suffocating defense twice holding teams to below Defensive Efficiencies of below 79. They’re a top-2 defensive team this conference (behind just Gilas) and, if you take away the loss to the top defensive team in the league, would be 2nd in Offensive Efficiency as well. And they’re doing this while nursing injuries to Jason Castro and Jared Dillinger.

3 Alaska Aces (4-1)
The Aces, like the Texters, would be unbeaten if not for the top-ranked Nationals. Unlike the Texters, who have been cruising to double-digit wins, Alaska has mostly survived close games, beating the SMC trifecta of Ginebra (2 points), San Miguel (1 point) and B-Meg (6 points) by small margins. We’ll see if their experience in winning close games will come in handy for them in the postseason, although they’d probably want to have a few more blowouts and get some chances to rest their stars. Joe Devance (37.4 minutes per game), LA Tenorio (33.4), Sonny Thoss (32.2) and Cyrus Baguio (30.8) are all playing very heavy minutes this conference.

4 Ginebra Gin Kings (2-2)
The Gin Kings have had an interesting conference in that they’ve been destroying the weaker teams, beating Meralco and Powerade by an average of 16 points per game, while dropping close decisions to the better teams. That puts their pace-adjusted point differential up to +6.1, just a shade behind Alaska’s +6.5. Thing is, some advanced stats advocates say that winning or losing a close game is usually a coin toss and that the ability to blow out teams might be more valuable. If that’s the case, Ginebra is in a pretty good spot right now. The burly Nate Brumfield has been one of the more impressive imports this conference, leading the Gin Kings in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

5 Rain or Shine Elastopainters (3-1)
The Yeng Guiao era kicked off with 3 straight wins, but is it just an illusion caused by an easy early schedule? Two of their wins came against Meralco and Powerade, two of the easier teams in the league. And when they faced their first true test in TNT? Rain or Shine was crushed by 21 points. Things won’t get much easier as the Elastopainters count the Nationals, the Gin Kings and the Aces as 3 of their next 4 assignments. Strangely, Ronjay Buenafe has averaged only 10.8 minutes for the team, despite being one of the players Guiao traded for from his old team. ROS is one of only three teams with an Offensive Efficiency below 100 this conference, and maybe getting Buenafe into the flow of things could help get that figure up.

6 BMEG Derby Ace Llamados (2-3)
BMEG has been pretty unlucky with health, losing Rico Maierhofer to an injury while also playing without fellow beanpole Rafi Reavis. The good news is that James Yap is turning it on of late, averaging 25 points per 36 minutes on a .648 TS% in his last three games. Also good is the fact that their point differential, adjusted for pace, is a 5th best +4.6 and almost 5 points higher than that of #6 Rain or Shine. Even better news is that Kerby Raymundo played his first game back last weekend and should be an important figure for this team once he gets back into game shape.

7 Air21 Express (1-3)
The Express may have lost their prized rookies in the big San Miguel trade, but it’s hard to see how the deal doesn’t make this team better in the short term. Dondon Hontiveros is one of the best guards in the PBA, Dorian Pena is one of the top rebounders and despite what most people think about Danny Seigle, this guy still has it in him to post big numbers. If only they didn’t trade Buenafe, Beau Belga, Ronnie Matias, Erick Rodriguez and 2 first round picks to net Jay-R Reyes and Reed Juntilla prior to the conference, they could probably be more competitive.

8 San Miguel Beermen (1-3)
On the flip side of the big A21-SMB trade, the Beermen have put themselves into position to be very good for a long time, netting Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Nonoy Baclao. For now, though, the team is experiencing growing pains, including a ridiculous 41-point debacle to Smart Gilas. That Rabeh-Jay Washington combo up front will become a nightmare to defend as both guys can score down low and from the midrange. Both currently have similar modest statlines per 36 minutes, just 16 points on .470-.480 TS% and 7 boards, as they get used to playing beside each other.

9 Meralco Bolts (0-4)
The Bolts are the only winless team remaining, but they have the 7th best efficiency differential (if you haven’t been paying attention, that’s just point differential, but pace-adjusted) in the league. They lost big early but have given stiff challenges to SMB and TNT in their most recent games. They did a great job upgrading their talent before the conference, acquiring Sol Mercado and Reynel Hugnatan, and probably just need a little more time to work in the new players. Plus, new import Champ Oguchi looked like an absolute beast, scoring 43 points on .758 TS% and grabbing 11 rebounds in a three-point squeaker against the Texters.

10 Powerade Tigers (1-4)
Yes, the Tigers have a notch in the win column. And yes, they aren’t the worst team in efficiency differential either (that’s SMB by the way, but I’m guessing that 41-point blowout somewhat skews the stats a bit). So why are they last place? Well, I’m just having trouble trusting a team that consistently loses all of their games by double-figures. At least they have the top scoring local scorer in the PBA. Gary David is averaging 24.2 points per game on a very efficient .603 TS% - despite the team being dead last in Offensive Efficiency at just 91 points per 100 possessions.

3 comments:

  1. Hi guys, which of the current imports is the most efficient?

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  2. @iamspikee
    In terms of game score (a variation of PER that basically derives a player's performance from the traditional boxscore), the import that's been the most efficient has been Ginebra's Nate Brumfield. He's 2nd among active imports in scoring per 36 minuts, 2nd in TS%, 3rd in rebounds per 36, and tops in assists and steals per 36.

    But in terms of pure scoring, Meralco's Champ Oguchi has been the cream of the crop averaging an import best 29.8 points per 36 minutes on an import best .695 TS%.

    Brumfield's Game Score of 25.5 is leaps and bounds ahead of Oguchi's 20.5 though. In 3rd is TNT's Paul Harris, a guy whose value extends past that of the boxscore, at 19.0.

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