The first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs is just about wrapping up, and there have already been a plethora of singularly great games. One way of ranking top NBA performances is by looking at a player’s DRE, or Daily RAPM Estimate (per Kevin Ferrigan). Best put by the author himself,
"DRE is a metric like John Hollinger’s Game Score that can be used to get a rough estimate of a player’s bulk productivity in a given game. Unlike Game Score, DRE’s weights are derived empirically through regression analysis."
Given Derrick White’s superb game 3 or Damian Lillard’s masterful game 5, I wanted to see how DRE puts these games into context. I calculated DRE without it’s “per possession” intercept. For top performers thus far in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, I set inputs as per possession and used the intercept. Again, per the author:
"If you’re using DRE in a way similar to Game Score, i.e. as a bulk production metric, I would recommend not using the -8.4 per 100 possession intercept, but if you want to use DRE as a statistical plus-minus fully on the +/- scale, setting your inputs to a per-possession basis and using the intercept is more appropriate."
Best 20 performances by DRE in 2019 first round
Worst 20 performances by DRE in 2019 first round
Top first round performers
Bottom 20 first round performers
Damian Lillard’s sizzling Game 5 to take out the Oklahoma City Thunder ranked as just the sixth-best game of the playoffs so far. He finished with 50 points and the game winner.
The Philadelphia 76ers have some beast of a basketball starting lineup, with one glaring hiccup. J.J. Redick is the lone 76er that is not a top player in DRE for the first round. In fact, he’s been the worst overall. It’ll be interesting to see if the sharpshooter can get his legs back up underneath him and recover for what’s going to become a tough second round.
Not all is lost for the Brooklyn Nets. Caris Levert battled back from a dislocated foot suffered earlier in the regular season to put up solid numbers against a tough team in the first round. He averaged 21.8 points per game on 58 effective field goal percentage against the 76ers.
This past Monday, I’d written a bit about performance declining at the age of about 30 and how PIPM or WP48 can clue observers into said decline. From the DRE tables above, 10 out of 20 worst performers in the first round were either of age 30 or older. Only 5 of the best 20 performances by DRE per 100 possession were 30 or older.
This first round sucks for Donovan Mitchell, stats-wise. He’s so likable as a player, and it’s clear that at least by how he played in Game 4 against the Houston Rockets, he’s refusing to mail this thing in. How can we use DRE to see who’s been the lagging player in a team’s rotation? The following data is sorted for players who play more than 12 minutes per game:
Mitchell has played the most minutes of any player on the Utah Jazz lineup, and by mapping out DRE this way, it seems that his underperforming is a big reason why the team is down 3-1. Sure as fans we can point to players like Ricky Rubio and demand more from them, but here I might be convinced to pin this on the franchise’s clearcut superstar. He’s averaging 23.8 points per game on a 42 effective field goal percentage
Brook Lopez remains an insanely important part of the Milwaukee Bucks offense. Lopez shot a wild 65 percent of all his field goal attempts from 3 during the season, which has held somewhat steady in the first round. Sorted by net points, Brook Lopez is part of five of the top twenty 2-man playoff lineups in the league.