The following is a question/answer session I recently conducted with journalist Kyle Wright. Kyle just wrote, “The NBA Top to Bottom”, a fascinating new book where he ranks every single NBA team in history. For any casual fan or even an NBA buff, there is sufficient amount of data to digest and have fun with. Kyle was nice enough to sit down and talk with us for a few moments about his book, his methodology, and some of the interesting issues raised:
-Why don’t you tell everyone who you are and how you came up with the idea of ranking every NBA of All-Time.
My name is Kyle Wright. I currently work on the sports staff at the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal. I grew up in Indiana, so I am a big fan of the Indiana Pacers.
Indiana happens to be the home base for computer sports ratings godfather Jeff Sagarin, and for one of the companies that calculates the college basketball Ratings Percentage Index. As a result, I got to see regular examples of computer sports ratings systems as far back as the 1980s, before such ratings became household terms.
I took interest in such ratings systems because the teams I supported or played for generally were not good enough to be ranked in the top 20 or top 25 in human polls. A computer system was the only way to evaluate how the 6-14 basketball team I played on as a senior in high school stacked up against the rest of the state.
The idea to rank every team in NBA history initially was supposed to be just a chapter of a book. My original idea was to create one formula to rank every player in NBA history, one formula to rank all of the coaches, and one formula to rank all of the teams. My formula for rating individuals hit some snags, mostly due to incomplete statistical records from league’s first 25 years. I did already have my formula for rating teams, so I decided to proceed and focus on the team-by-team ratings.