Teams with four-leaf and two-leaf clovers this season

  • By Andrew Seitz, Day 103, 2024


I looked at teams’ wins v. their expected wins. I believe that in the JBL it is calculated with a pythagorean win percentage based on net rating. In other words, its a measure of how many teams should win or lose based on their point differential. If you win a bunch of close games or get blown out in losses, your actual wins will be higher than expected. If you lose close games or blow out the other team in wins, your actual wins will be lower than expected.

So, how predictive is it? Last season, the Vultures finished with 63 wins with expected wins of 56 (+7), the Thunder finished with 60 wins with expected wins of 55 (+5), and the Jaguars had 57 wins with expected wins of 55 (+2). So even though the Vultures and Thunder finished the regular season with 6 and 3 more wins, their expected wins were nearly identical. The Jaguars beat both in the playoffs.

Typically, teams with the best record will finish with a few more than their expected wins while teams at the bottom will finish with a few less, and so there is a positive correlations between wins and and being above expected wins. So instead of just looking at raw wins v. expected wins, I looked at how far they were from expected wins based on other teams with similar expected wins. (see chart in slack) Being really positive made you lucky, being really negative made you unlucky.

“Lucky” Teams
1 Renegades
2 Huskies
3 Jailbirds
4 Jaguars
5 Drones
6 Bullets

Five eastern teams are on this list, led by the Renegades. Though the Rens are disappointed in how their season has turned out so far, it could actually be a lot worse. The actual spread between the top 5 teams in the east is 7 wins, while expected win spread is only two games. The Huskies are 10-3 in games decided by 3 pts or less. This could be either luck or a result of their experience and cohesion, now that the core of the team has been around for a while. What’s even more impressive about the Huskies season is that they have lost Q and Terry for significant time and have not lost a beat. Will be interesting to see how the Bullets do without Goodwin for a few weeks.

The Jags were one of the unluckiest teams last year but this year they look to have flipped their luck.

Unlucky Teams
1 Lumberjacks
2 Cyclones
3 Blizzards
4 Scorpions
5 Devils
6 Hurricanes

The Lumberjacks have a great record already at 33-17, but they are actually the most unlucky team so far. They will be a force in the playoffs. The Cyclones have an expected record of 23-25 but an actual record of 18-30. Their expected record would put them in playoff contention in the east, and in fact by expected record they are the 8th best team. Considering that, it makes more sense that the Cyclones have two all-stars, which you would not expect from a team with only 18 wins so far.

An interesting thing about this list is that four of the six teams plays a post-heavy style. Maybe there is something about the style that leads to more close losses?