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The CRUTCH Rankings

CRUTCH (Championship Revisions Utilizing Top Competitor Health) is our new metric for asterisking NBA champions, where injured and inactive opponents from each round add to the asterisk tally.

CRUTCH explained

At The Pudding, we’ve been contemplating NBA history since 2016, always powered by metrics from other sources.

But that changes this year. CRUTCH, which stands for Championship Revisions Utilizing Top Competitor Health, is The Pudding’s first (and last) NBA statistic. We’re pretty excited about it. In addition to being a statistic that we bake in house, CRUTCH fulfills two long-standing goals of ours:

  • First, we wanted to create a publicly available statistic that takes advantage of a contrived acronym.
  • Second, and relatedly, we wanted a statistic that builds upon our other statistic, LIMP (Leveled Injury Minus/Plus).

With so many injuries this year, we wanted to offer fans support when their team inevitably loses. Thanks to CRUTCH, you can now complain, with data.

For each round, injured and inactive top 30 players get two asterisks, and top 150 players get one.

See more details below about how CRUTCH works.

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Leveled Injury Minus/Plus takes into account injured players from the championship team in addition to their opponents, measuring the net impact.

Asterisk Calculation:

  • Top 30 = **
  • Top 150 = *
  • 150+ = none

Data and Methods

Player rankings were determined by calculating the average of a player’s previous two active seasons RAPTOR WAR scores. Two seasons were chosen to take into account missed stretches due to injuries to get a better sense of where they stood in the league. Injury data from Basketball Reference.

The goal was to keep the asterisk score as simple as possible. It starts with assigning two asterisks to top 30 inactive/injured players (~ “stars”), and one asterisk to top 150 players (~ “starters”) for each game. No asterisks are given for 150+ players (~ “bench”). Fractional amounts are applied if they only are out for a portion of games. The rounds are then added together to get a cumulative tally.

Data for the reason behind a missed game are inconsistent. Typically, a value of “Did Not Play” refers to a deep bench player not getting minutes. For better players, it can just sometimes be used as a default value if they didn’t put a more specific reason. Therefore, Only DNPs for top 150 players count as missed games, while deep bench players require being listed as inactive or another specific reason to register as a missed game. This nuance only affects the opponent game by game charts, since only top 150 players are factored into the asterisk calculation. Additionally, non-injury related reasons are also included.

Introduction text is a parody of Five Thirty Eight’s RAPTOR blog.