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Confidence in Testing the 14/16 Hypothesis

Back in July, I posted a poll and an accompanying explanatory essay called the 14/16 Hypothesis. Thanks to a couple high-profile links, from True Hoop and Ball Don't Lie, thousands of people voted in the poll, giving us a good idea of which teams NBA fans think will make the playoffs at the end of the 2008-09 season.

We got tremendously clear results. Unfortunately, I screwed up somewhat by jumping the gun and posting the damn thing too soon. Instead of getting a good idea of who NBA fans think will make the playoffs at season's start, we got a good idea of who NBA fans thought would make the playoffs before many extensions and free agent deals were completed. I don't think it's a fatal flaw, but it's significant.

Here's what I guess would happen if I'd posted the poll in mid-October:

-- The only question left by the original polls is whether Chicago or Miami is the consensus eight seed in the East. Something could happen to provide clarity. If Ben Gordon fails to sign an extension and acts all unhappy up to the start of the season, more people might vote for Miami over Chicago. Of course, if Michael Beasley's life spirals into Melrose Place territory, it could all be a wash in public opinion. Note that that's no commentary on actual contributions those players make on the court, just how I think most folks perceive those teams.

Dwyane Wade had also yet to play the two weeks of a lifetime in Beijing. How much would that affect voting, knowing that vintage dominant Wade had reappeared halfway around the world? I don't know.

-- The Los Angeles Clippers significantly improved their chances of making the playoffs by adding Baron Davis and Marcus Camby. However, most people knew Boom Dizzle was headed to the Clips when the poll went up, and I'm not sure that adding Camby pushes the Clips past the Mavs or Blazers in the poll, even if you shift votes from the Monta-less Warriors.