View Full Version : The No-Stats All-Star
02-14-2009, 04:43 PM
(It was either the original title or something forced like "Moneybasketball", though that may fit)
The article itself is very long (eight pages), but really interesting when it comes to measuring contributions from a basketball player. Especially all that stuff about how to defend certain players. Of course, it helps that Shane Battier is a really smart guy, and between that and his natural willingness to help the team over himself is really the perfect player for this kind of theory.
Still a damn, dirty Dookie, though ;)
02-15-2009, 05:08 PM
Great, great read. Love Lewis obviously and he knocked the article out of the park. Only wish he had done a book about it.
Some thoughts of mine:
-I like Morey a LOT. Especially the "whoever invented the box score should be shot" line. Because in basketball, it's really terrible. It tells you so little about the game. That's the problem I have with the stats like PER and linear weights that try and use everything IN the box score to come up with an idea as to who's the best player. That'd all be great if the box score really told you anything. The problem is that the box score does close to zero measure of true good defense, and rebounding as a statistic is often quite flawed.
I've been arguing with a friend who thinks Antawn Jamison and Andrew Bogut are very good rebounders as they're both in double digits. It's my contention that they just get the boards because no one else on their teams can. The Wizards obviously don't have anything close to a suitable big; Blatche basically runs away whenever the ball is up in the air. Bogut plays with Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson at the 4 and 3, both pretty alergic to rebounding. So you're going to look at pure rebounds grabbed and tell me those guys are good rebounders? In what alternate universe does that make sense?
I would love to see something like this:
How many points a player scores, for example, is no true indication of how much he has helped his team. Another example: if you want to know a player’s value as a *rebounder, you need to know not whether he got a rebound but the likelihood of the team getting the rebound when a missed shot enters that player’s zone.
for those two players. Problem is, where on earth do you find that? Baseball SABR stats are all over the place. In basketball, it seems like all you've got is Hollinger's screwed-up numbers. The only thing I can find I think that is really meaningful is time-adjusted numbers and true shooting percentage.
For example, how do you find stats on how players do against a particular defender? Is any of that data public? (You can't look at the box scores without a ton of additional info because who knows when the team was playing zone, when someone else was guarding him, when the player was out, etc.) Is all that data for teams only?
I thought the Gay and Swift deal for Battier was very fair from the get-go. Maybe the Rockets could have gotten a bit more and Gay is going to be a great player, but unloading the contract was a huge additional bonus and I can't understand why West didn't appreciate Battier's effects on the team when Memphis was a very strong team. Clearly, he was a key cog.
Very interesting about how Battier is the only player they give defensive specifics too. I don't really understand how football players are expected to study video and learn everything about their opponents for six straight days when the guys who are often the most physically gifted have no expectation of doing much research about their opponents, it seems. I guess right now doing that is reserved for the most cerebral players like Kobe, Battier, Tayshaun Prince, but for everyone else they're afraid of them overthinking the game. This is part of the reason I really prefer man-to-man D. You cannot expect a guy to know the tendencies of potentially 3-4 guys frequenting his zone area. Studying one guy, as Battier does all the best offensive talents, should be the norm.
I think the idea of 'shooting zones' is something that's been underdeveloped in the NBA. I think if you have a guy who's been in the league over 3-4 years, it's going to become easy to spot not only moves but also their on-court tendencies; i.e., where they camp out, where they tend to drift when a play breaks down...and also where players are most effective shooting it. Which way a player goes first is important no doubt but I bet some guys have spots where they shoot like 60% and others where they shoot 40% that are the same distance from the hoop, maybe just different sides or angles. I think looking at shooting chart data more could be used to instruct guys a ton more on what they need to be practicing, where to find their niche in the offense, etc.
Interesting how they think fouling is the worst thing that can happen. I'd be curious as to why. Do teams that foul the most tend to have the worst D's? I've got an image in my mind that the toughest defensive teams (i.e. Pistons of past) are also the most physical and probably will pick up the most fouls while the softest (i.e. Suns) tended to be allergic to contact. I'd have to think it's more on a case-by-case basis and deciding which players in a given game you can afford to foul to prevent buckets.
I'm also always curious about some of the moves they make and what exactly they see--for example, what on earth did they see in Von Wafer? A guy who was a good college shooter for one year, comes into the NBA and does nothing for three years, and then they pick him up and he's having an incredible season off the bench? How does that happen? What about Carl Landry? Aaron Brooks?
Thanks for posting.
02-24-2009, 07:05 AM
Your post makes me sad. I don't completely disagree with your sentiment, but i think you overstate the case.
You reference Hollinger on stats. Come on now. You like basketball and are way to smart to punish your self like this (I over did it too but I dislike Hollinger greatly)
There is a reason Dean Oliver hasn't written in years and Hollinger spams on ESPN. Its also the main reason why my Nugs were so enamored with Billups (it has worked nicely so far wouldn't you say)?
# Director of Quantitative Analysis, Denver Nuggets, 2006-Present.
# Statistical consultant to Seattle Supersonics management, 2000-2006, Full-time beginning 10/1/04.
ORTG and DRTG (http://my.nba.com/thread.jspa?threadID=5800019378)
baskteball reference use Oliver for win shares (http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/ws.html)
Please read "basketball on paper." It will help you look at stats and B-ball better, as well as give you smart stats to ponder.
Yes, stats don't tell the whole story. But who uses stats alone? As your rebounding example above shows, basketball stats are only a tool for the astute fan to use, not to blindly follow.
Unlike baseball, you can't VORP someone to death. How cool, you actually have to be thoughtful and nuanced.
But its also how to think about basketball stats. Remember, basketball all translates to points. If it matters, it impacts scoring or scoring defense.
http://www.sonicscentral.com/apbrmetrics/viewforum.php?f=1 (Kevin Pelton's forum) and
http://www.basketballprospectus.com/Basketball prospectus - BP's sister site where Pelton posts.
Example: Pelton gold on why Nash/Amare didn't fall off a cliff so much as Porter was a bad coach who stopped running the most deadly play in basketball - the nash/amare high pick and roll. And it came out before the Gentry hire:
If O'Neal isn't the problem, then why are Stoudemire's offensive numbers down? I think the explanation can be found in my playcall chart. Notice something missing? Where are all the high pick-and-rolls? The high pick-and-roll, run from the top of the key, used to be the foundation of the Suns' half-court offense. In this game, at least, it was an afterthought, primarily run out of "horns" sets with O'Neal and Stoudemire at either end of the free-throw line, giving Nash his choice of a screener.
During the 2005-06 season, one of my first Every Play Counts columns looked at the Phoenix pick-and-roll. In that game, coincidentally also against the Pistons, Phoenix ran 27 high pick-and-rolls and 32 side pick-and-rolls (set at the elbow, the free-throw line extended to where it would intersect with the three-point line). In this game, the count was 12 high pick-and-rolls to 30 side pick-and-rolls. For whatever reason, Terry Porter and his coaching staff have largely taken away one of the most effective weapons for both Nash (who did have a season-high 21 assists in the win over Detroit) and Stoudemire. It's a useful reminder that the change in philosophy from Mike D'Antoni to Porter has involved much more than whether to push the tempo or not.
Battier's win shares at Basketball reference using Oliver's formula as set out in basketball on paper:
Not earthshattering, but a full season top 20 player is in the upper 9s in win shares. Looks like somebody's stat has being telling us Battier is pretty elite for some time now.
02-25-2009, 04:34 PM
Kevin Pelton on the NYT Michael Lewis piece at BP basketball here (http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=562).
Even the ability to have this discussion represents the advance of APBRmetrics. When Battier entered the league seven years ago, no one had even conceived of adjusted plus-minus. No matter what Morey thinks of it, the box score is here to stay. However, it is misleading people less and less as we devise better ways to tease value out of it, track more things that once went uncounted and advance methods like adjusted plus-minus that operate entirely independent of individual statistics. The ultimate beneficiaries have been the world's Shane Battiers, and deservedly so.