A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Ewing

Supersized Humans, Missing Giants

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An article from the New York Times has cause a little bit of a stir in the basketball world, really because it gives more scientific credence to something we already know: People have been getting bigger.

Here’s the most dramatic big picture quote from the article:

I don’t know that there is a bigger story in human history than the improvements in health, which include height, weight, disability and longevity,” said Samuel H. Preston, one of the world’s leading demographers and a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here’s one with some numbers:

To take just a few examples, the average adult man in 1850 in America stood about 5 feet 7 inches and weighed about 146 pounds; someone born then was expected to live until about 45. In the 1980s the typical man in his early 30s was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed about 174 pounds and was likely to pass his 75th birthday.

Hot damn! So when do I get my 8 foot center?

The future is now, and there are no flying cars

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Written by Matt Johnson

May 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Chamberlain Theory: The Real Price of Anarchy in Basketball

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Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell during a bas...

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A recent post by ElGee over at Back Picks talks about something I’ve been wanting to chime in on, and I want to go over it and then point something out that I haven’t seen discussed, other than in conversations I’ve had with ElGee and a few others.  The back story:

Braess’ Paradox

The Price of Anarchy is a game theory concept describing the difference between actual and optimal performance in a network where individuals in the network behave selfishly.  One of the amazing counterintuitive epiphanies relating to this is called Braess’ Paradox which describes how in a transportation system, building a new road can actually slow traffic down.  I’m going to skip an explanation of exactly how this is so and go straight to the analogy to basketball because it’s most relevant, and actually easier to understand.

People in the basketball world started talking about this when Brian Skinner wrote a paper and gave a talk at the Sloan Sports Analytics conference last year.  Skinner broke down the situation admirably:  If you keep running the same play, even if it’s easily the best play you have, the opponent is going to catch on, and it’s not going to be as effective.  Hard to argue with the man, he’s clearly right – but how big of a problem is this?

Ewing Theory…is not caused by Braess’ Paradox

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