A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘TrueHoop

The Building (and the Luck) of the Celtics

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The Sloan conference, as one would expect, is producing tons of great food for thought. The latest article on TrueHoop reports on Boston Celtic co-owner Wyc Grousbeck‘s statements about building the current stellar Celtic teams. The gist:

Grousbeck and his partners bought the team in 2003 and apparently decided that while the team was good it wasn’t good enough to win a title, so they tore it apart and re-built it with the specific idea of acquiring a Big 3 with one true superstar among the trio. These guys sound like visionaries don’t they? The TrueHoop piece mentions the risk involved in such a move, but that just makes the ownership group look all the more bold and unwilling to accept any form of mediocrity

I don’t mean to knock the Celtic management, but I think it is wise to look at the details here to get a more nuanced perspective on thing.

Rebuilding not with a bang, but a whimper

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It’s simple: NBA owners are either hobbyists or terrible businessmen

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TrueHoop has two posts today reporting on the discussion from the Sports and Label panel at the the MIT Sloan Analytics Conference today, which to me go right together in explaining the crux of the problem in the upcoming CBA re-negotiation.

The first is titled, “Is sports franchise ownership a hobby for the rich?“, and it talks about the growing trend of NBA owners being so rich that the amount of money at stake on their NBA franchise is pocket change to them.

The second is titled, “Sports and Labor panel address boarder issue of NBA profit“, which talks about all sorts of tricky nuances to the NBA situation.

To me the situation though just doesn’t seem that complicated. The NBA owners insisted on putting a salary cap in place last time the CBA was negotiated which actively penalizes teams in a variety of ways if they go over that limit. The current salary cap is $58.044 million, and 24 out of the 30 are over that cap. That salary cap was put there because NBA owners had already proven prone to spending too much money – and clearly, even though the owners now have an explicit penalty to their bottom line telling them “You’re doing this wrong, stop spending money!”, they still spend. Only the owners themselves stand in the way of achieving profitability.

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Not so fast: Major discrepancy in quoted “clutch” performance.

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This is a quick post in response to some more of the details in Henry Abbott’s last post on TrueHoop about Chris Paul‘s clutch performance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

February 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

Kobe Theory: Adventures in Distorted Probability

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We saw some fantastic, hard-hitting articles this week about Kobe Bryant‘s clutch reputation. I’ll go over them briefly, and then just talk about what people’s perceptions say about people in general, and running a basketball team specifically.

Henry Abbott at ESPN’s TrueHoop does a great job of just summarizing the fact that despite Kobe‘s reputation as the ultimate clutch performer, all the evidence says this is not the case.

Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie shows some moxie in making clear that he’s quite comfortable saying that if NBA GM’s don’t see the problem with Kobe’s stats, then the GM’s are in the wrong.

Zach Lowe at SI’s The Point Forward chimes in, but also emphasizes the larger trend that NBA offenses in general do terrible in the clutch. Scoring at far lower rates than they do in the rest of the game.

All very cool stuff. Here’s the most telling fact as I see it: People who reject the numbers here do it by dismissing statistics as not being as valid as what they see, which is an argument that often has merit, but is not valid at all here. So, Why isn’t it valid? and Why are people like this? Read the rest of this entry »

The Carmelo Conundrum, how good is he?

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Carmelo Anthony during an NBA preseason game i...

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Carmelo Anthony has been a lightning rod for debate for a long time, but with his recent decision that he doesn’t want to play for the perpetual playoff team Denver Nuggets any more, we’ve reached a local peak in activity.

A few days back political statistical superstar Nate Silver wrote an article about Melo.  I’m a big fan of Nate’s – but it really was a terrible article.  First off the title was “Why Carmelo Anthony is the Ultimate Team Player”.  Aside from the fact that “ultimate team player” isn’t something that can be measured by statistics completely, it’s not like Silver actually went about comparing him to other players and showing Melo’s superiority.  I really hope that the title choice was done by someone other than the statistician.

I focused though on Silver’s specific analysis.  He’s saying that teammates do better at shooting efficiently with Melo.  Taken at broad strokes, this is essentially a +/- argument using shooting efficiency instead of the scoreboard.  While such an analysis can be useful because it is specific enough to suggest a particular means of impact, if we’re talking about a player’s overall impact it’s inherently weaker than what we call +/- statistics because it factors in only one part of the game, and so I said as much:  Whatever Melo’s factor on his teammates shooting, his total impact based on the +/- stat of greater scope and at least as much credibility is not anything like the true superstars of the world like draftmates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Today Henry Abbott over at TrueHoop has an article about the debate about how good Melo is, and it’s pretty good.  It mentions things from both sides.  Among other things it mentions a more clean take down of Silver’s analysis:  Silver analyzed this by measuring efficiency of players when they were on Melo’s team compared to on other teams, but if you actually look at his on/off numbers on 82games.com, you see that for both this year and last year, his team shoots better when he’s on the bench.

I want to respond to some specific points from Henry’s article:

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 18, 2011 at 11:01 am