Wins Produced For the Playoffs and the Yay! Points! Thesis

And it keeps getting bigger and bigger (and better and better)…

Andres Alvarez has expanded his Wins Produced site (please see prominent link on the right).   You can now see Wins Produced and WP48 numbers for every player from 2005-06 to 2009-10.   And the numbers aren’t just for the regular season.  Alvarez has also calculated Wins Produced for the playoffs.  This is something that I have never done before, so I was very interested to see the most productive players in the playoffs for each of the past five seasons.  These players are….

  • 2006: Dirk Nowitzki , 7.25 Wins Produced
  • 2007: LeBron James, 4.23 Wins Produced
  • 2008: Kevin Garnett, 6.02 Wins Produced
  • 2009: Dwight Howard, 7.36 Wins Produced
  • 2010 (thus far): Rajon Rondo, 3.86 Wins Produced

Oddly enough, the player producing the most wins in the playoffs failed to win the NBA title three times from 2006 to 2009.  If we focus on the team that won the title in each season, the top producer of wins was as follows:

  • 2006: Dwyane Wade, 5.55 Wins Produced
  • 2007: Tim Duncan, 3.71 Wins Produced
  • 2009: Kobe Bryant, 5.64 Wins Produced

Ultimately these numbers will be expanded all the way back to the 1977-78 season.  So soon, everyone is going to have an abundance of Wins Produced numbers to ponder.

Okay, obviously the big news today is the expanding data set from Andres.  But there are some other Stumbling on Wins stories I want to note.

Two Toronto Star stories from Dave Feschuk

Dave Feschuk – of the Toronto Star — posted a story on Sunday that reviewed the story we told about aging in the NBA in Stumbling on Wins.  Feschuk’s story began with our general finding, then focused on how Steve Nash managed to defy the pattern we identified.

The next day I spent more than an hour on the phone with Dave. From that conversation came the following column (appearing on Thursday):Changing NBA coaches mostly pointless, report claims.

From this column

  • we see that Bryan Colangelo claims he has read Wages of Wins, but not Stumbling on Wins.
  • we also see that Colangelo thinks you cannot just rely on numbers to make decisions.  In fact, he seems to distrust numbers (at least, that is my impression).
  • are some quotes from me on the subject of Andrea Bargnani, Adrian Dantley, and Doc Rivers.  These are supposed to be funny (or reveal that I am a smart-ass).

The Sports Economist on Stumbling on Wins and the “Yay! Points” Thesis

Two economists from the Sports Economist – Brian Goff and Robert Macdonald – have commented on Stumbling on Wins.  Goff’s column – LeBron “Stumbling on Losses” – details the tension between behavioral economics and mainstream economics (and says nice things about our book along the way).  Macdonald’s column – (Ir)rational Reading – connects our work to The Myth of the Rational Market by Justin Fox.  As Macdonald notes, both books challenge mainstream economics and leads him to wonder when sports economics will move away from relying so heavily on mainstream models.

Let me close by noting that WarriorsWorld.net recently posted Stumbling on Wins: The Right Stats.  From this great review (any review that likes our book is a “great” review) we see a clever name for the tendency of NBA decision-makers (and fans) to over-value scoring.  Hence forth, maybe we should call this the “Yay! Points!” thesis. 

- DJ

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