One of my favorite features at TrueHoop – the leading NBA blog in the world – is the daily bullet list. This week, though, we only got two lists. Henry Abbott says he is busy with other aspects of the blog, like writing actual stories on Yao Ming and LeBron James (which I think ESPN.com thinks is more important work). So I have decided to pick up the slack. Here are a few items I have seen recently that I think are interesting.
- Benjamin Polk – at TrueHoop – has written a story on how minutes on the Minnesota Timberwolves have been allocated by Kurt Rambis. The story calls upon the insights of David Thorpe, Wayne Winston, and some “stat savant” people here might have heard of before. Ben says he will write more on this story at A Wolf Among Wolves. When he does, I promised to offer a few more thoughts on the T-Wolves.
- Carl Bialik — at The Wall Street Journal – discusses Landry Fields. Much of what he says I agree with (especially the part where I am quoted). Not sure, though, that I agree with the following: It’s easier to score efficiently when not carrying an equal share of the load of taking shots. The link between shot attempts and shooting efficiency has been very much exaggerated by some analysts. One of my near-future posts will deal with this issue again (it is discussed in Stumbling on Wins).
- Lee Jenkins –at Sports Illustrated – has a very good article on Kevin Love in the latest issue. What I took from the article is the notion that rebounding takes effort and skill. In other words, rebounds don’t just happen for a team (more on this below).
- Alex – at Sport Skeptic – has an interesting observation on the important role consistent performance measures play in building a useful measure of player performance. One key observation, rebounds are very consistent across time (more on this below as well).
- J.C. Bradbury tells us why he agrees and disagrees with Bill James. J.C. comments on fifteen different ideas advanced by James. Well worth reading for anyone interested in advanced statistical analysis and sports.
- Skip Sauer – at the Sports Economist – discusses why Psychology Matters in sports. Skip comments rely on a paper forthcoming in the American Economic Review (the leading journal in economics).
And now for a quick trip around The Wages of Wins Network (where WoW basketball metrics – or WoW inspired metrics – are applied to the study of the NBA):
- The first stop on such a tour should be the automated Wins Produced numbers from Andres Alvarez. I find that I look at these numbers every morning.
- Think Win Score is all about rebounding? Think Brandon Roy’s injury is the only reason the Blazers have struggled? Ty Willihnganz recently addressed both issues (quick preview… the answers are “no” and “no”).
- Arturo Galletti always provides interesting insights. One of his latest looks at the “Most Important Players for the Season so Far”.
- Andres Alvarez and Arturo are also part of the weekly podcast at Nerd Numbers.
- Can the Pistons land Gerald Wallace? Ben Gulker – at Pistons by the Numbers – explores the possibility.
Let me close with a quick comment on post linked to above from the Sport Skeptic. The result Alex reports with respect to the consistency of rebounds is still true when you adjust for position played. The correlation coefficient for rebounds per-minute in the NBA is over 0.9. When you adjust for position played, the coefficient is still 0.83. Not only are rebounds consistent across time, it is also the case that rebounds vary across teams. The coefficient of variation (for every NBA team from 1990-91 to 2009-10) for various statistics is as follows:
defensive rebounds: 0.039
offensive rebounds: 0.106
offensive efficiency: 0.037
defensive efficiency: 0.035
So rebounds by the players are very consistent (and that is because — as noted above — some players, like Kevin Love, are good at rebounding; while other players, like Eddy Curry, are not good at rebounding). Furthermore, some teams are better at this while others are worse. That suggests that teams would do better with respect to rebounding by hiring better rebounders. Yes, it is that simple.
By the way, I am working on a FAQ page that will address issues people have raised with respect to rebounding (like diminishing returns and how the value placed on rebounding impacts the Wins Produced rankings). Much of this is in Stumbling on Wins, which I hear makes a great Christmas gift (at least, I think I have heard this).
Update: Missed an important link last night. Ian Levy – at Indy Cornrows – offered a Wins Produced view of the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have done a bit better than expectations so far. Ian walks us through who is responsible.