Friday Podcast, Saturday Links, and Micro Yay Points!

Blogs are essentially imitations of newspaper columns.  And podcasts are essentially radio programs.  Having demonstrated (at least to ourselves) that we can write, members of the Wages of Wins Network have now branched out into the world of podcasts.  Friday afternoon, Mosi Platt of the Miami Heat Index, Devin Dignam of NBAEh?, and Arturo Galletti of Arturo’s Amazing Stats, and I got together for the…

Wages of Wins Network Podcast (for Friday, February 18, 2011). 

Here is a list of topics we touched upon:

It would be great if we could get some feedback on this podcasts. So as you listen, let us know what you think of the number of people discussing these issues (do we need more people or fewer people?), the length of the conversation (this podcast lasts an hour or so), and the topics we discuss (is there something you want us to touch upon?). 

Beyond the podcast, here are some additional links that I think are interesting.

There have been a number of great stories posted on The Wages of Wins Network this past week: 

And then Dre and Arturo tag-teamed the topic of who gets to win a title with

These three posts on NBA Champions are definitely well worth reading (and something I hope to comment on again in the future).

Before I get to Dre’s “Yay Points!” post, let me also note that Ian Levy – of Hickory High – has sent along a fantastic post that will appear tomorrow.

Okay, here is Dre on “Micro Yay Points!”…

Jeremy Britton and I recently got into a discussion about overrated players. Jeremy was trying to think of a way to use game by game numbers Wins Produced numbers to find overrated and underrated players. I thought this would be a hard problem. Would I compare it to EFF or PER? How about looking over articles for mentions of players? All of these seemed like more work. Jeremy reminded me about this blog we both read called The Wages of Wins Journal. Apparently points are what drive peoples’ opinion of what makes a player good. Sure I thought, maybe for the season. For one game though, points seemed too simple. However, Jeremy is a smart guy and so I figured I’d at least test this out.

In 2001 a travesty happened. No matter what anyone says, Allen Iverson had no right winning the MVP. Iverson is the epitome of using points to fool people. He led the league with 31.1 points but shot an abysmal 42% from the field. It seemed no one cared. Surely, I thought that has to be the lowest any self-respecting fan would let a player’s shooting drop and still be fooled.

With that I went to Basketball-Reference and used their awesome game finder to look for two simple criteria this season. How many players scored 30 or more points in a game and shot at or below 42% from the field? I then went two steps further. I checked how well the player played in the game according to the WP metric. I then hopped over to Yahoo Sports. Yahoo gives a Top Performer label to the “best” player on each team for every game in the season. I was curious if Yahoo would be fooled by any deceptively bad performances. I think you know where this is going.

So far this season there have been 21 instances of a player getting 30 points on a FG of less than 42%. In 13 of these instances Yahoo picked that player as their team’s Top Performer. Let’s take a look at how well Yahoo picked.

WP Rank Date Player MP WP48 WP FG% Pts
1 11/3 Kobe Bryant 36 0.702 0.53 0.41 30
1 11/22 Carmelo Anthony 37 0.557 0.43 0.42 39
1 1/30 Kevin Durant 40 0.343 0.29 0.35 33

Table 1: Inefficient Yahoo Top Performers that were the Wins Produced Top Performer


WP Rnk Date Player MP WP48 WP FG% Pts
5 10/29 Kevin Durant 41 0.145 0.12 0.38 30
4 11/15 Eric Gordon 36 0.116 0.09 0.30 30
6 11/27 Gilbert Arenas 37 0.039 0.03 0.39 31
6 12/12 Carmelo Anthony 37 0.045 0.03 0.41 31
4 12/21 Monta Ellis 49 0.106 0.11 0.41 36
3 1/3 Carmelo Anthony 40 0.181 0.15 0.40 33
4 1/18 LeBron James 44 0.118 0.11 0.37 34
3 1/22 Kevin Durant 42 0.229 0.20 0.40 30
6 1/28 Carmelo Anthony 37 0.121 0.09 0.41 33
2 2/5 Kevin Martin 41 0.264 0.23 0.33 31

Table 2: Inefficient Yahoo Top Performers that were not the Wins Produced top Performer

Date Player MP WP48 WP FG% Pts
10/27 Kevin Durant 41.16 -0.034 -0.03 38% 30
11/2 Louis Williams 31.98 0.179 0.12 38% 30
11/10 Kevin Durant 39.86 0.353 0.29 39% 31
11/11 Kobe Bryant 41.01 -0.253 -0.22 34% 34
11/15 Kevin Durant 39.58 0.255 0.21 35% 30
1/28 Nick Young 51.83 -0.153 -0.16 39% 32
2/4 Andrea Bargnani 36.8 -0.346 -0.27 33% 30
2/4 Carmelo Anthony 39.15 -0.057 -0.05 39% 31

Table 3: Inefficient scorers not picked as Yahoo Top Performer

Date Player MP WP48 WP FG% PTS RBD
10/27 Russell Westbrook 34.6 0.720 0.52 53% 28 10
11/2 Elton Brand 42.4 0.346 0.31 82% 21 9
11/10 Russell Westbrook 42.6 0.258 0.23 58% 31 5
11/11 Pau Gasol 44.3 0.226 0.21 35% 17 20
11/15 Serge Ibaka 39.2 0.463 0.38 69% 22 11
1/28 Trevor Booker 44.6 0.271 0.25 82% 21 12
2/4 Amir Johnson 35.3 0.797 0.60 80% 19 12
2/4 Nene Hilario 36.2 0.359 0.26 83% 28 5

Table 4: Yahoo Top Performers picked instead of inefficient scorers.

I know I just threw a ton of data at you but here’s the break down. If you crack the 30 point mark, even if you are shooting inefficiently you have a pretty good shot of making player of the game. It doesn’t matter if you are the most productive player on the team either. If you’re hitting 30 you have a better than even shot (9 to 8) of getting picked as your team’s best player.

What changes Yahoo’s mind? It appears to be one of two things. On 11/10 and 2/4 Russell Westbrook and Nene dethroned Durant and Melo as player of the game. Both of these players shot very well and got close to the same number of points as the inefficient player. You may lose your top player then if another player scores better than you. In the Durant case this is actually amusing because despite his worse shooting Durant was actually the better player in the game. The other thing that seems to work is a 20 point 10 rebound night. Hitting this mark (or very close in the case of Amir Johnson and Elton Brand) seems to work to get you noticed. Of course this requires successfully getting rebounds, which I suspect is much harder than shooting more shots.

Unfortunately the same story gets told again. In a single game a good way to get recognized (at least by Yahoo) is to take lots of shots. Even doing this poorly is still a good bet to being called the best player on your team. I don’t think the end result of this should be taken as an insult at Yahoo. I remember back before I started doing a lot of advanced stats I would check one thing: Did Melo score 20 points? A few simple heuristics are what people use to gauge players. Did they hit 30 points? Did they have a 20-10 or did they get a triple double? The truth is that while these are often good metrics to use they can be deceiving. Maybe reading this article might make you look a little closer at the box score. Here’s hoping.


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