Before using simple math it helps to know how!

And if you don’t, your math literacy isn’t “average” or at the “mean”.  At least, we would hope that isn’t true.

dirk-nowitzki-41-of-the-dallas-mavericks-looks-on-from-the-bench-in-the-first-quarter-against-the-miami-heat-in-game-four-of-the-2011-nba-finals-at-american-airlines-center

Today I saw the following at ESPN.com:

Mavericks face tough decisions

We see the following (about midway through the story)…

For now, the Mavs are an average team by any way you choose to define it.

Let’s talk about the word average. I would “choose” to define “average” as a team that wins half their games (or an average number of games). Or one can define average as a team that scores as many points as it surrenders. Or you could even define average as sitting in the middle of the population.

The Mavericks are currently 7 games below 0.500 and have been outscored by more than 2 points per game. They are in 20th place out of 30 teams in the league. They are in 11th place out of 15 in the Western Conference. They are in 4th place out of 5 team in the Southwest Division. So that would make the Mavericks “below average”.

The concept of “average” is really not that difficult. But this is not the first time I have seen a journalist seem to equate “average” with “bad”. Or in other words, equate “average” with “below average”.

And I would note…we sometimes wonder around here why Player Efficiency Rating — which people have shown over and over again is not a very good measure of performance — is so persistently quoted?

This might be easy to explain. Journalist can’t seem to understand what “average” means. Do we expect them to get why PER doesn’t work or how other statistics work?

- DJ

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