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Old 08-19-2010, 11:05 AM   #1
Nate.
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Skeptical Sports Analysis

All--

I'm reading and enjoying a new blog called Skeptical Sports Analysis. It strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that people here like to read, so I'm bringing it to your attention.

Two favorite posts:

The Case for Dennis Rodman

Player Efficiency Ratings: A Bold ESPN Article Gets it Exactly Wrong

All my best,

--Nate

P.S.: I don't write the blog or own it or anything.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:09 AM   #2
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Looks okay. That Carmelo article kinda sucks but it's obviously better than ESPN stuff. Most of the NBA posters here feel the same way about Rodman and think he's a legit first-ballot hofer.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by TheUntouchable View Post
Looks okay. That Carmelo article kinda sucks but it's obviously better than ESPN stuff. Most of the NBA posters here feel the same way about Rodman and think he's a legit first-ballot hofer.
Harsh!
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:39 AM   #4
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

rebounding article about rodman is good. "we" know this already, and yes, rodman is a great great player.

Quote:
But not all rebounding is created equal: Despite the fact that they get lumped together in both conventional rebounding averages and in player efficiency ratings, offensive rebounding is worth considerably more than defensive rebounding. From a team perspective, there is not much difference (although not necessarily *no* difference – I suspect, though I haven’t yet proved, that possessions beginning with offensive rebounds have higher expected values than those beginning with defensive rebounds), but from an individual perspective, the difference is huge. This is because of what I call “duplicability”: simply put, if you failed to get a defensive rebound, there’s a good chance that your team would have gotten it anyway. Conversely, if you failed to get an offensive rebound, the chances of your team having gotten it anyway are fairly small. This effect can be very crudely approximated by taking the league averages for offensive and defensive rebounding, multiplying by .8, and subtracting from 1. The .8 comes from there being 4 other players on your team, and the subtraction from 1 gives you the value added for each rebound: The league averages are typically around 25% and 75%, so, very crudely, you should expect your team to get around 20% of the offensive and 60% of the defensive rebounds that you don’t. Thus, each offensive rebound is adding about .8 rebounds to your team’s total, and each defensive rebound is adding about .4. There are various factors that can affect the exact values one way or the other, but on balance I think it is fair to assume that offensive rebounds are about twice as valuable overall.
actually, there's was a great article showing the diminishing returns of off/def reb. essentially oreb carry weight from lineup to lineup independent of teammates, whereas dreb, not so much. which is what is expected.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

the carmelo article is very blah. agree w/ TUT
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:43 AM   #6
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

http://www.countthebasket.com/blog/2...sive-rebounds/

that's the diminishing returns article. guy who wrote it is a frequent apbr poster and works for the rockets. its good stuff
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:03 PM   #7
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Bobbo, TUT--

Cool. Thanks for responding and for the link to that article.

All my best,

--Nate
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:11 PM   #8
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by BobboFitos View Post
http://www.countthebasket.com/blog/2...sive-rebounds/

that's the diminishing returns article. guy who wrote it is a frequent apbr poster and works for the rockets. its good stuff
Articles like this are out there, yet John Hollinger is still ESPN's stats guy.
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:09 PM   #9
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Care to explain the problems with the Melo article?
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:48 PM   #10
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by pete fabrizio View Post
Articles like this are out there, yet John Hollinger is still ESPN's stats guy.
Hollinger has a lot of good stuff though. He is a diehard analytic at heart, but remember, he has to make a lot of his stuff mainstream. The great thing about JH is you get the vibe he really watches a ton of games. He tries to be "more" then just a stat guru.


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Care to explain the problems with the Melo article?
Sure.

Quote:
I have a few instant reactions to this article that I thought I would share:

1. Anthony may or may not be overrated, and many of Haberstroh’s criticisms on this front are valid — e.g., ‘Melo does have a relatively low shooting percentage — but his evidence is ultimately inconclusive.
I felt Haberstroh's article was somewhat weak (it was posted it in the offseason thread with a little bit of banter) but Haberstroh actually did an excellent job of showing why Melo is an overrated scorer to the masses. Essentially, his 2pt% and 3pt% are rather low, so his overall TS% isn't that impressive.

When you look at Melo's PPG (3rd in the L last year @ 28.2) people assume he MUST be the 3rd best scorer in the league! (Or something of that nature) But Melo's TS is actually right around average (54.8 last year, 54.4 career, NBA average last year was just under 55) so his actual "skill" is simply shooting a lot.

Obviously this is a much deeper argument (usage v efficiency, turnover rates as pertaining to usage, "double teams" or other teams scheming against bulk shooters, etc.) but the gist is the other guys around him on the PPG list (like Durant or LBJ) are also VERY efficient scorers. So, they are not overrated.



Quote:
2. Haberstroh’s claim that Anthony is not worth a max contract is not supported at all. How many players are “worth” max contracts? The very best players, even with their max contracts, are incredible value for their teams (as evidenced by the fact that they typically win). Corollary to this, there are almost certainly a number of players who are *not* the very best, who nevertheless receive max contracts, and who still give their teams good value at their price. (This is not to mention the fact that players like Anthony, even if they are overrated, still sell jerseys, increase TV ratings, and put butts in seats.)
This I agree with. Haberstroh used the blanket statement that Carmelo is overrated to mean Carmelo is not a top 30 or 40 player in the league. The real question should be "how many maxes are there in the league?" On a personal level, I feel Carmelo is very overrated. But I also am 100% positive he's a top 40 player in the league. To me, he's a max guy, and I wouldn't really think twice.

Quote:


3. One piece of statistical evidence that cuts against Haberstroh’s argument is that Carmelo has a very solid win/loss +/- with the Nuggets over his career. With Melo in the lineup, Denver has won 59.9% of their games (308-206), and without him in the lineup over that period, they have won 50% (30-30). While 10% may not sound like much, it is actually elite and compares favorably to the win/loss +/- of many excellent players, such as Chris Bosh (9.1%, and one of the top PER players in the league) and Kobe Bryant (4.1%). All of these numbers should be treated with appropriate skepticism due to the small sample sizes, but they do trend accurately.
Melo also has a good career APM, and does just fine in other advanced stats). The main criticism was that he doesn't "perform" well according to PER though... This is kinda bizarre; Melo put up a 22.2 PER, which was good for 10th in the league.

The other issue is the blog post is attacking Haberstroh - not Hollinger. PER is Hollinger's baby, not TH. Biggest issue in the blog post is this:

Quote:
rgues that Carmelo’s high shot volume and correspondingly pedestrian Player Efficiency Rating suggests that not only is ‘Melo not quite the superstar his high scoring average makes him out to be,
Uhh, Melo was 10th in the L according to PER. I would call that the OPPOSITE of pedestrian.

Quote:
One of the main problems with PER is that it attempts to account for whether a shot’s outcome is good or bad relative to the average shot, but it doesn’t account for whether the outcome is good or bad relative to the average shot taken in context. The types of shots a player is asked to take vary both dramatically and systematically, and can thus massively bias his PER. Many “bad” shots, for example, are taken out of necessity: when the clock is winding down and everyone is defended, someone has to chuck it up. In that situation, “bad” shooting numbers may actually be good, if they are better than what a typical player would have done. If the various types of shots were distributed equally, this would all average out in the end, and would only be relevant as a matter of precision. But in reality, certain players are asked to take the bad shot more often that others, and those players are easy enough to find: they tend to be the best players on their teams.
Actually, PER is one of the most forward-thinking metrics because it incorporates usage. Many others (offensive rating, WP48, and so on) completely ignore burden of offense. It's assumed greater usage = more difficult shots (that's why the marginal shot % doesn't need to be league average to "add" to your PER!).
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:08 PM   #11
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Melo's TS% is just fine given his usage. He's a top five scorer in the league. Calling him a top 40 player is lol. He's a top 15 player and probably closer to 10 than 15.
The blog post sucked because he wasted time nitpicking a negative of PER that isn't even a big deal when he could have just said,"PER sucks because it doesn't know how to measure defense and loses value as an offensive stat because blocks and steals are included for some ******ed reason."

Edit: To be clear, Haberstroh's initial article was worse.
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:28 PM   #12
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

guy makes a fair point about the context of shots, this was something that has been thrown around a bit here. i'm not sure that 56% ts is strictly greater than say 57% ts on the same usage, which is to say that not all ts% are created equal. players who function as the bailout option will have lower % shots available to them on those attempts, especially if they are creating these opportunities, which may form a decent chunk of their overall attempts. of course this begs the question of whether the shots were taken out of necessity or to the detriment of the offense (in the sense that the player had to take a bailout shot b/c he ****ed up along the way), but it warrants consideration. also the big fail on haberstroh's part was not mentioning fta
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:32 PM   #13
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Ok, but I think we can all agree that ts is fairly accurate. If one guy has a 60%ts, and another has a 55%ts, you can tell the 60 guys is better. If it's 60/59, look at it on a case to case basis I guess.
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:50 PM   #14
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUntouchable View Post
Melo's TS% is just fine given his usage. He's a top five scorer in the league. Calling him a top 40 player is lol. He's a top 15 player and probably closer to 10 than 15.
The blog post sucked because he wasted time nitpicking a negative of PER that isn't even a big deal when he could have just said,"PER sucks because it doesn't know how to measure defense and loses value as an offensive stat because blocks and steals are included for some ******ed reason."

Edit: To be clear, Haberstroh's initial article was worse.
uh tut, i wasn't saying he wasn't a top 15 player. (he may not be, but i didnt say that) in fact, i was saying the opposite, he's OBVIOUSLY a top 40 player, and those guys should all "probably" be maxed. so... he's an obvious max.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:04 PM   #15
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

Bobbo,
I don't have insider so I can't access the initial article. But Skeptical Sports doesn't say Melo has a pedestrian PER, that is Haberstroh's argument.

Quote:
Haberstroh boldly — if not effectively — argues that Carmelo’s high shot volume and correspondingly pedestrian Player Efficiency Rating suggests that not only is ‘Melo not quite the superstar his high scoring average makes him out to be, but that he is not even worth the max contract he will almost certainly get next summer.
Also while PER is Hollingers baby there is nothing wrong with criticizing someone for using it incorrectly. They don't need to be the creator to be subject to criticism.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:32 PM   #16
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Ok, but I think we can all agree that ts is fairly accurate. If one guy has a 60%ts, and another has a 55%ts, you can tell the 60 guys is better. If it's 60/59, look at it on a case to case basis I guess.
disagree. if they have similar responsibilities as creators yes. if not, then no
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:05 PM   #17
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

i'm enjoying this blog a lot so far, tyty.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:18 PM   #18
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by tarheeljks View Post
guy makes a fair point about the context of shots, this was something that has been thrown around a bit here. i'm not sure that 56% ts is strictly greater than say 57% ts on the same usage, which is to say that not all ts% are created equal. players who function as the bailout option will have lower % shots available to them on those attempts, especially if they are creating these opportunities, which may form a decent chunk of their overall attempts. of course this begs the question of whether the shots were taken out of necessity or to the detriment of the offense (in the sense that the player had to take a bailout shot b/c he ****ed up along the way), but it warrants consideration. also the big fail on haberstroh's part was not mentioning fta
Obviously there is some variance to shot selection, but over the course of the season if two guys have the same usage (and same tov%) it's pretty likely that there roles were similar enough where TS% definitely means something imo. Now a difference of one percent might not mean a ton, but I don't think anyone would make a concrete judgement from that anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobboFitos View Post
uh tut, i wasn't saying he wasn't a top 15 player. (he may not be, but i didnt say that) in fact, i was saying the opposite, he's OBVIOUSLY a top 40 player, and those guys should all "probably" be maxed. so... he's an obvious max.
Ah, my bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pudge714 View Post
Haberstroh boldly — if not effectively — argues that Carmelo’s high shot volume and correspondingly pedestrian Player Efficiency Rating suggests that not only is ‘Melo not quite the superstar his high scoring average makes him out to be, but that he is not even worth the max contract he will almost certainly get next summer.
Yeah, Haberstroh's thesis was god awful and he went about supporting it pretty bad too. I think the blog could have done a better job of arguing against this though as it's essentialy shooting fish in a barrell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheeljks View Post
disagree. if they have similar responsibilities as creators yes. if not, then no
Yeah, maybe you're right. I think the bottom line is that TS%, like pretty much any other basketball, tells you something about a player within the context of his lineups. Even TS% isn't very predicative of what a player would do you if you dropped him in a new lineup overnight.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:30 PM   #19
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by BobboFitos View Post
Actually, PER is one of the most forward-thinking metrics because it incorporates usage. Many others (offensive rating, WP48, and so on) completely ignore burden of offense. It's assumed greater usage = more difficult shots (that's why the marginal shot % doesn't need to be league average to "add" to your PER!).
I'm not sure this is true as anything more than a coincidence. I trash PER with the best of them, but this is an aspect of PER that I've actually defended on here about 5 separate times. The reason that a marginal shot doesn't need to be league average % to add to your PER is because a shot is not a turnover.
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:34 PM   #20
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Hollinger has a lot of good stuff though. He is a diehard analytic at heart, but remember, he has to make a lot of his stuff mainstream.
I've heard this claim before, but I don't get it. His work doesn't seem like that of a great statistician who has dumbed it down for mainstream consumption, it seems like that of a bad statistician who has still dumbed it down for mainstream consumption.
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:39 PM   #21
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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I've heard this claim before, but I don't get it. His work doesn't seem like that of a great statistician who has dumbed it down for mainstream consumption, it seems like that of a bad statistician who has still dumbed it down for mainstream consumption.
Bingo (And I say that while still considering one of ESPN's best assets).
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:46 PM   #22
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Obviously this is a much deeper argument (usage v efficiency, turnover rates as pertaining to usage, "double teams" or other teams scheming against bulk shooters, etc.) but the gist is the other guys around him on the PPG list (like Durant or LBJ) are also VERY efficient scorers. So, they are not overrated.
I'm not sure roles are this clear-cut, but still, all this proves is that Melo is probably not as good as Durant or James, which no-one thinks anyway.
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:48 PM   #23
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Originally Posted by uscpf View Post
Ok, but I think we can all agree that ts is fairly accurate. If one guy has a 60%ts, and another has a 55%ts, you can tell the 60 guys is better. If it's 60/59, look at it on a case to case basis I guess.
Not in a vacuum, usage matters.
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:00 PM   #24
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Not in a vacuum, usage matters.
Obv usage matters, but I don't see how it can be used reliably. Someone can have high usage because they hog shots that would be more efficient for other players to take, or they can have high usage because they are the shooter of last resort. Or some combination of the two. If the first is more accurate, mediocre shooting numbers could be even worse for the team than they seem, and if the 2nd is more accurate, the same numbers could actually be a huge benefit. I just don't see how roles and playing styles map onto that stat in any predictable way.
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:09 PM   #25
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Re: Skeptical Sports Analysis

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Bingo (And I say that while still considering one of ESPN's best assets).
I actually think Hollinger is a pretty good writer, but as far as analytics go, I think the people who work for him are probably ESPN's best assets. For example, (sorry to non-insiders), see this article:
NBA Free Agency: What to expect from Miami Heat in 2010-2011
Quote:
But before we get to our answer, we have two other adjustments to make. The first is a technical one involving Bosh, Wade and James. Thanks to a bit of digging by ESPN researcher Keith Goldner, we have a much better idea about how the interplay of Bosh, Wade and James might work.

I had estimated earlier that each of Miami's big three would lose about 5 percent of his total possessions this season but could only speculate as to how that might impact their efficiency. Based on Goldner's work with the players' skill curves (a concept created by Denver Nuggets stat guru Dean Oliver that shows how players' efficiency changes with more or fewer touches), we can now estimate what might happen.

Looking at their skill curves for the past three seasons, we'd expect James' efficiency to increase by 1.19 points per 100 possessions, Wade's by 0.70, and Bosh's by 0.29.
From this, I conclude that there is someone named Goldner at ESPN who is probably smarter than Hollinger.
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