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1703Re: Cross Generational Simulating/Comparisons

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  • schtevie2003 <schtevie@hotmail.com>
    Jan 27, 2003
      Hello again all. It appears that the dead equine will receive
      another whuppin'.....sorry.

      Comments by Bob Chaikin:

      i certainly don't agree with any conclusion stating that
      > directly comparing players over the past 40-45 years in the
      NBA is
      > "...difficult or impossible...". on the contrary, i find it fairly
      easy......

      > i've read every single post on both discussions groups since
      this discussion
      > on "...are the players of today better than the players of
      yesterday..." and,
      > more exactly, "...how could we simulate cross-generational pro
      basketball..."
      > began a number of weeks ago, patiently waiting for any kind of
      proof or
      > evidence in terms of some discussion stating why players
      cannot be compared
      > directly over the past decades, and while i have heard a
      number of people
      > state it can't, or shouldn't be done, i haven't seen any definitive
      reasons
      > why. i remain wholely unconvinced by the arguements
      presented so far, and
      > would love to debate any discussion that actually trys to
      explains why it
      > can't be done accurately using the actual stats...

      ***********

      My argument as to why cross-generational simulations using
      actual stats are certain to yield irrelevant results (if borne out)
      has to do with the fact that over a 20 year period (again
      apologies for the imprecision in dating) roughly the 1960s and
      60s there was a dramatic improvement in the way the game was
      played. To retell the punchline before the set-up: the superiority
      of the average team in the early 80 to its 60s counterpart was on
      the order of 10 to 12 points per game (at a modern game pace).
      This is equivalent to how much better the best Bulls team was to
      the league average.

      Now, how do I know this to be true (until someone disabuses
      me of the notion)? Just looking at the average offensive
      productivity over the time in question, what one sees is that it
      improved dramatically (the 12 points per game above). Now,
      those who believe we stand on the shoulders of giants might be
      inclined to say that defenses got worse as opposed to offenses
      having improved. Is this view tenable? The answer is "no"
      because the trend is accompanied by a dramatic slowing of the
      game. This slowing, all else equal, implies that offensive
      productivity should have decreased. Why? It either means
      fast-break baskets were being reduced or that the half-court
      offenses were having to work harder for shots. But offenses
      improved, dramatically. And the only explanation I can deduce is
      that offenses were disciplining themselves (through improved
      coaching I surmise) and expunging bad shot selection. Now, as
      I also said before, I expect that defenses were also improving
      during this time so that the 12 point estimate is in fact a low
      estimate of the actual improvement in these two decades.

      And to continue. If one accepts the general and continuous
      improvement of the game over the two decades mentioned, then
      it becomes arbitrary to imagine that progress stopped then. The
      reasonable prior belief is that the slow decrease in offensive
      productivity after this point is the result of defensive
      improvements, rather than some technological retrogression.

      And finally, I made what I think is a very persuasive argument for
      the superiority of the trained athlete in more recent times. In the
      form of a question, if there are not some return to his efforts, why
      is he killing himself in the gym?

      There is the "proof". I look forward to any alternate explanation of
      these facts and inferences.

      All this aside, I should say that I have nothing but the highest
      regard for the notion of using simulations for analyzing the game
      of basketball. To my mind, they are the best method for
      understanding the effect of marginal changes in game variables.

      However, they are not useful - only highly deceptive - in
      determining the competitiveness of NBA teams from different
      eras.
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