1703Re: Cross Generational Simulating/Comparisons
- Jan 27, 2003Hello again all. It appears that the dead equine will receive
Comments by Bob Chaikin:
i certainly don't agree with any conclusion stating that
> directly comparing players over the past 40-45 years in theNBA is
> "...difficult or impossible...". on the contrary, i find it fairlyeasy......
> i've read every single post on both discussions groups sincethis discussion
> on "...are the players of today better than the players ofyesterday..." and,
> more exactly, "...how could we simulate cross-generational probasketball..."
> began a number of weeks ago, patiently waiting for any kind ofproof or
> evidence in terms of some discussion stating why playerscannot be compared
> directly over the past decades, and while i have heard anumber of people
> state it can't, or shouldn't be done, i haven't seen any definitivereasons
> why. i remain wholely unconvinced by the arguementspresented so far, and
> would love to debate any discussion that actually trys toexplains 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
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