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1740Re: Talent

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  • schtevie2003 <schtevie@hotmail.com>
    Jan 31, 2003
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      DeanO:...: What is talent? Or what is a measure of talent? As
      I've mentioned before, we measure performance with stats, not
      talent. Performance is a function of talent, but also a bunch of
      other things, including the average talent level in the league...

      Mike: You might have to distinguish between individual talent
      and team talent. At the most basic level, I suppose height,
      jumping ability, ballhandling skills, pure shooting, etc. would be
      elements of 'talent'.

      But in the wake of the US disaster against the world, in Indy, we
      have to recognize Team Talent. i.e., the better Team wins. If I
      standardize the stats for the last 3 World Games, the US players
      would not look as good as the 3 teams that beat them. Yet this
      season's NBA is not dominated by Spanish, Argentines, and
      whoever else got in on the dismemberment.

      So arguments about increased bulk, reduced body fat, etc. aren't
      relevant (in my mind) to whether today's game is played at a
      greater competitive level than it was played in 1975, 1965, or
      even 1955.

      For all I know, the 1955 game was brutal, and a slamdunking
      skywalker would have about as much chance of landing safely
      as he would in the water with a polar bear.

      IF one had a time machine, teams of different eras would have to
      learn the style of one another (not to mention refereeing
      discrepancies). By the time an exhibition season had ironed out
      the differences, they'd be well on their way to playing on even
      footing -- footwear included.

      So I suggest all peripheral era-dependent artifacts be dropped
      from consideration, and competitiveness remain in the realm of
      mathematics. Then we can just tinker with the formulas.

      As one without any (professed) bias, I find it intriguing to think
      the league may be equally competitive in 1955 and in 2003.
      Expansion bumps notwithstanding, I can't see a clear reason for
      the appearance of equivalency, based on the cumulative
      minutes study I've presented.

      Me: I think it is important to be precise about terminology, before
      we reduce the relevant questions to the point of insignificance.

      It seems to me that if we are going to talk about talent, we should
      leave that to the domain of the individual. Then "team talent" has
      to do with organization which is the function of coaching/strategy
      (along with player acquiescence, of course.) As such, we can
      think of competitiveness (or offensive/defensive productivity to be
      more precise in my schema) as a function of talent, where the
      function is the operation of organization/strategy.

      Interpreting the recent debacle in Indianapolis in this regard, "A"
      level talent American (if not A+) from the NBA with mediocre
      organization was unable to beat equivalent B-/C+ NBA level
      talent with superior organization (at playing the international
      game of course.)

      That said, distinguishing individual and team talent does not
      negate the relevance of appraising individual talent and its
      changes over time; it is a separate category.

      Now your increase in minutes played data series is a very
      interesting piece of evidence in this regard. One should think
      about what it means, and what it can be used for to distinguish
      various hypotheses.

      Regarding height: To my mind, if it is borne out that the "true"
      series is effectively flat, this would imply that height doesn't
      matter. (Now, I do not believe this to be the case, but it would
      seem to me that this would be a primary implication.) Why?
      Because an increase in the pool of taller athletes, if there was a
      postive "return" to this attribute, this would imply that there would
      be an increase in playing time for this group. (Hey, could you
      break out your minutes data as a function of height to directly
      address this question?).

      Regarding strength: I don't think that the minutes series could
      ever address this, and not because this factor has no available
      measure. It is because as players in the league would begin to
      become generally aware of the benefit of strength training, they
      would "all" begin to train, negating the apparent benefit to anyone
      and the resultant minutes played.

      Regarding team organization/strategy: I are quite sure that the
      series has nothing to say, as all players get better together as
      strategies become refined and improve, so the minutes played
      should not be affected.

      Regarding the overall talent pool: Here the series has a lot to
      say, and the tentative conclusion that league expansion has
      roughly correlated with expansion in the talent pool accords with
      my prior beliefs.

      All this said, the series you provide does not suggest that "the
      league may be equally competitive in 1955 and in 2003". Of
      course it does when you add the proviso that we drop all
      "peripheral era-dependent artifacts be dropped from
      consideration", but that is just defining the problem away. To my
      mind, those things aren't peripheral; they are central. The
      interesting stuff is the history of the game itself, how it evolved,
      how it improved, how rules may have been changed to
      compensate for perceived advantage by the offense or the
      defense, how the physical form of the athlete and his regimens
      changed, how the available talent pool changed.

      By your specification, we would be left with no dynamic
      questions at all, as we all know that at any given time (with some
      minor caveats) we know that the best players available and
      willing to play were in the NBA.
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