Some info from Dave Berri
I talked to Dave Berri the other day and discussed some of the work he has done. Among the things he talked about that I found interesting:
1. Competitive balance can be important to fans. He did a study showing that if the NBA is not very balanced for one year, it draws fans. If it stays unbalanced for 3-5 years, then fans start ignoring the game. With the Lakers winning 3 in a row, this may have an impact.
2. His top ranked player this year was Ben Wallace. He estimated 19 wins for him and 0.313 wins per 48 minutes. Second was Tim Duncan at 15.4 wins and 0.223 per 48 minutes. Elton Brand was 3rd at 15.1 wins and 0.239 per 48 minutes. I have a full list that I can pass on. He understands that there are questions about his method. I proposed to him an alternative that is similar to the way he did it but that I believe will yield different results. He uses his estimates as surrogates for productivity in doing labor economics. Given that we all do labor and, after school, our evaluations of productivity are pretty vague anyway, I asked that he consider the fact that people use lots of different ways of evaluating performance and look at different basketball measures.
3. He did a couple studies on competitive balance. Apparently the NBA is the least competitive league of all professional leagues. But it really hasn't been getting less competitive through time. He looked at it a couple different ways. I need to look at these ways. It _felt_ to me that this year was a little more competitive than the last 2 years, but with still a large likelihood that the Lakers would win. I think the press and a lot of us here felt similarly. I am wondering whether there is a way to look at competitive balance to predict whether the Lakers will lose next year. Is there a force that will drive them apart? I know the talk radio down here has been getting a fair number of Lakers fans calling in with concern over getting a real point guard, resigning free agents. The Laker fans know that it wasn't as easy this year. Jerry Buss is talking about skirting with the luxury tax, too, to overcome it.
4. I was also reminded of a paper I read a few years ago on Sunk Cost in the NBA. There are a few references to it on the net:
Some people reanalyzed it. I haven't read everything. The paper basically showed that teams invest too many minutes on high draft picks. A high draft pick may "prove" to be a bust fairly early on but they stay in the league apparently only because they were a high draft pick. The paper uses a different method of productivity than any other we've seen or talked about here, but it seems like a reasonable conclusion.
Journal of Basketball Studies