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Re: Dilution, balance, and Bob-bashing

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  • Dean Oliver <deano@rawbw.com>
    ... selecting ... tall ... play ... know - ... can ... - ... can do ... any ... they ... of ... we ... the pace of past teams downward or decrease/increase
    Message 1 of 35 , Jan 2, 2003
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      --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "John W. Craven"
      <john1974@u...> wrote:
      > > statistically, the league has trended significantly toward
      > > athletic tall players who can dribble and defend, rather than
      > > players who can just play the low post. All these 7 footers who
      > > on the perimeter didn't exist even in the early '90's. Does that
      > > mean that Wilt couldn't have played on the perimeter? We don't
      know -
      > > - that's the point. Can you simulate something? Sure. Can you
      > > calibrate it or validate it? No. There is no reality check I
      > > think of to do so. Calibration in my mind means having a real
      > > experiment -- actually playing the 1996 Bulls vs the 1972 Lakers -
      > > to check a simulation against. Obviously impossible. What we
      can do
      > > better is come up with reasonable statistical metrics for what
      > > cross-generational simulator should have to live up to. Should
      > > meet the average pace of the two generations? The average pace
      > > the two teams? I guess I'd find Bob-bashing more productive if
      > > can all come up with rules for what cross-generational simulators
      > > would do, not in specifics (Lakers should beat Bulls), but in
      > > generalities.
      > That's the crux, here. I just don't see how one can simply adjust
      the pace of past teams downward or decrease/increase their field goal
      percentages and then say that the games you sim are at all
      meaningful. I don't have a problem with guys who do this as a leisure
      activity; I'll be the first to admit that it's a lot of fun to
      answer, if only to yourself, whether or not the 1970 Lakers could
      take down the 1996 Bulls. The problem is that unlike, say, baseball,
      the game has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years.

      I would agree.

      > > For example, any games between the two should
      > > obviously result in stats where the two teams have the same
      number of
      > > possessions. That's a basketball rule.
      > Yes, but... were the teams of the 1970s and 80s simply faster than
      those of today (meaning that games should be simmed at or near their
      pace) or are teams nowadays better at cutting off the fast break? I
      don't know, and after the little study that I did (and I'll be the
      first to admit that it's by no means perfect) I can't even cast an
      opinion here. The NBA of the mid-70s appears to be of a higher talent
      level than at any other time, but other than that there just doesn't
      seem to be a lot of difference in competitive balance between now and
      around 1971 or '72.

      Is it greater talent or more competitive?

      > > Or just stating the
      > > assumptions of a cross-generational simulation would help. We
      > > that the Mavericks of 2003 are not allowed to play a zone when
      > > competing against the Lakers of 1987.
      > ...which seems to me to be an unfair handicap, since the 2002-3
      Mavs are built around running the zone a lot. If the illegal defense
      rules were still in place, they would likely be constituted
      differently, in terms of both personnel and rotation choices.
      > > Or, more likely, we assume
      > > that the Mavericks defensive ability is independent of how they
      > > defense (which is, of course, wrong but statistically practical).
      > ...and I have just as much of a problem with this, as the Mavs have
      shown in the past that when they don't run the zone, they're not much
      of a defensive team.

      That's my point. You could have problem with any assumption you make.

      > > which is that predetermined outcomes of sports are bad. Purely
      > > random outcomes may also be bad, but things that are almost
      > > guarantees -- the Lakers winning the title in 2001
      > I disagree that this was a guarantee, but I agree with the point.

      Hyperbole for the sake of a point.

      > > Someone pointed out that talent almost assuredly gets diluted in
      > > expansion years. This is true and is a minimum test of any
      > > we use for assessing average level of talent.
      > Yes, although to be fair this has been studied a lot more in
      baseball and many of the expansions actually didn't have a great deal
      of effect in league talent. There were quite a few capable players,
      for example, squirrelled away in farm systems and on benches of
      contending teams in the late 1950s who finally got a chance to play
      in the early 60s.

      One of the more interesting studies I saw last summer was one by Rod
      Fort, one of the leading sports economists, having testified before
      Congress on baseball issues. He looked at competitive balance as a
      function of free agency, drafts, etc. over a long period of time
      using all sorts of statistical methods and he couldn't find
      statistics that showed significant changes in competitive balance
      (except in expansion years, I think). Of course, this is part of his
      economic theory, so he was hoping it would say that.

      > > Many statistics should
      > > show this, however. I believe MikeG had some stat a long time
      > > showing how much net gain in minutes played per player there was,
      > > which was a weird stat (one I'm not sure about), but certainly
      > > expansion years and possibly other things. I think
      > > turnovers/possession would show expansion years, too. Would FG%
      > > that? It's a purely offensive stat. Does this mean
      that "talent" is
      > > primarily an offensive thing? What other statistics can we use?
      > It wasn't even looking at FG%, per se. It was looking at the
      differences between FG% between individual players. One would assume
      that as the overall talent level of a basketball league increases,
      players who shoot really, really poorly would shoot less and in
      situations better suited to their limited abilities (raising their
      FG%), and conversely the really really great players would be
      increasingly less better than the league average. This is an
      imperfect stat, since the NBA obviously doesn't determine who will
      play and shoot based solely on their FG% (or EfFG% later on). I was
      hoping that that effect would cancel itself out from year to year;
      unfortunately, it looked like there was still a good deal of noise.

      Inter-individual variations are tough. I have a way to deal with
      them so that the noise gets muted a bit, but it would take a while to

    • John Hollinger <alleyoop2@yahoo.com>
      ... watched ... Put me firmly in the pompous windbag camp. The best thing about the Mason comment, for instance, was that Rosen said the reason Mason can t
      Message 35 of 35 , Jan 11, 2003
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        > I particularly enjoyed Rosen's article on the Sonics where he
        > one game (one of the worst of the year, for what it's worth) and
        > acted like he knew something about the team. Apparently, Desmond
        > Mason can't make a jumper because he had one bad night.

        Put me firmly in the "pompous windbag" camp. The best thing about the
        Mason comment, for instance, was that Rosen said the reason Mason
        can't make a jumper was his "low release point", which was hilarious
        on several levels:

        1) Apparently he's never watched Steve Kerr. Or Andrew Toney. Or
        Bryce Drew. Or about a hundred other guys who shoot from under their
        chin but make everything.

        2) Mason's release point isn't low, especially given that he's about
        20 feet off the ground when he shoots it.

        3) Mason's problem isn't the release point, it's the lack of arc on
        his shot.
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