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Re: Vin, Rants, and Roland

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  • Mike G
    ... is that? It sounds like the defense did the right thing, but the offense was even righter. Forcing the offense to a low-% shot is the goal of the defense.
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 3, 2003
      --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "Dean Oliver" <deano@r...>
      wrote:
      > If a perimeter guy comes down to double team Shaq, Shaq
      > gets it back out to Fisher at 25 ft, who makes the 3, whose fault
      is that?

      It sounds like the defense did the right thing, but the offense was
      even righter.

      Forcing the offense to a low-% shot is the goal of the defense. If
      a guy takes a desperation heave from half-court, what is the proper
      defensive approach? Don't foul the guy!

      Then when the unlikely shot happens to go in, you may "blame" the
      player closest to the ball; but for what purpose?


      > ... any single rating - that number, PER, MikeG's stat, ...
      > ... arguments about an
      > individual's quality purely on their own Overall Basketball
      Rating, it kind
      > of loses meaning. For a while, I think MikeG was doing that
      somewhat, ..[but] When he presents his lists of top whatever, it's to
      > spur discussions ...

      A "total" column I use changes from chart to chart. Sometimes I
      don't use a total (as in Euclidean comparisons).

      One thing handy about assigning weights and totalling, is that you
      can track ups and downs for a given player. If he changes teams, or
      coaches, he might rebound more and pass less. A bunch of little
      changes might add up to a big change, or they might cancel out.

      Not only do I wish to spur discussion (or Provoke might be the
      better word, if Kemp or Cummings are involved), I want to
      incorporate worthwhile ideas.

      I'd also like to see other people come up with lists that combine
      postseason and regular-season stuff. And others' ways of evaluating
      whole careers.

      I'd like to see alternative lists that seem intuitively "better"
      than the ones I throw out there.

      While parallel lists (per-minute vs. per-game, season vs.
      postseason, FG vs. FT, ...) have their special utility, I still look
      for ways of combining to a single, user-friendly list, when
      practical.

      It must be rant and babble season.
    • Dean Oliver
      ... Actually it s a wide open shot -- that s not a low % shot. Unguarded shots are 10-20% more likely to go in, by some of my charting. ... The inequity is
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 3, 2003
        --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "Mike G" <msg_53@h...> wrote:
        > --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "Dean Oliver" <deano@r...>
        > wrote:
        > > If a perimeter guy comes down to double team Shaq, Shaq
        > > gets it back out to Fisher at 25 ft, who makes the 3, whose fault
        > is that?
        >
        > It sounds like the defense did the right thing, but the offense was
        > even righter.
        >
        > Forcing the offense to a low-% shot is the goal of the defense. If
        > a guy takes a desperation heave from half-court, what is the proper
        > defensive approach? Don't foul the guy!
        >

        Actually it's a wide open shot -- that's not a low % shot. Unguarded
        shots are 10-20% more likely to go in, by some of my charting.

        > Then when the unlikely shot happens to go in, you may "blame" the
        > player closest to the ball; but for what purpose?
        >

        The inequity is this: for every offensive action, someone gets credit
        or blame, but on defense, occasionally someone gets credit for a stop
        and no one ever gets any blame (statistically). If we start recording
        more defensive stuff, we still end up with this situation. It happens
        often enough and the fact that there is no good way to decide whose
        "fault" it is means that the inequity cannot be reconciled. Hence, stats

        >
        > > ... any single rating - that number, PER, MikeG's stat, ...
        > > ... arguments about an
        > > individual's quality purely on their own Overall Basketball
        > Rating, it kind
        > > of loses meaning. For a while, I think MikeG was doing that
        > somewhat, ..[but] When he presents his lists of top whatever, it's to
        > > spur discussions ...
        >
        > A "total" column I use changes from chart to chart. Sometimes I
        > don't use a total (as in Euclidean comparisons).
        >
        > One thing handy about assigning weights and totalling, is that you
        > can track ups and downs for a given player. If he changes teams, or
        > coaches, he might rebound more and pass less. A bunch of little
        > changes might add up to a big change, or they might cancel out.
        >
        > Not only do I wish to spur discussion (or Provoke might be the
        > better word, if Kemp or Cummings are involved), I want to
        > incorporate worthwhile ideas.

        I guess the question is: Have you incorporated any ideas?

        >
        > I'd also like to see other people come up with lists that combine
        > postseason and regular-season stuff. And others' ways of evaluating
        > whole careers.
        >
        > I'd like to see alternative lists that seem intuitively "better"
        > than the ones I throw out there.
        >

        Inevitably, people do give you those "intuitively better" lists by
        saying things like "Terry Cummings doesn't deserve to be in the top
        50. He should definitely be behind Bill Laimbeer." (Making it up.)

        Personally, it gets tough to make those suggestions because I know how
        different certain players can be in different contexts. The play of
        guys in dream teams shows this to some degree, including the Lakers
        (whose 2 stars of last year will probably look "worse" this year). In
        general, however, most stars don't change their games much in the NBA
        because they would be stars on almost any team. But even the 2nd best
        guy on a lot of teams change. Pippen changed when Jordan played
        baseball. Kobe changed when Shaq went out. Jordan and Shaq can be
        rated because they would almost NEVER change roles, but even Pippen
        and Kobe, HOFers, have their stats changed by context.

        DeanO
      • john1974@u.washington.edu
        ... I have to disagree here. Fielding Runs for first base were way off too. Outfield had its own problems (stemming, I think, more from Palmer and Thorn s
        Message 3 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
          On Sun, 2 Nov 2003, Dean Oliver wrote:
          > John's Defensive Rant
          >
          >
          >
          > I only call it a rant because I also rant about defensive evaluation.
          > Baseball has been able to evaluate D pretty well for a long time, well
          > before Win Shares. Hidden Game of Baseball presented defensive evaluations
          > for players that stand the test of time. The only position with some
          > question was catcher.

          I have to disagree here. Fielding Runs for first base were way off too. Outfield had its own problems (stemming, I think, more from Palmer and Thorn's willingness to estimate defensive innings than a real problem in how they put things together). 2nd, 3rd, and short aren't really great either.

          Probably the #1 problem with FR is that it rewards people on a simple 1-to-1 scale for each put-out, assist, and double play. You've ranted about how linear weights don't paint a true picture, so I won't get into that aspect, but in addition in baseball you've got the problem that, no matter how awful or how great your defense is, the game ends after you get 27 outs (or 24 if you're losing after 8 and a half and on the road, but you get the idea). The problem is, on a team-wide level unadjusted fielding stats for really crappy teams are nearly impossible to discern from stats for good teams.

          This is, I think, where James has really been a boon to the industry. Some have castigated him for ignoring the advances in sabremetrics over the last 20 years, but the whole point of the James system is that we don't have as much information for prior years and he wanted to find a way to "unlock" what we already have available. This is basically what Palmer and Thorn tried to do, too, only they did it wrong (no offense to them; much of what they came up with in the early 80s was revolutionary in its own right).

          > Maybe James has improved that. I can't say I've
          > looked. I consider baseball statistical analysis mature enough that I don't
          > see a lot of actual new (and highly relevant) things coming about these
          > days, even from James (other than highly situational stuff, such as the cool
          > study I mentioned a couple months ago on the situations when teams should
          > walk Barry Bonds).

          There's still a lot of interesting stuff coming out - like the firestorm that erupted 3 years ago around the notion that pitchers don't affect their team's performance except in terms of striking players out and not giving up homeruns and walks. Overall, though, I would tend to agree that there isn't any "killer ap" waiting on the horizon (horribly mixed metaphor, I know).

          > I will add that baseball is much easier to evaluate because the interactions
          > among teammates, even on defense, is fairly limited. The greatest
          > interaction is on double plays or relays from throws in the outfield. Most
          > defense is the pitcher fooling hitters and a single fielder catching and/or
          > throwing the ball with a 95+% chance of success. Getting to balls (Range
          > Factor or equivalents) and errors (fielding percentage) do say a fair
          > amount.

          It depends on the position. RF is all but useless for 1st basemen and needs to be adjusted to a tremendous amount to make sense for the other infielders and, for that matter, corner OFers. Then you've got the 27 outs problem. Still, I think you have a point that it is *possible* to figure out defense given what's available.

          > Basketball is very different. I do spell out the method for defense quite
          > thoroughly in the book (due to ship on 11/7 or 11/10 - yes, Brassey's has
          > been struggling to keep up with all the books they are putting out this
          > year). But a crude form of the method has been online for years at the
          > Journal.

          Aw, man... now I'm going to have to go buy it. ;)

          > A big part of the problem with evaluating individual defense in basketball
          > is that individuals are to blame for defensive breakdowns only a fraction of
          > the time. A fair fraction of defensive problems are systemic - the defense
          > chooses to give up a 3 pt shot in favor of shutting down Shaq, for example.
          > That is probably THE BIGGEST result that came out of the work I did with
          > scoring defense. If a perimeter guy comes down to double team Shaq, Shaq
          > gets it back out to Fisher at 25 ft, who makes the 3, whose fault is that?
          > Is it the low box defender who needed help on Shaq? Is it the guy who came
          > to help but couldn't get back? Is it the other perimeter guy who could have
          > rotated over? This happens A LOT.

          Yeah, especially since the early 90s, I agree. Do you just chalk these missed assignments to team defense, or do you attempt to assign blame?

          > I really like what Roland has done.

          Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I didn't appreciate his work. In fact, what I'm wanting is *more* of it. In particular, I'd like to see the raw position vs. opponents figures. There is some great stuff there that might work out really well in terms of figuring out D.

          > Sure, he has this individual plus/minus
          > stuff that kind of passes for an overall rating, but it ain't. Interpreting
          > any single rating - that number, PER, MikeG's stat, Dupree's evaluation, my
          > own individual win-loss numbers (which do sum quite well to team values) -
          > as a true valuation is what is wrong. It's not wrong to create these stats.
          > It's wrong to treat them as though any single one of them is the Word of
          > God. They are indicators of quality. When people make arguments about an
          > individual's quality purely on their own Overall Basketball Rating, it kind
          > of loses meaning. For a while, I think MikeG was doing that somewhat, but I
          > think he's done a very good job looking at the supporting evidence for what
          > he presents these days. When he presents his lists of top whatever, it's to
          > spur discussions of the reasons why so-and-so may be under or over-rated.
          > That's useful. Same with Roland's plus/minus. People are pointing out
          > problems with the number as an isolated rating. Roland acknowledges those
          > problems and suggests that there are a lot of adjustments that can be used.
          > That is great. As JohnH said, it was horrible that a coach used a single
          > plus/minus to sit down Kendall Gill.

          That was ME, you bastige.

          > I would also say it's horrible to use
          > PER or MikeG's numbers or my numbers or Winston/Sagarin numbers or any of
          > these single numbers to sit down every statistician's least favorite player:
          > Michael Curry. Basketball is a team game with significant complex
          > interactions not reflected very well in statistics. You have to do a ton of
          > work to get something meaningful. I think we here do a pretty good job
          > getting at some of the meaning, but we ain't gonna get it all and we gotta
          > keep that in mind in looking at all summary stats, whether it's Roland's
          > work or anyone else's here.

          I would go so far to add that in basketball it is simply not possible to play "Moneyball"; that these numbers can be useful for fan illumination, but ultimately I'm not sure that they'll have a big impact on how the game itself is played. You've been employed by the Sonics, I know, so maybe your experience is different. It just seems to me that basketball involves such a complex, tangled skein of player attributes and talents that you can't simply make a statement like "Allen Iverson should shoot less" or "the Celtics should trade Antoine Walker" without talking about things in an at least partially non-statistical manner.

          John Craven
        • Dean Oliver
          ... evaluations ... too. Outfield had its own problems (stemming, I think, more from Palmer and Thorn s willingness to estimate defensive innings than a real
          Message 4 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
            --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, john1974@u... wrote:
            > >
            > > I only call it a rant because I also rant about defensive evaluation.
            > > Baseball has been able to evaluate D pretty well for a long time, well
            > > before Win Shares. Hidden Game of Baseball presented defensive
            evaluations
            > > for players that stand the test of time. The only position with some
            > > question was catcher.
            >
            > I have to disagree here. Fielding Runs for first base were way off
            too. Outfield had its own problems (stemming, I think, more from
            Palmer and Thorn's willingness to estimate defensive innings than a
            real problem in how they put things together). 2nd, 3rd, and short
            aren't really great either.

            It sounds like you've studied it more than I, so I defer, for now. In
            my looks, I didn't see a lot of difference.

            > > A big part of the problem with evaluating individual defense in
            basketball
            > > is that individuals are to blame for defensive breakdowns only a
            fraction of
            > > the time. A fair fraction of defensive problems are systemic -
            the defense
            > > chooses to give up a 3 pt shot in favor of shutting down Shaq, for
            example.
            > > That is probably THE BIGGEST result that came out of the work I
            did with
            > > scoring defense. If a perimeter guy comes down to double team
            Shaq, Shaq
            > > gets it back out to Fisher at 25 ft, who makes the 3, whose fault
            is that?
            > > Is it the low box defender who needed help on Shaq? Is it the guy
            who came
            > > to help but couldn't get back? Is it the other perimeter guy who
            could have
            > > rotated over? This happens A LOT.
            >
            > Yeah, especially since the early 90s, I agree. Do you just chalk
            these missed assignments to team defense, or do you attempt to assign
            blame?

            With a variety of volunteers, it's not perfectly clear how they all
            did it. I told them not to be too concerned about assigning "Team" in
            cases like this or when there was doubt.

            I'd actually say that a lot of this began in the '80's, not
            league-wide, but definitely on several teams.


            > > That's useful. Same with Roland's plus/minus. People are
            pointing out
            > > problems with the number as an isolated rating. Roland
            acknowledges those
            > > problems and suggests that there are a lot of adjustments that can
            be used.
            > > That is great. As JohnH said, it was horrible that a coach used a
            single
            > > plus/minus to sit down Kendall Gill.
            >
            > That was ME, you bastige.

            I'll do that every so often. The anonymous halls of the internet make
            it even more difficult to remember all that...

            >
            > > I would also say it's horrible to use
            > > PER or MikeG's numbers or my numbers or Winston/Sagarin numbers or
            any of
            > > these single numbers to sit down every statistician's least
            favorite player:
            > > Michael Curry. Basketball is a team game with significant complex
            > > interactions not reflected very well in statistics. You have to
            do a ton of
            > > work to get something meaningful. I think we here do a pretty
            good job
            > > getting at some of the meaning, but we ain't gonna get it all and
            we gotta
            > > keep that in mind in looking at all summary stats, whether it's
            Roland's
            > > work or anyone else's here.
            >
            > I would go so far to add that in basketball it is simply not
            possible to play "Moneyball"; that these numbers can be useful for fan
            illumination, but ultimately I'm not sure that they'll have a big
            impact on how the game itself is played. You've been employed by the
            Sonics, I know, so maybe your experience is different. It just seems
            to me that basketball involves such a complex, tangled skein of player
            attributes and talents that you can't simply make a statement like
            "Allen Iverson should shoot less" or "the Celtics should trade Antoine
            Walker" without talking about things in an at least partially
            non-statistical manner.
            >

            Respectfully disagreeing here. I do think that playing "moneyball" is
            a different game in hoops. It's not just identifying the best
            players. I do a lot more than that. It's identifying how players fit
            together. Chp 19 shows the basic optimization you can do, using
            numbers to optimize how players fit together. So, yes, just
            identifying the guys who have the best RC/27 outs may work in
            baseball, but no such thing is possible in basketball. Basketball
            adds a significant degree of freedom in allowing certain players to
            use more possessions, which means a big tradeoff in quality and
            quantity. Further, with that degree of freedom, you can actually use
            stats to IMPROVE players, as we did with Rashard Lewis (hopefully he's
            improved, it is still early). I also looked at similar stuff for
            Collison and Ridnour, the two draft picks, to see how they could best
            improve. Keeping them out of the trainer's room -- not much I could
            do about that. We'll see what happens.

            Yes, there is always non-statistical stuff in the conversation. There
            should be in baseball, too. But stats can be a significant
            contributor. I guess baseball stat guys tend to look at the stats and
            say they _are_ the player. Whereas I'd say that basketball stat guys
            have to look at stats and say they define a range of players that he
            could be. You have to set the environment (his teammates, his
            coaching) right so that he and the team become better.

            DeanO
          • wimpds
            - ... I think you ll find that where James takes on Palmer directly, he makes some good points. ... Could you expand on this? Very intriguing, but I m afraid
            Message 5 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
              -
              >
              > It sounds like you've studied it more than I, so I defer, for now. In
              > my looks, I didn't see a lot of difference.
              >

              I think you'll find that where James takes on Palmer directly, he
              makes some good points.

              > quantity. Further, with that degree of freedom, you can actually use
              > stats to IMPROVE players, as we did with Rashard Lewis (hopefully he's
              > improved, it is still early). I also looked at similar stuff for

              Could you expand on this? Very intriguing, but I'm afraid I have
              almost no idea what you mean.
            • Dean Oliver
              ... now. In ... Where is that exactly? I ve read some of the rants on general lin weights vs runs created but not found them very instructive. Having asked
              Message 6 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
                --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "wimpds" <wimpds@y...> wrote:
                > -
                > >
                > > It sounds like you've studied it more than I, so I defer, for
                now. In
                > > my looks, I didn't see a lot of difference.
                > >
                >
                > I think you'll find that where James takes on Palmer directly, he
                > makes some good points.
                >

                Where is that exactly? I've read some of the rants on general lin
                weights vs runs created but not found them very instructive. Having
                asked Pete about the disagreements, I tend to find his responses a
                little more, how do I say it, more emotionally detached and
                scientific. But I haven't seen much on the defense.

                > > quantity. Further, with that degree of freedom, you can actually
                use
                > > stats to IMPROVE players, as we did with Rashard Lewis (hopefully
                he's
                > > improved, it is still early). I also looked at similar stuff for
                >
                > Could you expand on this? Very intriguing, but I'm afraid I have
                > almost no idea what you mean.

                Right now, that's a trick of the trade. And it ain't simple.
                Basically, if you see a number of players with certain similar
                characteristics, but certain things distinguish some as being much
                better than others, what causes those things? Why did MJ not commit
                turnovers? Why did Dirk Nowitzki explode after a brutal frosh year
                whereas others don't do that? The right numbers shed interesting
                light on some of this. Some of those are things like similarity
                scores, but there is more. Some of it's in the book, some of it is
                not.

                DeanO
              • bchaikin@aol.com
                I d also like to see other people come up with lists that combine postseason and regular-season stuff.     you can do this at
                Message 7 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
                  I'd also like to see other people come up with lists that combine postseason and regular-season stuff.    

                  you can do this at www.bballsports.com, using the web-based basketball players database (and the "subtotals" feature)...

                  bob chaikin
                  bchaikin@...



                • bchaikin@aol.com
                  I would go so far to add that in basketball it is simply not possible to play Moneyball ; that these numbers can be useful for fan illumination, but
                  Message 8 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003

                    I would go so far to add that in basketball it is simply not possible to play "Moneyball"; that these numbers can be useful for fan illumination, but ultimately I'm not sure that they'll have a big impact on how the game itself is played........It just seems to me that basketball involves such a complex, tangled skein of player attributes and talents that you can't simply make a statement like "Allen Iverson should shoot less" or "the Celtics should trade Antoine Walker" without talking about things in an at least partially non-statistical manner.

                    aahh... the naysayers exist in every venue :) .... seems to me i've heard this before, say before the revelations of people like bill james (or galileo for that fact)...isn't that what this group is for, to discuss and possibly collectively come up with the better basketball mousetrap?.... guess we'll just have to try to prove you wrong....

                    and Roland's efforts will go a long way towards helping that attempt...

                    There's still a lot of interesting stuff coming out - like the firestorm that erupted 3 years ago around the notion that pitchers don't affect their team's performance except in terms of striking players out and not giving up homeruns and walks.

                    and the person who - i'm not sure if he actually came up with the idea, but who certainly popularized it - did this, voros mccracken, now works for the boston red sox, no?...

                    Overall, though, I would tend to agree that there isn't any "killer ap" waiting on the horizon..

                    not for basketball? we'll just have to do something about that...

                    fyi - "Moneyball" is turning heads not just in the baseball world but the world of almost all professionals sports in the old US of A, to a greater extent than you may be aware of...

                    bob chaikin
                    bchaikin@...

                  • Stephen Greenwell
                    and the person who - i m not sure if he actually came up with the idea, but who certainly popularized it - did this, voros mccracken, now works for the boston
                    Message 9 of 11 , Nov 5, 2003
                      and the person who - i'm not sure if he actually came up with the idea, but who certainly popularized it - did this, voros mccracken, now works for the boston red sox, no?...

                      Voros is technically the assistant to Bill James.  Both work for the Red Sox right now, and are allegedly drawing up four scenarios - Red Sox with Nomar and Pedro, just Nomar, just Pedro, or neither.

                      fyi - "Moneyball" is turning heads not just in the baseball world but the world of almost all professionals sports in the old US of A, to a greater extent than you may be aware of...

                      With the ChiSox hiring of Ozzie Guillen and continual bad trades by the Cubs and White Sox, I'm not so sure that this is true ;)  Until the A's or Red Sox or Blue Jays win a world series, I don't think people will be trying to copy them.  The last two winners (Angels and Marlins) have stated policies of relying on "smallball" to win, and the winter hirings have reflected this.

                      Steve Greenwell
                    • Mike G
                      ... postseason ... HREF= www.bballsports.com www.bballsports.com , using the web- based basketball ... I believe you without checking, Bob. I ve used your
                      Message 10 of 11 , Nov 8, 2003
                        --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, bchaikin@a... wrote:
                        > I'd also like to see other people come up with lists that combine
                        postseason
                        > and regular-season stuff.    
                        >
                        > you can do this at <A
                        HREF="www.bballsports.com">www.bballsports.com</A>, using the web-
                        based basketball
                        > players database (and the "subtotals" feature)...

                        I believe you without checking, Bob. I've used your site many times
                        (and never found an error!) However, I was thinking along the lines
                        of comparing seasons and careers.

                        Lots of people have "ranked" player-seasons based on numbers more
                        sophisticated than raw totals. There are a few examples I'm aware
                        of that rank postseasons, as well.

                        A few people have players ranked by career -- but they've only gone
                        by regular-seasons. In the playoffs, your opponents aren't the
                        whole NBA, but a select sample; so any game-pace or competition
                        factors should be customized for each team, each year.

                        It's a pretty big job to do it, but I have done it, by my own
                        imperfect methods. If others do it, we could compare. That's what
                        I've been looking forward to.
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