> The Pistons are a very good team because they have a bunch of
> guys who outplay the man guarding them.
The Pistons, as a team, outplay their opponents. Saying their
players outplay their opposing matchup is a slightly different issue.
That reminds me of a DeanO point about WINVAL that I wish I'd
remembered and found a way to point to in my column about DanVAL --
teams aren't trying to win every five-minute stretch of game,
they're trying to win a 48-minute game. Similarly, teams aren't
trying to win each position, they're trying to win _as a team_.
You could, of course, outplay the opponent at four positions but
lose because the disparity at the other was so dramatic. That's why
I can't stand those "head-to-head" matchups people do when
previewing games (At least in the context of "who's better?" -- I
actually talk about people head-to-head in my previews for
Supersonics.com, but in a more general "hey, these are two players
nominally matched up with each other" sense).
I think this sort of analysis does have some value, and lately I've
been thinking about it with regards to the Sonics.
Everybody (read: Sonics fans) talks about needing a 20-10 guy up
front, but if the Sonics were merely average at power forward (which
isn't that far from 20-10) and center, they'd be an outstanding team
because of their perimeter punch. Similarly, I think a lot of the
Bucks having about the same record even after their perimeter was
weakened was getting to almost average with Joe Smith, Brian
Skinner, and Dan Gadzuric up front.
This is slightly off the main topic of analysis, but as we continue
to refine our methods of analyzing individual defense, I think a
critical topic will be resolving individual and team defense, as
well as determining how to account for different forms of individual
This is the argument that MikeT and DeanO have advanced in the past:
If a player, let's call him Doe Jumars, limits guys under their
usual possessions at the same efficiency, how do we rate that?
If Allen Iverson gets 50% more steals than the average shooting
guard but allows opposing players to be 5% more efficient and use 5%
more possessions, how do we rate that?
These aren't easy questions.