DeanO's Olympic interpretations
- Maybe this is a good idea and maybe it isn't.....
At the very beginning of 2003, I became involved in a rather dispectic exchange, in these
here circles, on the issue of intertemporal comparisons in the NBA. My point then and
now is that there was good evidence that very strongly suggested that the average team of
the late 80s and 90s (and heck, even today) were dramatically better than the best teams
of the late 60s. If I recall correctly (and perhaps I don't) I suggested that the average
"modern" NBA team would expect to score around 12 points per game more than the best
of the late 60s. (I withold the argument, see my posts in January and February 03.)
Apparently, this general argument (or perhaps the exchange itself) wasn't terribly
interesting to many, and as a final comment regarding suggestive corroborating evidence,
I pointed to the rapidly increasing ability of the rest of the world as evidence that rapid
improvements in competitive ability were by no means out of the question. I don't think at
the time, that folks were very interested in the rapid improvements of foreigners either.
But that apparently has changed.
Now, brother Dean tells us that them thar' ferners have improved 30 points against the
NBA average in one decade! That is a very big number.
Maybe it is appropriate now to reintroduce the intertemporal comparison arguments and
perhaps try to better integrate it with current interest in international comparisons.
As a beginning, it is clear (isn't it?) that the world has caught up primarily in terms of
tactics, strategy, and skills - as opposed to athleticism, where (if the commentators I
listened to are to be believed) we still hold sway. And then if 30 points can be gained in
10 years these areas, why would NBA history be immune from significant average
improvements over even longer spans of time?
- --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "carlos12155" <carlosmanuel@b...> wrote:
> I'm reluctant to post in this topic, because for some reason it seemsOut with emotion, in with on point arguments.
> too emotionally loaded, but here I go. Schtevie, I think that your
> reasoning has some flaws and will try to point them out.
> A)The notion that other things being equal a faster pace should meanI am not sure which reasoning you are characterizing. But I don't think we are disagreeing
> improved offensive efficiency only holds true if the faster pace is
> the product of more fast breaks and the offensive efficiency in half
> court sets remains the same. If the faster pace is the result of
> shooting earlier in half court sets, there is no reason offensive
> efficiency should improve. A faster or slower pace per se does not
> tell us anything about offensive efficiency.
here, at least not completely. I am saying that we know that average time per possession
increased. This could have come about either by relatively fewer fast breaks in the mix -
which implies a decrease in offensive productivity, as fast breaks are "better breaks" - or
by more time spent in half-court sets - which should not imply an increase in offensive
productivity, if anything, perhaps a decrease.
You write "if the faster pace is the result of shooting earlier in half court sets [now me: this
is equivalent to going backwards in time] there is no reason offensive efficiency should
improve". This is my point exactly, going back in time, the offenses were worse.
Hence, I disagree with your last sentence. It is precisely because (in going backwards) that
the pace quickened (and despite teams presumably having the benefit of a higher
proportion of fast breaks) and their productivity dropped which implies that they were
playing sub-optimally (i.e. they could have done better than they did, just by playing more
under control and waiting for a better shot.)
> B)You discard too easily the possibility of another explanation. MaybeThe attractiveness of the argument I am making is based on the fact that as a result of the
> another factor made the offensive efficiency of half court sets
> improve and as a result fast breaks became less neccesary. These
> alternative explanations need to be discussed and shown to be false.
basic theory and facts, we know that the game changed in a certain direction (towards
greater "efficiency"). And, we know what this means in terms of turnover and scoring
percentages, overall they increase - by "definition". Furthermore, if nothing else changed,
it is necessarily true that the fact that the game slowed during this time period implies
that things could have been done better previously, but weren't. As to other explanations,
I invite anyone to suggest them, and I have identified the categories where they are likely
to be (differing rule changes/interpretations, changes in populations, etc.) And I agree
that they should be discussed, but they need not be shown to be false for the game
improvement argument to hold. What needs to identified are the relative contributions of
various factors. (So, at the end of the day, one might say that the actual gain in offensive
efficiency from the 60s (say) to the 80s (say) was x% due to refs deciding that palming the
basketball was no longer a turnover, y% due to improved shooting ability, and z% due to
an increase in athleticism, etc.) Right now, however, I am trying to establish the ceteris
paribus argument that fast play was hasty play, causing many, many, forgone points.
> C)You assume that the offensive team controls the pace when in factI actually do believe that the offensive team primarily controls the pace in this instance
> the defensive and offensive team control it. Now, it's true that the
> correlation between a slowing pace and improved offense suggests that
> the offensive team was causing the change, but it doesn't follow that
> improved shot selection was neccesarily the cause.
because it is the plausible story. (The alternative is an odd story that the offenses were led
to their improvements by defenses playing better! This story would be that the defenses
were eliminating fast breaks and playing harder defense, obliging teams to protect the ball
more and be more patient, with great unexpected gains in productivity.) But for my
argument to play out, it depends not at all on the assumption of offenses consciously
slowing down play or being induced superior performance by better defense. (In which
instance, the superiority of the moderns versus the old school is all the greater still.)
And you are correct that improved shot selection is not neccesarily the cause of increased
productivity. But, there is no strong anecdotal evidence that players became better
shooters (and I don't think that free throw evidence would support it) so, by elimination,
that leaves shot selection (and better ball control/fewer turnovers).
> D)You assume that the scoring skill of 60s players was comparable withYes it is simple, but one can argue in terms of broad categories. To repeat: if productivity
> today's players on the basis of their similar free throw shooting. It
> seems to me a bit too simple.
increased, either there were more shots available (i.e. fewer turnovers) or they were better
shooters (but not better free throwers?) or they got better shots (call it shot selection.)
That is all possible categories, no?
> Now, I agree with the general idea that 60s teams probably played tooI have given a proof (again, barring no "out of bound" explanation like changes in rules or
> fast, but before stating it as a fact we should try to prove it.
their interpretation, asymmetric effects of improved or worsened athleticism, a deeper or
shallower talent pool, etc.) Fleshing out the story of what happened and when is not proof,
> couple of ideas are, 1) Tracking the offensive efficiency ofThe reason I say this is not proof but confirmation is that we know that if the league
> individual players who played during the time period. If there was a
> "coaches driven" change, their off. eff. should show an evolution
> quite different from today's players.
average moved in one way, it will be reflected in averaged player averages. I think that the
more interesting story is to try to explain why it moved in the way it did, and my strong
prior is that league-wide strategy changes were based on emulating teams perceived as
"successful". As I have noted, my guess is that perceptions of success related (and
probably still relate) more to trying to "be like Mike, or the Celtics dynasty, or the Bad
Boys, or whatever" rather than "be like the team that maximizes offensive efficiency".
2) Compare data with foreign
> leagues (where we can assume there is less scoring skill) and seeSounds good to me.
> where the difference in talent shows up. If we could get data about a
> long period of time, it could be interesting to see whether we can
> detect statistically the improvement by international players that has
> been seen.
> --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "schtevie2003" <schtevie@h...>
> > --- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, bchaikin@a... wrote:
> > What exactly is your trouble with the notion that slowing game pace
> and inc=
> > reasing
> > offensive productivity directly imply that teams in the base time
> period we=
> > re not exhibiting
> > optimal ball control and shot selection? The idea couldn't be more
> > If you have
> > trouble with this piece of theory, state it. If you think there
> were offse=
> > tting factors
> > otherwise explaining the empirical phenomenon, identify them.
> Otherwise, s=
> > tate that you
> > don't (in a civil fashion.)
> > Finally, perhaps, you can expound further on the general issue of
> posting p=
> > ropriety and
> > identify what are legitimate and illegitimate topics of
> conversations in th=
> > e "stats group". In
> > this learned discussion, be sure to include at least some mention of
> the re=
> > lative virutes of
> > simulations and formal statistical analysis; that should be interesting.
> > > bob chaikin
> > > bchaikin@b...