On Thu, 2 May 2002, HoopStudies wrote:
> OK. Defining replacement value is an interesting challenge. James
> used 0.350. I always felt like basketball's number was lower, maybe
> about 0.200-0.250. If baseball's worst teams win about 35% of their
> games and that corresponds to replacement level, then shouldn't
> basketball's worst teams set replacement level? Basically an average
> player on the worst team is probably a bum. Think of all the guys on
> those rebuilding Chicago teams as pretty much replacement level (that
Makes sense ... one possible complication though is the interaction
between players on a team. Maybe those Bulls teams had a bunch of players
whose win-loss level was, oh 35%. And maybe that is the NBA's replacement
level. Any squad, even the Lakers, will have some of these players. But
if a team has NOTHING but 35% players, it's resulting won-loss record
might end up worse than 35%. Because we can't assume that a team's
won-loss record will literally be the sum of its individual players'
records. Maybe such a team should end up winning only 25% of its games.
(E.g., if you're a teacher and one of your students gets nothing but A-'s
on every exam, at the end of the term her grade is likely to be [or
probably should be] a solid A. Because piling up those A-'s exam after
exam is going to leave her with a cumulative total that's well ahead of
most other students. Unfortunately for the students, the reverse is also
true: a student who does nothing but C- work all term probably deserves a
D at the end of the term.
Correspondingly, one can imagine models of basketball where a team made up
of nothing but 35% players will end up with a won-loss record which is,
not 35%, but 20-25%.)
> includes, interestingly, Brent Barry).
Yeah, that's one of the pitfall of basketball statistics, and sports
statistics in general. He looked like a bum then, in fact he probably was
playing like a bum, but magically transformed when he joined the Sonics.
MikeG's listing of 1st/2nd tier centers showed an opposite transformation:
he had Jim McDaniels as something like the 5th or 6th best center in the
NBA/ABA combined, but when McDaniels jumped leagues to the Sonics, he
played miserably, at probably below replacement level. And was
accordingly shunted out the door. (Eventually, with his ridiculous
contract, the Sonics held onto him for awhile.)
> > So in your example question, my off-the-cuff estimate was
> incorrect, the
> > 8-8 player contributed more to the team.
> No, you were actually originally right. 8 - 6.6 = 1.4, not 2.4 as
> you wrote down. The breakeven point at which these 2 guys are
> equivalently above the replacement level is 0.330.
Interesting, because these replacement levels we're bandying about are
probably in the neighborhood of where a realistic NBA replacement level
would be. If it is indeed at .20 or .25, then then 8-8 player has
contributed more than the 5-2 player. At .33, it's a wash. At the Bill
James figure of .35, the 5-2 player is better.
All those replacement levels are plausible (in the absence of hard data),
but they lead to different conclusions.
The technique of looking at teams' records to estimate what the NBA
replacement level is, is a good idea but fraught with the
individual-vs-team stat problem that I mentioned. I think a better,
though not perfect, technique would be to look at NBA rosters each year
and see who got cut (those players are ipso facto below replacement level,
unless the general manager made a mistake, or the team was incredibly
deep and had a 12th player who was better than replacement), and see who
got picked up from the CBA or from the waiver wire or wherever -- those
players are right around replacement level, except for the occasional
injured player who recovers and performs at better than replacement, or
the occasional Billy Ray Bates who comes out of nowhere and set the league
A related technique: identify who the 12th best man on each roster was,
and look at their stats. The average of those players stats is likely to
be a bit above the replacement level (because unlike the player who got
cut in the example above, these 12th men managed to stick with the team).
- Yeah, these are things to keep in mind as we try to zero
in on the replacement level. Some so-called replacement
level players are clearly better than others. Are they
thus truly "freely available"? There's only one Rod
Strickland; once he's signed, it's not possible for any
other team to go out and sign him. On the other hand,
he was in a sense available to any team that wanted him.
I suspect we'll want to look at a bunch of players
identified as replacement level and find their average value,
to even out the occasional Strickland who brings up the
average and the occasional Oakley or whoever who brings down
In other words, something more akin to KevinP's look at the
average performance of free agents, instead of the 290th
man approach. Although it turns out that they yielded
very similar values.
From: John Hollinger [mailto:alleyoop2@...]
Sent: Monday, March 22, 2004 8:20 AM
Subject: [APBR_analysis] Re: - wins/Tendex replacement
I think at this time of year there's also multiple levels of "freely
available" -- Level 1 is the guys who get waived in March (Dion
Glover, Rod Strickland, etc.) so they can sign with a playoff
contender. Level 2 is the guys the bad teams sign to replace them
(Britton Johnsen, Josh Davis, etc.).... and Level 5,831 is Charles
--- In APBR_analysis@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Tamada" <tamada@o...>
> -----Original Message-----times,
> From: Kevin Pelton [mailto:kpelton08@h...]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2004 11:45 AM
> >> > I'm not sure it will be easy to identify a replacement level.
> >> Wouldn't be easy, but I'd try various techniques: WAG (wild a**
> >> guessing: what number seems reasonable?); looking at actual
> >> transactions of players cut and added, especially those on 10-day
> >> contracts; actual statistics of actual 12th men, etc. These
> >> different techqniques would undoubtedly lead to different
> >> definitions of what the replacement level is, but now at
> >> least the range has been narrowed down.
> >MikeT, I know you've mentioned this kind of study a number of
> >and since I probably make more use of replacement level thananyone
> >else here (Dan being the possible exception), I've wanted to do itwas
> >for a long time and finally got around to it:
> That's really good stuff, exactly the sort of empirical study that
> needed. And I think we've got a good estimate of replacementlevel,
> at least as measured by your efficiency statistic.is a
> The point about in-season vs truly "freely available" free agents
> good one, and your stats show the importance of the distinction.You
> seem to be saying, and I agree, that the higher level, out-of-season,
> freely available free agent replacement level is the better one touse.
> At least for making long run, multiple-season, comparisons ofplayers.
> Teams in the short run may end up with less-than-replacement-levelrun.
> players due to contract restrictions, salary caps, or what not, but
> those conditions will not or at least need not persist in the long
> I think your .425 or .430 estimate of the replacement level is
> a good one, maybe it won't turn out to be 100% accurate but I'llbet it's
> reasonably close to whatever the true figure is. Because you'veused
> multiple techniques to arrive at the same estimate: the 10th playerIntuitively,
> technique, and the free agents' stats technique.
> There is a subtle problem however with the 10th player technique.
> one would think that the 12th player would be a better measure ofthe replacement
> level player. But the stats of these 12th players might actuallybe poor
> measures; they might be BELOW replacement value, and are only onthe roster
> due to guaranteed contracts or what not. Or they might be an 18-year old kid
> being stashed on the roster but not expected to contribute yet. Orthey might
> just have turned out to have a bad year, with horrendous stats thatplummet
> them to 12th.a good
> So those are good reasons why the 12th men's stats are perhaps not
> measure, they're likely to give us a figure that's belowreplacement level.
> So taking the 10th man's stats, or more precisely the stats of the290th
> guy in the league, might lead to better estimates.deck
> The subtle problem with all this is that your technique stacked the
> against the 12th men from the beginning, because you order theplayers
> by efficiency. So the 12th men are guaranteed to have the verylowest
> efficiencies on your rosters, and thus have stats that are likely tohave to
> be below replacement level.
> And thus to come up with a figure that is a better estimate, you
> "move up" the roster to the 10th position.impossible to
> A theoretically better technique (but one that is perhaps
> actually execute) would be to look at the stats of players who weidentify
> as the 12th man *a priori*, i.e. before looking at their stats.Some of
> these 12th men will be the Brian Cardinal types, with some decentstats.
> Some of them will be the Ansu Sesay types, basic deadwood there tofill
> the roster, literal replacement level players. Averaged together,their
> efficiency will be higher than the average efficiency of the 12thman
> calculated by looking at their actual stats and ordering them ("aposteriori"
> stats rather than "a priori"). Indeed, if done correctly, I'dexpect these
> 12th men to have stats slightly above the replacement level, simplybecause
> they were the 12th guys and not the 13th guys, the ones who trulywill be
> the replacements.before
> The trouble with my a priori idea of course is how do we know,
> looking at the stats, who the 12th man is? For some teams, it'sfairly
> easy to identify, but for others, not. Probably we'd have to picka couple
> of players from each team, and estimate the stats of the 11th-12thmen
> collectively.high. It's
> There's another reason why the .425/.430 might be just a little
> possible that the off-season pickups might not be as freelyavailable as
> we might think -- though undrafted, there might be a few teamswilling to
> snatch up these players, for their low cost, low risk, andpotential
> contributions. I.e. there may be some semi-decent free agents outthere,
> whose stats bring up the average, but who weren't really freelyavailable
> because other teams went after them and signed them. They were abit better
> than the truly freely available replacement players.suggests that
> However, you've got a great quote from Brian Cardinal which
> this is not the case.getting us into
> Bottom line: I think this is a good estimate which likely is
> the neighborhood of the replacement level. My guess is that if itturns out
> not to be the correct value, it's because it's a shade high.Yahoo! Groups Links