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Archive for February, 2010

The Hired Gun II

9th February 2010

Yesterday, I laid out a scenario which could be an unforeseen consequence of a new CBA which limited contract lengths and imposed a hard cap -- namely, that if a player with all-time-great type ability (let's call him "Jim LeBaron") was sufficiently motivated to chase rings at the expense of everything else, the incentive to keep him in one place for a long-term would be removed and he could conceivably ink a never-ending Tim Wakefield-esque string of one-year contracts with the top contender who had the cap room to sign him. Today, I'm going to run a program I built to simulate this scenario, and see how many titles Jim The Ring Vulture would grab on average.

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Posted in Insane ideas, Statgeekery | 18 Comments »

The Hired Gun, Intro

8th February 2010

Labor issues abound as we head into the week of the NBA's biggest party, with the Commissioner reportedly presenting to the union a proposed CBA that would drastically reduce the players' share of basketball-related income, kill the Larry Bird exception, and severely limit long-term contracts & guaranteed salaries -- including existing deals! Understandably, NBAPA reps are miffed (Adonal Foyle called the proposal "rash", "unfair", and "ludicrous") but one effect of the new NBA financial landscape could be a generation of mercenary players who sign short contracts and hop from city to city, seeking max money and/or rings. Or at least that's how Bill Simmons saw it in his last mailbag:

"Q: Imagine if LeBron started a complete new trend starting in 2010 where he just decided, "Eff it, I'm winning a ring EVERY year" and signed one-year contracts EVERY YEAR for the biggest contender with cap space that could afford him. In true LeBron style, he begins a completely new type of superstar -- the "Superstar Hitman." It's as if we could have the 2010 LeBron sweepstakes EVERY YEAR! Can you imagine?
--Chris S., Brisbane, Australia

SG: Don't laugh -- you might see a modified version of that. One of two things will happen with the NBA's next collective bargaining agreement: Either they'll have a harder cap with no luxury tax (like what happened with hockey), or they'll change it so that no contract can be guaranteed for more than three years. I'd wager on the latter idea because it protects the teams from themselves as well as one deal crippling them -- like Elton Brand with the Sixers right now -- and swings things a little more in their favor. (For instance, you could sign Amare Stoudemire to a six-year-max deal this summer knowing that, if things go wrong for whatever reason, you have an out after three.) But if it goes this way, and I think it will, LeBron would never have to sign more than a three-year deal anyway. So he could play for the Bulls for three years, then the Lakers from 2013 to 2016, then the Knicks from 2016 to 2019, then back to the Cavs to finish things out. The ultimate gun for hire."

Over the next few days, I'm going to create a simulation of this very scenario, where one transcendent, LeBron-esque 26-year-old free agent decides to go for a title every year by hopping onto one of the league's 5 best teams. How many rings would he win? What if he could only do it every 3 years? What if he stayed in his original location? These are all the kinds of crazy scenarios I'll be playing out, Monte Carlo-style, and if you have more bizarre, unintended consequences of a new CBA to ponder, suggest them down in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

Posted in Insane ideas, Statgeekery | 2 Comments »

Layups: Background Data on the 2010 All-Stars

8th February 2010

The Painted Area does this every season, and we appreciate it: Where are the 2010 All-Stars From?

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Layups: ORtg and Usg%, In Motion

8th February 2010

Over at Hoopdata, Tom Haberstroh has a cool Google Motion chart of players' individual offensive ratings and usage rates over the past decade. It's especially fun to follow the bouncing Iverson and Kobe on the far right side of the graph...

Posted in Layups | 2 Comments »

BBR Rankings: 2010-02-05

5th February 2010

Rising: Thunder (W-DEN, W-GSW, W-ATL, W-@NOH), Magic (W-ATL, W-@DET, W-MIL)
Falling: Raptors (W-IND, L-@IND, W-NJN), Grizzlies (L-@SAS, L-NOH, W-LAL, L-@CLE)

(Want to know how the BBR Rankings are calculated? Read this first... "MLE" = Maximum Likelihood Estimate.)

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Posted in BBR Rankings | 3 Comments »

Do Guys Really Play Better With Kobe & Phil?

3rd February 2010

I was listening to Bill Simmons' podcast the other day, and he was talking Lakers with J.A. Adande (a columnist I happen to like, btw). They were discussing the significance of Kobe Bryant being on the precipice of overtaking Jerry West as L.A.'s all-time #1 scorer (KB would go on to break the mark Monday vs. Memphis), and J.A. made an offhand remark about how players seem to play much better when they're with Kobe and Phil Jackson, pointing to a guy like Devean George as an example of a player whose best years (aka "only semi-relevant years") came while a member of the Lakers under Kobe & Phil.

Well, if you know me at all, you know I like to take offhand, casual remarks and see if they hold up under intense statistical scrutiny (which incidentally makes me a huge hit at parties)... OK, I promise I'm not really as big of a jerk as that makes me sound, but the idea is that remarks like the one J.A. made reflect conventional wisdom: perceptions that we accept as truth because they just feel true. And sometimes what we think feels true is actually incorrect, or at least unclear in its "truthiness" -- like the idea that players play their best alongside Kobe Bryant & Phil Jackson.

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Posted in Analysis | 22 Comments »

Layups: Transaction Flowcharts

2nd February 2010

This is neat (hat tip to Supersub15 at APBRmetrics)... A freelance tech/writer named Wyn Douglas has put together transaction flowcharts for every NBA team's current roster, showing how the team came together over the years via trades, signings, draft picks, etc. For example, here are the Celtics... The Cavs... The Magic... And the Lakers. Very cool stuff, if you ask me.

Posted in Layups | 3 Comments »

Layups: Channing Frye in 3-Point Contest

1st February 2010

From ESPN, Suns C Channing Frye will compete in the 3-point competition later this month... Certainly Frye deserves it, ranking 3rd in the league in threes made and 7th in 3-point percentage, but it's still interesting to note the fact that a center hasn't competed since Sleepy Sam Perkins in 1997:

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Posted in Layups | 2 Comments »

DPOY Decision ’10: The Halfway Mark

1st February 2010

A little over halfway into the 2010 season, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at the leading candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year Award this year, using the various metrics we like to look at when judging a player's impact on defense. First up, defensive rating:

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Posted in Analysis | 12 Comments »

Layups: LeBron, Fouls, and the Refs – A Rebuttal

1st February 2010

Last week, Zachariah Blott of Empty the Bench wrote a piece examining LeBron James' low rate of personal fouls per game, using some statistical techniques (a chi-square test) to come to the conclusion that LeBron was receiving preferential treatment from referees above and beyond what Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade get on defense.

Now, Roger Pimentel of How to Watch Sports issues a rebuttal that discloses some of the fine print that could have been attached to Blott's post -- namely, that the p-value of any statistic close to the league lead is going to be small, because the p-value asks "what is the probability that the result is due to random chance alone?" In other words, given James' observed rate of PF/MP, one has to conclude that the odds of James' foul-avoiding ability being league-average are almost nonexistent, but this doesn't really prove LBJ gets favorable treatment from referees any more than it proves Steve Nash and Derrick Rose (to name others atop the league in fewest PF/MP) do, it just means James' ability to avoid committing fouls is almost certainly better than the NBA average. Whether this has to do with his own physical skills, a series of conscious defensive choices on his part, the team defensive scheme, or referee bias, we can't say for certain.

Anyway, read both posts and give me your take... Is LBJ getting favorable treatment beyond the usual superstar non-calls that everyone accepts as a part of NBA ball?

Posted in Layups | 9 Comments »