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What’s the Probability That James/Wade’s Declines Are Due to Chance?

Posted by Neil Paine on November 30, 2010

This post is a follow-up to this morning's piece about LeBron James & Dwyane Wade's current slumps, so should probably read that one first, if you haven't yet.

In response to the hand-wringing about Wade & James' sub-standard production thus far, some have suggested it's merely a pair of slumps that just happened to coincide with the duo joining forces in South Beach. How legitimate is this theory? Well, thanks to the magic of Monte Carlo simulation, I can test exactly how likely that explanation actually is.

Specifically, I'm going to simulate 10,000 18-game samples based on the career distribution of James & Wade's Hollinger Game Scores. (Yes, there are countless other, better metrics, but hey, this is a quick-n-dirty study.)

How do you do this? First, you start out with Hollinger's Game Score formula:

GmSc = PTS + 0.4 * FG - 0.7 * FGA - 0.4*(FTA - FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK - 0.4 * PF - TOV

Calculate that for every game of James/Wade's careers. Then examine a histogram of the game-by-game distributions of Game Score, making sure the data is approximately normal (it was, for both players). Find the per-game average and standard deviation of each player's career Game Scores through the 2010 season:

Player > James Wade
Avg 22.06 19.61
Stdev 8.49 9.15

Also, find the players' probabilities of playing in any given team game through 2010:

Player > James Wade
Games Missed: 26 103
Total Tm Games: 574 574
prob(Play): 0.955 0.821

Finally, find the per-team game average of James & Wade's game scores so far in 2011:

Player > James Wade
2011 GmSc/TmG: 18.29 14.38

Now we have all the tools necessary to run the Monte Carlo simulation. For every game of an 18-game sample, I used a random number generator to determine whether James/Wade played (using the probabilities above), and if so, what their game score was (taking a random number from a normal distribution with the mean and standard deviation listed above). Average those numbers over 18 simulated games, checking if both players were at or below their actual 2011 averages. Then repeat this process ten thousand times, and count how many simulations contained 18-game averages at or below the real-life 2011 marks (this will be the probability that James/Wade's declines have been due to random fluctuations in performance).

The result? Out of 10,000 simulations, only 276 contained 18-game stretches where both James and Wade simultaneously put up average game scores as bad as they've posted so far in real life. This means there's just a 2.76% chance that Wade & James currently have the same inherent "Game Score skills" as their 2004-2010 averages suggest, but have merely gone through two simultaneous slumps.

Instead, it seems far more likely that either one or both players' inherent Game Score skills have declined from the 2004-10 period. This doesn't explain why those skills have declined (certainly, contextual effects like the new scheme and new teammates seem much more probable than any physical drop-off), but it does mean it's extremely unlikely that the 18-game sample we've seen out of Wade and James so far in 2011 represents two players with the same inherent game score ability as in 2004-10 simply having a bad stretch of games.

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56 Responses to “What’s the Probability That James/Wade’s Declines Are Due to Chance?”

  1. Gil Meriken Says:

    Will the Lakers ever beat a team that has beaten the Heat?

  2. Anon Says:

    Good post Neil, thanks.

  3. Anon x 2 Says:

    Neil - what would the results be if you only used the past 4 or 5 seasons of Wade/Lebron to determine Game Score so as to eliminate rookie and 2nd year campaigns.

    In other words, given each players Prime, and that they're supposedly still in it, what is the new likelihood of this drop-off?

    I just imagine their 1st two years are much more unlike the previous 5 and the previous 5 would be expected to be more like the current one and thus making this "slump" even less likely.

  4. Jonathan Says:

    2.76% is actually higher than I expected. I agree with the above poster that their first and second seasons shouldn't be used for this.

  5. Jerry Says:

    great stuff

  6. Neil Paine Says:

    OK, so I re-ran everything, looking just at their established numbers from 2008-09 and 2009-10, when James and Wade were generally considered 2 of the 3 best players in the NBA. Here were the numbers:

    James
    ----------
    95.7% probability of playing any given team game
    24.91 avg game score
    7.493 standard deviation

    Wade
    ----------
    95.1% probability of playing any given team game
    22.42 avg game score
    8.784 standard deviation

    Plugging those numbers into the 18-game sim and running it 10,000 more times, James posted an 18.29 average 51 times (0.51%), Wade posted a 14.38 average 18 times (0.18%), and they both played at those levels in the same sample zero times. From the individual probabilities, we can estimate a 0.000918% probability that both players would simultaneously play at the observed 2011 levels if they had their 2009-10 game score skills but were going through a random 18-game rough patch.

  7. lorrance Says:

    I think it's ridiculous to try to come up with a formula about slumping players. Just using your eyes you can see both guys aren't playing well because they aren't playing well. Some of it is chemistry, but some of it is nerves and other issues that are effecting their on court performance. These guys didn't just lose their skills overnight. They are slumping at the same time. And if you take it game by game there's been times when 1 was playing well for a stretch both were playing well and both playing bad. How you determine 18 games is enough to know whether or not they have lost some skill is beyond me. Once they get on track this article gonna have to go in the trash bin.

  8. EvanZ Says:

    Lorrance, you clearly did not understand what Neil is trying to do here. And why in the world are you wasting your time leaving a comment on a stats site, if you think,

    Just using your eyes...

    is enough?

  9. Sean Says:

    I'm willing to concede that Wade and James are scuffling a bit because they haven't found a groove when playing together----but that is due at least in part to the style they both play... and unless someone alters their style of play----I don't think THAT part of it is going to get better.

    I also am willing to allow for possible physical issues on the part of Wade that may be affecting his mechanics----and I believe in due time this will clear itself up.

    I do NOT believe, however, that a player who (I believe) is fooling himself with regards to what his skill set is (LeBron the 3 point gunner, LeBron the point guard, etc.)can be said to be 'slumping' or 'cold'. I give the reason 'he just isn't good at THAT style' more weight. MUCH more weight.

    If an elephant can't fly (Dumbo aside), it isn't because he's SLUMPING. It's because he can't fly.

    Says here if LeBron put more value into what the team needs done and less into 'what entertains him' and put his 'big people pants on' and slid down to the low block and played a baseline game and generated his half court offense from THAT position (sweeping across the lane to the rim, spinning and going baseline, turning and hitting CLOSER jumpers, hitting a slicing Wade in the lane with Bosh crashing from the weak side)----------then the Miami HEAP might turn that "P" into a "T".

  10. king t Says:

    This exercise was a pretty useless waste of your time. Game score is flawed enough by itself, let alone that their previous seasons' game scores aren't at all predictive of how they would/should be playing together. You would have done much better to use your time and resources looking at facets of the game that are more prone to variance, such as jump shooting and free throws. The rest of components of game score are way too teammate dependent for your results to mean anything at all.

  11. Neil Paine Says:

    That's the whole point, King... These numbers are teammate dependent, and aren't predictive of how they would/should be playing together.

    In other words, their "game score skills" have changed. Remember, this is not the same thing as "basketball skills" -- game score skills are a combination of actual basketball skills, teammate effects, scheme, and even John Hollinger's opinions about the game. The point is that game score is standing in for any simple metric of production (TENDEX would have done as well), and LeBron and Wade's ability to produce those raw box score numbers is not the same as it was in recent years. There's almost a 0% chance that the decline in box score production is simply due to randomness in a small sample. Instead, it should be attributed to the change in scheme, the change in teammates, etc.

    Sounds obvious, but it was suggested that their stats have declined simply because of two simultaneous slumps, and that they could be expected to return to their previous raw production eventually. I wanted to show how unlikely that is.

  12. Mo Says:

    Will the Lakers ever beat a team that has beaten the Heat?

    They did it on Nov. 2. The Lakers beat the Grizzlies by 19 and the Grizzlies beat the Heat by 2 on Nov. 20.

  13. Anon Says:

    Sean, it is more likely that this combo is playing the way they are because they're still figuring out how to okay together.

    They still had barely 20 games to do so though. In other words, if their true production level as a TANDEM is unknown (since this article deals with the two going through concurrent "slumps" using their individual production over the past 7 seasons), you don't even have a quarter season's worth of games to use as your sample - and you're going to talk as if they're aren't going to "get it"? It's almost as if you're rooting for this not to work. Let them play this out, will you?

    LeBron didn't join this team just to "entertain" himself. He took alot of heat for leaving Cleveland so he could join a team that would help him win a title. I'm pretty sure he'll work to make this happen.

  14. EvanZ Says:

    Folks, Neil's analysis is the starting point for a discussion, not an endpoint (or an end, in itself). The point - the only point as far as I can tell - that Neil is trying to make is that their slow start (by any definition) is not due to some random chance that both players happen to be slumping at the same time, but are otherwise "playing like themselves". He stated this very clearly, so I'm not sure why their is so much consternation and harumph-ness in these replies. Take Neil's post for what it is, do your best to understand the motivation and result, and if you have a hypothesis that you think can explain Neil's finding, present it. I guarantee it will not be mutually exclusive with Neil's results or his logic.

  15. Gil Meriken Says:

    12. I just realized that this morning. Thanks.

    The funny/annoying thing about statistical analysis is how specific you have to be about what you are saying, so that people don't get carried away with what you are saying. I don't envy Neil's position, because people shoot back with all sorts of nonsense, when all he's doing is applying pure statistical analysis to a set of numbers.

    In other words "if the random variations fell around the mean in the form of the standard normal distribution, the probability that both observed values would be that far from the mean is x%". Is that right?

    The basketball conclusions are all up to us to debate (you know my stance, I'm skeptical of what the numbers mean in the first place, in a basketball sense).

  16. huevonkiller Says:

    Ok Sean, and if LeBron switched places with Kobe he wouldn't have choked in 2008 against the Celtics, and he'd probably have three titles.

    If you want to be a little smart alley about it, have Neil run a Monte Carlo simulation on that. You'll see this is pretty obvious and you need to shut it about "closer" jumpers, whatever that cute little term is supposed to mean.

    I'm more surprised you're ignoring a player that was clearly better than Kobe last season, is struggling even more than Wade and has gone through injuries.

    The reason the Heat are struggling is because of this very specific situation, with two high usage rate players. That doesn't make Kobe clutch in the 2009 or 2010 Finals, he still choked at 29% shooting in the fourth quarter. Give LeBron a player with an actually different skill set, like a Gasol, and he would dominate this league.

    Wade is simply hurt, and struggling even accounting for the skillset problems.

  17. huevonkiller Says:

    "I'm more surprised you're ignoring a player that was clearly better than Kobe last season, is struggling even more than Wade and has gone through injuries."

    "more than LeBron", it should say.

    Yeah and thanks for pointing that out Anon.

  18. Neil Paine Says:

    Re: #15 - You got it, Gil. That's why I was very careful to say "Game Score Skills", because that's not the same thing as talent, or basketball skills. It's just the ability to put up eye-popping raw boxscore stats. There's essentially a 0% chance that 2 players with the "game score skills" James/Wade showed from 2009-10 would have 18 games like they've had so far in 2011, which implies their ability to put up gaudy stats has decreased this year (because of their new situation, I think we can all agree).

  19. AYC Says:

    Not surprised at all by the results Neil has found. I think 18 games is a large enough sample (22% of the season) to draw some conclusions. If they start to play better together, it will be because they have learned to co-exist, not because their early struggles were insignificant, or merely due to random chance.

    Lebron has developed some bad habits over the years; he is too quick to settle for pull-up jumpers and he doesn't work effectively off the ball. Most importantly, he needs to develop an inside game; LBJ is built like Karl Malone, but his size is only an advantage in transition, because he never plays inside. Playoff caliber teams force you to play in the half-court, which is why LBJ's teams have underperformed in postseason play.

    It's as if he has internalized the schoolyard insult that all tall players hear: "you're only good cuz you're tall!" Inevitably those tall kids want to jack up 3's and show off their handle. But LBJ is a pro, not a kid; instead of worrying about style points, he needs to make the most of his physical gifts, including his size. Maybe somebody will point out to him that MJ and Magic were both good post players....

  20. Anon x 2 Says:

    If i didn't know any better, I'd say Huevon was Maverick Carter.

    Neil - thanks for the new numbers. Basically, it's not working so the questions left are "can we make it work?" and "If yes, then how?" The status quo isn't the answer.

    fwiw, Anon, 20 games in is a large enough data dump to give us high correlation to what a player's production will be by the end of the year. Still uncertainty, but not a lot.

  21. Mo Says:

    Give LeBron a player with an actually different skill set, like a Gasol, and he would dominate this league.

    I thought he did. IIRC, that player plays the same position and has more All Star game appearances than Gasol. It's not like Lebron is the only new addition to the Heat.

  22. Mo Says:

    Huevonkiller

    I believe "closer" jumpers is the opposite of further jumpers. The Heat have been taking a lot more long jumpers than those same players have historically taken. Taking a lot of long twos isn't going to help your team a lot.

  23. Anon Says:

    "fwiw, Anon, 20 games in is a large enough data dump to give us high correlation to what a player's production will be by the end of the year. Still uncertainty, but not a lot."

    I cannot possibly agree with this statement.

  24. AHL Says:

    Can you run a Monte Carlo on how much of a PR nightmare an athlete generated in such a short period of time could be attributed to random chance? =)

  25. Gil Meriken Says:

    16. Huevonkiller - how many more excuses can you afford Lebron?

    "Give LeBron a player with an actually different skill set, like a Gasol, and he would
    dominate this league."

    Now you want Gasol? Wade and Bosh aren't enough? And you're already stooping to this? The season is long, things can still change.

    And since when did Gasol become this coveted property? After the he joined Kobe and the Lakers. Not before. Maybe in some small circles before, but back when he was on the trading block in Memphis, I didn't hear many fans clamoring for their teams to trade any of their beloved players for him (I'm sure there were some exceptions, but in general, I don't recall heated discussions of giving up key components for Gasol).

  26. Gil Meriken Says:

    25. Responding to self - Yes, the Lakers traded their beloved Kwame Brown and Marc Gasol for Gasol the Elder, I realize that. The results still stand that the Lakers won with Pau, Kobe etc, and at this point, the Heat seem to have issues with Lebron, Wade, Bosh, and crew.

  27. Anon Says:

    The Lakers drop another game to the Rockets? This season has been just ridiculous so far - two preseason Finals favorites are going through some ups and downs early on. So Anon x 2, since the Lakers have played 20 games, is it indicative of how they'll play for the season?

    I'm kidding. I think they will shake this off and be among the team's elite as the terrific Kobe-Pau tandem has shown in the past, just like Wade and James should (I think!) figure things out. And no, admittedly I don't have any evidence of them being a great duo like there is for Kobe and Pau, but I still have seven years of brilliance from two of the best players in the league.

    That should count for something.

  28. Anon x 2 Says:

    I mentioned a "player's production," not team production.

    Obviously the Lakers are missing Andrew Bynum now that Theo Ratliff is out and Pau has had to play 40+ mpg and has tired out. When Pau plays roughly 36 minutes in a game, his production has been stellar.

    When the Lakers replace Caracter's minutes and tired Pau's minutes with Drew, the team will revert back to its winning ways. The same thing happened the last 2 seasons.

    But yeah, player productions are generally where we can predict em to be at the end of the season now. Teams can still change via injuries, trades, and players getting healthy.

    Miami's issues are somewhat injuries (Haslem and Miller) but also synergy. I mean, if Wade and Lebron were playing like their normal selves and Miami was still winning, then we can say missing Haslem and Miller is the issue, but right now they're not playing their normal selves (especially against winning teams) so some of the problem has to be their inability to play their best while on the floor together.

    I've never doubted that Lebron and Wade can play with each other. I am just saying the way they're playing now will have to change to meet that goal. Lebron obviously has all the physical tools to adjust, problem is he doesn't want to at this time.

  29. Anon Says:

    "Lebron obviously has all the physical tools to adjust, problem is he doesn't want to at this time."

    I know, everything that happens nowadays is his fault.

    BOTH Wade and Bron need to adjust their games. It's a bunch of standing around and iso plays from both of them. Yes, I hear the pundits out there that feel Bron should be posting up more. That's NOT the problem though from his standpoint - his best talent is arguably breaking defenses down off the dribble and creating in the paint. He should keep the ball in his hands in that manner and NOT JACK UP THE LONG JUMPER (which is the real issue).

    Wade shouldn't be a spectator when Bron has the ball. Don't stand at the three point line where you're not a great shooter from long-range; cut towards the basket or your sweet spots from midrange.

  30. EvanZ Says:

    It's funny to me that even with their apparent "struggles", Miami is 4th in the league in defense and 8th in offense, and their point differential suggests the team will still be dominant over the course of a season, even if they keep on "struggling". God help the rest of the league, if these guys put it all together.

  31. Hugh Says:

    Great post Neil. Very interesting way to determine whether this hiccup in Wade's and James' performances have been due to chance.

  32. Anon Says:

    Re: #30

    Pretty amazing that an underachieving Heat team is still better than most teams, isn't it?

    Forgot to mention that LeBron's other issue other than sometimes falling in love with the long jumper are his turnovers. He shot the ball well last night, but also had a 20.1 tov rate. Turnovers cause you offensive efficiency to take a hit...he needs to take better care of the ball to get back to vintage Bron.

  33. Gil Meriken Says:

    32. The Heat are a very good team. Unfortunately for them, expectations were set very high, very early. All of this buzzing and vitriol is a preamble and pretty much time-killing up until the post-season, where they'll ultimately be judged.

    If they don't bring a title this season, the season will be considered a failure (much the same for the Lakers, Celtics and maybe a few other teams).

    So the issue is not how good they are, but how good they are/will be relative to expectations.

  34. Bob Says:

    Lebron's turnovers are a bit worrying. Over the course of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, Lebron posted a Turnover rate of just 9.03% (An absolute absurd percentage considering he was taking 20 shots, 9.8 FTs and dishing out 7.8 assists over this time). The fact that he is currently at 13.2% is a bit unnerving. If he can get those under control then his offensive efficiency should see a huge spike. His shot selection needs to improve, yes, but he has also been flat out shooting badly relative to the past three years.

  35. Anon Says:

    I dont even think that it's even the Heat as much as it's the expectations that were set for LeBron James. We all know that he's pretty much the ONLY reason people dislike this team with such a passion (whether it's justified or not). If he sneezes people are going to criticize him. Would the backlash of a slow start even be this high if any other superstar was on the Heat with Wade and Bosh instead of LeBron?

    It's also why fans and the media also decided that the Heat losing games in November is the equivalent of World War III. I was never one to buy into ANY early season hype or disappointment though, even late into the season. Anyone who does, clearly hasn't watched teams like the Celtics or Lakers in past seasons that have sputtered at times during the season but end up as Finals contenders.

    I think the Heat will be right there to compete for the titlle. I'm also not going to pencil them with 70 wins and titles right off the bat. They still have to work together and improve as a team, which I think squads like the Lakers and Celtics are better at, at least right now.

  36. Sean Says:

    At #35

    Take a look at the Celtics last year. I had NO confidence that I knew what their destiny was at pretty much any point last year. Anytime I THOUGHT I knew who they were----I was re-assessing things a week later, even into the playoffs.

    So, yes, circumstances change during a season that affect how things are going to wind up.

  37. Sean Says:

    At #16

    1. You seem fixated on Kobe. I never mentioned him yet in your response to my post, you're all OVER Kobe in your retort. (Who are you responding to?)

    2. 'Closer'... not exactly at the top of the 'toughest vocabulary words ever' list.

    3. You want me to 'shut it' about something? Does that really ever work for you?

  38. Anon x 2 Says:

    Anon - they brought it upon themselves. Lebron said winning titles would be easy, remember? They had that stupid pre-title parade. I mean, what did they expect if they didn't start challenging 70 wins and beating good teams right off the bat?

    If you're going to go out on a limb and say stuff like "my greatness" and how everything will be easy, then people are going to want you to fail. He shows no humility at all and it's not endearing.

  39. Sean Says:

    To #38

    The 3 Kings---or is it Two and a Half Men?----definitely put the bullseyes on their own backs... is there really any disputing this? There's also a culture that likes see the big fall hard and there are so many sharks in the water in the media that sometimes they have to create chum where there is none.... I don't know why they (LeBron, Wade & Bosh) would ASK FOR IT so loudly with their pyro-technic stage show for putting on their uniforms---------but they did. It's like the Perfect Storm for drama.

  40. huevonkiller Says:

    #21

    No stop, you know what I meant. In a normal LA circumstance, not with having to share the ball with Wade who you have little chemistry with.

    No LeBron has to change his game significantly for Wade, Neil has shown two high free throw rate drawing perimeter players, can have trouble meshing.

    He is doing better now though, compared to when I first wrote that. The Heat are still first in SRS, they've lost close games because I've seen Wade get hurt in Charlotte, and his performance against Boston. Both issues will probably improve.

    #22

    I thought he meant intangible jumpers, closer as in clutch.

  41. huevonkiller Says:

    Oh and Gil, you can whine about LeBron all you want, he's still better than Kobe this season LOL. And Wade is also better than Kobe, Kobe doesn't have to share the ball with a Wade.

    The Heat are still rated higher than the Lakers, and LeBron was still the best playoff player the last three seasons. Kobe still choked in the playoffs against good teams, and he's overrated.

    I'm not Maverick Carter, in fact I used to be a big Kobe fan until his Laker fans got stupid.

  42. huevonkiller Says:

    Also AYC, Look's like LeBron's supporting cast is about to win 31-34 games. That's the biggest reason they failed.

    Not to mention how Mo Williams plays, and defends, in the postseason.

  43. Anon Says:

    "Anon - they brought it upon themselves. Lebron said winning titles would be easy, remember?"

    Personally, I don't really care much about the "theatrics/antics" (or lack thereof) of athletes. Kobe Bryant is perhaps one of the phoniest and most "awkward" athletes I've ever seen. But when it comes to watching him on the court it's must see TV. Can't deny the dude's ability to play ball. I could also name alot of other athletes that are the same way - you wouldn't want them to be your neighbor per se, but you can respect their game on the field of play.

    That's why I like this blog. It puts aside the PERSONAL feelings one may have an individual and just focuses on their play. Is LeBron an egomaniac? Did he play a part in causing the vehement backlash that he saw at the Q the other night? Of course. But he's the best player in the league (or at least has been for several seasons) and he's on a team with other players that is still figuring out how to play with each other. It's also a season where anything can happen, so I wasn't there putting the Heat down for automatic titles when they came together in the off-season. The Lakers are still the team to beat and the Cetlics hold the east crown. LeBron and company have a long ways to go.

    I can understand a fan's dislike for LBJ and even rooting against him. But from my standpoint it's enterainment. I don't have a vested interest in wanting to see the Heat fail because LeBron has become the newest pariah in sports culture. There are certainly athletes out here that are better role models for humility, but then again if we're talking about how one should act I wouldn't be here on this blog discussing them.

  44. Anon x 2 Says:

    Anon - I understand all that, but you said:

    "If he sneezes people are going to criticize him. Would the backlash of a slow start even be this high if any other superstar was on the Heat with Wade and Bosh instead of LeBron?"

    Your presumption is that because it's Lebron is why they are hated, but the reality is they're hated because of how everything went down between all of them, from Lebron's doucheness to Wade's "spying," and Bosh's lap-dogging around followed by a pre-victory parade.

    If they did this whole thing properly, I think they would have been loved much like the 90s Bulls (sure, hardcore fans of the Knicks, Pacers etc hated them but because they were their direct rival at the time, but around the country was adoration).

    I'm just saying, you really can't complain about this when it's their fault. And if you don't care about the theatrics, then why comment on them?

  45. AHL Says:

    Technically, he could get criticized for sneezing, as there's a nasty bug spreading around the NBA, supposedly spread through Orlando's players, and the only reason it's now this bad is because players didn't stay out to rest.

  46. lorrance Says:

    @EvanZ- Everything can't be measured by statistics and hypothetical formulas. LeBron and Wade Have been playing great together as of late. You see that Cleveland game? Obviously they were just slumping, just using the eye test. By being someone who's actually watched both these guys play alot, i can see with my own 2 eyes that they aren't playing well. The myth is that they cancel each other out. They only cancel each other out when they both aren't playing agressive. They have to call the play for either or and whosever number is called go agressively and quick. then run some plays for each other with one with the ball up top while the other back door cuts. They WERE just slumping. I repeat, this article is about to go in the trash bin real soon.

  47. huevonkiller Says:

    #46, what are you talking about man?

    This article proved that they clearly weren't in a slump. It didn't say that they would continue to play like this the rest of the season, or that chemistry wasn't the issue.

    BTW, chemistry problems aren't the same as slumping. You've addressed absolutely nothing and have written nothing insightful. Basketball-reference predicts the post-season a lot better than you do, with your eye test.

  48. lorrance Says:

    #47- Why so sensitive? I Love this site but this one's a no brainer. The formula proved nothing cuz they both WERE SLUMPING. Look at them now. Usually when you say someone's slumping you are saying they are playing worse than they usually play for reasons of their own doing rather than the comp. So in this case the eye test does work. They were playing alot worse than usual. I stand by my original comment and the present and the rest of the season will show it to be right on the money. Man calm down , i disagree with one formula that decides that 18 games is enough to tell this or that and that means I don't have any insight? Watching a game and actually seeing the way they have been playing is useful, that's how coaches make adjustments and POINT out what they are doing wrong. So the eye test does work me amigo, It's an indispenable part of the game.

  49. EvanZ Says:

    @Lorrance,

    There is a difference between a slump that is statistically probable and one that is not. The statistically probable slump indicates that the player's skills (and or "external" factors) have not changed. In other words, the "slump" is simply caused by normal probabilities/statistical variation. The statistically improbable slump indicates that the player is at a level that is so far below what is statistically probable, that it is likely due to something other than statistical variation. Let me give you a simple example, and you tell me if you can see the difference:

    Scenario A (statistically probable): A 90% free throw shooter (let's say John Stockton) at some point during the season misses 6 free throws. Sure, that is unlikely. I don't remember seeing Stockton actually doing this. But if you take enough free throws, at some point even a 90% FT shooter will likely miss 6 consecutive free throws. Would you call that a slump?

    Scenario B (statistically improbable): A 90% free throw shooter (let's say John Stockton) at some point during the season has a string where he hits only 30 of 60 free throws. The statistics would tell you that a 90% free throw shooter is almost certainly not going to have a slump of this duration. Therefore, it is likely that there is something else going on. Maybe he hurt his elbow. Maybe his dog died. Whatever.

    The point is that Scenario A is a slump. Scenario B is a SLUMP. The former doesn't really mean anything. The latter is worth worrying about. In fact, to really understand the mechanism for the latter, guess what? You would use your eyes! See, you still win! Yay, Lorrance!

  50. huevonkiller Says:

    Well no EvanZ, in this case Neil explained the slump with a in-depth analysis in September.

    Two high free throw rate drawing players can have great trouble meshing together. You're right in the definitions of slump and SLUMP, but you fail to make your case how the eye test is necessary in this situation.

  51. huevonkiller Says:

    #47

    I'm calmly explaining to you, that you didn't say anything insightful in this thread. At every step neil disproved your criticisms, now and in the past.

    Neil has posts that account for external factors, like two conflicting playing styles that might take time to mesh.

  52. huevonkiller Says:

    #48 I meant.

    :]

  53. EvanZ Says:

    @50

    Point taken, but the take-home message was not intended to be "this is when you use the eye test", rather simply explaining the difference between slump and SLUMP. I suppose one could argue the eye test is never necessary (maybe sufficient in certain cases?). We can have that discussion another day.

  54. lorrance Says:

    @ 51 don't see where i really criticized(to strong a word for just disagreeing) Neil and where those criticisms were proven wrong, really don't get the issue. My Point is simple, they both were slumping and you could tell this both statistically and by using your eyes. Think you are confusing me with someone else. This is the first time i've ever remember disagreeing with Neil on something so I don't get the tone of you're comments. I know this is a stat site but trying to figure out the PROBABILITY of something we see ACTUALLY happening doesn't seem to be helpful to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

    @EvanZ- Wasn't looking for any cheers or any of the sort. Point is actual observation of actual game play is useful without made up probability models. Plain statistical comparison is enough to see they are slumping at the same time and by watching footage of HOW they play now and in the Past is enough to figure out Why. And Yay to you to EvanZ!LOL

  55. EvanZ Says:

    Ok, Lorrance. Nice to see you still don't get it.

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