Comments on: Which Rate Stats Correlate More With a Player’s Role Than His Skill? NBA & ABA Basketball Statistics & History Mon, 21 Nov 2011 20:56:04 +0000 hourly 1 By: Hoops Maestro Thu, 21 Jul 2011 22:57:34 +0000 One factor that often goes overlooked when considering individual stats is the skills of the player's teammates. Some players put up good per-minute offensive stats thanks to having a superstar teammate drawing defensive attention, or a teammate who is a defensive stopper that allows them to channel their energy into the offensive end.

Other guys get lower rebound numbers than their true skill level might predict, because the play with teammates who are adept at tracking down the ball. I'm thinking particularly of Rick Adelman's Portland teams, when Buck Williams, Jerome Kersey, and Clyde Drexler were all excellent rebounders at their respective positions.

By: Kevin Parsley Sat, 16 Jul 2011 12:24:03 +0000 Theres not much to be gleaned statistically from lebron leaving.

1. New coach different scheme on both sides of the court.
2. projected starters only played 6 games together
When lebron left Cleveland so did his role. you would be more apt to compare the 2011 miami team to the 2010 Cleveland team since he pretty much filled the same role.

bottom line is there are too many variables and overall changes to use lebron example to refute Neil's conclusions

By: test Thu, 14 Jul 2011 15:24:04 +0000 I think you need to look specifically at the outliers to get a good read on this. Most NBA players in similar roles are extremely similar. Most guards get a few rebounds a game, and it doesn't matter who they replace. But look for something interesting - Lebron left Cleveland, did the small forwards there have more assists that you would have thought because that team was set up for assists from that position? A historical look at Dennis Rodman would be great - before and after he was with a team, what did his position's rebounding look like? Did he find great fits and exploit them more than anyone else, or did he make his own role by being so good at rebounding?

By: Guy Tue, 12 Jul 2011 20:17:42 +0000 Neil, would your sample size allow you to run this separately for "big" vs. "small" players? For assists, for example, I think you mainly want to know the impact of a role change for players who leave or become point guards. Including the big men here will ensure a very high correlation in both columns (as we expect their ast% to remain low no matter what). Similarly, you might get more informative results on rebounds when looking only at forwards and centers.

By: Neil Paine Mon, 11 Jul 2011 22:07:18 +0000 No, I think you're right, a player's position is definitely a function of which basketball skills he possesses.

I think this study just shows that the baseline skill level within a position varies depending on the statistical category. It suggests that we should be wary of overvaluing the ability to put up big assist or rebound percentages, because the typical player at that position would be able to approximate those percentages if put in the same situation.

However, something like usage, turnover avoidance, or the two boxscore defensive metrics (steals & blocks) are harder to replace -- it's not a given that the typical player at a position would be able to duplicate those rates if put in the same situation.

By: brgulker Mon, 11 Jul 2011 20:36:28 +0000 Or put another way, if I'm reading you correctly, you're arguing that certain types of production are a function of role, not of player skill.

I'm posing the critical question: isn't role a function of player skill?

By: brgulker Mon, 11 Jul 2011 20:34:42 +0000

This seems to confirm Phil Birnbaum's research that much of rebound rate (particularly defensive rebound%) is more a product of team roles and positional designations than actual skill.

Neil, I don't have your data, so I say this somewhat tentatively, but I don't find the conclusion you are reaching from the data to be the only or necessary one, and for that reason, I'm not sure I am convinced yet.

Take rebounding or assists, for example. Couldn't this data indicate that coaches/GMs are relatively good at assigning (or in this case replacing) roles based on player skill? If a team loses Deron Williams, for example, they don't replace him with Paul Milsap. Instead, Willams is replaced by Devin Harris, and although Devin is not identical to Deron, their skills -- and thus the role assigned to them -- are similar.

As a Pistons fan, I can think of another example - Stuckey and Bynum. If Stuckey doesn't return to Detroit, he could be replaced in the starting lineup by Bynum. Given their historical production, you'd see a very high correlation for USG rate, AST%, BLK%, etc. To say that this has more to do with their role than skills, however, seems very strange to anyone who has watched the players play, specifically because their skill sets are very similar. And as a direct results of those skill sets, they play (mostly) the same position.

Obviously, I'm sort of cherry picking a pretty easy example here (and I can think of plenty more off the top of my head), but I'm curious how often this would be true of the player seasons you've identified.

By: Rod Mon, 11 Jul 2011 19:11:03 +0000 Really like this topic. It brought to my mind Jimmer Fredette. One could argue that his role with BYU this year (to shoot any shot he wanted) contributed to the success he had. No doubt he's an awesome player but he had free reign at BYU. It makes you wonder if how many other players from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, etc. could have averaged 28 pts a game if their coach let them shoot it whenever they wanted to from wherever on the court they wanted to.

By: marparker Mon, 11 Jul 2011 00:46:17 +0000 I don't have anything to add. Good line of thinking.