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Archive for the 'Insane ideas' Category

Quantifying the NBA’s Reggie Cleveland All-Stars

21st February 2011

Everyone who has spent time studying historical player stats knows this phenomenon: You've seen a player's name for years, but you only know him as a series of numbers on a page. He retired before you were born, and you haven't even seen so much as a trading card with his picture on it... yet, instinctively wanting to humanize him, you imagine what he was like. You know his height, weight, all of the vital stats, everything except his ethnicity. So you make an educated guess based on his name. You now have an idealized picture in your mind's eye of the player in his prime, a man to go alongside the numbers.

The only problem comes when you do see him for the first time -- and he looks quite a bit different from the imaginary version you created years ago.

This is the concept behind Bill Simmons' Reggie Cleveland All-Stars, a "list of sports figures whose names would seem to indicate that they are of a different race or ethnicity than they actually are". Its namesake? Cleveland, a 1970s-era pitcher whom Simmons just assumed was black until learning otherwise when he joined the Red Sox.

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Posted in Insane ideas | 29 Comments »

Who Are the Most Similar Players to This Year’s All-Stars?

19th February 2011

Reading yesterday about Dave Duerson's tragic passing made me think about the player similarity system he inspired at PFR, and that in turn caused me to remember a similar system I concocted for basketball players.

Using the methodology I outlined, who are the most comparable players to this year's All-Stars in terms of career quality and shape (through their current age)?

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Posted in All-Star Game, History, Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Statgeekery, Totally Useless, Win Shares | 10 Comments »

Layups: The NBA’s Greatest Shots

14th February 2011

From Hoopism, makers of the dunk contest video library and various other neat NBA visualizations, comes an extremely cool Valentine's Day gift for b-ball aficionados:

NBA’s Greatest Shots – Court Location & Video

Posted in History, Holidays, Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Layups, No Math Required, YouTube Finds | 2 Comments »

Layups: Every Slam-Dunk Contest Dunk

2nd February 2011

You gotta see this... Hoopism graphed every dunk in Slam-Dunk Contest history by year and judges' score, and put together an interface that allows you to call up video of the attempts from YouTube:

Every NBA Slam Dunk Contest Video Visualization -

Amazing work... Hat tip to Henry Abbott for the link.

Posted in All-Star Game, Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Layups, No Math Required | 3 Comments »

Fantasy Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Tim Hardaway, Class of 2010

15th December 2010

Back in early May, I conducted a poll asking our readers to vote on who should be inducted into the inaugural Fantasy Basketball Hall of Fame class, and you responded very well, registering almost 1,000 votes. According to the rules of the HoF (based on the Baseball Hall of Fame process), a player had to be named on 75% of ballots to be inducted, which left us with two players (2 point guards, actually): Kevin Johnson, and Tim Hardaway. KJ was honored in July, so now it's time for the original king of the killer crossover...

Timothy Duane "Tim Bug" Hardaway
Position: Point Guard
Height: 6-0 ▪ Weight: 175 lbs.
Born: September 1, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois
High School: Carver in Chicago, Illinois
College: University of Texas at El Paso
Draft: Selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 1st round (14th pick, 14th overall) of the 1989 NBA draft.

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Posted in Fantasy Basketball, Hall of Fame, Insane ideas, Just For Fun | 12 Comments »

Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): End of Season Wrap-Up

22nd September 2010

Hey, remember the Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers? If not, go back and check out these posts (I'll wait):

Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB) Setup
Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): Regular Season, Stage 1
Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): Regular Season, Stage 2

Finished? Awesome. In short, the basic premise of BLAB came from a post about random Facebook groups devoted to 1980s-era journeymen, then one thing led to another, and next you know I'm putting together a sim league with teams comprised entirely of memorable but below-average players from the recent past. Now, after a quick 4-month hiatus, BLAB is back and ready to conclude its first (and, you gotta think, only) season.

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Posted in Insane ideas, Just For Fun, Win Shares | 4 Comments »

Layups: New Thoughts on Positional Designations

6th August 2010

Drew Cannon wrote a very interesting post for Basketball Prospectus on Monday, regarding player positions. His theory is that coaches should break positions down offensively and defensively, since the former deals with certain specific skillsets (scoring, passing, ballhandling, & rebounding) while the latter is concerned with what level of opposing height and speed a player can defend. Instead of worrying about whether a scorer is in the body of someone who can defend a SF or a PG, Cannon contends (and I'm inclined to agree) that as long as you fill all of the necessary roles on both sides of the ball, it doesn't matter who does what job and whether their defensive position matches up with the traditional offensive role of that slot. Anyway, it's a really good read, so check it out and let me know what you think about traditional positions vs. Cannon's idea.

Posted in Insane ideas, Layups, No Math Required | 22 Comments »

Layups: Does Superstition Actually Improve Performance?

23rd July 2010

Researchers in Germany seem to think so:

"Throughout [Michael Jordan's] professional career he wore two pairs of shorts -- the ones we all saw on television, but beneath the Chicago Bulls uniform he also wore the blue University of North Carolina shorts from his spectacular days at the college level.

No, the researchers aren't suggesting that Michael became 'air Jordan' because his shorts were too tight. But the fact that he believed his college shorts could bring him luck might have made his performance a tad better."

They go on to explain the results in more general terms:

"What it all boils down to, according to four experiments the scientists conducted in Germany, is sometimes superstitions actually work. Not because they bring luck (either good or bad.) It's because believing that a rabbit's foot brings good luck can increase self confidence (luck is on his or her side) and thus the true believer performs better and sets higher goals."

I'm pretty sure Jordan wouldn't have lacked for confidence (or performance) even without his "lucky" UNC shorts, but in general I don't see anything too controversial about the finding. Furthermore, couldn't it also apply to a phenomenon like the "hot hand"? That is, if superstition is beneficial because the player's belief in some quasi-magical power increases his confidence, maybe the similar belief that you were "hot" might also give your performance a boost, simply because of that extra confidence.

Maybe. However, previous studies have actually confirmed that feeling "hot" boosts confidence... in a bad way. Players who considered themselves hot forced bad shots more often and ended up hurting the team, offsetting any benefit derived from the performance boost the German study found. In other words, you certainly want your players to be confident, and if a little superstition gets them there, fine... just make sure they're not too confident.

Posted in Insane ideas, Layups | 9 Comments »

The James-Wade-Bosh Big Three, Part III: Expected W-L

8th July 2010

"Miami Thrice," they're calling it, and it would be perhaps the most impressive collection of individual superstars ever assembled on a single team. What seemed incredibly unlikely at the start of the free agent period is actually looking more than possible now, as reports claim LeBron James is "leaning towards" joining Dwyane Wade and the newly-signed Chris Bosh in South Beach to create a megateam of historic proportions.

But here's the question: if this trio gets together, what kind of damage can we expect this wrecking crew to inflict on the rest of the NBA? ESPN's John Hollinger weighed in with a PER-based analysis a week ago (he said Wade + Bosh + James + 10 replacement level ballers = 61 wins), but his system also dramatically underrated what the 2008 Celtics would do (he said 51 wins -- and I said 48, btw, so he didn't have a monopoly on being wrong), and that's the most recent example of a similar 3-star amalgamation.

In fact, the only method that correctly ballparked the C's greatness? Adjusted and/or Statistical Plus-Minus. So let's see what those systems see in the cards for a team with James, Wade, Bosh, and a bunch of nobodies.

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Posted in Analysis, Insane ideas, Offseason, Statgeekery, Statistical +/- | 35 Comments »

Layups: The Game Theory of Foul Subs

6th July 2010

I didn't see this back in April, but an econ blog called The Leisure of the Theory Class had several posts about the underlying philosophy behind benching players who are in "foul trouble":

Foul Trouble

Foul Follow-Up

ESPN's Eamonn Brennan also had a reaction here. The basic premise (one which I happen to strongly agree with) is that by benching a player on pace to foul out before the end of the game, a coach has voluntarily exacted the very same penalty -- not being able to use the player -- that he's afraid of having happen if the player fouls out. In other words, the coach is so afraid of something that might happen at the end of the game (Player X getting his 6th foul), he's willing to guarantee that the player doesn't play a certain amount of time in the middle of the game -- often more time than the player would have missed if he had not been subbed out!

Obviously, there are more complexities to the argument than that, so you should read both posts (and the comments). But the core idea remains that coaches: 1) overestimate the "risk" of leaving a star in, 2) overvalue the final minutes of the game at the expense of minutes in quarters 1-3, and consequently 3) give themselves a harsher penalty in the middle of the game than the one they're afraid of the referees giving them in the 4th quarter.

Posted in Insane ideas, Layups, Rants & Ramblings | 26 Comments »