HoopsHype Statistics rumors

April 14, 2014 Updates

Marc Stein: Nightly average margin of victory of +3.1 is supposed to net a 50-win season in the NBA. Poor 'Sota was at +3.0 entering tonight's play Previous high for a non-playoff team in the 16-team format (since 1983-84) was Houston at +2.29 in 2000-01. Poor 'Sota crushed that figure Twitter @ESPNSteinLine

April 9, 2014 Updates
April 8, 2014 Updates

Kevin Durant didn’t just downplay his 25-point scoring streak after moving past Michael Jordan for sole possession of third place on the all-time list. He flat out dismissed it. “I don’t really care about it,” Durant said after his 38 points and 11 rebounds Sunday at Phoenix. “I wish it was over.” Oklahoman

April 1, 2014 Updates
March 31, 2014 Updates

Only two other teams in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, have gone unbeaten in March. Pat Riley’s New York Knicks went 14-0 in March 1994 en route to the NBA Finals. And Larry Costello’s Milwaukee Bucks went 13-0 in March 1973, only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to Golden State as a Western Conference team. Hill’s Spurs were ousted in the second round of the 1996 postseason by Utah. ESPN.com

March 30, 2014 Updates

But four years ago, the Celtics were the first team to have them installed for testing and development after Mike Zarren, the team’s assistant general manager and legal counsel, helped arrange a partnership with Stats that essentially made them guinea pigs. SportVU had its share of kinks, but it still represented the boldest step yet in the analytics movement that had swept through basketball in recent years. “Zarren, he came to me and he said, ‘These are all the things we can do,’ ” said Rivers, who now coaches the Los Angeles Clippers. “I said, ‘But I don’t know what any of that means. You’re telling me that Rondo moves 10 miles per hour? I don’t know what the [expletive] that does.’ ” Boston Globe

Rondo has savant-like math skills and a well-documented interest in advanced statistics. But he has his doubts about SportVU. “I don’t think it means anything,” Rondo said. “It doesn’t determine how hard you play. It can’t measure your heart. It can maybe measure your endurance. But when the game is on the line, all that goes out the window.” Rivers, on the other hand, considers himself a proponent. “There’s a really good use for it,” Rivers said. “There’s a use for us, each team, depending on how they play and how they defend. You can find out stuff.” Boston Globe

Ten years ago, there were maybe two NBA teams that acknowledged having a staff member whose role included data-driven analysis, one official said. “And now,” the official added, “every single NBA team has somebody that has the word ‘analytics’ in their title or job description.” The Celtics have at least four such staffers, though they also outsource some of their data analysis. At least part of the increased investment in analytics across all sports, and especially in basketball, is owed to “Moneyball,” the bestselling story about the Oakland A’s using data analysis to help build a competitive team. Could a “Moneyball” parallel exist in the NBA? One official doubted it. “We’ll never have that in our league,” the official said. Boston Globe

NBA players are often discussed in terms of their PER — player efficiency rating — which calculates per-minute productivity. Still, one official said, some contextual factors aren’t calculated. “When people are arguing about player value, like ‘This guy’s PER is this and that guy’s PER is this,’ OK, well, they have different roles on different teams and different teammates,” the official said. “Those numbers are not just the player. It’s the player, the coach, the team, the teammates.” However, data can often be portrayed as complete. “It hinders the progress of analytics because the analytics folks become somewhat triumphal or evangelical — ‘Oh, I found some truth here,’ ” an official said. “No, maybe in a snapshot, looking at last year, that was something resembling truth, but that’s not actionable or useful looking forward because there’s so many variables.” Boston Globe

Rondo appreciates Ainge’s cautious approach to analytics. “I think that’s why Danny is one of the best GMs around,” Rondo said. “He’s a player that played the game. It’s not just about business aspect — well, then again, it is — but you still have to have a feel for the game, have a feel for players, know personnel. “You just can’t look at a number and say, ‘OK, this guy is shooting 50 percent from the field, 90 percent from the free throw line, put him on this team and have a great season.’ It doesn’t work like that. “You’ve got to know personalities. I think you’ve got to know the locker room. I think that’s why [Heat president] Pat Riley has done a great job. I don’t know who the GM is for the Spurs, but [him, too].” Boston Globe

March 10, 2014 Updates
March 9, 2014 Updates
March 5, 2014 Updates
March 4, 2014 Updates
February 26, 2014 Updates

The graphic below looks at foul-calling against white and black players based on the racial make-up of the three-man officiating referee crews. The first chart, of the time period immediately prior to the publication of the 2007 study, shows that the more white referees are involved in a game, the fewer fouls are called against white players, with a much smaller decline for black players. Study author Justin Wolfers calls this difference “small, subtle and significant.” The second chart looks at the period after the study came out and shows two things: the first is that there’s no longer a meaningful difference in foul calls based on referee make-up. Second, the overall number of foul calls decreased slightly. Washington Post

“Racial bias is a malleable trait,” says study co-author Joseph Price. “Large-scale public focus on a specific type of racial bias in a specific group can make it go away.” Price says the same could hold true for any situation in which implicit racial bias plays a role – from police officers deciding who to pull over to teachers deciding how to grade an essay. “Large-scale public focus” here is key. This suggests that good social science research, and good media discussion of that research, has the ability to move the needle on thorny, intractable problems like implicit bias. Washington Post

February 14, 2014 Updates

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