Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Knicks Morning News (2014.08.18)

  • [New York Times] Griner Helps Mercury Set WNBA Record With 29th Win (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 04:45:18 GMT)
    Brittney Griner isn’t surprised by the Phoenix Mercury’s success this season. Not even her team’s record-setting 29 wins.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Liberty Win but Don’t Make the Playoffs (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 03:52:01 GMT)
    Tina Charles and the Liberty ended a disappointing season with a victory, just barely missing the W.N.B.A. playoffs for the second straight season.

  • [New York Times] LeBron James’s Representative Completes His Own Journey (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 03:11:46 GMT)
    At the heart of LeBron James’s homecoming is a promise made 12 years ago between a teenage basketball phenomenon and a self-made businessman selling throwback jerseys out of his car.

  • [New York Times] A Leaner Scoring Machine Who’s Not at All Mean (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 01:15:58 GMT)
    Maya Moore, nicknamed the Monster, has propelled the Minnesota Lynx, the W.N.B.A.’s defending champions, to the playoffs, setting scoring records on the way.

  • [New York Times] Griner Helps Mercury Set WNBA Record With 29th Win (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 04:45:18 GMT)
    Brittney Griner isn’t surprised by the Phoenix Mercury’s success this season. Not even her team’s record-setting 29 wins.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Liberty Win but Don’t Make the Playoffs (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 03:52:01 GMT)
    Tina Charles and the Liberty ended a disappointing season with a victory, just barely missing the W.N.B.A. playoffs for the second straight season.

  • [New York Times] LeBron James’s Representative Completes His Own Journey (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 03:11:46 GMT)
    At the heart of LeBron James’s homecoming is a promise made 12 years ago between a teenage basketball phenomenon and a self-made businessman selling throwback jerseys out of his car.

  • [New York Times] A Leaner Scoring Machine Who’s Not at All Mean (Mon, 18 Aug 2014 01:15:58 GMT)
    Maya Moore, nicknamed the Monster, has propelled the Minnesota Lynx, the W.N.B.A.’s defending champions, to the playoffs, setting scoring records on the way.

  • 76 comments on “Knicks Morning News (2014.08.18)

    1. Hubert

      A good thing is that if [Aldrich] becomes a serviceable reserve (which I think he can definitely do) then the Knicks would have his Early Bird Rights next season.

      I feel like we missed the boat not adding a second year or a team option to the deal. A journeyman like Cole would probably leap at a two year deal right now. If we use him this year, and he plays like we expect him to, well now that’s a guy getting the mid-level next year and you have him and Shump as two guys who, if you retain, will deplete our resources in the big summer of 2015.

    2. DRed

      Holy fuck, Melo got $62 million of this deal in advance!!

      I think that Melo gets half his salary every year in a lump sum at the start of the season. So he didn’t get 62 million this year. He’s getting 11.25 million up front this year. The post isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    3. er

      @1 I was totally floored when I saw that too. Then I read up on it and DRED is right. It’s half every year. Who the fuck proofread that? Lol

    4. swiftandabundant

      @ 2, I agree with you but sometimes think we over think this salary cap stuff. I mean IF cole plays as well as we hope and if Shump bounces back/takes that next leap, then we will be a pretty good team THIS YEAR and will want to resign them. At that point, it bothers me less that we use our cap space to retain them bc they have proven their worth to us. And with Bargs/STAT coming off the table anyways, its not like we’re gonna use all of our cap space to resign Shump and Cole.

      I’m kind of of the opinion too that we’re better off using the cap space to get a handful of really good role players instead of blowing it all on Marc Gasol or Aldridge. I think Dallas in 2010 (and the Spurs this year) have shown that the whole 2 or 3 superstar formula is not the only path to a championship. I always enjoy it when well rounded teams that play for each other win it all anyways and would rather ride or die with that formula than pairing up Melo with another superstar. I guess I just don’t think Melo plus Aldridge or Gasol is enough to win it all anyways, so I’d rather put my faith in Phil/Fisher and a system with a well rounded team with Melo being the main focal point, surrounded by a bunch of good players.

    5. Hubert

      @5 whether we spend it on one guy or multiple guys, we need to be able to spend it on players who aren’t already here. Because even if Shump & Aldridge become the players we hope they can become, we’re still a long way from being very good. We need them to improve, to retain them, and we need to bring in new players. It’s a tall order.

    6. Hubert

      also on that boxscoregeeks website is an article that refers Michael Jordan as the Robin of 1992 Chicago Bulls. Horace Grant is the Batman. That’s right. Horace Grant produced more wins on the 1992 Chicago Bulls than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

      I respect Wins Produced as one of the tools to use for evaluating players, but articles like that are the reason it’s hard to take seriously as a single, all-encompassing tool when it clearly overvalues rebounding.

      http://www.boxscoregeeks.com/articles/the-best-nba-robins-of-all-time-part-1

    7. Donnie Walsh

      on that boxscoregeeks website is an article that refers Michael Jordan as the Robin of 1992 Chicago Bulls. Horace Grant is the Batman.

      Does that make Scottie Pippen Alfred the butler?

    8. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Grant was

      #3 in eFG
      #5 in TS%
      #6 in ORB%
      #3 in ORB
      #18 in DRB
      #13 in TRB
      #15 in BLK
      #1 in ORTG
      #7 in DRTG
      #3 in WS
      #3 in WS/48

      There’s nothing wrong with saying that Grant was the best player on the Bulls that season, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying that MJ was the best player on the Bulls that season.

      Jordan got a lot of media time and Grant, by comparison, did not. Whether you believe it or not, there is probably some cognitive bias going on in your head that makes you say, “How could anyone be more valuable than Michael Jordan?” even though Jordan (however awesome he was) missed some shots and didn’t do some of the small things (like offensively rebound) that Grant did to help his team win. (Just like Grant didn’t score nearly as much as Jordan did, which is important. Had either of them been lost to an injury, I have no doubt that the Bulls win significantly fewer games.) There is nothing absurd about calling Grant one of the best players in the league in 1992.

      Do you remember a single Horace Grant play from that season? I’ve seen highlight reel clips of Jordan from those years, but I’ve never seen ESPN run Grant highlights on repeat. Bears consideration.

    9. Hubert

      1992 was probably the beginning of the peak of my NBA fandom, a time when I was arguably way too obsessed with basketball. I know Horace Grant was an excellent basketball player but I believe with absolute conviction that he did not produce more wins than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen that year and I’m not just saying that because I am biased towards believeing MJ had to be greater.

      The same article also referenced Chris Paul as the Robin to DeAndre Jordan’s batman on the 2014 Clippers, and while I agree that Jordan was excellent I can’t help but think this metric overvalues rebounding while ignoring some things that don’t appear in box scores.

      Mind you, I’m not trashing WP as useless. I just think every now and then an instance like this appears that reveals its limitations and it sure seems like it really overvalues rebounding and simply can’t account for the synergy between teammates.

    10. johnlocke

      ’91 – ’92?

      When Jordan averaged 30 pts per game on 52% shooting, to go along with 6.5 boards and 6 assists and 2 steals per game?

      Grant shot the lights out the basketball that season but only made 5.6 field goals and 2.9 free throws per game. Jordan made 2x as many field goals and 3x as many free throws on good %.

      I’ll say its not absurd to say he was one of the best players in the league in 1992, but absurd to say he was the best on the Bulls in 1992

    11. Hubert

      simply can’t account for the synergy between teammates.

      To wit, having seen that team a lot, I just can’t bring myself to believe that Horace Grant was capable of acheiving these lofty rankings without Jordan and Pippen, and I feel that there were a handful of above average NBA players that could have produced them.

      #3 in eFG
      #5 in TS%
      #6 in ORB%
      #3 in ORB
      #18 in DRB
      #13 in TRB
      #15 in BLK
      #1 in ORTG
      #7 in DRTG
      #3 in WS
      #3 in WS/48

      Which gets to my main issue with WP: it chronicles who did the things that produced wins but can’t really speak to how easily what that player did could have been replicated by another player or whether or not a player is capable of that production in different settings. So while it’s useful to look backwards I don’t really so how valuable it is on a forward looking basis. Should a team have looked at Grant’s stellar WP that year and said, “This guy is a star, let’s offer him a crazy contract and expect him to produce those same numbers without Jordan & Pippen”? I would think that team would have been severely disappointed. Because despite those awesome performance numbers, it’s extremely difficult to believe he could produce them indepently, or that a player much further down on the WP scale in 1992 couldn’t slot into his role and be “transformed” into a WP superstar.

    12. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Funny how when Jordan left, Grant was still awesome. But hey, whatever suits your convictions.

    13. Hubert

      And he had some of his best years in Orlando playing with Shaq & Penny before dropping off a cliff after age 31.

      But if you’re an NBA GM in 1993, and like all GM’s you’re working with finite resources., do your convictions tell you that you should offer to pay Horace Grant the equivalent salary to what his stellar WP number tells you he deserves, i.e. fairly equal to Michael Jordan’s salary, because you believe what he does will produce wins regardless of who his teammates are?

      It’s a lot like the whole Ronnie Brewer thing years ago, when WP claimed he produced more wins than Carmelo Anthony. The things Brewer did for a very short period of time were things that produce wins, but he wasn’t capable of sustaining them, and it wasn’t that difficult to replace his contribution. But that couldn’t be accounted for within the limits of that particular conviction.

    14. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Hubert,

      That’s not the question at all. If Jordan is perceived as the league’s best player and is priced accordingly, you most likely want to match him.

      Chis Andersen was an essential component of the Heat’s title run in 2013. DeAndre Jordan was probably the best player on the Clippers this year (even with the #3 PG of all-time on the roster). Would I pay them megamax money when the whole league believes that they’re role players who can only produce with lob artists handling the ball? Heck no. You want the league to believe that Horace Grant could be replaced by lots of players (and they’d be wrong). Then you pay them peanuts (which was not the case for Grant, who was one of the league’s first eight-figure players). Grant was a bona fide superstar.

      Why is it that Grant’s skillset is something enabled by Jordan and Pippen? Why isn’t it the other way around?

    15. lavor postell

      DeAndre Jordan was probably the best player on the Clippers this year (even with the #3 PG of all-time on the roster).

      DeAndre Jordan who was shut down by the great Kendrick Perkins and did nothing to slow down OKC’s complex two-man isolation offense? Sure.

    16. Kahnzy

      DeAndre Jordan was probably the best player on the Clippers this year (even with the #3 PG of all-time on the roster).

      I loves me some Chris Paul and I’d dearly love to see him in Orange and Blue while he’s still in his prime (I was even selfishly hoping Donald Sterling would win his case and keep the team, thereby forcing the league to allow the Clipper players out of their contracts and then Jackson pulls a rabbit out of his proverbial hat and somehow clears the room for Paul to land…pipe dream, I know but it was a nice one), but I think placing him that high up on the all-time pedestal is a bit premature. But then, you do tend to throw that “all-time” term around a bit.

      If you have a stat which says Horace Grant was more important to the Bulls than Jordan, I think the problem lies with the methodology of how the stat is calculated, and not with the hordes of nonbelievers who laugh off such a stat as maybe a bit over-the-top. Was Grant a damn good basketball player, you bet. Was he the Batman to Jordan’s Robin? The very question itself is laughable.

      You can say that Michael Jordan won 6 championships with some of the greatest teams in history backing him up, some of which included Horace Grant. You can’t say, however, that Horace Grant won 3 championships as a Bull (he won 4 if I’m not mistaken, the last with the Lakers) with some of the greatest teams in history backing him up, all of which included Michael Jordan.

    17. johnlocke

      if Deandre Jordan was the best player on the Clippers last year, I guess he should be our #1 free agent target in 2016 since he’s better than Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and most likely Kevin Love. Word.

    18. Hubert

      Would I pay them megamax money when the whole league believes that they’re role players who can only produce with lob artists handling the ball? Heck no.

      I think that’s taking an out. In my imagined scenario, let’s pretend you know there are 3-4 other GM’s competing with you for Grant’s services and they all believe in WP as much as you do, and you know you have to compete against them.

      I don’t believe you believe in your beliefs so much that in that scenario you would make Horace Grant a contract offer commensurate with his WP performance, because as gaudy as it is, a lot of it could be perceived as incidental, replicable at a lower cost, and due in part to environment.

    19. Hubert

      Why is it that Grant’s skillset is something enabled by Jordan and Pippen? Why isn’t it the other way around?

      Because, when watching the games, you can see very clearly how much space, room, and opportunity was created for Horace Grant by Michael Jordan. I would love to know how many of his offensive rebounds or buckets he got because he was completely unguarded while three people were chasing Michael Jordan.

      Grant was proficient at capitalizing on those opportunities, but WP is incapable of factoring the conditions into their equation.

    20. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      That’s crazy. “Proficient at capitalizing on those opportunities.” Delusional.

    21. mokers

      I know athletes shouldn’t necessarily be role models, but:

      http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/aug/16/sdsu-basketball-kawhi-leonard-contract/2/?#article-copy

      Leonard arrived in San Antonio with the silver Chevy Malibu he drove in college, and friends and family finally convinced him that he needed to drive something more, ahem, befitting of an NBA player. So he bought the Porsche.

      He drives it to games at San Antonio’s AT&T Center. He drives the Malibu everywhere else.

      “It’s paid off,” Leonard said. “I don’t have a car note on it. It’s good on gas. It’s a good commuter car if you don’t want to drive your luxury car.”

      http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/kawhi-leonard-was-too-busy-working-out-to-to-fun-stuff-with-the-o-brien-trophy–so-he-left-it-in-his-condo-181752313.html

      It sat in the living room of the San Diego condominium he rents during the offseason while the Spurs staffer who chaperones the trophy around the world lounged at a UTC hotel pool … while Leonard was at his three-a-day workouts.
      “I didn’t have any time to do anything with it,” Leonard explained. “My workout schedule is crazy.”

      It’s really great to see stories of players who just love basketball. I wonder how close to a max extension he will get. On one hand, he is definitely worth it. On the other hand, it’s not something the Spurs usually do. In any case, will be fun to see him in his prime.

    22. Brian Cronin

      I think that Grant was not as good as Jordan, but I also think that Grant was just flat out a very good player. His second best season happened in the year that Jordan wasn’t even on the Bulls. I don’t think there’s a need to diminish Grant’s accomplishments just to say that he wasn’t as good as Jordan.

    23. DRed

      DeAndre would be a great signing in ’16, at least in a vacuum. He doesn’t pass at all, though, and I think Phil wants a big man who can move the ball at least a bit.

    24. nicos

      I’m sorry, I understand using WoW as a general rule of thumb but it’s a box score stat (and one that’s been pretty much useless in predicting team success). It’s not infallible. You can certainly make the argument that Horace Grant was way underrated (he didn’t even make the all-star team when he should have been all-nba) but he wasn’t a better player than Jordan- not that year or any other.

    25. JK47

      I think some of the hardcore WP fanatics actually get excited when the metric produces some outlier result like Grant > Jordan or Landry Fields > Kobe or Biyombo > Dwight Howard. It’s like they’re in on some cosmic secret and they know the real truth about how the universe works and all those rubes who think Dwight Howard is actually a better player than Bismack Biyombo are just fools. It can’t possibly be that the metric overly favors certain types of players– it is axiomatic that the metric is the absolute truth.

    26. thenoblefacehumper

      I think this whole Grant>Jordan thing is getting blown out of proportion. For their careers WP favors Jordan by a lot. What it says is that one season (Grant’s best season that he was never able to replicate, though he was still good before and after it), Grant may have produced more wins than Jordan (who still produced a shit ton himself). I understand that’s hard to believe and I’m not sure what I think about it, but framing it as WP preferring Grant to Jordan is disingenuous. WP says Grant was better in 1991-1992, but Jordan was much better overall. Make of that what you will, but it’s not what it’s being made out to be.

    27. Z-man

      Grant was a very good player. Most fans at the time thought of Jordan, Pippen and Grant as a big 3. In fact, my recollection is that Pippen was not as fully appreciated as Grant at the time.

      I wonder why Grant wasn’t as good of a defensive rebounder as an offensive rebounder while he was with the Bulls. I also wonder why Grant’s OReb% dropped from a fantastic 14% to below 10% after he left the Bulls. In 91-92, Jordan had almost as many defensive rebounds as Grant.

      There are probably 10 power forwards that could have played on that 1991-92 Chicago team in place of Grant without changing the final outcome of the season:

      Malone
      Rodman
      Barkley
      Oakley
      Nance
      Kemp
      Buck Williams
      Hot Rod Williams
      Thorpe
      Salley

      There isn’t a single shooting guard from that era who could have replaced Jordan without costing that team a championship.

    28. lavor postell

      There isn’t a single shooting guard from that era who could have replaced Jordan without costing that team a championship.

      I don’t think there was a single shooting guard from any era that could have replaced Jordan without costing that team a championship.

    29. DRed

      I also wonder why Grant’s OReb% dropped from a fantastic 14% to below 10% after he left the Bulls.

      Because Shaq and Penny couldn’t draw the defense towards them like Jordan and Ho Grant didn’t get any easy rebounds. That’s also why his orb% plummeted from 13.9 to 13.9 the year Jordan tried to play baseball.

    30. lavor postell

      I would assume the dip in Grant’s offensive rebounding numbers had more to do with playing in the Triangle in which both bigs are in good offensive rebounding positions.

    31. iserp

      Said nobody.

      Well, if someone says that there is nothing wrong with saying that Grant was better than Jordan, he is taking WP as the truth almost axiomatically.

      I am not saying that because the consensus says that Jordan was the best player of his era it must be true. But when your metric contradicts that, you should be specially careful, check twice, try to gather more proof… instead, Jowles uses this cases specifically to show how good WP is.

      I still keep saying that WP varies wildly when players change teams/roles. Now that this tool has come up online, we can use it to check more recent examples. For example, David Lee averaged .200 WP48 in the knicks, but only .130 WP48 in GSW. That is a change from All-Star level to above average level. I don’t think David Lee has been a very different player in GSW than in NY (OTOH David Lee had about 19 PER with NY, and about 19 PER with GSW, and that is why i consider it a more predictive metric, even if it fails to capture part of the value of the players). It is just a lonely data point, but i am pretty sure we can come up with more.

    32. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      I am not saying that because the consensus says that Jordan was the best player of his era it must be true. But when your metric contradicts that, you should be specially careful, check twice, try to gather more proof… instead, Jowles uses this cases specifically to show how good WP is.

      If this were how science worked, we’d still believe that the earth is flat. Consensus doesn’t mean a damn thing.

      In fact, my recollection is that Pippen was not as fully appreciated as Grant at the time.

      Pippen was on the Dream Team, Grant was not. In fact, Grant was not allowed (as Jordan and Pippen were) to skip offseason workouts after the ’92 seasons, despite his amazing, 90+ game year. This is one of the reasons, so I read, that he chose to leave the Bulls after ’94, and one of the reasons that the Bulls were not-very-good in ’95.

    33. Hubert

      I don’t think there’s a need to diminish Grant’s accomplishments just to say that he wasn’t as good as Jordan.

      I am in no way trying to diminish Grant, just pointing out that a stat which some people are pretty dogmatic about believing claims he produced more wins on the 1991-92 Chicago Bulls than both Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and I’m using that case as an example that highlights the limitations of WP.

    34. Z-man

      “Because Shaq and Penny couldn’t draw the defense towards them like Jordan and Ho Grant didn’t get any easy rebounds. That’s also why his orb% plummeted from 13.9 to 13.9 the year Jordan tried to play baseball.”

      That doesn’t change the fact that his OReb %s dropped significantly when he left the Bulls, or that he was a pedestrian defensive rebounder. Was it about system? He still played on a team with 2 all-NBA players (Penny and Shaq). If you want to chalk it up to Phil’s system, fine.

      “Pippen was on the Dream Team, Grant was not. In fact, Grant was not allowed (as Jordan and Pippen were) to skip offseason workouts after the ’92 seasons, despite his amazing, 90+ game year. This is one of the reasons, so I read, that he chose to leave the Bulls after ’94, and one of the reasons that the Bulls were not-very-good in ’95.”

      I was specifically referring to fans (especially smart Knicks fans) who very much appreciated Grant and talked about all 3 guys as the Bulls’ stars. Surely you are old enough to remember that…

      That said, Pippen was on the Dream Team because he was a MUCH better all-around player than Grant, as was Jordan. But there were still many at the time who attributed Pippen’s greatness to Jordan’s influence. Which is why Pippen tried so hard (and failed) to emerge from Jordan’s shadow during Jordan’s absence. Remember the refusal to go in when the final play wasn’t drawn up for him?

      Jordan and Pippen were irreplaceable. Grant was not. Again, look at the list above…do you dispute that any of those guys would have been able to replace Grant? Maybe Barkley could have replaced Pippen, but certainly nobody else in the league could have.

    35. iserp

      If this were how science worked, we’d still believe that the earth is flat. Consensus doesn’t mean a damn thing.

      Two points:

      1) That comment does not add anything of value to the discussion.

      2) You are wrong and that is how science works. For every novelty experimental result, as much effort is put to explain it with what we already know than with new theories. When the OPERA collaboration announced they measured neutrinos faster than light, the did not proclaim “relativity is wrong!!”; on the contrary, they spent lots of time trying to prove their result was wrong (even though it had a statistical significance of more than 5 sigmas). In the end, it was a bad setup of the experiment.

      Furthermore, in science, a new theory does not make the previous one ‘wrong’. Relativity does not make Newton’s gravity ‘wrong’. But you know Newton’s gravity is only valid in certain ranges: good enough to fly to the moon, not good enough to describe a black hole.

      In your case, WP48 disregards all previous knowledge, but makes very little effort to make objective tests of their own metric.

    36. Z-man

      The whole notion of determining who is “producing wins” based on box score stats is rather dubious. A win is a complicated achievement. Only one stat determines which team wins 100% of the time: total points scored. That doesn’t mean that other stats aren’t indicative of which team, over time, has the greatest probability of scoring the most points. But certain roles become way overvalued when you attribute more of a “win” to a certain “non-scoring” player’s contributions than to the guys who do the bulk of the scoring. Even though PER has flaws, it is much more closely aligned with a player’s actual value. The outliers are less flagrantly overvalued than with WP.

    37. lavor postell

      The thing is WP is actually a good enough metric. It has its flaws just like any other form of evaluation like PER, eye test, WS, POP, net rating, simple rating, etc. I think WP does a good job of identifying players that are efficient in various areas, but doesn’t do nearly enough to account for player roles, usage and defensive contributions other than those captured in a box score like steals and blocks, which can be misleading.

      I just have a problem when an outlier result like DeAndre Jordan was better than Chris Paul last year is accepted as a fact because WP ranked it that way and if you don’t agree with it you’re the kind of person that thinks the Earth is flat. The difference here is that explorers sailed to the Americas and realized that this planet is round and there wasn’t an edge at which point they’ve fallen off of and WP zealots will shove their head in the sand when DeAndre Jordan is getting locked up in the playoffs by Kendrick Perkins.

    38. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      If we see WP48 as a system of measurement, as opposed to a predictive model, there is no reason to dismiss it on the basis of “consensus,” which has largely been driven by points and championships run since the beginning of the scorekeeper in organized basketball.

      If its measurements show differing results from the subjectively-determined hypothesis, it means the hypothesis is wrong, not the measurements. Of course the measurements should be reexamined (like when Berri conceded that there are diminishing returns with defensive rebounds) and adjusted if they are found to be imprecise. But when you say that the measurements are wrong because the measurements we take with our eyes say something different, that’s when you become wholly unscientific.

      And I’m well aware that science happens in paradigms, not in a sort of continuous state of accretion. WP48 is not infallible, nor is it perfect. It is, as many have said, a mediocre predictive statistic. But when it comes to describing value in finished games, it is very good. When we say that Jordan is responsible for Grant’s success, what evidence do we have that supersedes the assumption that Grant may be responsible for Jordan’s success?

    39. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Even though PER has flaws, it is much more closely aligned with a player’s actual value.

      What is “actual value?” Under your sentence is a belief — not a fact — that volume scoring is inherently good.

    40. iserp

      If we see WP48 as a system of measurement…

      But you are not only using as a measurement, you are making the hypothesis that players with higher WP48 are better than players with lower WP48 (or the hypothesis that the actual contribution to the win total of your team is your WP).

      As a measurement, i think that WP48 is as fair as any other metric, and it is useful to assess the value of players. I just don’t believe that if Grant’s WP48 is higher than Jordan, he was a better player or contributed more wins to that Chicago team.

    41. DRed

      Jordan and Pippen were irreplaceable. Grant was not. Again, look at the list above…do you dispute that any of those guys would have been able to replace Grant? Maybe Barkley could have replaced Pippen, but certainly nobody else in the league could have.

      We’re not talking about career Jordan or career Pippen. Both those guys were better basketball players than Ho Grant. We’re talking about one particular season. Could some of those guys replaced Ho Grant? Well, Rodman certainly could have. For a lot of those guys, though, it’s more of a maybe. Do the Bulls beat the Knicks with Hot Rod Williams that year? Maybe, but maybe not. Do the Bulls beat the Knicks if you replace Jordan with Clyde Drexler? Maybe not, but it’s (to me at least) conceivable that they do.

    42. lavor postell

      When we say that Jordan is responsible for Grant’s success, what evidence do we have that supersedes the assumption that Grant may be responsible for Jordan’s success?

      We have the evidence that Jordan did this his rookie season (82 games): 59.2 TS%, 51.8 eFG%, 25.3 AST%, 9.8 TRB%, 3.0 STL%, 1.3 BLK%, 13.0 TOV%, 29.8 USG% and .213 WS/48

      Or this in his 3rd year (82 games): 56.2 TS%, 48.4 eFG%, 22.2 AST%, 7.4 TRB%, 3.6 STL%, 2.3 BLK%, 9.1 TOV%, 38.3 USG%, .247 WS/48

      Michael Jordan would have been just as great a player, without the championship success, playing alongside a set of scrubs. If you want to believe that Horace Grant was better than Jordan and helped him out more than Jordan helped him in 91-92 that’s fine. Just don’t expect the majority of people to accept or agree with that conclusion.

    43. DRed

      But certain roles become way overvalued when you attribute more of a “win” to a certain “non-scoring” player’s contributions than to the guys who do the bulk of the scoring.

      If you want to get a high WP, the best thing to do is to score a lot of points efficiently. However, a player can’t do the bulk of the scoring without his team having the basketball. Which is why it’s valuable to have guys who do things like rebound, don’t turn the ball over, block shots, etc. If the guys who do the bulk of the scoring are not efficient, then it’s pretty important to have people who can get them more shots, because otherwise your team is going to lose more than it wins.

    44. DRed

      Michael Jordan would have been just as great a player, without the championship success, playing alongside a set of scrubs. If you want to believe that Horace Grant was better than Jordan and helped him out more than Jordan helped him in 91-92 that’s fine. Just don’t expect the majority of people to accept or agree with that conclusion.

      If Horace was great because Jordan, why were his numbers essentially identical the year he was on the Bulls and Jordan wasn’t? Granted, it’s only 2 seasons of data, but that’s about as good of an experiment as you can devise to test the hypothesis that Grant was as productive as he was because of Jordan, and Grant was just as productive without MJ as he was with MJ>

    45. lavor postell

      If Horace was great because Jordan, why were his numbers essentially identical the year he was on the Bulls and Jordan wasn’t? Granted, it’s only 2 seasons of data, but that’s about as good of an experiment as you can devise to test the hypothesis that Grant was as productive as he was because of Jordan, and Grant was just as productive without MJ as he was with MJ>

      I never said Grant was productive because of Jordan.

      I don’t think Grant was as productive as Jordan and I also don’t think Jordan helped Grant make shots at a career high rate that season. They both helped each other, but I think taking Jordan’s role on 31.7 USG% and Grant’s on 15.5 USG% and coming up the idea that Grant was a more productive player in 91-92 despite using less than half the possessions Jordan did because he was ultra efficient isn’t smart.

      Horace Grant was a really good player and I think he would have been even without playing with Jordan. I do think that playing in the Triangle probably helped him out a bit, at least in terms of his rebounding numbers. Playing alonside Jordan and Pippen probably was a benefit to him too, but I’d agree that Jordan benefited by playing alongside players like Pippen, Rodman and Grant during his career.

    46. Hubert

      Let’s just take this silly “Horace Grant was great because Jordan” part out of the equation. The issue is/was WP’s inability to quantify the impact Jordan had on Grant’s greatness (and, equally, the impact Grant had on Jordan’s), and how that speaks to WP’s limitations.

    47. DRed

      They both helped each other, but I think taking Jordan’s role on 31.7 USG% and Grant’s on 15.5 USG% and coming up the idea that Grant was a more productive player despite using less than half the possessions Jordan did because he was ultra efficient isn’t smart.

      Why?

    48. lavor postell

      Why?

      Because Jordan was an All-NBA first team defensive player that carried the bulk of the offensive load and posted a 57.9 TS%, 9.5 TRB%, 25.2 AST% and 8.8 TOV%. Horace Grant was a really good player that played a very specific role and put up great numbers doing so. That doesn’t make him more productive IMO and I don’t think we’ll see eye to eye on that.

    49. Hubert

      Let’s just take this silly “Horace Grant was great because Jordan” part out of the equation. The issue is/was WP’s inability to quantify the impact Jordan had on Grant’s greatness (and, equally, the impact Grant had on Jordan’s), and how that speaks to WP’s limitations.

      And also, to me, the issue is how valuable WP is (or isn’t) as a tool to predict future value.

    50. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      Grant wasn’t even hyper-efficient at scoring a la DeAndre Jordan/Tyson Chandler! His value was in doing almost everything very, very well. When you have a player who’s near the top of the leaderboard in almost every statistical category, you have yourself a serious WP48 stew goin’ on. This is not really a matter of contention, is it?

      If y’all could just admit that you think scoring the ball is more important than getting possessions to have more scoring attempts, it would be great.

      As I’ve said before, the difference between an all-NBA PF and an average PF is like, a couple made shots and a couple ORB per game. This is easier to quantify than to “remember.” That’s all.

      Jordan might be the best of all-time, but peak Grant in ’92 was historically good, too. It’s way different from, say, attributing most of the 2012-13 Knicks’ success to Chandler and Kidd instead of Carmelo (which WP does). This is saying, “You have three superstars, and they happen to be Grant, Jordan and Pippen, in that order.” It’s not saying that Jordan wasn’t an all-NBA player. He was phenomenal! But so was Grant that year (and the next two years, including the year Jordan wasn’t there).

      Saying that he could have been replaced by also-all-timers Barkley and Rodman sort of misses the point. It’s like saying that the Heat would have made the Finals with Durant instead of LeBron. Probably true, but it doesn’t mean that LeBron isn’t at the highest tier of NBA player.

      (And yeah, SG is a weaker position than PF. So what? That probably has more to do with the roles on the court than the depth of the talent pool.)

    51. DRed

      Because, when watching the games, you can see very clearly how much space, room, and opportunity was created for Horace Grant by Michael Jordan. I would love to know how many of his offensive rebounds or buckets he got because he was completely unguarded while three people were chasing Michael Jordan.

      Grant was proficient at capitalizing on those opportunities, but WP is incapable of factoring the conditions into their equation.

      Let’s just take this silly “Horace Grant was great because Jordan” part out of the equation. The issue is/was WP’s inability to quantify the impact Jordan had on Grant’s greatness (and, equally, the impact Grant had on Jordan’s), and how that speaks to WP’s limitations

      1991-1993, Ho Grant managed to pull down roughly 14% of available offensive rebounds because he was wide open while 3 guys chased Michael Jordan. On the same team in 1993-1994, Ho Grant managed to pull down roughly 14% of available offensive rebounds while Michael Jordan flailed impotently at breaking balls. This suggests that Grant probably did get some easy offensive rebounds because of Jordan, but not nearly as many as you think he did, and the inability of WP to reflect how many easy offensive rebounds Grant got because of Jordan is not a serious flaw in the statistic.

    52. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      And also, to me, the issue is how valuable WP is (or isn’t) as a tool to predict future value.

      It’s not abundantly valuable, but I think that predicting individual player value is hard no matter what method you use. Injuries, role, system, age — there are a lot of factors that no current statistical method can account for accurately. But the simplistic “Jordan allowed Grant to be great” thing doesn’t really make any sense outside of the Jordan narrative that’s been brewing for over twenty years.

      Let’s not forget that Jordan was a league MVP before Grant showed up, but couldn’t bring those scrubs at PF up to All-NBA levels. I will never argue that a great player does not help his teammates, but a great player is great because of his own skills first, then the synergy from his teammates second. DeAndre and Tyson fly high no matter who is meatballing toward the rim.

    53. DRed

      Because Jordan was an All-NBA first team defensive player that carried the bulk of the offensive load and posted a 57.9 TS%, 9.5 TRB%, 25.2 AST% and 8.8 TOV%. Horace Grant was a really good player that played a very specific role and put up great numbers doing so. That doesn’t make him more productive IMO and I don’t think we’ll see eye to eye on that.

      I have no problem with your defensive argument. Jordan was (unsurprisingly) fucking awesome in 1991-1992. The difference in WP between him and Grant is not large, and if you want to argue that Jordan’s non-boxscore contributions made up for the difference, I can’t say you’re wrong. (I think you’re probably right, in fact, but in any event they were both really productive players in 1991-1992)

      The problem with your argument is that you’re saying Grant was inherently less productive because he played a “very specific role”. Even if that were true (Grants role was to-essentially-be a really good big man, which I don’t think is particularly specific), I don’t see what that would make doing something that helps your team win less valuable.

    54. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      I’m with DRed on this one. I’m not saying dogmatically that Grant was clearly or unequivocally better, but using common-sense narratives to justify the “Jordan was clearly/unequivocally better” argument seems a little specious to me.

      It also doesn’t hurt to mention that Grant was also an All-NBA defensive player…

    55. lavor postell

      The problem with your argument is that you’re saying Grant was inherently less productive because he played a “very specific role”. Even if that were true (Grants role was to-essentially-be a really good big man, which I don’t think is particularly specific), I don’t see what that would make doing something that helps your team win less valuable.

      I think we’re saying the same thing, but have different opinions of what that constitutes. Ultimately I think Grant was very valuable to the first Bulls three peat and was at his peak during the 91-92 season, but wasn’t as productive as Jordan in any of those years.

      I didn’t mean to come off as saying Grant wasn’t valuable or that his contributions were easily replaceable, because I don’t think they were, but not as much as Jordan in any specific year.

    56. Z-man

      Horace Grant was exceptional at the role he played. His role, however, was a less technically difficult role to play than Jordan’s. For example, it’s easier low usage players to have low turnover rates because they rarely handle the ball. It’s easier for them to have higher offensive rebound rates because they are rarely out of rebounding position due to taking a shot attempt. They are more likely to shoot at a high TS% because they rarely shoot anything but point blank shot or uncontested perimeter shots.

      Jordan is in a very small club of transcendent players that excelled at every skill associated with winning basketball. Like Magic and LeBron, he could do virtually anything he wanted on the basketball court, and do most of them better than anyone else on the court. Magic demonstrated as a rookie in the finals that he could have made a pretty decent C if he wanted to. The opposing team’s game plan begins with addressing that transcendent player’s presence. Think “The Jordan Rules.” The psychological impact of a given player on coaching, game plan and play-by-play tactics, and ensuing interaction effects is totally ignored by WP.

      Can it be theoretically be measued? I think so. Some recent advances in advanced stats have started to address the impact that these players have on the game. For example, how many times a player draws a double team in a specific situation like PnR ballhandler, or the average distance between a player and defender when he has the ball are clearly affected by coaching and game plan, as well as the “presence” thing.

    57. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      No, it’s not easier for low usage players to have low TOV% because they don’t handle the ball. It’s easier for high-volume shooters to have low TOV% because so many of their possessions end with shot attempts, which directly affects the number that TOV% pumps out.

      Jordan is in a very small club of transcendent players that excelled at every skill associated with winning basketball. Like Magic and LeBron, he could do virtually anything he wanted on the basketball court, and do most of them better than anyone else on the court.

      What does it tell you about Horace Grant that he was near the top of the leaderboards in virtually every statistic not associated with scoring volume? It sounds to me like, that year, he could do virtually anything he wanted on the basketball court, too. Remember that there are very large men whose only job is to stop Horace Grant from getting rebounds, shooting the basketball and other things.

      Saying that a PF in the bang-and-bang-harder early 90s had an “easier” role than Jordan is downright obscene. This is narrative-spinning, through and through. Jordan had it hard; everyone else had it easier.

      No. That’s not the way it happened.

    58. Z-man

      “What is “actual value?” Under your sentence is a belief — not a fact — that volume scoring is inherently good.”

      Not quite. I believe that PER should be tweaked so that scoring efficiency is more realistically reflected. But I believe that even with its flaws, PER captures an essential aspect of the game, which is that being a high volume, high efficiency scorer is the single most valuable skill in basketball. Even WP acknowledges that. But despite his high WP scores, WP methodology actually penalizes the Michael Jordans relative to the Horace Grants. Jordau doesn’t get as many offensive rebounds as Horace Grant because he doesn’t have the luxury of limiting shot attempts to shots at the rim and wide-open 15-18 footers. WP penalizes Jordan because he had to run the offense 10x more than Grant, and therefore a much harder job when it came to avoiding turnovers. WP penalizes Jordan because he took countless predictable shots that necessitated him being out of offensive rebounding position, but since Grant knew the shot was coming, he could focus on offensive rebounds, padding his WP relative to Jordan in the process.

      What I’m saying is that a player that consistently demands double teaming on offense is inherently more valuable than a player that does not. Efficient scoring for others is largely a by-product of that players’s effect on the opponents team defense. What makes the Spurs so great is that they have 3 medium-high usage players that create defensive imbalances: Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. Even last year, they had usage% of 25, 25 and 26, respectively, and in the playoffs it was 22, 26 and 28.

      Tyson Chandler is a nice player, but do you really, truly believe that he actually produced more wins per 48 minutes than Hakeem Olajuwan did in his MVP/championship MVP season? PER definitively says no (18.7 to 25.3). WP48 definitively says yes (.303 to .201). In this case, and countless others, which stat captures player value more accurately?

    59. Hubert

      1991-1993, Ho Grant managed to pull down roughly 14% of available offensive rebounds because he was wide open while 3 guys chased Michael Jordan. On the same team in 1993-1994, Ho Grant managed to pull down roughly 14% of available offensive rebounds while Michael Jordan flailed impotently at breaking balls. This suggests that Grant probably did get some easy offensive rebounds because of Jordan, but not nearly as many as you think he did, and the inability of WP to reflect how many easy offensive rebounds Grant got because of Jordan is not a serious flaw in the statistic.

      You are zeroing in on Jordan and missing the broader context. Perhaps it was misleading to attribute all of the extra opportunities simply to Jordan and not the entire offensive system. Because once Horace wasn’t in the highly successful triangle offense run by the Bulls, his ORB% plummeted:

      91: 12.0
      92: 14.3
      93: 13.9
      94: 13.9
      left Chicago
      95: 9.8
      96: 9.3
      97: 9.4
      98: 9.4
      99: 8.0
      00: 6.7

      So it is ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that Horace Grant’s ability to grab 14% of available offensive rebounds was not something he could take with him. He was only ever able to perform at that rate within a specific offensive system run with certain caliber teammates. But WP attributed that success entirely to him, and yes, that is a VERY serious flaw in the statistic.

    60. Hubert

      Remember that there are very large men whose only job is to stop Horace Grant from getting rebounds, shooting the basketball and other things.

      No, that is not their only job. It’s one of their jobs. ANother one of their jobs (and an equally important one) is protecting the rim from penetrating wing players. And the triangle offense, whether with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, or Kobe Bryant, was proficient at making those big men have to make choices about which job they should do on every possession. That meant that, with more frequency than at any other points in their careers, big men like Horace Grant and Pau Gasol suddenly started putting up extraordinary (for them) offensive rebounding numbers that they were never able to do outside that system and with different teammates. WP attributes those numbers solely to the players and makes value statements about who is better based on that attribution. And I believe that is flawed.

    61. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      So is it Michael Jordan or the Triangle? Because the argument has been that MJ made it easier for Grant, when it seems like it’s the Triangle that’s creating these opportunities, now.

      (Which WP wouldn’t disagree with, since it says that Phil Jackson-coached players are much more likely to improve.)

    62. Hubert

      As I said:

      “Perhaps it was misleading to attribute all of the extra opportunities simply to Jordan and not the entire offensive system.”

      But the point remains that Horace Grant’s ability to grab 14% of all offensive rebounds turned out to be something he couldn’t do outside of Chicago. So if DRed wants to throw out one season as definitive proof that Horace Grant’s ORB% skills stand alone and belong exclusively to him, I feel it’s fair to throw out the 6 seasons that demonstrate it didn’t.

    63. Hubert

      Which WP wouldn’t disagree with, since it says that Phil Jackson-coached players are much more likely to improve.

      It says:

      Let’s start with some basics. Most coaches don’t have a noticeable impact on player development. Not only does Phil Jackson have a noticeable impact on player development, it goes on for three seasons. Even coaches that do improve players tend to only last a season. What’s more, Phil Jackson’s improvements persist.

      Nothing in WP accounts for Grant’s immediate and drastic dropoff in ORB% after leaving.

    64. JD & the J.R. Smith 4 AM Cleveland, OH Nudie Bar Jello Shot

      But the argument is whether he was as valuable as Jordan in 1992, not whether he could put up similar offensive rebounding numbers next to a 7’1″ behemoth who was 3rd, 2nd and 2nd in ORB between ’93 and ’95. Note that Shaq did not need the Triangle (yet) to put up gaudy numbers on the offensive boards.

      And considering that he put up near-identical numbers with and then without Jordan (with ’92 being his age 27 season, which one could reasonably expect to be his peak season), I’d say that he could make a strong argument for most valuable on the ’92 team, since it doesn’t seem to be Jordan making Grant valuable.

    65. DRed

      So if DRed wants to throw out one season as definitive proof that Horace Grant’s ORB% skills stand alone and belong exclusively to him, I feel it’s fair to throw out the 6 seasons that demonstrate it didn’t.

      Good thing I didn’t say that. I just said his productivity on the bulls without Jordan suggests that Jordan wasn’t a significant factor in Grant’s productivity with Jordan.

    66. Z-man

      “I’d say that he could make a strong argument for most valuable on the ’92 team”

      As I said, one could also make a WP-based argument that DPOY Tyson Chandler is more productive than MVP Hakeem. Doesn’t make it a strong argument, or nearly as strong as the argument that WP is deeply flawed in its fundamental assumption that wins and losses can be partitioned among players based on box score stats.

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