My Win Analysis of the 2012 US Olympic Basketball Team

July 9, 2012

I have posted the 2011-12 NBA Marginal Win Score Win Numbers for the 2012 US Olympic Basketball team on my LiveJournal site (click here).  For now, I am going to post all statistical numbers there, because they post the precise way I want them to (in a readable, organized form).


I must say that the selections made over the weekend were rather inspired.  Every single player selected (Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, and James Harden) posted an “elite” level Marginal Win Score (meaning their personal winning percentages were each greater than a thousand percent) whereas none of the players they were competing against (Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis) posted numbers anywhere close (though in fairness to Davis, he does project as an Elite level win producer.)

At the same time, the 2 NBAers who were cut would qualify as pure “scorers” whereas the 3 that were kept probably would not.  Does this mean the NBA establishment is becoming “switched on” (as Brits would say) to the Win Score revolution?  Only time will tell.


With all that being said, the 2012 team does not project to be nearly as strong as the 2008 team.  In particular, the team will be missing a big post presence in Dwight Howard, and if Chris Paul is injured, the 2012 team will be very thin at Point Guard (backup Deron Williams is the only player on the roster who posted a negative Marginal Win Score last NBA season, and the other backup Russell Westbrook is notorious for overshooting).  Moreover, I have no dreaming idea how Carmelo Anthony made the team.  He has NEVER been an elite player… he is strictly a volume scorer.

Even so, any team featuring LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Blake Griffin should be very formidable indeed.  But remember, most every team can be beaten in a one-off.  And as great as that 2008 team was, they were almost knocked off by a clearly inferior Spanish team.  So I am guaranteeing nothing, but the US team should be a heavy favorite to bring home gold from the British Isles this summer.

Are short quarterbacks the victim of a confirmation bias?

July 7, 2012

Whenever I mention former Badger QB Russell Wilson, people remind me that short quarterbacks have a poor track record in the NFL?  That begs two questions:

(1) Is the alleged poor performance record for short quarterbacks even accurate?

(2) Assuming arguendo that it is, were the cited quarterbacks ineffective because they were short, or because they were poor quarterbacks?

My hunch is that the rule against short quarterbacks is just one more in a long line of bogus sports beliefs.  Why would height adversely effect quarterback performance?  The often cited reason is because the quarterback “can’t see over his linemen”.  That’s bunk.  First of all, the linemen pass block in a crouched position.  Second of all, linemen are constantly moving — its not as though they form an impenetrable wall. Third of all, a slightly shorter quarterback can always drop back further to get a better perspective.  Finally, to one extent or another EVERY quarterback who stands less than, let’s say, 6’8” has his vision impeded by the 6’5” men standing in front of him.

Besides which, Drew Brees and Fran Tarkenton are both examples of short quarterbacks who have performed well in the NFL.  So height is by no means a bar to excellence.

I’m beginning to believe that short quarterbacks are the victims of confirmation bias — the “axiom” makers in pro football’s past and present decided that you needed to be tall to play quarterback and therefore they overemphasize examples of short quarterbacks who have failed and underemphasize short quarterbacks who have succeeded, because the former reinforces their preconceived notions and the latter doesn’t.

The problem for me is, how do you isolate the effects of height on quarterback performance?  How can one separate bad passing that resulted because a QB is simply a bad passer from bad passing that resulted because a QB was short?

I need to give this matter some more thought…


Arturo injects some reality into NBA Draft night fantasies

June 28, 2012

I love objectively analyzing sports, but it has its downside too.  It basically takes all of the oxygen away fromone of the time honored traditions of fandom, what I will call the “season of stupid hopes”.  (The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned as someone once wrote).

For instance, its June and, looking at things objectively, I already know the Bucks have at best a decent chance to make the playoffs, but  they have a very slim chance of advancing past the opening round, and they have absolutely ZERO chance of winning an NBA championship.  That’s kind of depressing, but its realistic.  And sobering.

Same goes with NBA draft night.  If you subjectively analyze the prospects through your blue and red NBA glasses, like every ESPN analyst does, then every tall skinny African American is potentially another Kevin Garnett, every three point ace reminds you of Ray Allen, every raw big man could be the next Andrew Bynum, and absolutely every tall white European with an outside shot is certain to be the next Dirk Nowitzki.  But, in most cases, it just isnt so.

Yet, in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, we repeat the same fantastic exercise every June.  We willingly delude ourselves using absurd, largely physical comparisons.  Comparisons that have little basis in statistical reality.   For instance, remember when Kenny Fields was the next Marques Johnson, Bucks fans?  Because he was a 6’7” small forward from UCLA.  Or remember how Todd Day was going to be the next superstar?  (I’m not sure why we thought that)  How dumb do those notions seem now?

Here is the truth.  Arturo shows on his genius draft model over at the Wages of Wins Journal that in fact very few of the players chosen last night will have any positive impact at all.  At most 4 of them look capable of producing above average winning statistics, but almost 80% of them look as though they will be utterly incapable of making any significant impact on their new team’s fortunes (unless it is a negative impact).

That may be depressing, and it may render all the next day “Draft Report Cards” moot, and it may take all the fun out of sports, but its pretty truthful.

I’m all giddy about Henson, the Bucks choice, but the truth is, he won’t turn the Bucks around.  According to Arturo, he’s just on the border of being “draftable”, and Arturo forecasts his rookie statline as decent at best, and probably below average.  In short, Mr Henson aint gonna be Milwaukee’s new Lew Alcindor.  In fact, the only player in the Draft who has ANY shot at having a franchise changing impact is the top pick Anthony Davis.  After that, you’ve got a couple of possibly above average players (one of whom is second rounder Jae Crawford), then you have a handful of probably average players, and after that you’re left with pure junk.

Those are the ugly facts.

But the Bucks should be better, and that’s enough for me.

Doron Lamb looks like a lesser version of Jodie Meeks

June 28, 2012

The physical makeup and statisical production of Bucks second round pick, SG Doron Lamb of Kentucky, reminds me of their former second round pick, Jodie Meeks, who also came from Kentucky.

Basically, in a nutshell, he’s small for his position (standing reach of 8’2” is below average for 2 Guard) and he produces almost no secondary statistics.  He doesn’t rebound, pass, steal the ball, block shots, nothing.

What he does do is shoot the ball well from three point land and from the foul line.  In fact, in college he was an incredible shooter from 3 point land, making nearly 50% of his three point attempts.  That’s great, but it doesn’t always translate well from college to the pros, especially when the player lacks length and lacks diversity to his game (the opposition can just crowd the player and smother his 3 point looks).

Now, that said, Jodie Meeks has actually been an okay NBA player.  Why?  He’s above average from 3pt land, he shoots free throws very well, he shoots 2pt shots pretty well, and unlike Lamb, he actually tosses in a few rebounds and he’s pretty decent at stealing the ball.

So, let me say I’m not that optimistic about Mr. Lamb.  He may not even make the roster, who knows?

I do have one question though.  If you look at his picture on Draftexpress, he looks super buff.  How the hell did he only manage a measly 2 bench presses??  That makes no sense.  Forgot to eat his Wheaties that morning?

Weaknesses and Strengths of Bucks John Henson

June 28, 2012

I still like the Henson choice, but I think he might struggle a bit until he adds strength to his frame.  Here’s what concerns me:


1. Strength: big me n need a base, and he’s only 216, and he only benched 5 reps.  Gotta improve that.

2. He shoots a low percentage from 2pt land.  That’s troubling.  However, I think it is strength related.  With a standing reach of 9’4”, no one in the NBA should bother his shot up high.   Once he puts on strength, he should be able to improve that.  However, history says he will struggle early.

3. He’s a terrible foul shooter.  This troubles me because it means (a) combined with his mediocre 2pt shooting, it means he probably won’t be an efficient scorer, and (b) if Bogut is any indication, when big men can’t shoot foul shots, they tend to be more likely to take passive jump shots rather than attacking the rim.  You want just the opposite, even if you are a terrible FT shooter, its always better to attack the rim than settle for jumpers.


1. He’s very long.  His standing reach of 9’4” is better than most centers, and he stands a legitimate 6’10” which is much more rare than the NBA rosters would lead you to believe.

2. He’s an excellent rebounder.  Players who rebound in college tend to continue to rebound in the pros.

3. He was consistently productive.  I always get scared when I see guys who suddenly become really productive after years of mediocre production.  Not the case with Henson.

4. He doesn’t foul.  That could indicate he’s passive on defense, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say it means he is smart.

5. He blocks shots.  This can be a double edged sword, because shot blockers will sometimes turn their men loose on the boards, but with Henson and Dalembert, the Bucks will be able to do a much better job of “guarding the cup” as Scott Skiles likes to say.

BOTTOM LINE: Because of his lack of strength and his poor field game, I think Henson will probably struggle a bit early.  But he’s long and he has a productive resume, which i like.  The one thing I fear is freethrowitis.  That is, because he can’t shoot free throws, he will shy away from any shots that might lead to free throws.  That would be fatal.  Skiles has to implore him: take it strong whenever and wherever possible.

My quick take on the NBA Draft Picks

June 28, 2012

Here are my quick, disjointed thoughts on the NBA Draft:

… Anthony Davis looks like a sure thing, but there is not such thing, but he’s close

…I’ve got Gilchrist pretty high up in my rankings, but there were better players available at 2

…Shooting Guards are iffy, but with that said, Beal looks pretty productive

…Not wowed by the Cavs Dion Waiters choice.  First, he wasn’t real productive at Syracuse.  Second, he played at Syracuse “Bust U”

…Kings pick Robinson — Great choice

…Lillard is actually a decent choice.  Really never heard of the guy until I did my calculations, but he’s 9th on my list

…I think Harrison Barnes will be a complete washout.  Underproductive and his standing reach is very poor for his position

…Ross — again, SG are iffy because they rely so much on efficient shooting, but like Beal, Ross was productive in college.  So, roll the dice.

…Drummond — why Detroit???????

…Austin Rivers– guaranteed bust / at least NO acquired Davis number one, because this is a terrible choice.  He will shoot them out of game after game, and he’s weak and he’s too light, and his standing reach is less than mine!!!

…Meyers Leonard — wow, three terrible choices in a row.  They say bad things happen in threes.

…Jeremy Lamb — Check that, bad things happen in fours.  Hasn’t LeBron taught us the value of strength??

…Ken Marshall — not that impressive at UNC, but if there is one position that will outperform college numbers its PG.  But he doesn’t fit the mold of the overperformer.

…Harkless — pretty nice choice.  Very productive.  The Sixers are on the rise.


Bucks draft according to production rather than potential

June 28, 2012

For the first time in a long time, I really cannot complain about the Milwaukee Bucks first round draft choice.  In fact, PF John Henson was exactly the player I was hoping they would chose.  Henson was one of the most productive college players in the draft, and with a standing reach of 9’4”, he has incredible size (I think that’s near JaValle McGee, but I could be wrong).

Now, does this guarantee the Bucks added a productive successful player?  No.  But the Bucks certainly improved their odds by using what I would consider a sound philosophy: production over potential.

Henson does have some downsides, or at least some perceived downsides, I am sure.  Otherwise he would not have fallen as far as he did.  But again, he was one of the most productive players in the draft, and he produced his statistics against Grade One competition.

Three days ago, I was hearing that the Bucks were going to draft the Illinois stiff Meyers Leonard, which would have probably ended my lifelong Bucks fandom.  Instead of making such a colossal mistake, the team made two astute moves.  They acquired a proven big man in Samuel Dalembert, and they drafted a very intriguing first round PF in John Henson.

If you ask me, these have been two very impressive days for Bucks GM John Hammond.  I’m sure a contingent of Bucks Nation will disagree vehemently with me, but we will see who is right next November.

NBA Draft Prospect Rankings on my LiveJournal

June 28, 2012

Because I am a little frustrated with some of the limitations of WordPress, I have posted my ranking and analysis of tonight’s NBA Draft prospects on an alternate site.  I rank the prospects according to their college Win Score compared to the NBA average Win Score at their projected position.

Hint:  I wouldn’t touch Austin Rivers or Andre Drummond or Harrison Barnes, but Anthony Davis looks strong as does a surprisingly productive prospect from Marquette.

Hey, the Bucks made a smart move!

June 28, 2012

The Bucks made a pretty astute little move yesterday when they acquired the veteran journeyman C Samuel Dalembert from the Houston Rockets for, essentially, two draft spots.

First, they gave up nothing.  The Bucks administration is just as likely to make a mistake at 14 as they were at 12.  Secondly, they picked up a pretty productive center who fits perfectly in the Scott Skiles defensive regime.

Dalembert’s Win Chart for the last 5 seasons

2012 14.59 11.95 1.32 0.728 5.3__2.0* 1.6* 6.9*
2011 13.37 11.34 1.01 0.675 5.2__2.5 1.4 6.6
2010 17.22 11.54 2.84 0.984 8.7__0.1 4.3 12.9
2009 14.19 11.33 1.43 0.738 6.2__2.2 2.1 8.2
2008 13.92 11.49 1.21 0.707 7.9__3.4 2.3 10.2
AVER 14.65 11.53 1.56 0.766 6.7__2.0 2.3 9.1

*: numbers projected over a regulation 82 game schedule

As you can see, Dalembert is a consistent +0.500% winner.  In 2010 he even made my 20 MVP List.  Even if you throw out that outlier, he has been above average in every other season.  He basically gives the Bucks exactly what Bogut gave them, with probably a tiny bit more defensive presence in the middle (his penchant for blocking shots is probably the reason why his Defensive Win Score is a little high).

Dalembert is certainly better than the other horror shows the Bucks were rumored to be ready to draft: the big man from Illinois, who did nothing in the Big Ten last season (he has one of those “last name as my first name” names that drive British people nuts and that now escapes me) or Zeller from UNC, who was productive in his last season (but so was Psycho T and he has completely sucked for the Pacers) but who was never that productive in his earlier seasons, and who has the standing reach of a small forward.

NBA teams should stay away from Doc Rivers kid

June 27, 2012

If you are looking for potential NBA underperformers in tonight’s NBA draft, I’d start with Doc Rivers kid, Austin.

First off, he is weak and weighs only 202 pounds, very light for a shooting guard.

Second, his standing reach, which I consider true basketball height, is only 8’0.5”.  That’s short for a point guard, let alone a shooting guard.

Third, and most importantly, Rivers’ collegiate statistics forewarn possible NBA ineffectiveness.  Rivers was a terribly inefficient player in his lone collegiate season.  His Win Score, projected out over 48 minutes, would be 4.21, which is over 2.0 points below the NBA average.  Sometimes players will outperform their NCAA stats when they reach the NBA, but not often.

Finally, shooting guard is a position filled with busts, mainly because a player’s effectiveness at this position is largely a measure of his shooting efficiency.  Shooting efficiency is highly volatile.

I would stay away from Austin Rivers, but some dumb NBA GM will waste a high pick on him tonight.