Posts Tagged ‘Henry Abbott’

Understanding how advantageous mismatches actually work in the NBA

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Mismatches are not magic

Early in the Sixers loss to the visiting Blazers, Portland had an obvious mismatch. The 6-7 Martell Webster was being guarded by the smallest guy on the court, Allen Iverson, who is listed as 6-0 but was once described by then-teammate Aaron McKie as 5-10, which seems plausible.

Webster can shoot from the outside, and is strong and athletic enough to score in the paint. In theory, he could feast on a small defender.

The Blazers force-fed Webster again and again. The smaller Iverson battled. “Just trying to fight him early,” said Iverson after the game. “Trying to push him out as much as possible, and front him if I had to.” He also used some veteran tricks. Not once, but twice on an early play Iverson yelled and threw his body around, pretending Webster had fouled him.

The referees weren’t buying it.

Webster went to work.

He ran Iverson off screens, Reggie Miller-style. He posted up. He shot long jumpers. He fought into the paint.

And just about none of it worked. Webster missed a layup. He made a mid-range jumper. He missed a 3. He missed a tip-in. He missed a short jumper.

In one telling play, Webster posted Iverson, rushed a move into the helping Samuel Dalembert, and missed a tough shot over the longest arms on the court.

Another time, the Blazers fought to get Webster the ball in the corner and looked to create something off the dribble. But he didn’t have a lot of room to operate, and ended up having to escape to the top of the key. By the time he determined there were no easy shots for him, he swung the ball into a shot-clock violation.

After all that, Portland was down six, and had scored just five points in the game’s first five minutes. Webster missed one more shot, then Portland stopped going to Webster.

—————————–

The fact is …

Just because:

Martell Webster is 6 feet 7 inches, and weighs 235 lbs,

while,

Allen Iverson is 6 feet 0 inches, and weighs 165 lbs,

it does not mean Portland’s young buck has a skill-based advantage in an array of different areas within his individual game that supercedes those of Mr. Iverson’s.

According to the Full Play-By-Play and the details provided by Henry Abbott:

BEGIN – 1st Quarter, 12:00
No. 1, Webster missed a 2PT layup. [10:52]
No. 2, He made a 2PT jump shot. [09:09]
No. 3, He missed a 3PT jump shot. [08:42]
Rebound: Offensive [08:26]
No. 4, He missed a 2PT tip-in shot. [08:26]
No. 5, He missed a 2PT jump shot. [07:37]
Turnover: Shot Clock Violation [07:05]
Personal Foul vs Iguodala, shooting [06:52]
No. 6, He missed a 2PT jump shot. [06:35]
END – 1st Quarter, 04:56, Subbed Out

BEGIN – 3rd Quarter, 12:00
No. 7, He missed a 2PT jump shot, blocked shot by Iguodala. [11:37]
No. 8, He missed a 2PT jump shot. [10:09]
Rebound: Defensive [03:48]
No. 9, He missed a 2PT dunk shot, blocked shot by Dalembert. [02:56]
Personal Foul vs Iverson, shooting. [02:50]
END - 3rd Quarter, 02:31, Subbed Out

BEGIN – 4th Quarter, 00:41.1
END – 4th Quarter, 00:00

———————————–

QUESTION
Where, exactly, would you say Martell Webster has an individual match-up advantage over Allen Iverson?

… since, according to Nate McMillan’s own words:

Martell is not normally on the block for us. We wanted to make Iverson work some, so they didn’t just rest him. We wanted to go into the post with our guards … we tried Martell a few times.

You don’t want to take yourself out of rhythm by going to a guy who’s not normally in that position. We went to it a couple times, but we felt like we were trying to force some things there and we went away from that, and went back to what we normally do.”

ANSWER

Part I

If you look at the NBA Hotspots Chart for Martell Webster, to-date, what you should be able to see is that he is actually shooting/scoring the ball relatively poorly from a host of different spots on the floor … including:

A. From an interior location:

#3. Middle Lane 2PT shots, 1-6/.167
#4. Right Low Block 2PT shots, 0-6/.000

B. From a mid-range location:

#6. Left Elbow 2PT jump shots, 2-8/.250
#7. Free Throw Line 2PT jump shots, 1-5/.200
#9. Right Wing 2PT jump shots, 3-12/.250

and,

C. From a perimeter location:

#13. Right Angled 3PT jump shots, 17-54/.315

with the exceptions being …

A. From an interior location:

#1. Layups/dunks/tip-in shots, 49-93/.527
#2. Left Low Block 2PT shots, 5-9/.556

and, predominantly, well AWAY from the basket area …

B. From a mid-range location:

#5. Left Wing 2PT jump shots, 10-23/.435
#8. Right Elbow 2PT jump shots, 6-13/.462

and,

C. From a perimeter location:

#10. Left Corner 3PT jump shots, 19-52/.365
#11. Left Angled 3PT jump shots, 14-37/.378
#12. Middle Top 3PT jump shots, 9-19/.474
#14. Right Corner 3PT jump shots, 18-42/.429

Part II

A mismatch advantage CAN ONLY OCCUR in a specific aspect of the game where:

* Player X is being checked by Player Y; and, 
* Player X has a skill-based advantage, compared to Player Y …

- because that particular skill is a regular part of what Player X brings to the table each and every time he plays the game against an opponent who is similar to Player Y

- within the specific context of how Player X’s team usually operates.

———————————–

Yes, indeed, the NBA game is about …

Effectively:

i] Creating individual match-up advantages;

ii] Exploiting individual match-up advantages; and,

iii] Minimizing individual mis-match disadvantages;

in order to create high percentage open shots:

A. Within the context of a specific game; and,

B. According to the specific strengths and weaknesses of the involved players …

but – first and foremost – it is absolutely crucial to actually know what exactly qualifies as a legitimate mis-match advantage when Team 1 plays against Team 2 and Player X is assigned to check Player Y.

As such, Martell Webster vs Allen Iverson does not qualify as a favourable mismatch advantage for the Blazers vs the 76ers, UNLESS MR. WEBSTER IS ACTUALLY BEING USED PROPERLY, by Nate McMillan, through a series of:

I. Post-ups in the Left Low Block position; and,

II. Weak side spot up opportunities when the ball is …

* Fed into the Low Post position and then kicked out

or,

* Driven into the interior of the defense and then kicked out

to Webster, specifically, for mid-range/perimeter jump shots over a much smaller defender, after several passes have already been made by his teammates.

Wayne Winston is not bashful, nor should he be

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Finally … a stats guru speaks who is at least on the right track.

How stats apply to individual match-ups for elite level NBA coaches
WW: Tracy McGrady is a player who has never helped his team as much as people thought. Allen Iverson — for one or two years he was really good.

The best player of the decade, though, I’d say, was Kevin Garnett. We have a rating over the last eight or nine years, and Garnett comes out number one. And I think everybody else [other stat experts] has that too, so that’s nice.

Although I don’t like Garnett. When I watch on TV, he’s turning too edgy. Chippy attitude.

Another guy who is totally overrated is Amare Stoudemire. I mean, he’s a stat stuffer. Troy Murphy gets great stats, but never does much for the team.

(UPDATE: Winston amends this statement: “With Golden State Troy Murphy was a stat stuffer who did little to help the team but with Indiana the last two years he has improved to where he is an above average NBA player.”)

There’s a bunch of guys like that.

Andre Iguodala, though. Whenever he’s on the court for Philadelphia, they’re great. Whenever he’s off, they suck. God knows why he’s a good player. I watch him play, and I don’t know. (More on Iguodala.)

Jason Kidd is a little like that, but you can see why he makes guys better. But not Iguodala.

HA: Sometimes I feel like I can see Kidd’s greatness, but other times, at this stage of his career, I can’t. 

WW: Kidd can’t guard a fast guard. They go right by him like he’s standing still. They always did. Against Chris Paul … Jason Kidd might as well be standing still on defense.

But the interesting thing: Devin Harris can nail Tony Parker. But Steve Nash can beat Devin Harris. But Parker can beat Nash.

It’s not transitive. We can show that. That’s really interesting. That shouldn’t be. But it is. There are probably a lot of other things like that.

If coaches see other examples of things like that, we can back them up with data. Del Harris really got to like us, I think, because a lot of times our numbers confirmed what he thought. It’s hard to argue with the numbers when you’ve got a full amount of data on it.

Last year [Maverick assistant] Terry Stotts did a really great job asking us questions. Before the Spurs series, they asked us about Antoine Wright.  He’s not on the team anymore, thank god. OK, he had a bad rating in our system. But the fascinating thing was, when he played small forward, he was good. When he played shooting guard, he was terrible. So we can break that down. I can find every combination where he was small forward and he was good. Every combination where he was shooting guard he was terrible. 

Against the Spurs, they used him as a small forward and he was great. Every time he played for Howard at small forward, they killed the Spurs.

Things like this … I needed the coach to ask me the question because I would have never thought of it. You don’t just throw the numbers at the coach, because, I mean, 500,000 numbers! But if the coach understands what he’s doing, and says “I think Antoine Wright can play small forward can you tell me if that’s true?” That’s how you use the stuff.

———————————

THIS is the direction in which basketball analysis NEEDS to go.

Sincere thanks to you … Wayne Winston! :-)

 

PS. It’s the job of an elite level basketball coach to answer correctly the questions which Wayne Winston doesn’t happen to have the specific training, knowledge base and experience to discern properly on his own … e.g. What really makes Andre Iguodala as good as he is given what the “average” stats/numbers have to say about his level of play?  Those who can DO THAT are the ones with the type of Basketball Analysis/Acumen you SHOULD BE listening to in order to better understand, How The NBA Game Actually Works, Based On Individual Match-ups.

PPS. Class for NBA 101 is now finished for today … or, in fact, for some of you, at least, it may just be starting … from scratch. ;)

PPPS. Btw … What Wayne Winston had to say in this piece about there being no distinction necessary between the use of players like Brandon Bass [#4/PF] and Dirk Nowitzki [#5/C], on the court together, regardless of their position, and the effect/thinking of Mike D’Antoni, just happens to be wrong. ;)

 

Made in America.

Friday, May 8th, 2009

What it’s all about: Part III

[courtesy of Stacy Peralta and Baron Davis, by way of Henry Abbott]

Breaking the Cycle of Inner City Gang Violence
I had two goals for the film. First, I wanted to show people about why we have gangs in our inner cities, because unless you understand the history you can’t address the issue. And second, I wanted to show people what we can do to resolve this.

Until we stop looking at these kids as monsters we will never break the cycle of gang violence. People need to understand that in communities in which family units have broken apart and there are few, if any, economic opportunities, gangs become like surrogate families, identities.

Throwing people in jail is not going to solve this problem. As NFL great and youth advocate Jim Brown says in our film, “If more police or jails were the solution, the problem would have been fixed 30 years ago.” If we are going to address this issue in a meaningful way, we need a new approach.

That’s where Congressman Bobby Scott’s Youth PROMISE Act comes in. PROMISE stands for Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education — it’s exactly what we’re advocating in our film and we’re proud to get behind this effort.

The Act is based on prevention and intervention programs that work with local schools, community centers, faith-based organizations, and parents to prevent violence before it begins. The whole idea is to give these kids another way, another option, instead of joining gangs.

Red and Me, by Bill Russell

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

When Bill Russell Writes About Red Auerbach
In the twelfth game of his rookie season, Russell became enraged because Auerbach had Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman trying to post up on offense while Russell stood around, out of position. Auerbach called timeout, and as the other players stood around the coach, Russell sat on the bench, disgusted. Auerbach asked Russell why he wasn’t in the huddle. “Everybody else is playing center tonight,” Russell recalls complaining. “I don’t need to be in the huddle to know how to get out of their way.”

This was a rookie talking back to Red Auerbach, though Russell was an outstanding rookie and Auerbach hadn’t won an NBA title yet. But still. A rookie can’t talk to a coach that way in his twelfth career game. Auerbach thought for a few seconds and then said, “Okay, nobody plays center but Russell.” For Russell, a man who disliked authority figures to that point, it showed Auerbach was willing to listen — and that he would coach to win, not to feed anyone’s ego, including his own. It was the same reason why Auerbach didn’t try to change Russell’s then-revolutionary shot-blocking game when some of his other coaches had urged him to stay on the ground on defense. The shot-blocking worked, and Auerbach understood that. Russell admits that he was too stubborn — and perhaps too suspicious of white authorities as a relatively radical young black man — to have gotten along with Auerbach had the coach been an unreasonable tyrant.

——————————————-

1. There are several reasons why Bill Russell is one of the greatest athletes of all-time. This is merely one of them. 

2. When yours truly writes on-line that the Raptors need to understand that Chris Bosh [as a poor man's version of Bill Russell] is THE Center on their team … not Andrea Bargnani … this is some of what’s involved in understanding how the game of basketball actually works.

i.e. Other Celtics players could certainly ‘post-up’ their individual checks … but … there was NO DOUBT, at least, after this incident, who THE Center was on those great teams for the Boston Celtics.

Those who fail to understand what it means to be THE Center for a basketball team simply DO NOT have a thorough and sophisticated appreciation of the NBA game, yet.

What the Blazers NEED most heading towards the playoffs

Friday, March 20th, 2009

The Portland Trail Blazers are 2nd in the Northwest Division with a 43-26/.623 W-L Record, 1 game behind the Denver Nuggets, and hold 6th place team in the Western Conference … after failing to qualify for the playoffs last year. 

This is the Box Score from their game last night, a tough loss at Cleveland, in OT [92-97].

This is the Full Play-By-Play.

These are some of the observations made by Henry Abbott, a die-hard Blazermania Fan, based on what he saw in this game and hoped for Out-of-the-Box-thinking which he felt might have made a positive impact on the eventual outcome for Nate McMillan’s team coming down the stretch.

What you might not realize, however, about this current edition of the playoff-bound Blazers is that they are doing this work this season without the services of their Starting Off Guard-Small Forward, Martell Webster, who put up these numbers for their squad last year:

Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG
05-06 POR 61 18 17.5 0.399 0.357 0.859 0.5 1.7 2.1 0.6 0.3 0.2 0.70 1.50 6.6
06-07 POR 82 27 21.5 0.396 0.364 0.705 0.5 2.4 2.9 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.93 1.50 7.0
07-08 POR 75 70 28.4 0.422 0.388 0.735 0.7 3.2 3.9 1.2 0.6 0.4 1.11 2.10 10.7

and has missed 68 of their 69 games played, so far, this season.

Instead of going with the crunch-time line-up suggested by TrueHoop’s author, what yours truly is really looking forward to seeing from the Blazers down the road … whether later this spring or next season … is this specific 5-Man Unit on the floor together with the game on the line:

PG - Brandon Roy [6-6, 211]
OG – Martell Webster 
SF – Travis Outlaw [6-9, 207]
PF - LaMarcus Aldridge [6-11, 240]
C - Greg Oden [7-0, 285]

When the Blazers’ overall team health is such that they can field that specific group, in a playoffs series, with the likes of:

PG – Sergio Rodriguez
PG – Steve Blake
PG – Jerryd Bayless
OG – Rudy Fernandez
SF – Nicolas Batum
PF – Channig Frye
C – Joel Przybilla

in reserve, they will be a legitimate contender to reach the Western Conference Finals.

Do or die – Great shooters in the NBA today … You make the call

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Last week Henry Abbott asked a specific question of his readers …

One Shot, with the game on the line
Who would you pick to take that shot?

In survey after survey, expert after expert has said: “Kobe Bryant.”

Roland Beech of 82games.com just pored through five and a half years of game-winning shots however, and found that with the game on the line, Bryant has made 14 of his 56 shots.

That’s 25%.

Which means that as the ball comes off Bryant’s fingertips, your chances of getting two points roughly similar as to when Shaquille O’Neal heads to the free throw line to shoot two free throws …

———-

Today, Brian McCormick has a terrific article on the …

NBA’s Best Shooters
Last week, Tim Legler looked at NBA shooters and rated his top three shooters:

1. Ray Allen
2. Dirk Nowitzki
3. Jason Kapono

Legler introduces the 170 club, which is basically the same concept as the 180 Shooter, except the “170 club” aims for 80% from the free throw line, while the 180 Shooter aims for 90% from the free throw line.

His picks are obviously very good shooters. Of his top three, I would pick Allen first as well because he makes a greater variety of shots. When looking at the top shooters, I believe the best shooter must be someone who can make “all the shots” rather than just being the best three-point shooter.

If using the five phase progression from 180 Shooter, Kapono, for instance, shoots primarily Phase 1 shots: stand-still catch-and-shoot shots and free throws. For this reason, players like Kapono and Kyle Korver and other top shooters do not register at the top of my list.

In last week’s Sports Illustrated, NBA players picked Allen, Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Kapono and Peja Stojakovic as the top shooters. I don’t think these people think very hard

———-

Be sure to read the “comments” section, where you’ll see the opinion of this corner expressed succinctly.

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Which NBA shooter would you choose to make the shot, in a game, at crunch time, with your life at stake?

View Results

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Which recalls a line from this classic Spaghetti Western …

“When it’s time to shoot. Then, Shoot!”

In a real game, at crunch time, there are those who cannot pull the trigger effectively and those who can.

Actual percentages have very little to do with it … as the very best shooters/scorers in NBA history absolutely KNOW that the next shot which THEY take will be GOING IN, regardless what their percentage might be.

———-

UPDATE:

Exhibit A

Btw … this corner’s unabashed respect for Jeff Van Gundy’s ability to deliver in the clutch, as a NBA TV Analyst, remains unchanged.

Kobe, ‘the Arc’, Lebron, the Boss, JVG and an Olajuwon Shake … on a Sunday afternoon.

It just doesn’t get any better than THAT. :-)

Assessing defensive prowess in the NBA

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

If you had to choose a single standard Game Stat to base your assessment on, which one would it be?

re: the case for Points Allowed Per Possession

Not the worst defensive coach out there: Mike D’Antoni
if you wanted a quick way to rate the defense of Mike D’Antoni’s teams, or any coach, I would advise you do this: Add up the number of points his opponents have scored all season, and divide it by the number of possessions they have had. It’s beautiful, right? It factors in everything above — every miss or make, every foul, every blocked shot — in a real world setting. It tells you, essentially, if your team has the ball, and D’Antoni’s team is playing D, how many points are you likely to score before his team gets the ball back.

Other defensive stats might tell you more about how such a thing happens. But this statistic is surely king when it comes to quickly telling you which team is the best at stopping people.

———————————

re: the case for FG Percentage Differential

link for you to consider.

If you do … here’s some of what you should then be able to see for yourself. 

Field Goal Percentage Differential

 

 

 

 

 

FG

 

W-L

Win%

Place

 Team

M 

A 

Pct 

 

27-2

 .931

E1

 Boston Celtics

4.2 

-2.1 

6.6 

 

24-4

 .857

E2

 Cleveland Cavaliers

6.0 

3.0 

6.0 

 

16-11

 .593

W8

 Phoenix Suns

-0.2 

-8.3 

4.7 

 

23-5

 .821

W1

 Los Angeles Lakers

3.2 

0.7 

3.5 

 

18-11

 .621

W4

 Denver Nuggets

0.5 

-4.8 

3.4 

 

22-6

 .786

E3

 Orlando Magic

0.0 

-5.4 

2.9 

 

17-13

 .567

W9

 Utah Jazz

1.8 

0.1 

2.3 

 

16-11

 .643

W7

 Dallas Mavericks

1.3 

-0.6 

1.8 

 

18-10

 .643

W5

 San Antonio Spurs

0.2 

-1.7 

1.2 

 

18-10

 .643

E4

 Atlanta Hawks

-0.8 

-3.8 

1.1 

 

15-12

 .556

E6

 Miami Heat

1.8 

3.0 

0.6 

 

19-10

 .655

W3

 Houston Rockets

-1.1 

-3.4 

0.5 

 

16-8

 .667

W2

 New Orleans Hornets

1.4 

2.1 

0.5 

 

15-11

 .577

E5

 Detroit Pistons

0.9 

1.5 

0.4 

 

18-11

 .621

W6

 Portland Trail Blazers

1.5 

4.0 

-0.5 

 

10-19

 .345

E14

 Charlotte Bobcats

-0.7 

-0.5 

-0.5 

 

10-18

 .357

E13

 Indiana Pacers

1.0 

3.2 

-0.5 

 

14-16

 .467

E8

 Milwaukee Bucks

2.5 

7.3 

-0.9 

 

11-17

 .393

E12

 Toronto Raptors

-3.0 

-5.1 

-0.9 

 

13-15

 .464

E9

 Chicago Bulls

-0.6 

0.4 

-0.9 

 

12-16

 .429

E10

 Philadelphia 76ers

0.1 

2.2 

-1.2 

 

9-19

 .321

W10

 Memphis Grizzlies

-1.5 

-0.1 

-1.8 

 

14-14

 .500

E7

 New Jersey Nets

-0.1 

3.2 

-1.9 

 

8-20

 .286

W11

 Los Angeles Clippers

-1.1 

1.5 

-2.1 

 

7-22

 .241

W13

 Sacramento Kings

-1.8 

0.0 

-2.3 

 

8-22

 .267

W12

 Golden State Warriors

-3.6 

-1.4 

-3.2 

 

4-22

 .154

E15

 Washington Wizards

-2.5 

1.6 

-3.9 

 

11-16

 .407

E11

 New York Knicks

-4.6 

-1.8 

-4.3 

 

3-26

 .103

W15

 Oklahoma City Thunder

-3.0 

1.1 

-4.4 

 

4-23

 .148

W14

 Minnesota Timberwolves

-2.0 

4.2 

-4.8 

 

 

Last updated through games completed on Dec 23, 200

PLEASE NOTE: If you really want to get a better handle on which teams [or coaches] are the best defensive squads [or coaches] in the NBA, you will begin to assign ordinal ranks to individual defensive categories and then combine those into an unified metric, for example, along the following lines …

Field Goal Percentage Differential Rank
+
FG Made Differential Rank
+
3FG Made Differential Rank
+
FT Made Differential Rank
+
Points Differential Rank
+
Opponents Points Scored Rank [Inverse]
=
Defensive Quality Rating

This will provide an accurate appraisal of each team’s ability [relative to one another] to Get A Stop when it’s needed most in a close, hard-fought playoff type game … which is a substantial part of what separates the Winners from the Losers, on a night-to-night basis, in the NBA.

Apples are as apples do, either good or bad

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

There is much to learn from Academia and the world of Business about THE WAY in which an authentically High End NBA team functions.

———————————————

To wit:

Bad Apples
… host Ira Glass talked with Will Felps, an assistant professor at the Rotterdam School of Management.

    Felps has done research into the nature of group dynamics, which I think should interest anybody who is a fan of team sports. Felps did a study involving three types of bad apples – - jerks, slackers and pessimists – - to see the damage they can do.

    He organized four-person teams of college students who were given 45 minutes of management tasks to perform. There was a $100 per person prize for the team that did the best, so there was a healthy incentive for everyone involved.

    As part of the experiment, Felps had an actor step into a team with another three unsuspecting members at times. The actor was trained – - and I love this – - to be a jerk, a slacker or a pessimist.

    The jerk would put everyone else down in the group, saying things like, “Have you ever taken a business course before?” The slacker text messaged throughout and started eating in the middle. The pessimist acted as if his cat had died (seriously).

    The thinking was that the group would be able to overcome this one individual. The opposite was true. Even with smart and talented people, the groups that included the bad apple performed 30 to 40 percent worse in completing tasks, according to Felps.

    I will admit to finding stuff like this fascinating. Immediately I started to think about all the jerks, slackers and pessimists you can find in NBA locker rooms. How much do they actually succeed in dragging down a team?

    Are there a bunch of .500 teams out there with the talent to win 55 games if they only got rid of the one bad apple in their locker room? It’s a fascinating question. Felps’ groups also didn’t have coaches trying to point things in the right direction like NBA teams do.

    Talking about the study, Felps said the other individuals in the group would even take on the characteristics of the bad apple, beginning to act like jerks to one another, for example, or joining the pessimist in laying their heads on the table.

    Felps also mentioned another study that looked at a range of businesses and industries. It found that the best predictor of success for teams comes not from the person at the top, nor the average person, but the person at the bottom.

——————————————–

So, too, is it valuable to read/hear what another NBA observer has to say about the subject and its apparent applicability to the work environment [WE] in The Association, on a game-to-game basis.

To wit:

One Bad Apple
I believe there is a lot to do this. Isn’t this what the Celtics are talking about when they talk about Ubuntu? Isn’t this what Pat Riley and his team were doing with their talk of 15 strong? Isn’t the Spurs careful method of character screening all part of weeding out those super bad personailities?

Sure, it might not be huge to have the 15th guy play well. But it’s huge to have him on the same page, pulling for the team to succeed.

I have also noticed over my life that title-winning teams tend to be teams where everybody can give 100% just about all the time. That means you can’t have super talented players who are not really contributing. In other words, I’d argue you’re better with Mr. “Go Team” Mark Madsen as your 11th man, instead of a really talented player who can only give 100% if somebody gets hurt. It’s your protection against the bad apple syndrome.

This, I’d argue, is the flaw with the Bob Whitsitt style of management where you assemble as many stars as possible. When there aren’t enough basketballs to go around, some of your good apples might go bad. And, it turns out, that can change everything. Another part of the story mentions that in some research, across many industries, the best predictor of a team’s success came from assessing the worst person on the team. As in, that person has a bigger effect than the leader or an average player. That’s something, huh?

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When looking at things like this, however … what this corner of the blogosphere is ABLE TO SEE is a different set of factors which need to be accounted for when attempting to draw conclusive parallels between these two essentially different WEs, such as:

1. A Standard Work Team [SWT] in the NBA is composed of 5 persons, not 4. From a Group Dynamics’ perspective, are there fundamental differences between the way in which a 4-person group functions vs a 5-person group? Yours truly thinks there is.

2.  A SWT in the NBA is composed of 5 male persons. Were the work teams in this study homogeneously male? Are there fundamental differences between the way in which a homogeneous group of 5 males functions vs a heterogeneous 4-person group? Yours truly thinks there is. 

3. A SWT in the NBA is a sub-group which functions as an outgrowth from a wider Family Tree that includes a Smaller Group of Secondary Substitutes [SGoSS] charged with the task of replacing individual members of the SWT, as the need arises, on a short, medium or long term basis. Are there fundamental differences between the way in which an isolated, 4-person, heterogeneous group functions vs a 5-person, all-male group supported by a homogeneous SGoSS? Yours truly thinks there is.

4. The SWTs in the research study were motivated to “do their best”, relative to the competitors, in order to receive an “individual monetary reward of $100″. Are there fundamental differences between a 4-person, heterogeneous group working for an individual financial reward vs a 5-person, all-male group, supported by a SGoSS working for an integrated series of rewards … including Satisfaction, Prestige, Pride, and Power, in addition to financial gains … which are both Individual and Collective based, Tangible & Intrinsic? Yours truly thinks there is.

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The game played in NBA is one of Individual match-ups and mis-matches, within a Collective WE, that combines a series of concentric 5-Man Units, composed of 1. Starters, 2. Key Subs, 3. Reserves, and 4. Extras, where the Weakest Link  … who actually [A] gets to play in games [regularly], gets to dress for games without playing in them [regularly], and [C] gets to play in practices [regularly] … makes a significant contribution toward the success or failure of a specific team, relative to its competitor[s], on a Possession-by-Possession basis, in pursuit of a series of Tangible & Intrinsic Rewards.

Those who understand THIS about how things work [or not] in The Association … are the ones who you SHOULD take the time to read, to see, to listen to and to work with in your life, on a daily basis.

If you do … it will make a difference.   

Those who wager on sports and win consistently understand the game in ways that others simply do not

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

There’s a good reason this is the very first link on this blog which references something taken from the wonderful blog operated by Henry Abbott (True Hoop).

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A Professional Gambler’s take on the Tim Donaghy Scandal
If you are able to correctly ascertain which collection of players (a team) is better than another team and by precisely what margin, then you are certainly qualified to make decisions as to what players are worth.

Some of my most successful bets were the result of trades or acquisitions. More often than not I am able to accurately forecast how these changes would impact the teams involved.

Take the Shaquille O’Neal for Shawn Marion trade from this season as one example. I immediately knew this trade would not work out and backed it up with a very large bet (several really) that involved Phoenix not advancing in the playoffs and not winning the Western Conference.

A sports bettor and a GM are both faced with the task of making tough decisions. We arrive at our conclusions (or at least should) in a very similar manner, both the bettor and GM are taking significant risk in that if our suppositions fail be correct, we suffer. Any distinctions between what I do in my NBA betting, and what a GM does in assessing the merits of a certain trade or move are purely superficial.

At least that’s how I feel. Whether or not anyone agrees with me is another matter altogether.

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Co-sign … to each & every word.

If you read nothing else about understanding the NBA, and the people who work in this business, do yourself an enormous favour and devour this entire article/interview … concerning a most interesting character by the name of Haralabos Voulgaris.

Worth more than twice its weight in gold … and, simply, mandatory reading for anyone who loves this game.

PS. Kudos to you, Henry! … for being first with this side to the story.

Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns

Friday, February 8th, 2008
Re: The ‘Big Risk’, Steve Kerr Rolls the Dice 
 

 

Hubris: The most common form of tragic flaw, usually ascribed to excessive pride or arrogance.

Insightful observations, the last 24 hrs …  

Roland Lazenby, on SportsHubLA, Twin Towers For The Lakers? Head Scratching For The Suns? 

I’m surprised (Steve) Kerr would do that,” (Tex) Winter said of the Suns’ trading Shawn Marion this week for Shaq. “It’s a strange trade. Shaq sure misses a lot of games. He’s not a very good defensive rebounder, or offensive rebounder for that matter. He does rebound his own misses a lot.” 

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, Suns hoping O’Neal has something left in tank 

Kerr insists the Suns doctors – considered the benchmark staff in the sport – are sold that they have a rehab remedy for Shaq’s troublesome hip to work him back into shape. “He’s going to make dramatic improvement with us,” the two doctors told Kerr, and that carries credibility with the Suns basketball people. Before the Suns signed Nash, Hill and Antonio McDyess with serious past injuries, the medical staff assured them that they could keep these players healthy.

and

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, The Way Shaquille O’Neal Plays Now 

Better than looking at numbers is watching video. I just did a ton of this, thanks to Synergy Sports. I watched him against the kinds of Western powers that the Lakers are likely to face. And I watched him against other teams.

Here are some things I can tell you with assurance:

* He’s not as slow or fat as rumored. He looks pretty fit, frankly. And on the ground, he moves well. Sometimes he even beats the opposing center down the floor. When pressed, he can still win deep post position against just about anyone. Once he catches it there, his footwork has long been splendid. Without looking rushed, he can probe the defender’s attack and make the right maneuver — spin, jump hook, power dribble, whatever — time and again. He is doing an excellent job of getting himself good, clean, short-range looks, and then …

* … he’s blowing layups. Layup after layup after layup after layup. It’s horrible to watch. He’s a first-rate talent. He’s getting the shot every coach dreams about: point blank, with no real defensive distractions. And then he just misses it. Five years ago, he dunked all of those. Now, thanks to his physical limitations, he’s not going over anybody with anything. So he has to finesse it, and watching him finesse a layup is a lot like watching him finesse a free throw. Hard to watch. 

* I had watched about 20 clips of him before it really struck me how true it is that the man can not jump anymore. Rebounding, scoring, blocking shots … everything he does now is within a few inches of the ground. It doesn’t make him any slower, weaker, or smaller, but it does significantly up the chances that the opposition stops him from doing what he wants to do. (For instance, James Jones blocked his shot earlier this year. That didn’t happen five years ago.) So stark is this limitation that I won’t be at all surprised if we learn later that some essential element of a good jump — some muscle, some ligament, some something — is incapacitated or missing entirely from O’Neal this season. And that really hurts his potential as a stopper, basket protector, and rebounder in Phoenix. If the Suns doctors and trainers can re-install whatever’s missing, he’ll be dunking again, which will change everything.

* There has been the suggestion that he might help the Suns stop big men like Andrew Bynum and Tim Duncan. Maybe that’s part of the plan. But I can tell you that he has not yet seen the new Bynum, and when Miami played San Antonio early this season, O’Neal was strictly on Fabricio Oberto and Francisco Elson duty. Three times, late in the game, he ended up on Duncan in a switch or as a helper, and here’s what happened: Duncan put the ball on the floor and made a layup, Duncan kicked out to Manu Ginobili for a made three, and Duncan dribbled the ball out of bounds — my money’s on it going off O’Neal, but it was called Miami ball. So, without a dubious call, you have exactly zero success with O’Neal as a Duncan stopper.

When an elite level athlete loses his/her legs … he/she cannot play ‘the game’ any more. 

Shaquille O’Neal’s legs are gone. 

In fact, they’ve been gone since the 2005-2006 season, when his ORPG dipped below 3.4 for the first time in his career. 

When the Heat captured the NBA Championship that year, storming back against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, from an 0-2 deficit, they did so without Shaq on the floor for extended stretches of the game and, most importantly, not at all in the closing minutes of the last 4 games. 

The 2005-2006 NBA Championship belonged to Dwyane Wade & Co. … not to The Diesel & His Friends.  

Q1. Are the Suns a better team today than they were two days ago?
A1. Yes, they are. 

Q2. Are the Suns more of a threat to actually win the 2007-2008 NBA Championship, right now, than they were two ago?
A2. Yes, they are. 

Q3. Are the Suns good enough, as is, to win this year’s NBA Finals?
A3. No, they are not. 

Q4. How come? 
A4.
Because Shaq simply doesn’t move well enough (with agility & power) any more to: 

1)      Defend his own check effectively, especially away from the basket;
2)      Block shots effectively;
3)      Defensive Rebound effectively;
4)      Rotate properly on Defense; and,
5)      Offensive Rebound his teammates’ Misses effectively.

And, it’s only Hubris for him and members of Suns’ Athletic Training Staff to believe, unequivocally, that their State-of-the-Art rehabilitation techniques will be able to restore this behemoth of a man to sound working order, after 15 years of NBA pounding, once this type of physical decay has set in. 

Restoring the health of relative youngsters … like Amare Stoudemire and Antonio McDyess, after serious knee injuries … and maintaining ‘horizontal’ athletes … like Steve Nash & Grant Hill, respectively, despite serious back & assorted other ailments … is not the same thing as returning ‘the Hops’ to a 312 lbs Giant, who hasn’t been able to jump properly for 2 years, due to a series of debilitating knee, thigh and hip injuries, which required several surgeries & extensive rehabilitation/treatment during the last 24 months, including a series of cortisone shots.   

Proverbs 16: 18