Stretch Armstrong!

Thanks to Dan B. for today's pic.

The Philadelphia 76ers: The Bulls have become a really team to play against in Chicago -- for details, go to By The Horns -- but the Sixers played a little Russian roulette with their playoff seeding by missing 11 free throws, giving up 24 points off of only 13 turnovers and getting outscored in fast break points 20-11...despite the fact that they're supposed to be a fast break team.

Philly has now lost three games in a row -- all to teams below the .500 mark -- and now are only 1.5 games up on the Bulls in what has suddenly become a battle for sixth place. And their end-of-season schedule goes: versus Cleveland, at Toronto, versus Boston, at Cleveland. Uh oh, huh?

Another interesting Philly factoid: As Doug Collins pointed out last night, the Sixers are 0-4 against the Nets and 1-3 versus the Bobcats this season. That's seven big losses to sub-.500 teams, and those defeats may well end up costing them down this closing stretch. And mind you, nearly the exact same thing happened to them last season, when they finished the year by losing seven of their last 10 games.

Samuel Dalembert: Basketbawful reader Kaan writes: "Hey man how can you miss this? I think Emeka Okafor is losing his edge...Samuel Dalembert is the new Yinka Dare of the league. From The News-Herald: 'In In his last 24 games, Sixers center Sam Dalembert has a 0-to-33 assist-to-turnover ratio.' Well he is 17 for 113 for the season. 17 assists in 78 games...Okafor by the way is 51 for 142." All I can say is: Damn, dawg! You're not even letting the GROUND touch the ball!

Also, you may remember that I recently tried to make a funny about Kaan's name. Well, he corrected me on that count too: "PS: My name is not just 'one letter away from Khan.' Actually it is Khan...but we spell it Kaan in Turkey. 'Khan' is the way English language spell this Turkish word for pronunciation purposes. Actually the word is Turkish and it is spelled either Kaan or Kagan. The 'g' in between is not a 'g' actually. There is a letter in turkish called 'soft g'. 'ğ'. Anyway enough linguistics. But I wanted to make clear that I indeed have a very cool name. Unfortunately it is not very uncommon in Turkey." Thanks for teaching us something new, Kaan, er, Khan, uhm, you know.

The Sacramento Kings: Have you begun to notice that the Sucktowners end up in WotN pretty much every time they play? But that's what you expect from a team squatting on 16 wins for the season. Kevin Martin missed his fourth straight game with a sore ankle and the Kings suffered yet another sound thumping at home, courtesy of the Rockets. Houston shot 65 percent in the third quarter and 54 percent for the game, scoring 115 points, which is about 17 above their season average. Even the notoriously inefficient Ron Artest lit 'em up for a game-high 26 points on 10-for-18 shooting, including 3-for-5 from downtown. Hey, they say that defense is the first thing to go on a lousy team, and Sacramento gives up the second-most points per game (109.7) and the highest opponent's field goal percentage (48.4), which is probably why they rank dead last in defensive efficiency (112 points given up per 100 possessions).

The Denver Nuggets: Before the game, George Karl intimated that the Nuggets had something to prove. All they proved, however, was that they aren't nearly as good as the Lakers. Team Evil won by 14 points despite shooting only 42 percent for the game, missing 19 of their 24 three-pointers and bonking on nine free throw attempts. It might have helped if Denver had been able to protect their offensive glass, where L.A. killed them 18-10 (of which Pau Gasol had 11). Oh, and Andrew Bynum, who hasn't played a regular season game since people still thought the Iverson-to-Detroit trade might actually work, lit them up for 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

George Karl, Captain Obvious: "We probably didn’t play well enough to win." Probably, huh?

The Charlotte Bobcats: Somebody call whine-one-one...the Bobcats need the waaahmbulance...and fast! Why, you ask? Because they're the first NBA team in 12 years to close the season on a four-game road trip, which, considering their 12-25 road record, could have a seriously bad effect on their playoff chances. Gerald Wallace called the scheduling "bad management" and added: "That comes from upstairs from the organization, as much as you hate to say it. You don't want to send your team at the end of the season on a four-game road trip. That's hard for anybody to do, especially for us since we're so young and we're trying to fight for the playoffs."

In case you're confused, Charlotte's arena is reserved for the Charlotte Jumper Classic this weekend...a "pet project" of owner Bob Johnson, whose daughter competes in the event. Said Bobcats president Fred Whitfield: "It's no secret that our owner's daughter is an equestrian and he has a huge affinity for the jumping business. It's just one of the events that he feels strongly about, that he feels should be a part of the whole cultural experience that we offer in this building."

And here I thought people usually got props for putting family first. But I guess that only applies when they take a mid-career vacation retire for 18 months or something.

Advanced statistical fail: As AnacondaHL pointed out: "As of yesterday and today, both Hollinger and Kubatko still show the Suns with a chance to make the playoffs. I will now swallow glass shards covered in asbestos." It's true. Check the links. Hollinger's numbers (which, according to his site, are updated automatically each night) gives Phoenix a 0.8 percent chance while Kubatko's (which proudly states "Results based on the method used by Justin Kubatko to win the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown in both 2007 and 2008") gives them a 0.6 percent chance. I'm sure you'll agree that's pretty amazing for a team that was mathematically eliminated from the postseason a couple days ago. I'm just sayin'.

(Oh, and in case the sites get updated, I took screenshots: Fail 1, Fail 2.)

Lacktion report: Chris provided a very short lacktivity update:

Nuggets-Lakers: In one of the slowest days for lacktion this season, Johan Petro is our marquee lacktator just a few miles away from the movie capital of the world. Denver's least effective big man barely eked out a Voskuhl in 10:59, going 5:4 via four fouls and one giveaway (and a brick) against two rebounds and a made field goal.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba texted every member of the Suns' organization the links to Hollinger's and Kubatko's playoff odds.

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Anonymous SottsEra said...
"Kobe Bryant: Mamba texted every member of the Suns' organization the links to Hollinger's and Kubatko's playoff odds."

that is gold

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Holy crap, did the Miami Heat organization rape the mother of whoever writes this blog or something? Why does he have to trash everything that has to do with that team?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Just to continue the conversation from last WotN...

Bawful posted: "If Hollinger's math was absolute, he wouldn't need to constantly update his playoff odds or what have you. He'd just crank the numbers, give us the results and we could call off the season."

Well Hollinger's numbers are conditional probability, not absolute, for a good reason. Because, uh, the condition of the odds change constantly with each game result. Bayes' theorem is good for that.

Yams posted: "I would find it equally silly to try to use probabilities in this way to say that the math shows Portland won't make The Finals."

What was silly about his article was his inconsistent use of terms, biased against the Lakers. He specifies that the Lakers are likely as of today not to make the Finals, which is true based on conditional probability today. But then he gives an absolute, saying one of the three teams will beat them, conveniently leaving out "likely" or "has a higher expected value to", or rather how the conditional probability changes as each round progresses. Basically, he just confuses everyone including himself, especially with that dumbass "it's like the lottery" analogy.

Blogger KNEE JERK NBA said...
'Damn, dawg! You're not even letting the GROUND touch the ball!'

Well played, sir. Didn't Keith Van Horn once go half a season without an assist?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Anonymous -- ...what? The Heat didn't even get mentioned today.

AnacondaHL -- I guess what I meant was, and I probably should have specified this, was that Henry once explained to me that Hollinger could explain or predict virtually anything in the NBA with something close to absolute certainty using his various mathematical formulas. I don't believe that and I said so, which caused a heated debate that had to be called off because Henry received another phone call.

Anyway, my point is that the science of basketball can only tell you so much, and often times the results are spurious because they cannot take human factors and hidden variables into account.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Carmelo Anthony had an interesting quote the other day: "When I look at the West, I don’t really see that one dominant team. Everybody says the Lakers. Yeah, the Lakers are pretty good. But I don’t really see that one team that you say is going to win the West. I think it’s pretty much even now." He sounds like a TrueHoop reader ;)

It's looking more and more likely that Philly could tumble to the 8th seed and open the playoffs in Cleveland, and that spells certain doom for them. At the same time Chicago could end up playing Boston while Detroit squares off against Orlando. It's gonna be a wild week as all the seedings get finalized.

Bynum looked surprisingly good last night. In that second half he didn't look like he'd missed any time at all (the first half was a different story). I've never really thought the Lakers needed Bynum to get back to The Finals this year since they didn't need him to get there last year, and I assumed it was gonna take Bynum a while to become even just a modest contributor. But ESPN's Daily Dime today is definitely right with this comment: "If the Lakers did this -- this being a 116-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets -- with Andrew Bynum still dripping in WD-40, then the Western Conference playoffs will have all the drama of a Tiger Woods-Charles Barkley match-play event."

Since AnacondaHL brought up that stupid article from Abbott yesterday, I'll summarize what was basically the last thing I said over there. The idea that if you win a series it means it's less likely that you'll win the next one just because the law of probabilities or the law of averages says so is not applicable in any way here. Really I think it's 180 degrees wrong. If a team wins a playoff series, I think if anything it means they're more likely to win the next one, simply because it shows how good they were to get past the previous opponent. It's not like flipping a coin where the more times in a row you get heads the greater the probability that the next flip will land on tails is.

Look at last year's playoffs as an example. Most people at this time of year last season really didn't know who was going to come out of the West, while many assumed the Celtics would probably storm through the East, maybe having a little trouble with Cleveland and Detroit. But as the playoffs went on and the Lakers dispatched the Nuggets in 4, the Jazz in 6 and the Spurs in 5, while Boston looked shaky going to 7 games against Atlanta & Cleveland, and to 6 games against Detroit; by the time The Finals arrived most people were picking the Lakers to win. How come? If Abbott's logic resembled anything close to the truth then people would have said "LA only made it this far due to the weird luck of winning three straight series handily, while Boston has had bad luck in having so many problems, so you'd have to assume the luck of both teams would change and Boston will win." In the end Boston did win, but does anyone think that THAT is the reason why?

Anonymous DKH said...
Wow, the statistical/probabilistic case that Abbott, Hollinger, etc. have been making is being wildly overstated (except by AnacondaHL). Nowhere did I see the contention that "if you win a series it means it's less likely that you'll win the next one." Yams, you are attributing premises and conclusions to Abbott that he was not arguing.

I will agree that Abbott was imprecise in his terminology, by arguing that "If Hollinger and Kubatko's systems are right, one of [the three Lakers opponents] will [win]." He is trying to close a statistical/probabilistic argument with a definite assertion. But it's no different from a Laker fan claiming "if [Portland does] manage to make it out of the first round they'll get immediately whipped by LA."

WildYams or Basketbawful, have either of you read Moneyball (Michael Lewis)? I'll try to post more later, but much of my probability/stats comments originate from that book plus the theory of probability and theory of statistics.

Blogger LeMarc said...
I think Phoenix has a tiebreaker over Utah, so if Cactus & Co. win out and Carlos Loozer stays true to his name for the last four games, the Suns could still get in, right? Tell me how my ass taste.

Anonymous Laurance said...
Hey, I can't believe this was missed. I heard it on tnt, and to me it sounded ridiculous.

REGGIE MILLER said that in the western conference, the teams are so close record wise, that home court advantage does not matter.

i think it matters...especially the jazz.

am i going crazy, or is reggie miller actually wrong again?

Blogger LeMarc said...
nevermind. shit.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Yams, you're right, even though as DKH said I don't it was directly stated. Maybe Abbott implied it. But there's no law of averages, just Gambler's fallacy. I don't have the data those two have, but I'm quite that assuming the Lakers make it past round 1, their Finals chance will go up, then probably up again depending on who they play in round 3. Although each round becomes independent as the come, they are conditional on what happened prior.

The confusion that Abbott may be experiencing is trusting the conditionals to the end as the result, rather than realizing that in this particular probability "game", each game/round gets converted from conditional to independent. Once the record books are set, it's done. If the Lakers make it to the Finals, their chance of getting to the finals is no longer .41, it becomes 1.00 that day.

Maybe this will all make more sense as each game/round of the playoffs go by and you see the numbers update.

LeMarc: Sadly, no. Since the two teams went 2-2 against each other, so Utah is currently 32-16 against the West, and Phoenix is 27-21, making the tiebreaker impossible with only 4 games remaining. But thanks again, for continually twisting the knife of hope in my eye. Lets all talk more about Marion and Shaq and how disgruntled Nash and how low the lottery chances are and stuff, yay.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
DKH, this is why arguing what you are is totally misguided, quoting Abbott's article: "between here and the Finals, three teams will get a crack at the conference champs, and each of those three teams might win. If Hollinger and Kubatko's systems are right, one of them will."

The simple fact is that it is rather obvious that if that is the conclusion to be drawn from those systems, then clearly they are not right. They're wrong in the same way that Hollinger's formula for PER says that Zach Randolph is a better player than David West or Carmelo Anthony is wrong. Moneyball is a book about baseball, and that's a largely individual sport. It's also in reference to a team (the Oakland A's) who have had as little championship success with that theory as their NBA counterpart (the Houston Rockets) have, so forgive me for not buying into it.

This idea that basketball can be computed and figured out like that is honestly just impossible, especially if you're only using something like 20 different statistical categories. There are an infinite number of variables and nuances in basketball that preclude it from being predicted in such a way. If you'd pull your eyes away from the spreadsheets and calculators and would just watch the games, you would see how silly it is to even try. Trying to predict with 100% accuracy something like the outcome of a basketball game would probably require something like chaos theory, rather than the relatively simple algorithms Hollinger and his ilk have devised.

Furthermore, this is why it's OK to say that the Lakers would beat Portland in a series: because that's almost surely what would happen. I don't need a mathematical formula to make that statement either, that's just common sense from having watched the teams play and understanding what makes for success in playoff basketball. To disregard that, to disregard what virtually every expert has to say about it, to ignore what is so patently obvious simply because one guy with a faulty math formula says so is quite frankly, stupid. Believe me, you're doing yourself a disservice by placing any stock in such hokum.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
NoOoOo bad Yams, bad! Don't just drop a term (incorrectly) like Chaos Theory to sound menacing, don't sink to their level! You're implying that the outcome is deterministic, bad! Not to mention a basketball game is so dynamic, possibly irrational, that it can't possibly be described by initial conditions alone. Bad Yams!

Maybe you were implying a mathematical Game theory for basketball, even though it would be quite difficult to define.

Don't bash the simple algorithms, bash the people who use them and proclaim them to be the end-all 100% answer, without stating their weaknesses and shortcomings.

Blogger The Dude Abides said...
Best Mamba excerpt of the season :D

Anonymous hellshocked said...
Has anyone read this? My favorite part may be:

"I don't know about next season," he said with a smile. "But I don't need to play that way now. Because I have the ball in my hands. With Eddie Jordan's offense, it was equal opportunity, so I didn't get to control the ball as much; so when I did have it I tried to make something happen. Now I can give it up a couple times, I can do a lot of probing. Tap (interim coach Ed Tapscott) is just letting me go out and play."

So the reason Gilbert Arenas was so selfish is because he didn't get to hog the ball enough? He touched it almost every single trip up the court. Now he wants to hold it for 20 seconds too? Spoken like a true SWAC.

Maybe the Clippers should try Zack Randolph out as a point-forward.

Blogger Junior said...
Anderson Varejão New Tatoo:

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Sorry AnacondaHL. My mention of Chaos Theory was basically to imply that if there is some way to 100% predict the outcome of things like basketball games, it's far, far beyond the range of human understanding at this point as there are just way too many variables to factor in. I'm actually amused by the hubris of guys like Hollinger to think all of that can be distilled down to a bunch of categories that he selected and weighted himself.

I just wish I knew these guys in real life so I could make money off them by betting on the Lakers while letting them take the other 7 West teams.

Anonymous GonzoPal said...
A bit late today for my daily dosis, but this one I had to write in. It´s going to get another bit harder for AnacondaHL, so sorry dude and my late condolences, but as of today, 1 a.m. european time of saturday the 11th, as i clicked on the link to hollingers statseria, the Suns chances for making the playoffs are even at 1.3 percent! You know you feel like suckerpunched when...

Blogger Cortez said...
"...was that Henry once explained to me that Hollinger could explain or predict virtually anything in the NBA with something close to absolute certainty using his various mathematical formulas."

If that was true maybe he should head on down to Vegas and make himself a millionaire, if he hasn't already.

"... that Hollinger's formula for PER says that Zach Randolph is a better player than David West or Carmelo Anthony"

Jesus H. Christ!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
that "tattoo" is hilarious...does lebron really have "CHOSEN1" tattooed on his back? cuz that would be super arrogant

Blogger Andy said...
Shawn Marion and the Raptors deserve WOTN honors for their super awesome defense on the final possession against the Wizards. 16 seconds left, they give no pressure on Caron Butler, who casually walks the ball around until settling in to his favorite spot on the floor, nearly the exact same spot where he hit a game-winner over Indiana. He drives on Marion, does the most predictable crossover (he did the same move earlier in the game) and loses Marion easily, hits the wide open shot (Marion just watches, doesn't even bother running at him), game over. No help, even though it's obvious Caron has no intention of passing the ball.

Blogger lordhenry said...
So, Yams, is there any way in hell I can get you to drop any notion of objectivity and just act like a blatant homer for L.A.? LIke, maybe a "Kobe Rulz" or "PJAX IS GOD" or even "Go Lakeshow?" Usually, you're pretty objective and non-biased, but I can see through you to the pulsating evil Lakers heart beneath. Lakers fans are like homosexuals---we know our own kind.

So, if L.A. wins the title, can I count on you to totally drop your non-bias-bias and act like a giant "Laker Troll?"

BTW, so far I've managed to avoid being heinously flamed for my "Kobe Rulz" comments and such. Hopefully, everyone is getting the sarcasm.

Blogger Junior said...
btw, Hollinger still point's out that the Suns has chances do go to the playoffs, and there're up, with 1.3%

Anonymous DKH said...
Wow, Yams, to refute my point, did you just quote the part of Abbott's article that I said was wrong...and then tell me that it was wrong? Truly, your repeated assertions of my stupidity are on the mark.

Moneyball is a book about baseball

Well, then, I guess it has nothing to say about basketball (but chaos theory does have something to say about basketball?). That aside, the distinction between baseball, where individual and team incentives are almost always aligned, and basketball, where they are sometimes not aligned, is valid (I think that point was made in the NY Times article by Michael Lewis).

But both sports can be represented as a series of probabilistic events. In baseball, the events are much more serial and discrete: pitch choice, delivery, swing, contact. Some events occur more than one at a time, like fielding and baserunning, or pitch delivery and stealing.

In basketball, there are a lot more events going on, with potentially each player taking some action. But there are still probabilistic events: dribbling (successful or not), picks (defender over or under, separation achieved, contact), and of course shots, rebounds, passes, etc. If "we" measure the right things (which "we" don't, but the Rockets, Mavs, probably the Spurs, Blazers, etc. are trying to figure out), then we'll have a better understanding of the game and how to construct a team.

In baseball, the "right" thing was on-base percentage (at least initially). The Oakland A's valued that stat more accurately than other front offices, and built teams that won more efficiently per marginal dollar than others in the league. (True, they never won a championship, but look at their payroll. They are always in the bottom half of the league. Additionally, the Indians have been one of the most efficient organizations in terms of dollars per win the past few seasons applying the same ideas. And Boston has hired Bill James, the father of the statistical revolution, and they have two recent championships.) An overvalued stat: steals. Over the course of a season, a team will almost always lose more runs on steals than it will generate.

That stats revolution in basketball will be bumpy while the correct stats are found and valued. Obviously there are a ton of options to measure. That's part of the challenge.

I'm not sure what chaos theory would have to say on the subject. The main independent variables are the scores of the teams. Maybe break this down to individual players and somehow interrelate them? Add crowd noise as a variable? I don't know. Overall, I think probability and statistics will have more to say, at least initially.

So that's why I point to Moneyball and use those concepts as a starting point.

You write a lot more in your post, but mostly you are arguing against wild overstatements of the case that Abbott, Hollinger, et. al. make, so it's tough to respond to that. However, one of Billy Beane's frustrations as the Athletics' general manager was that the playoffs were such a crapshoot. Since the sample size is so small, there's an "anything can happen" vibe. That's why the NCAA tournament is filled, year after year, with "upsets" - a one-game series is such a small sample size that either team has a reasonable shot of winning. That same dynamic is at work in the NBA playoffs. It's what lets the Hawks take the Celtics to seven games, or the Warriors beat the Mavs.


More points not related to Moneyball:

Your criticism of PER on the basis of the relative rankings of Randolph, West, and Anthony: first off, Anthony is the fourth-best SF by PER, while Randolph is the 7th best PF (West is 10th), so, to me, PER rates Anthony as the better player. PER, in my understanding, is a measure of the player's per minute accumulation of counting stats. So, given that Randolph scores more points and grabs more rebounds than West in fewer minutes, I'm not surprised that Randolph comes out looking better. Both West and Anthony have better Wins Above Replacement Player values than Randolph, so I'm not really seeing any major issues here, and you are again trying to overstate the statistical case being made.

"Usually, [Yams is] pretty objective and non-biased." I just found this hilarious, since he is explicitly arguing for the subjective, "what do your eyes see?" point of view, rather than the objective, stats-driven one.

Probably, the best way will be a combination of the two; the model must match reality. Clearly, Hollinger needs to fix his calculator so that Phoenix is correctly eliminated. But beyond that, I'm not seeing where he is wildly off at this point.

Apologies for the long post, but here we have Yams being insultingly derisive when he doesn't even understand the points being made, and it is of course tough to let that stand:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
somebody needs to do this at an NBA game... Especially with the playoffs coming.

Blogger lordhenry said...
DKH, I know you and Yams are trying to have this intelligent argument, but I'd prefer to be left out of it, especially if you are gonna use my comments in the way that you have above.

And yes, I do feel Yams usually is pretty objective,though I suppose you are about to show statistical analysis proving that I don't know what my feelings are.

I totally get that everyone thinks basketball can now be predicted by mathmatics, but that idea is fairly ridiculous. Math can't completely predict the actions of living things. No real problem with you, DKH, it's just that if I'm gonna flame someone, I'd prefer to do it myself rather than vicariously.

Also, kinda pissed that L.A. lost to portland, kinda worried that's where the season is gonna end since we can't seem to win there.....

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portland can't win in LA either so I wouldn't worry too much, last time I checked Lakers have HCA. And if they can't beat the Blazers then they wouldn't be able to beat Cleveland or Boston anyway, so what difference does it make.

Anonymous JR said...
DKH I don't have much to say on the topic but I would like to clarify something about Chaos Theory. I'm not sure if its misunderstood as a concept or if people are really struggling to see how it is related to the argument at hand.

One of the implications of Chaos Theory is that some systems are so complex that even very small differences in initial conditions can have large consequences, the proverbial "butterfly flapping its wings." These conditions can be so small that they are practically impossible to quantify.

What Wild Yams is saying is that Basketball is such a system, which I think any serious mathematician/statistician would have to agree with. That isn't to say there isn't some predictability, but this will bear out over a number of trials and its accuracy depends on how closely the model reflects reality.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@lordhenry & anonymous

...dont even trip. the lakers came close on the second night of a back to back in a building where they havent won in a while, without their head coach (this deffo had significance as it was a close game where they started chucking up 3s when there was more than enough time to come back with easy 2s instead...phil prolly wouldve known better). id say if they meet in the playoffs the lakers would have a very good chance of winning in portland.

Anonymous DKH said...
Good point JR. I was thinking about chaotic systems in terms of not approaching a single equilibrium point, but I think your way of thinking about it is better. I think I, personally, could apply probabilistic/statistical methods to basketball more competently than chaos theory.

Anonymous DKH said...
Ooh, time for a fun WOTN nomination:

To Bill Walker, for getting swatted by Wally Szczerbiak. The internets even has a video already:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
hilarious pic from the spurs-kings game:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
caption: david lee unexpectedly leaps out of jermaine 'o neal's stomach, Alien style, to grab the rebound

Anonymous Anonymous said...
mike d'antoni, unintentionally dirty quote machine: (after d-wade dropped 55 points on the knicks) - “When you have a guy like him, you can just ride him,” D’Antoni said.

uh, really, Mike?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Gah. Ok everyone stop. You're right, it is an often misunderstood concept, which is why I shunned Yams for dropping the term like it's dropped in modern times. I'll try to type this out as least condescendingly as possible.

Yes, sensitivity to initial conditions is an implication of chaos theory, but having it doesn't define chaos. You need the other two definitions, topological mixing and dense periodic orbits, to apply chaos theory (these two conditions have been proven to imply sensitive initial conditions). This is why it's used to describe why we're incapable of long-range weather prediction. For chaos, It's completely predictable, if you've got all the info and the processing power. That's why basketball, as any serious mathematician would agree, is NOT such a system.

In basketball, I would use chaos theory to describe ONE SINGLE BASKETBALL SHOT. But an entire game, or season, or post-season, or career, I would think Game Theory is more suitable, so you can use a non-standard number system (example: you'll start needing to describe numbers less than zero but greater than one) and is better equipped for win/loss evaluations.

Honestly, there's nothing wrong with the current statistical evaluation. It's only a problem when people use it as some sort of end-all 100% answer, without recognizing it's limitations and weaknesses.

WotW goes to this entire Chaos Theory discussion, my apologies.

-AnacondaHL, the great defender of Math's honor

Anonymous JR said...
Hmm I think we have gotten our wires crossed AnacondaHL and I can see why, I probably stepped a little too quickly from the implications of chaos theory to basketball.

I agree that CT isn't -directly- applicable, but do you think it is such a large leap to generalize some of its implications to complex systems such as basketball? My basic point is that basketball is an incredibly complex system where the slightest variance in initial conditions could greatly influence the outcome. I don't think I need to prove this, it seems like it is common sense. Even if basketball itself did not have this property, the fact that a basketball season is influenced by the weather, which does have this property immediately gives the whole system this property. For example, a small variation in initial weather conditions at the start of the season causes a storm that grounds the Celtic's plane which means they miss Game 4 of last years finals. Whilst grounded Kevin Garnett gets a cold etc etc etc

Correct me if I'm wrong WY but bringing CT into the argument wasn't an attempt to use the theory to model basketball itself, it was an attempt to use one of its implications to show that basketball cannot be modelled to 100% certainty. I think your second last line is something both you and WY's would agree with, and is pretty much what you've both been saying so I personally don't even understand what you are arguing about.

Happy to continue this discussion AHL, maybe you can teach me a thing or two, however so far I don't think we've been on the same page wrt what context exactly we are using CT. The trials and tribulations of the internetz...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My MVP venting of the night: Wade dropped 55 and 4 assists (63 total points) on a comically bad Knicks defense in a game that means absolutely nothing for that team. It will be made into a big deal tonight. It’s a pretty number. Chris Paul put up 37/9/17 (71 total points created) with 1 turnover and 86% TS in a game that matters to them for playoff positioning. You can't play better than that. There is not a level above that. That’s maybe the best box-score line of the SEASON. The leads?

“Wade explodes for 55″

“Paul, West give Hornets edge over Mavericks”"


Blogger Wild Yams said...
I skimmed most of this from this weekend cause I'm pretty well done with this whole inane argument, but JR is right about my usage of CT to just say basketball is too complex to be figured out 100% the way that some people seem to think it is. I still stand by that, and I still stand by the common sense approach to basketball, where it's obvious David West and Carmelo Anthony are better than Zach Randolph and where it looks highly likely that the Lakers will make it back to the NBA Finals this year. Call me crazy.

Anonymous DKH said...
So, in summary, you're going to continue mischaracterizing others' views (that basketball can "be figured out 100%") and continue to claim that Hollinger's stats suggest Randolph is better than West or Anthony, even though that is not what his stats suggest, and also isn't what anyone is claiming. Great. Too bad you didn't use this "debate" to show me the shortcomings of a stats-based approach to things.