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Stats and Reality

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Two interesting happenings over on ESPN.com today. First, John Hollinger has augmented his baby, P.E.R., with two new formulas. One is similar to VORP in baseball, the other uses the VORP number to project wins created. And just when he gets done explaining his new methodology, Henry Abbott takes his system to task (sort of) on True Hoop.

When it comes to this type of argument, I fall firmly on both sides. I have to admit, every new advanced stat that attempts to quantify a basketball player's value completely fascinates me. Truthfully, I dive in and try to find the exception that disproves the methodology. They usually stand out like a sore thumb (Check out where Lou Williams is on the PER list, for example). When I'm feeling particularly geeky, I toy around with formulas of my own, but I never really get too far down that road.

Ultimately, I agree with Abbott's takeaway: "Real basketball knowledge is king. Statistical systems like PER are tools to help cut through the reams of available information."

I'd also add that advanced statistical analysis in basketball makes what we do here a lot more fun.

Now, let's get to the fun stuff, Hollinger's new stats. You can see the leaders in VA here. (VA stands for value added, and it's supposed to represent the number of extra points the player has given his team over a replacement-level player). And the EWA leaders are here (EWA stands for estimated wins added. This stat is simply VA divided by 30, assuming 30 extra points from a player would equal 1 win). You could call these stats Hollinger's reaction to Marreese Speights. He's been taking heat for touting Speights among rookies. Marreese has been leading all rookies in PER for most of the season, even though he only plays 15 minutes per game. These new formulas take minutes played into account. So while, on a per-minute basis, Speights kicks Derrick Rose's ass in PER, according to EWA, Rose has added 5.7 wins to the Bulls while Speights has only added 4.1.

Here are the new numbers for the Sixers:

NEWper032509.gif
by Brian on Mar 25 2009
Tags: Basketball | Sixers | Stats |