Note: On my dad’s advice, I posted another version of the Game Stacks that depicts rebounding rates, rather than just total offensive rebounds. The discussion in this post is a little naive on that point — the new version yields a better analysis of rebounding.
I have a general hang up when looking at the box score for basketball (or listening to announcers list off statistics). I see some rebounding numbers, but I can’t tell who rebounded better without offensive and defensive breakdowns, plus the number of shots missed by each team. And I see shooting percentages and shot attempts, but it’s hard to put it all together into how a team got its points.
I realized that what I really want to see is not complicated. Here’s the list:
- What each team did with their scoring chances:
- Two point attempts
- Three point attempts
- Free throw trips (2 attempts)
- Efficiency on each type of shot
- Rebounding advantage in terms of extra scoring chances
- And, of course, total score
All these stats exist, but there should be an easy way to see all of it at once and get a sense for how the game was won. Here’s my first try, the Game Stack:
The picture shows total “plays,” or chances to score, for each team, and total points, broken down by type. In a quick glance, you can see that Indiana was out-rebounded (Michigan got three more chances to score) and turned the ball over a ton. However, on just over 60 non-turnover plays, the Hoosiers Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, College Sports, Innovative Ideas, Sports Stats
Tagged basketball, basketball graphic, box score, Celtics, Celtics offensive rebounding, Clippers, college hoops, defensive breakdowns, Dick Vitale, Free throw, Game Stack, graphical statistics, graphics sports, Hoosier, Indiana, Indiana basketball, Lakers, Michigan, Michigan basketball, NBA, nba game, Pistons, point attempts, Rebound (basketball), rebounding advantage, shooting percentages, shot attempts, Sports, sports statistics, Three-point field goal, visual shooting percentages, visual statistics, visualization, visualizing basketball games, Wolverines
I’m pretty excited that Chip Kelly is coming to the NFL. If you’ve watched the Oregon Ducks in recent years or the Patriots hurry up offense, you’re probably excited too. It’s fun to see teams try something different, and I like seeing fast offenses break defenses’ will using such a simple concept. Sometimes, the defense isn’t even lined up when the ball is snapped. Teams spend tons of energy trying to outsmart defenses, but a fast offense can make it easy.
If the speed game catches on, it has other possible implications. For example, the NFL could shorten the play clock to encourage game pace. Most people would enjoy more football and less standing around. Whether the play clock changes or not, teams will want smaller, faster players on offense and defense, reversing the rapid growth in player BMI over the last thirty years. A size reduction might help with concussions — though force equals mass times acceleration, and acceleration might go up — and it could also help with heart, heat, and other obesity-related illnesses/deaths that lineman face.
So what does this have to do with first downs? Bear with me. The NFL has a credibility problem with it’s measurement technology. I chuckle every time the chain gang trundles out and the ball is measured one link short. Football certainly is a game of inches: in the case of spotting the ball Continue reading
Posted in Football, Innovative Ideas, Rules Analysis
Tagged chain gang NFL, chains inaccurate NFL, Chip Kelly, down-and-distance rules NFL, downs, eliminate first downs, first down, football, football technology, laser first down line, lasers football, measuring first downs, National Football League, NFL, NFL players BMI, NFL players getting bigger, Oregon Ducks, Oregon offense, Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, play clock NFL, proposal first downs, shorten the play clock, speed offense, spotting the ball, spotting the ball arbitrary, Walter Camp, warp speed offense
If you read my post last week, you know that the AFC is a two-horse race and the NFC is a mess. All four first-round games agreed with the True Wins predictions. I didn’t trust the Seahawks on the road, but True Wins came through (11 for the Seahawks versus just 9.5 for the Skins). So, what are we left with? Two clear favorites in the AFC (Patriots and Broncos) and two toss ups in the NFC. True Wins alone takes 49ers over Packers (11.5 to 11) and Seahawks over Falcons (11 to 10.5). I’m going to stick with the home teams in both cases, but don’t expect blowouts in the NFC unless the turnover margin is really skewed.
As part of football month on the blog, here are a couple random questions and answers that I’ve accumulated.
Should the NFL eliminate kickoffs? Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers crazy coach, thinks the NFL should get rid of kickoffs to protect player safety. A Rutgers player was paralyzed running kick coverage while Schiano coached there, so he knows exactly how dangerous kickoffs can be. Never mind that this is the same coach who runs a “kneel down blitz” when the other team is trying to kill the clock, a tactic that might work once when the other team is not expecting it, but will probably never work again.
Posted in Commentary, Common Sense, Football, Innovative Ideas, Prediction
Tagged AFC, Andrew Luck interceptions, Andrew Luck turnovers, Atlanta Falcons, Colts, Denver Broncos, dropkick football, dropkick NFL, football, Green Bay Packers, Greg Schiano, high draft pick qbs, Indianapolis Colts, kickoff proposal, kickoff through the uprights, kickoffs NFL, Kirk Cousins, kneel down blitz, Luck overrated, National Football League, New England Patriots, NFC, NFL, NFL divisional round, NFL draft, NFL playoff predictions, NFL playoffs, onside kick, onside kick rules, Peyton Manning, quarterbacks, RG3, Robert Griffin III, rookie quarterbacks 2012, rugby dropkick, Russell Wilson, San Francisco 49ers, Schiano kickoff proposal, Seattle Seahawks, should the NFL eliminate kickoffs, Skins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, touchbacks, Washington Redskins
It’s an old mantra for football analysts, but if there was ever a time to go for it on fourth down, it was in the MNF nightcap for Oakland. Their long snapper was out with a concussion early, making punts a risky proposition. However, at the end of the first half, the Raiders signaled their intentions by settling for a field goal on fourth and one from the one yard line, despite trailing 10-3 at the time.
That decision was probably the wrong one — Oakland didn’t get inside the 20 again until the game was out of reach — but failing to score the touchdown would have been a tough on morale, so it’s semi-understandable early in the game (TMQ was frantically scribbling “game over” in his notebook, of course). However, the second half became comical. Oakland had two fourth and ones between the 20s in the third quarter. On the first, the second string long snapper bounced it up to Shane Lechler, who wisely tucked the ball and fell forward to avoid a block (“GAME OVER” in all caps). On the second, the snap was okay, but someone missed an assignment and the punt was easily blocked (“GAME OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”).
The Raiders defense didn’t get the memo, though, and played their tails off, holding the Chargers to successive field goals (it helped that Phil Rivers seems legitimately afraid of the blitz). When the Raiders faced a third and 21 later on, Continue reading
Posted in Commentary, Common Sense, Football, Innovative Ideas
Tagged Carson Palmer, Chargers, Curtis Brinkley, Curtis Brinkley exciting runner, Darren McFadden, Dennis Allen, football, football decision making, go for it on fourth down, Gregg Easterbrook, Hue Jackson, Kevin Kelley, Kevin Kelley fourth down, Louisiana-Monroe Arkansas fourth down, Louisiana-Monroe upset, MNF, Monday Night Football, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Philip Rivers, Pulaski Academy, Raiders, Raiders Chargers, Raiders coaches, Raiders long snapper, Raiders should have gone for it on fourth, risk taking football, Rivers afraid of the blitz, Rivers blitz, Romer fourth down, San Diego Chargers, Shane Lechler, teams should go for it more on fourth down, TMQ, TMQ fourth down, TMQ wrote game over in his notebook, Tom Cable, Travis Goethel, Travis Goethel bad snapper, Travis Goethel should practice
This afternoon, I tuned in for the last two games of the Wimbledon semifinal between Andy Murray and Jo-Willy Tsonga. Andy Murray won the match, making him the first British male finalist at Wimbledon in 74 years (no pressure, Andy!).
The winning point was a bit strange, however. Murray hit an aggressive shot that was a tough call for the umpire. The crowd exploded, but then quickly realized the ump called it out. No matter. Murray put a finger in the air and challenged the shot. Under tennis replay rules, players can challenge in or out calls, and the disputes are decided by the Hawk-Eye ball tracking system. Hawk-Eye uses high frame rate cameras to map the trajectory of the ball. The Hawk-Eye trajectory showed the ball nicking the outside of the line, and Murray was through to the finals!
I asked my buddy Tony, a staunch replay opponent, whether he would have felt bad if Murray had lost the match in the absence of replay review. He said no, because he guessed the tennis replay system faces precision issues. This is his standard “blades of grass” complaint. On extremely close plays, there is no way to tell whether a ball (or player, in other sports) is in or out, because it comes down to the deformation of the ball on impact, individual blades of grass, and lack of precision in painted lines.
I set about to prove him wrong, under the premise that a computer-driven system like Hawk-Eye would have definable precision. In one way, I was right. Hawk-Eye’s average error is 3.6 mm. But if that’s the case, why is it used to make calls that are well within it’s margin of error? Continue reading
Posted in Innovative Ideas, Other Sports, Rules Analysis, Science
Tagged Adrian the Canadian, Andy, Andy Murray, Andy Murray hawkeye, blades of grass, close calls tennis, cricket, error range Hawk-Eye, FIFA goal line review, FIFA Hawk-Eye, football, Hawk-Eye, Hawk-Eye error, Hawk-Eye flawed, Hawkeye, incontrovertible evidence, indisputable evidence, LBW, leg before wicket, Murray, Murray's last shot Hawk-Eye, Murray's last shot vs. Tsonga, problems with Hawk-Eye, problems with tennis review system, Roger Federer, semifinal between andy murray, soccer goal line review technology, soccer Hawk-Eye, Sports, Tennis, tennis challenge system, tennis replay review system, The Championships Wimbledon, Tsonga, was Murray's last shot in, Wimbledon
During the NBA season this year, I wrote up some parameters for an alternative way to build an NBA winner: The Seattle Scientists. The idea behind the Scientists is the same old Moneyball methodology for small market teams — find the undervalued assets and spend your money there. In the NBA, my buddy Tony and I think effort, defense, and intelligence are the assets to focus on. In the the MLB, there are some related options: bunting, speed, and defense again. We settled on the Portland Peskies for this thought experiment (an over-educated city that would appreciate a non-traditional team), though the Indianapolis Institute and the Las Vegas Vig (“You can never beat the house!”) were also in the running.
It’s no coincidence that I’m writing this while my Tigers play their old nemesis the Twins. The Tigers (outside of Quintin Berry this year) never have any hitters that would fit the Pesky mold. But Twins outfielder Ben Revere (currently snagging a tailing line drive off his shoe tops) would be on the Peskies’ radar for sure, as would Alexi Casilla and Denard Span. Revere has 6 bunt singles this year on 13 tries and 16 steals Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Innovative Ideas
Tagged Alexi Casilla, athletic sport, baseball, basketball, Ben Revere, best bunt, Bunt (baseball), bunt base hit, bunt for a hit, bunt success percentage, bunt success rate, bunting for a base hit, bunts, defense undervalued baseball, Denard Span, Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball, Minnesota Twins, MLB, Moneyball, NBA, nba season, NBA small market team model, Oakland Athletics, pa announcer, Portland Peskies, quintin berry, Seattle Scientists, small market baseball team model, small market baseball teams, small market teams, speed in baseball, speed underrated baseball, Sports, steals and bunts undervalued, Tigers Twins rivalry, Twins, Twins outfielders fast, Twins speed
I’ve been watching my fair share of basketball during the playoffs — very exciting, compelling series so far, despite the injuries. However, I have a few questions:
- Why do you have to hand the ball to the ref before you throw it in? Wouldn’t it be much more exciting to let players throw it in as soon as they can get a ball, like a soccer throw in? Teams are allowed to do this after a made basket already. Add another commercial break to balance out the faster pace if that’s what it takes.
- Why can you only draw a charge if you stay on the ground and fall over? The offensive player can draw a foul while jumping and keeping his feet, why not the defense? If the defender jumps, the best case is a no call. Referees have a big say at the end of basketball games, but it’s not a bigger say than baseball umpires, for example, who must make every ball and strike call. I think one of the reasons people persecute basketball refs (besides the Tim Donaghy scandal) is that the foul rules aren’t especially consistent.
- Why do teams get so many timeouts, especially in the first half? They have lots of practiced plays that they can signal in from the sideline. I suppose that the endgame timeout flurries increase the tension on those individual plays, but the downtime in between is no fun, and I bet the rest of the game seems less important by comparison. Again, if we need a couple more evenly spaced TV timeouts or sponsors on the jerseys to compensate, I’m fine with that.
These are my questions. Do you have any answers?
Posted in Basketball, Common Sense, Innovative Ideas, Rules Analysis
Tagged baseball umpires, basketball, basketball games, basketball inbounds, basketball refs suck, basketball rules, basketball rules inconsistent, basketball throw in, basketball too many stoppages, basketball too many timeouts, Boston Celtics, commercial break, end of basketball games take too long, National Basketball Association, NBA, NBA games are fixed, NBA refs are terrible, NBA too many timeouts, offensive player, Officiating, playoffs, problems with NBA referees, Shopping, soccer throw in, Sports, Tim Donaghy, tim donaghy scandal, timeouts, timeouts NBA, Training
Earlier this week, I linked to an interesting auction-based proposal to help improve fairness in NFL overtime games. Right now, the coin flip gives the winning team a boost more often than not (the only exception is if the winning team mistakenly takes the ball but has a VERY weak offense relative to its defense, or, likewise, if the losing team has a VERY strong defense, relative to its offense).
The idea of the auction is to give each team “accurate” odds of winning by having them bid for the ball, using starting field position as currency. As you bid to start deeper and deeper in your own end, the odds of you scoring before your opponent drop. At some starting field position for each team (maybe around the 17 yard line), the odds should be close to fair Continue reading
Posted in Football, Innovative Ideas
Tagged American football positions, Auction, auction field position overtime NFL, Coin flipping, defensive team, field position, field position overtime, Kickoff, kickoff returns, National Football League, NFL, NFL overtime auction, nfl overtime games, NFL overtime proposal, NFL overtime unfair, over time, overtime, overtime coin flip unfair, overtime rules, Sports, Tony
When the Nuggets resigned Nene to a large contract in the off season, I wrote that they were making the most of a bad situation (few marquee free agents available, Nene not worth the money). Today, they admitted as much by trading Nene in a three team deal that landed them talented but unreliable JaVale McGee.
Although the Nuggets have bucked the trend slightly by having some success post-Iverson and Carmelo, my preferred models for NBA success are the South Beach Talents and the Seattle Scientists. The Talents involve trading or signing two (or three!) top 15 players, and spending the spare change on spare parts to fill out the roster. The theory is that mid range guys are overpaid, so just spend you money at the top and bottom.
If you’re a small market, it’s tough to attract stars these days, so I suggest the Scientists, a hypothetical NBA team that attacks a different undervalued asset: effort. The Scientists hire guys who will be in better shape and work harder than every other team. They press on offense AND defense.
The Nuggets are neither of these. They are doing okay with their strategy of paying mid range guys (Afflalo is another example); they have the 6 seed right now. However, they probably aren’t a championship team. Wouldn’t it be fun to try something new instead?
Posted in Basketball, Innovative Ideas, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged bad situation, basketball, Denver Nuggets, free agents, ideas for NBA teams, JaVale McGee, JaVale McGee trade, Los Angeles Clippers, low effort NBA, mid range, National Basketball Association, NBA, NBA players don't try, nba team, NBA team models, Nene, Nuggets, Nuggets trade Nene, Nuggets Wizards Clippers trade, Seattle Scientists, South Beach Talents, spare change, Sports, Washington Wizards