(photo from thesmokinggun.com)
(photo from thesmokinggun.com)
My buddy Tony and I have been trying to figure out how to quantify Jeremy Lin’s recent five games. He suggested I figure out the likelihood of his start, assuming that Lin is “just” an above average point guard. So, I identified all the point guards who averaged between 16 and 18 points per game in the 2009-10 or 2010-11 season. In 2009-10, that included Devin Harris, Rodney Stuckey, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, and Tony Parker. In 10-11, the list is Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Gilbert Arenas (before the suspension), John Wall, Raymond Felton (while with the Knicks), and Tony Parker again.
I collected the game logs for all these guys for the relevant year(s); here’s the histogram of points scored in each game (including playoffs to bump the sample up):
In a total of 832 games, these players scored 30 or more points on 38 separate occasions (this is the total of the last three bars on the right). Likewise, they scored fewer than 5 points in 32 different games. These two tails each capture about 4-5% of the total distribution.
Using this distribution, Continue reading
As I predicted, Jeremy Lin came back to earth against the Timberwolves last night (8-24 shooting, 8 assists, 6 turnovers, three more bricks from three point range). I found the whole thing quite revealing, since the Wolves have their own marketable point guard (Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio), but he gets much less attention in a small market.
This is not to diminish Lin’s achievement. He has made the Knicks winners without their two best players. However, there are plenty of reasons to temper the enthusiasm. During his five game launch to stardom, Lin has three games with 8 assists or fewer and 6 turnovers or more. He’s shooting 3-17 from three point range. Let’s see if he can get those numbers in line before we get too excited.
Since it all began for Jeremy Lin on Saturday, February 4th against the Nets, Jeremy Lin has shot 42-73 from the field (58%!) over four games. Lin’s shooting percentage his senior year at Harvard? 52%. His first four games as the starter for the Knicks are even more anomalous considering that he is only 3-14 from three point range. He shot 60% on two pointers his senior year, compared with 66% over the last four games.
You probably know what’s coming. That’s right, Lin has had a great start to his career, but also a lucky start. Although his performance has transformed the Knicks’ demeanor, don’t expect the insane shooting to continue. Teams will also start backing off on pick and rolls to see if he can reliably make NBA threes. If you still want to jump on the bandwagon, Brother Conor can tell you what to expect.
I also have great news today! One of my submissions to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was accepted for the poster session. The paper (available at my academic website, written with Christopher Walters) estimates the causal impact of NBA draft incentives on tanking as well as the causal impact of winning the NBA draft lottery. In short, we find that teams tank a lot — teams that can improve their draft position by losing have lower winning percentages than teams that can’t by about 15 percentage points. There’s good reason for all this tanking. After adjusting for team quality, winning the draft lottery provides a four year attendance boost (though only a small increase in winning percentage). I’ll explain the details in a future post.
I didn’t have a whole lot to say in the post-NFL apocalyptic sports world today, so I’m leaving it to Brother Conor to bring you up to speed:
Hey there. Taking the reins for a moment so that Tyler stays ahead of the curve on the NBA’s answer to Tim Tebow. It’s Jeremy Lin-mania! Linsanity! Though I’m a political theorist by training, I’ll bow to the blog’s raison d’être and lead with the stats. Last night, Jeremy Lin dropped 28 points on the Jazz, and in just 45 minutes on the floor! Here’s a rough equation to put this in context:
(28 points x “end of NFL season media desperation” x “hype machine”) / “small sample size” = “Lin will score twenty-twelve billion points this year” + “Lin will play until he’s 65”
The math is pretty clear. Last night, Jeremy Lin limned the court with the unmistakable brilliance of a legend made good on his potential.
It’s early days to extrapolate the rest of his career, but here are some minimum baselines Continue reading