DataBall (via Grantland)

Early in the spring semester of 2013, Cervone and D’Amour proposed a new project to measure performance value in the NBA. The nature of their idea was relatively simple, but the computation required to pull it off was not. Their core premise was this:

Every “state” of a basketball possession has a value. This value is based on the probability of a made basket occurring, and is equal to the total number of expected points that will result from that possession. While the average NBA possession is worth close to one point, that exact value of expected points fluctuates moment to moment, and these fluctuations depend on what’s happening on the floor.

Furthermore, it was their belief that, using the troves of SportVU data, we could — for the first time — estimate these values for every split second of an entire NBA season. They proposed that if we could build a model that accounts for a few key factors — like the locations of the players, their individual scoring abilities, who possesses the ball, his on-ball tendencies, and his position on the court — we could start to quantify performance value in the NBA in a new way.

In other words, imagine if you paused any NBA game at any random moment. Cervone and D’Amour’s central thesis is that no matter where you pause the game, that you could scientifically estimate the “expected possession value,” or EPV, of that possession at that time.

If we can estimate the EPV of any moment of any given game, we can start to quantify performance in a more sophisticated way. We can derive the “value” of things like entry passes, dribble drives, and double-teams. We can more accurately quantify which pick-and-roll defenses work best against certain teams and players. By extracting and analyzing the game’s elementary acts, we can isolate which little pieces of basketball strategy are more or less effective, and which players are best at executing them.

But the clearest application of EPV is quantifying a player’s overall offensive value, taking into account every single action he has performed with the ball over the course of a game, a road trip, or even a season. We can use EPV to collapse thousands of actions into a single value and estimate a player’s true value by asking how many points he adds compared with a hypothetical replacement player, artificially inserted into the exact same basketball situations. This value might be called “EPV-added” or “points added.” … Read More

(via Grantland)

ALDLAND Podcast

On the ALDLAND podcast this week we surprisingly don’t talk all about college football. We have learned that there are other sports out there, and we are going to talk about them to. Among the topics this week are football of the pro variety, one of the biggest soccer rivalries out there, and the NBA. So many topics, so much enjoyment.

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A note on the occasion of Allen Iverson’s impending retirement

As reported yesterday afternoon by SLAM Magazine, Allen Iverson is planning to announce his retirement from the NBA “in the coming days.” Iverson, who played for Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit, and Memphis, has not played in the NBA since 2010, and he has not played anywhere professionally since 2011, when he was playing in Turkey.

Chronicling Iverson’s on-court greatness is best left to the many others who are far more qualified to do that. Instead, I’ll recall the most memorable off-court moment from The Answer’s career: his May 7, 2002 press conference. If you’re not tracking, direct your attention to this video. (Here’s the full transcript for the textually inclined.)

In a post-Chuck-Sheen-meltdown world in which web memes are very much a valuable currency, it’s easy to underestimate how severely that segment would break the internet today. In a society that is, by orders of magnitude, more plugged in today than it was in 2002, it’s difficult to appreciate the viralty of that moment. You basically had to have played in the NBA and been tasked with guarding Iverson to be the sort of person who, when asked in 2013, “when I say ‘Allen Iverson,’ what do you think of?”, would not blurt out, “practice!” By being that person, Gary Payton nevertheless revealed more about the origins of Iverson’s press conference moment than heretofore was known:

ALDLAND Podcast

A very special edition of the ALDLAND podcast this week as blog founder AD joins us to talk NBA free agency and the MLB all-star game. Marcus and I revisit some of our MLB picks from the start of the season and AD makes his own.

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ALDLAND Podcast

The ALDLAND Podcast might have taken two weeks off, but it is back and better than ever. Listen to your favorite cohost get all melodramatic about the NBA Draft before moving on to actual NBA discussion as we recap the exciting NBA Finals. Also featured is discussion of Darren Rovell’s interesting take on the Aaron Hernandez situation. Last, but not least, I unveil my innovative compromise to the Washington Redskins name situation.

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ALDLAND Podcast

You followed the live blog, now listen to the live podcast. Join Marcus and me as we discuss the NBA FInals DURING the NBA Finals. This is so groundbreaking that your mind might explode! We also talk about college football recruiting and how crazy that is. So crazy. You don’t even know. But you will soon.

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NBA Finals, Game 3: Aptly named?

So far, the NBA Finals has been a tale of two blowouts. The most recent one belongs to the San Antonio Spurs, who routed the Miami Heat 113-77 to take a 2-1 series lead. The big story on offense was the three-point shooting of Danny Green and Gary Neal, who together made 13/19 shots from distance. As a team, the Spurs shot 50% from behind the arc, and they attempted 32 such shots.

Thirty-two three-point attempts seemed like a lot to me. The season average across all teams this year was 19.9, that number representing a record high. Thirty-two attempts is not an all-time record, though. In 1996, Dallas attempted forty-nine three-pointers in a 127-117 win over New Jersey. (Somebody named George McCloud was responsible for twenty of those attempts. The Nets, as a team– a team featuring none other than future Maverick Shawn Bradley– only attempted five. Rick Mahorn also played in that game, so do with that what you will.) In fact, there have been 404 games in NBA/ABA/BAA history in which a team attempted at least 33 three-point shots. It isn’t even the most this season, in which eighty-three games saw a team attempt at least 33 threes, and seven of those performances came in these playoffs. All time, only twenty-three playoff games have seen at least thirty-three attempts, though, which certainly comports with the trend the Sporting News discussed in the above-linked story on the steep increase in three-point shooting.

That the Spurs’ thirty-two attempts on Tuesday seemed like a lot to me only means that I haven’t been watching a lot of NBA basketball in recent years, which is absolutely correct.

Enjoy game 4 tonight if you’re capable of enjoying such things.

ALDLAND Podcast

Technical difficulties and general laziness are a good combination for going two weeks without a podcast. Fear not, dear listeners, as one of the two of those issues has been fixed and a brand new ALDLAND podcast is available for you to take in. Join Marcus and I as we preview the NBA finals, discuss the latest in MLB steroids news, and take a look at our preseason World Series picks.

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