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"Muthuball": How To Build an NBA Championship Team

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the 13th-position-is-called-the-judas dept.

Businesses 94

First time accepted submitter Quillem writes "Muthu Alagappan, a 5'9" biomechanical engineering undergraduate at Stanford, made a presentation at this year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference which might well do to basketball what Moneyball did to baseball. His contribution revolves around a topographical analysis of NBA games which contends that there are really 13 positions in basketball — not just five. Besides a rather patronising — but informative — read in Gentlemen's Quarterly, there are earlier stories over at Wired and NYT blogs. Muthu's talk and slides are also available."

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94 comments

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How do you keep 5 Negros from raping your mother? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342545)

Throw them a muthaball.

Re:How do you keep 5 Negros from raping your mothe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343949)

I can confirm that this DOESN'T stop the rape but is useful for a diversion to prevent one. Just like a bucket of KFC or a watermelon.

Sorry, but... (-1, Flamebait)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342563)

It's basketball. Really, does anybody with a working brain really give a screw about this game? I guess it's marginally more interesting than soccer, but compared to games suitable for men to play...not so much.

Re:Sorry, but... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342589)

I could personally care less about professional sports, however, there is a lot of money to be made from such analysis. Advertiseing revenues, statistical odds(for gambling), and learning more about a game that millions of people love than what those millions of people will ever find useful and just because we freaking can are great reasons to investigate this Stanford student's work.

Re:Sorry, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342895)

I could personally care less about professional sports.

How much less could you care, or do you mean you could not care less?

MOD PARENT UP (2)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343601)

...for pointing out a common error that makes the speaker sound stupid. Is it just me or does anyone else get that "fingernails on a chalkboard" sensation every time you hear a speaker blithely say words that clearly mean the *exact opposite* of what was intended?

Re:MOD PARENT UP (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343711)

I could agree more. It literally makes my blood boil!

Re:MOD PARENT UP (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344297)

Irregardless of your blood, I could care less...

Re:MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345443)

Yes, it's ostensibly very irritating.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

GrandCow (229565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345771)

...for pointing out a common error that makes the speaker sound stupid. Is it just me or does anyone else get that "fingernails on a chalkboard" sensation every time you hear a speaker blithely say words that clearly mean the *exact opposite* of what was intended?

Look, for all intensive purposes I could care less. You shouldve noticed how rediculous that argument was so it's a mute point, per say.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345941)

You should look up the definition of "sarcasm" in the dictionary. You'll find that it is an extremely common linguistic technique, and that pretty much everyone but yourself is capable of interpreting phrases like "I could care less" to mean that the speaker is being sarcastic about his ability to care any less; the clear meaning of the phrase is that, to the contrary, he actually could not. You may also be surprised to learn that many times, when you hear someone describe something a being a "big whup," that they actually mean to convey that the thing is not that great a whup at all.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342607)

Absolutely, unless it generates more advertising revenue who cares?

Sport Trollzzzzzz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342665)

Only on Slashdot do people get modded up for trolling about sports. Conversely, only sports trolls get modded up on Slashdot.

Bravo

Re:Sorry, but... (5, Insightful)

Slyfox696 (2432554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342705)

It's basketball. Really, does anybody with a working brain really give a screw about this game? .

Yes, we don't all fit the stereotype of nerds living in our parent's basement. Some of us actually loved sports in school, and have gone on to use that in carving a career out for ourselves.

I work in technology, and serve as a webmaster. I'm not even going to pretend like I have the tech knowledge many of the people who post on Slashdot do, but at the same time, I have more than enough to do my job. I would also like to point out, it's a job I love very much. All of which is to say I definitely have a working brain, and anyone who has spent any time with basketball knows it very much is a sport which requires the ability to think and analyze at a very rapid pace. Playing, coaching, broadcasting, even watching can be mentally taxing if you wish.

So I'd ask for you to leave your ignorance at the door and appreciate the fact that just because other people have interests you do not share, it doesn't reflect poorly on their intelligence.

Re:Sorry, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342725)

"even watching can be mentally taxing if you wish."

only if your so fucking stupid that watching a bright orange 30 inch chunk of rubber being tossed around is mentally taxing

Re:Sorry, but... (5, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343061)

your so fucking stupid

Sorry. Could you repeat that? The irony made me black out for a few seconds there.

that watching a bright orange 30 inch chunk of rubber

Sorry. Now my brain is bleeding. Could you start over?

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343511)

that watching a bright orange 30 inch chunk of rubber

Sorry. Now my brain is bleeding. Could you start over?

The circumference of a men's basketball is 30 inches. That the 30 inch chunk of rubber has been made into a ball does not change the fact that it's a 30 inch chunk of rubber. HTH, HAND.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343895)

Wow, troll? I guess that's the new [citation needed] [answers.com] , huh? Or maybe someone just got a little too sensitive. I don't care about basketball either way. I'm tall but fat so all I was ever good at was layups.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344283)

That makes it even funnier. Someone who proclaims that paying attention to basketball is stupid cites the size of the ball's circumference ... accurately.

I'm ambivalent about pro ball. But that original comment was just too hilarious to let pass. Learning it could be interpreted to be even funnier than it originally appeared is priceless.

Thank you.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348265)

That makes it even funnier. Someone who proclaims that paying attention to basketball is stupid cites the size of the ball's circumference ... accurately.

That was an anonymous coward, not me. I don't need to play AC games; I dont' give a flying fuck if my slashdot karma is negative. It's just a number and if statistically nobody listens to me on slashdot then oh noess1111!1!!!1.

Now, since you mention it, I do think that being a big sports fan to the point that you memorize shit about it is a big fat fucking waste of time. But hey, is it any more of a big fat fucking waste of time than ranting on slashdot? Probably not, eh? Far be it from me to tell anyone what to do with their time.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348451)

That was an anonymous coward, not me

Sure guy.

I do think that being a big sports fan to the point that you memorize shit about it is a big fat fucking waste of time. But hey, is it any more of a big fat fucking waste of time than ranting on slashdot?

Unfortunately for you, you're guilty of both.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350517)

Sure guy.

If there is any evidence to suggest it was me, please share it. If not, please die in a fire. I'm not the asshole who let anonymous cowards post on slashdot and I'm also not stupid enough to think that AC posts mean anything. That comment was probably yours since you're still here to talk shit about it. That's a better assumption than that it was mine, since I have no history of playing stupid games like that, and I've been here considerably longer than you have. In summary, bite my crank.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346199)

Or maybe someone just got a little too sensitive

Yeah you, here

Wow, troll? I guess that's the new [citation needed] [answers.com], huh?

Cry some more now you sad hypocritical troll.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346243)

chunk of rubber has been made into a ball does not change the fact that it's a 30 inch chunk of rubber

All of my basketballs are leather with a synthetic polyethylene bladder.

No rubber anywhere, but don't let that stop you from being wrong.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40346471)

It's the word "that", presumably a typo for "than", that caused the cerebral hemorrhage. Ordinarily, not a major problem, but if one is going to call somebody "stupid" it's a good idea to spell everything correctly. Otherwise, the irony can induce cerebrovascular accident.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343757)

Well, some people like to *think* about what they are watching. Guess you aren't one of those people.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

Post-O-Matron (1273882) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343759)

"even watching can be mentally taxing if you wish."

only if your so fucking stupid that watching a bright orange 30 inch chunk of rubber being tossed around is mentally taxing

Troll? Gentlemen this should be modded 5: "Genius Irony" !

Re:Sorry, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342875)

How comical! How comical! You're rationalizing your pathetic, worthless interests. You know, deep in your heart, that you're wrong for enjoying meaningless things such as sports. You know this. You agree with me 100%.

You can just turn to dust and die now!

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343321)

You sound like you sucked at sports so bad to the point you were deeply traumatized by it.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40373119)

Normally wouldn't bother responding to an AC troll, but this is one that will have a lot of bobbleheads nodding on Slashdot.

How comical! How comical! You're rationalizing your pathetic, worthless interests. You know, deep in your heart, that you're wrong for enjoying meaningless things such as sports. You know this. You agree with me 100%.

Pretty much every interest, short of curing disease and inventing new useful things in your spare time, is ultimately worthless. It's up to us to find our own meaning in what we do.

Watching sports can be exciting for some people. Beating the final boss in a video game can be exciting for some people. As long as what a person is doing isn't affecting you at all, please piss right off with your "your interests are worthless" bullshit.

--Jeremy

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343387)

The nerds/geek that criticize sports in a blanket manner are just holding on to animosity towards high school jocks.

The billions that go into professional sports, the sports scholarships, the importance and obsession people put into sports, and the glorification of violence in sports (specifically hockey and football) are all likely issues nerds/geeks can unify and criticize.

These issues with sports don't prevent you from playing / enjoying them. In fact, physical activity is very good for blood flow and hence can certainly help with problem solving and other geek/nerd related activities. In fact, every time I start a new research project, I hit a peak in physical activity (either soccer or basketball in the summer, hockey in the winter) as I find it really improves the thought process.

The way I see it too is you have three options: sedentary life, exercise at a club/in your basement or play a competitive sport. The former two minimize your social interactions and/or are as boring as all hell. The latter gives you the opportunity to exercise, socialize and actually has a goal to head towards.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348599)

And if you don't REALLY care, why spend the energy to advertise it by saying so here? To pump yourself up at the expense of others? It's human endeavour - human endeavour that takes talent and hard work and accomplishment., and is to be enjoyed and admired. Or passed by. Definitely not to be crapped on.

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342819)

games suitable for men to play

What are they? Rape and wife-beating?

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344697)

Absolutely!

I'm proud to say that my favorite team in the National Rape and Wife Beating League (NRWBL) is in first place.

Go New York White Tank Tops!

Re:Sorry, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343079)

"It's basketball. Really, does anybody with a working brain really give a screw about this game?"

It's only for muthufuckers.

Re:Sorry, but... (4, Interesting)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343315)

It's basketball. Really, does anybody with a working brain really give a screw about this game?

I had a sarcastic reply but instead I'm going to simply say this: Donald Knuth was a basketball coach. See him talk about his baskeball coaching experience here [webofstories.com] .

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347821)

Wow! Very interesting!

I really admire Donald Knuth, I really do, but I did not know he was so inarticulate! Or is it just the camera that makes him so?

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348179)

I'm no Knuth biographer, but every single interview and presentation given by Knuth that I ever saw, he always spoke like that.

Going back to basketball, some people talk tons of shit about players such as Derrick Rose for not being very articulate, accusing him of being a moron, a retard and even autistic. Yet, people such as Knuth are also not very articulate, and no one in their right mind would accuse Knuth of being a moron. That says something about being prejudiced.

This is amazing (5, Funny)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342601)

a 5'9" biomechanical engineering undergraduate

I, for one, welcome our new 5'9" cyborg overlords.

Re:This is amazing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342659)

Is this like a biomechanical Engineer (ie, Space Jockey?)

Re:This is amazing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343507)

I, for one, welcome our new 5'9" cyborg overlords.

For some of us, 5'9" is an underlord.

Re:This is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343943)

Cool stuff, but he uses the word position incorrectly. He'd deserve more respect if he understood basketball enough to know that he means roles, or duties, not position. Each player needs to fill multiple roles. It might not sound like a big deal, but you either understand basketball or you don't..

How to re-build a Constitutional Republic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342617)

Jail the fucking banksters
Jail the fucking oath breakers
Outlaw delegates, the electoral college, and ALL fucking electronics in our elections
Roll back all the fucking unconstitutional EO's.
Jail that mother fucker OBAMA

Come on slashdot what the fuck SPORTS?!

Re:How to re-build a Constitutional Republic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343743)

Jail the fucking banksters
Jail the fucking oath breakers
Outlaw delegates, the electoral college, and ALL fucking electronics in our elections
Roll back all the fucking unconstitutional EO's.
Jail that mother fucker OBAMA

Come on slashdot what the fuck SPORTS?!

ur funneh

good but incomplete (5, Insightful)

evangellydonut (203778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342623)

The statistics currently being tracked is more offense focused. Bad Boys of Detroit, the Bulls, and the Spurs had solid defense that helped them win but not necessarily show up in statistics unless you do a game-to-game analysis of the opponent's average offense performance vs performance against a specific team.

Other than that, it's a pretty interesting thought/analysis... Just incomplete... but I'm sure someone can do a much more complete PhD thesis on this and get funded by some NBA team :-P

Re:good but incomplete (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343041)

Blocked shots, defensive rebounds, steals...however I have my doubts basketball will ever get sabermatic. Single players dominate too much, lineups are smaller, and playing strategies are less strategic.

Re:good but incomplete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349801)

Some teams such as the Mavs count charges taken, deflections off of passes, changed shots as opposed to just blocked shots. Many of them use a great deal of play by play data as well, which you can appropriate online for free (or get much detailed stuff for a fee).

Re:good but incomplete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343543)

Michael Lewis (the author of Moneyball) wrote an article back in 2009 for NYT about just this. He identified a player that improved overall team performance but who didn't himself have great stats.

The No-Stats All-Star
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/magazine/15Battier-t.html?pagewanted=all

Re:good but incomplete (1)

gottabeme (590848) | more than 2 years ago | (#40378077)

Mod parent up! Great article. Thanks for sharing.

SPEAK UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342633)

I have this video at 100% volume and my OS volume slider at max (past "100%"), and I can barely hear him.

Re:SPEAK UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342897)

turn on your speakers.

Re:SPEAK UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343625)

Oh they're on all right. I routinely have to turn the audio DOWN because most videos are too loud. But with this one I can't turn it UP enough to understand him without intense concentration. Yes, it's that bad.

tl;dr: Video needs at least a +20db boost to its audio track. Either that or closed captions.

Patronising? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342693)

How is the GQ article "patronising" - because the opening summary says, "A Stanford undergrad's new super-nerd study"? That's the only thing I see that could be remotely considered patronizing. And frankly, this *is* a "super-nerd" study - how is a statistical analysis of NBA players NOT super nerdy?

Can we change the Slashdot motto to "butthurt editorializing for nerds," instead of "news for nerds?" The "news" part implies a factual focus, and the summaries are increasingly flamebait of the first order.

Re:Patronising? (1)

murdocj (543661) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343769)

Sadly, I don't have mod points or I would mod the parent up. Two excellent points.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345077)

Spot-on insightfulness should be rewarded.

Top minds in America... (1, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342719)

Emulating a brad pit movie in order to advance the profitability of a stupid game that already rakes in tens of millions per team.

Great work, humanity will place you among the legends

Re:Top minds in America... (4, Informative)

Klinky (636952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342947)

Moneyball the movie was based off Moneyball the book. The concepts in Moneyball are real & have been implemented by most of Major League Baseball.

Re:Top minds in America... (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344441)

watch me give a flying fuck

Re:Top minds in America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344957)

watch me give a flying fuck

I'd really rather not.

Re:Top minds in America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350209)

You might have made up your mind about the sport, how it is played, so this might be a waste of my efforts trying to convince you otherwise. However, as games go, basketball is the creation of an academic mind that is elegant in its design and complicated in its execution. The creation of games is an underrated human endeavor, and I believe basketball is one of the best games of all time. And to play this game well, the player cannot be stupid.

As a medium of communcation, basketball has facilitied me making friends on 3 different continents. I have played with many different people from different cultural backgrounds having some of the most euphoric of moments, without having to say a word. When I play a game of pick up ball, I know within ten minutes if I am playing a guy who is gracious enough to call his own fouls and honest enough to admit and apologize for a bad play. Something I have picked up on over the years is that a person's manners on the court extend to his time away from it. Having good etiquette and playing the game properly (as in form) is a good way to introduce yourself to a new gym, a new neighborhood and a great way to meet people. Learning how to do it well (as in aptitude) coupled with good form is some of the best ways for people to seek common ground with you. So while it's not a particular quantum leap in terms of solving the world's problems as a whole, it has allowed me to get problems solved in an indirect manner once I made those personal connections.

Having a break down of how to measure the best in the world doing something in a quantitative manner is an extremely valuable tool that probably extends to a variety of different fields. What is interesting about basketball in theory is that it is a 10 actor problem, 5 on a side, where 9 people are moving without the ball in anticipation of the person with the ball is about to do. Since everyone on the court can see everyone, with everyone's abilities known to the opposition (at least that is the case in the NBA), you have a real time strategy game that can be annotated as a turn based game. Now the players who are on the court, as well as the staff on the sidelines have to be constantly aware of the interplay between offensive (and defense) schemes on a player vs player setting versus what the other 8 guys are doing on the court. It takes an enormous amount of awareness to have a refined court sense, and yet there are players, regardless of position that they play, understand exactly what is going on, at all times, on the court, without nary a mental lapse. That is but one of the many extraordinary mental human abilities that are on display during the professional american (and fiba) basketball season. Normally, if these players don't make highlights, you're not going to figure out who these folks are, unless you either watch and play a lot of games or churn through a great deal of data figuring out which player makes the perfect text book play with a high success rate.

For me, figuring out which player to watch to improve my game (and not just copy moves from highlights when I was a teenager) is a good start. Then picking apart how they did what they did is the next part. For example, there are very few centers that are shorter than 6-8. Chuck Hayes started for the Houston Rockets in the middle despite standing 6-6 in shoes. He was, IMNSHO, the best defender in the NBA in the low post despite giving up 3-4 inches in height (and about 15 pounds on average) and probably a couple more in reach, near the basket, every night. How he does he does best is a combination of extremely nifty defensive footwork coupled with extreme lower body and core strength that is probably second to none in the NBA. The data points to the footage, the footage points to techniques that I can use and then I start researching training regiments that can train these abilities, which lends to me performing better on all the other sports I perform as well (as well as improve my posture, overall health and quality of life :)

The more wins a team generates, the more fans one has, The more fans one has, the more money it generates for local, smaller businesses around the arena, as well as establishments such as sports bars that cater to sports fans. A good team can reel in a great deal more cash for a downtown, especially given the parameters of cost for the post season.

If an NBA team gets to the post season (that's when you may begin to entertain considerations that a team might be 'good'), it's operational cost with regards to player salaries are finished. The players already have been paid their years worth (with the exception of a possible playoff bonus), but because the stakes for the team matter more, they play harder. (Most NBA players are almost irrationally competetive. They have to get that way to make it into the league) They are truly, at that point, playing for the love of the game, providing what is necessarily an improved product because the competition is better and better scouted, hence the outcome can be more unpredicatable and therefore, more theatrical. Now not only do you have almost a guaranteed packed house every game, the largest chunk of your cost in the regular season is null and void. These extraq games are bonuses. The teams that remain in the playoffs now get a bigger chunk of the TV contract. It makes _loads_ of money, which is why it is a big business, but while it generates a lot of money for the team, it even generates more for local businesses.

The problem with the making loads of money part is that it comes with a few caveats. With a scant few exceptions, you have to be a good team for folks to give a damn about you. With a scant few exceptions, you have to have at least 2 exceptional players to win a championship. Now the magic number seems to be 3. To be an exceptional player in the NBA is to be a scarce resource that only 20-30 people in the world can do. Given that over a billion people play this game, finding and nurturing the top 20-30 becomes an extremely arduous endeavor, with farm systems stretching all the way back to the under 11 AAU leagues looking for prospects that gradually get filtered through the various leagues as the player grows up. The process is generally shady at best and is rife with suspect testimony. Further more, many prospects fall through the cracks by sheer bad luck. The ability to evaluate talent objectively despite varying levels of competition across leagues and across countries is one of the many hurdles that NBA statisticians have been trying to conquer for many years. For example, nobody wants to draft a Darko again.

Humanity may not have enshrined the people who run teams based on the profit margins of the business side of the game, but humanity has already enshrined the likes of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell long before those many fans today are born. To understand American sports is to understand the evolution of recreation and the spectacle of recreation as a business. You cannot talk about basketball in the United States without talking about the evolution of race relations. You cannot talk about basketball in the United States without talking about how the Harlem Globetrotters were sent as good will ambassadors to the Soviet Union. You cannot talk about basketball in the United States without bringing up the import of foreign talent, how the rest of the world got better and how the Americans got their sneakers took in the 2004 Olympics. In fact, one of the few exports that are absolutely morally above board that the US has produced is basketball as entertainment. That is something we as a country do very well.

There is nothing stupid about this game, and its pantheon of legends and the accompanying histronics of praise continue to grow. I've quit the sport in my late teens to my early 20s before. Looking back, it is one of the dumbest things I have ever done.

There are positions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342811)

I thought there were only penalties...

The 5'9" oneno (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342869)

Imagine, a 5'9" oneno teaching all the short guys how to beat the tall guys. One of the short guys tells his friend, Jemima's baby tall brother Jenkins, all about it. Jenkins, who is 6'7" know knows all the shit the 5'9" oneno knew, and beats him big time.

It’s a very nice article. I get a lot inform (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342887)

Thank you so much for your sharing.I get a lot information about what Moneyball did to baseball.

william bouguereau paintings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40342905)

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BB Theory (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40342941)

As Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate will have already remarked someday, whilst pondering the time dilation effects of Basketball wherein time passes progressively slower as less time is left "on the clock":

I thought you knew that algebra was all razzamatazz

5'9" (1)

hammeraxe (1635169) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343379)

What the hell does his height have to do with anything?

Re:5'9" (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343475)

What the hell does his height have to do with anything?

Nothing, now go back to bed Napoleon.

Topological (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343383)

:His contribution revolves around a topographical analysis

You mean topological.

Slashdot's new tagline: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343445)

News for niggers, stuff that matters

there are really 13 positions in basketball... (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343537)

Duh, 5 players on a team (X2) and 3 officials do add up to 13.

The comments so far are disappointing (5, Insightful)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343605)

You should all hand over your geek cards at the front desk, if you ever were in position of one.

You have a geek making a presentation about an idea on how to bring together an optimum team of items depending on their statistical profiles, and you argue about how interesting basketball/baseball is? I have never witnessed people miss the point all at once that badly ever before in my life...

Here, I will boil it down for you:
1. Gather statistical data on the items of which you want to build a new group of.
2. Do some data-mining and graphing to figure out how these items cluster. Do not predefine clusters, but let them surface themselves.
3. Depending on a free, non-mapped variable (e.g. cost) make an optimum choice of individuals from each group. Alternatively, base your choice on a given pattern that you want to match or counter-act (e.g. the opposing team).
4. Profit!
5. Gather new data and update your graphs to keep up with times.

How about starting to come up with ideas on how to apply this concept to physics, medicine, engineering and economics? Jeez...

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343731)

The problem is that, like Moneyball showed, it will only be an advantage as long as only a few teams (and not a majority) are using the methodologies. Once that happens, it's just the new norm.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345045)

Actually it is worse than that because of what Moneyball did not show. The movie Moneyball completely ignored the role played in the success of the team it followed by players who were stars by traditional baseball standards. In addition, the team in Moneyball was not all that successful, it never won a championship using the Moneyball techniques. I suspect that this new analysis will be somewhat similar. It will add a few new wrinkles to the process that teams use to evaluate talent and choose players. In addition, the way the NBA is currently structured, non-basketball factors have a much bigger impact on the success of a team than statistical analysis does.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346121)

What do you mean the team was not that successful?

2000 91 70 .565 1st in AL West Lost ALDS to New York Yankees, 2–3.
2001 102 60 .630 2nd in AL West Lost ALDS to New York Yankees, 2–3.
2002 103 59 .636 1st in AL West Lost ALDS to Minnesota Twins, 2–3.
2003 96 66 .593 1st in AL West Lost ALDS to Boston Red Sox, 2–3.
2004 91 71 .562 2nd in AL West
2005 88 74 .543 2nd in AL West
2006 93 69 .574 1st in AL West Won ALDS vs. Minnesota Twins, 3–0. Lost ALCS vs. Detroit Tigers, 0–4.

Those were some very successful years. hey were toe to toe with the Yankees, which is was (and is) best teams money could buy?

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346617)

And they did it for a fraction of the price of the Yankee's team. To use the Slashdot mandated car analogy, this is the same thing as racing against a 911 with a chevy accent and almost winning. Sure, you lost, but you didn't have to spend nearly as much money as your opponent to compete.

The system employed in Moneyball were great for team owners and front offices. They've been HELL for fans and players though.

Traditionally, better players were kept around and you only traded marginal players. Now though, it's the good players who are traded in deals (not major stars like Chipper and A-rod, but still great players) for multiple, lesser players. And it keeps people like Matt Diaz changing teams every year or two. (he was traded from braves, to pirates, and back to braves in a single season)

As a baseball fan, I'm not a fan of this new team building strategy that's based on money.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345259)

You mean like any other learned advantage? I don't see how that is a problem. The end result is better games.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350249)

Basketball and baseball as leagues are constructed are fundamentally unfair games. Basketball has some improvement based on the fact that there is some profit sharing of the national television market, that there is a salary cap (and a minimum pay roll). Further more, not every team publises their methodologies, in fact Bill James is noteworthy by dispelling the myth by publishing, where as there really hasn't been an equivalent academic nearly as prolific for basketball. Most of each teams methodologies are seldom shared.

In the NBA, you will find that most free agents want to gravitate towards bigger markets, as their sponsorship deals are tethered at times with increases to where they play. However, you will always find a smaller market team that is poised to take a good swing at a championship run every year. These teams perform extremely well despite smaller market earnings w.r.t. t.v. contracts. There are only a few teams left that don't have complex analytics in place for player evaluation w.r.t. to drafting and scouting, and you will generally find these teams at the bottom of the standings. But even if they all employ statisticians, different teams have different personel and will cater their game plan to the strengths/weaknesses of their talent, and therefore will use whatever methodology they can to do so. Since players are different, the numbers folks will ask for will be different, and the processes of getting these numbers will differ. There is so much data out there to be garnered that there really isn't a hard consensus yet. In the NBA where a team like the Houston Rockets can win 50%+ of their games despite giving up a large chunk of their roster to injuries in the last 4 years is a testament to the coaching and management staff.

And once we get to the new norm, everyone will have a better understanding of the game which eventually will filter down to the consumer. As a growing nations pastime, knowing what is going on helps folks enjoy the game better, which, in the long run, is its own benefit.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343937)

When you show how this is anything at all new, and also applicable to medicine and other fields, I'll get excited. But it's not, so I won't hold my breath. Also, PLAYING sports is great. WATCHING sports is for paraplegics, fat people, and/or parents who have kids in the game.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345113)

When you show how this is anything at all new, and also applicable to medicine and other fields, I'll get excited. But it's not, so I won't hold my breath. Also, PLAYING sports is great. WATCHING sports is for paraplegics, fat people, and/or parents who have kids in the game.

You have no idea. Medical research uses these techniques all the time. Using it for basketball is just one example. If you don't see how clustering and statistical learning can EASILY be used in other fields, you're an idiot. The worst part is that you act like you know what you're talking about, but at any level of scrutiny, your comments sound incredibly daft and unthoughtful. But maybe you were just trying to be ironic/funny?

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344079)

Exactly. I really don't give a fig about basketball, likely as I don't understand it, and I found this talk (and slides) fascinating! I thought it was interesting to see how he could correlate players similarity by statistics, and then use that to expose cheaper versions of awesome players, or to show how your team is missing a certain skillset.

Now if only I knew what a paint protector was and why it's important. :)

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40345043)

How about starting to come up with ideas on how to apply this concept to physics, medicine, engineering and economics? Jeez...

Is this a joke? People use the same techniques in biomedical research *all the time*. I mean, seriously. ALL THE TIME. I'll just assume you were aiming for irony.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347653)

No, I wasn't aiming for irony. I'm just in a complete other field than biomedical research. Please, enlighten us!

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40345303)

How about starting to come up with ideas on how to apply this concept to physics, medicine, engineering and economics? Jeez...

How about RTFA? He was presenting on behalf of Ayasdi, a company run by Stanford mathematicians, whose proprietary software is used by physicians, environmentalists, and the government to understand cancer, diabetes, and oil spills.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347675)

I RTFA. I also watched the presentation where he makes a similar mention. But he does not give any examples. The only example that we have is the one for basketball. So how does this work in other fields? Just to mention that it is "used by x to understand y" is not enough!

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40348079)

That's what their company does, the primary uses of their software is in exactly the fields you mentioned. He simply applied it to BB as his pet project.

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40348727)

This guy is doing something very simple. He is using measurements from the NBA (such as field goal percentage, shots blocked, rebounds per game) to learn the "structure" of basketball. He can learn how players are similar, how they are different, what the major groups of players are, and who the outliers are. He can also use these inferences to make predictions about future games.

How does this apply to biomedicine? In biomedicine, we face the exact same problem. We have tons of measurements (patients' DNA, blood work, weight, medical history, environmental exposure, etc.) and we want to learn the "structure" of human health and disease. We also want to make predictions about future health and disease.

These problems are identical. They also require the same computational/statistical methods to be solved. You can use these methods to understand plenty of things other than basketball and medicine. For example, you can use them to find economic or social patterns, analyze the stock market, text recognition (captchas), or predict consumer behavior (maybe you remember, target uses it to predict when customers are pregnant). Hope this answers your question

Re:The comments so far are disappointing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40346073)

I agree with the "turn in the geek cards at the door" comment.

Believe it or not tech drives a lot of sports (and the other way around). If you don't know this you have not been paying attention.

Playbooks in the NFL are handed out on Ipads now, they are no longer on paper. I don't know how far they have gone with this but the ability exists to add/remote a play a dynamically update everyone copy at nearly the same time is amazing.

Racing...

The Williams FW14( 14B & 15) (think early 90's) were an (and still are) amazing pieces of technology.
Some features were: Active suspension, traction control, telemetry, pneumatic valves, semi-automatic transmission.

Topographical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343939)

His contribution revolves around a topographical analysis of NBA games

I'd imagine a topographical analysis of NBA games would be rather boring; basketball courts are just flat, level surfaces, after all.

Data mining has been in use in basketball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343977)

There's at least one company, Virtual Gold [virtualgold.com] , doing data mining in basketball and their product, Advanced Scout, has been in use since the 90s. Here [unr.edu] is a paper on it. I don't think the analysis is the same as this one, but Moneyball style stuff is not new to the NBA.

There was also this article in the NYTimes by Michael Lewis [nytimes.com] that discussed some aspects of this kind of analysis, e.g. " Battier learns a lot from studying the data on the superstars he is usually assigned to guard. For instance, the numbers show him that Allen Iverson is one of the most efficient scorers in the N.B.A. when he goes to his right; when he goes to his left he kills his team. The Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson is an even stranger case. “Steve Jackson,” Battier says, “is statistically better going to his right, but he loves to go to his left — and goes to his left almost twice as often.”"

Re:Data mining has been in use in basketball (1)

wmorrow (16909) | more than 2 years ago | (#40347067)

A good Q&A at the end of the video answers some of the questions asked here. I'm disappointed no one asked him if they're using it for gambling. Although data mining of this complexity may not be needed. Anyone profiting using this [upenn.edu] simple metric to gamble on games?

David Stern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350001)

Put a couple of young super stars on the same team, hype them up in the media - David Stern will make sure the referees will make sure they'll win

public access? (1)

clairity (853242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40356317)

i play basketball on a rec league team and sometimes like to analyze our stats. does anyone know if there's a way to access these tools publicly? it would be interesting to see what kind of player we each are and then see how to complement our existing team. we know that we have some imbalances, but it would be cool to see if the tool picks out the same issues that we understand more intuitively.

NICE. Thanks to share. (1)

saleson (2664551) | more than 2 years ago | (#40357563)

NICE. Thanks to share. I love Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys [cheapjerseyiso.com] . Hello. I am the admin of wholesalejerseysiso.com t and I want to use this pic on my website, if you let me oof course.

Basketball is not baseball (1)

scrout (814004) | more than 2 years ago | (#40360005)

I believe baseball and basketball differ greatly if relation to how statistics can be applied. Basketball success is much more reliant on a greater number of teammates being "up for the game", and performing physically and mentally at a high level for longer periods. Baseball IS statistics and situational probability. As far as communicating data, this guy gets it done: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html [ted.com]
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