One Correct Prediction

Posted on April 19, 2007 by


Earlier this week Steve Kerr asked the following question:

Who could have predicted the Sixers would win 29 of 57 games since trading Allen Iverson?

Hmmmm….. I wonder.

Last December 19th, when the trade was made, I offered my first impressions of the Iverson trade. Here is most of that post:

Iverson, as we noted in The Wages of Wins and in this forum, has been slightly below average for his career. Although the past two seasons he was above average, this year he was again slightly below average.

In contrast, Miller – with the exception of his one season with the Clippers – has always been well above average. So the 76ers have exchanged a guard that hovers around the average mark for a guard that has consistently ranked among the top players at his position.

… How exactly does this trade impact the 76ers? Miller comes in and probably takes many of the minutes of Iverson. I would also suspect that Smith allows the 76ers to play at the center and power forward spots a combination of Samuel Dalembert, Steven Hunter, Chris Webber, Smith, and Alan Henderson. In other words, the team going forward should stop playing players at the big men slots that are not big men, a problem I noted a few days ago.

At the small forward spot the team will should now use Kyle Korver and Andre Iguodala, with Rodney Carney seeing his minutes limited. Given how little Carney has contributed thus far, that will also be a positive development.

In the backcourt the team still has Willie Green and Kevin Ollie. Both of these players are very unproductive. But the addition of Miller does boost what this team is getting out of the guard positions.

Put it all together – as I have done HERE – and we see that this team could win half its games going forward. Now I am assuming that what these players have done so far this season will continue. And I am assuming that I can truly guess how the minutes will be allocated. But if both my assumptions are correct (and what are the odds an economist can get two assumptions right?), then the 76ers can expect to win about 30 more games. This gives the team a final record of 35-47, which should leave them out of the playoffs and with very few balls in the lottery hopper.

Last night the 76ers won their 30th game since the Iverson trade, giving the 76ers a final record of 35-47.

In my career I have taught fifteen different courses in economics, including the History of Economic Thought. Although HET is not one of my research fields, I understand enough of this subject to know that this is the first time in the history of our discipline that an economist made a prediction that was actually right.

Okay, that was a joke (really, economists get stuff right all the time). And this specific prediction had the right outcome, but still had a few flaws. I still have no way to predict how many minutes each player is going to play in the future or see that the 76ers were going to cut Chris Webber. Fortunately, the loss of Webber did not adversely impact the team.

Still, despite being unable to perfectly forecast everything, I had the big picture painted correctly. Exchanging Iverson for Miller made the 76ers a better team. This is exactly what Wins Produced indicates, and we see more evidence of this in the final record of the team.

A Brief Hiatus and the Relief Pitchers

If I were a showman, I would exit the stage on a high note. And in the next few days it might look like I am doing just that. Actually, though, I just need to take a brief hiatus. Over the next few days I need to work on an important project that must be completed by the end of this month. So although I love writing for The Wages of Wins Journal, there can be no more posts from me until May (which is just 12 days away).

I am not, though, leaving this forum unattended. Stacey has agreed to step in. Plus, I have asked for a couple of guest bloggers to fill the void. The first is The Baseball Economist himself – JC Bradbury. JC says he will try and post something next week. Plus, Steve Walters – a brilliant sports economist at Loyola College and occasional contributor to The Sporting News – is also going to offer some thoughts. So The Wages of Wins Journal is in good hands while I am gone.

Before I go, though, let me just tip my hat to Brian for alerting me in the comment section to Steve Kerr’s question. I will be reading the comments over the next few days, so keep those coming.

– DJ