Reading Opening Lines, Pinky Probes, and L-Bombs

Posted on March 23, 2008 by

5 is a website created by Andrew Feinstein, a Nuggets fan and a co-creator of the comic strip – Girls and Sports (see below):


A few weeks ago Feinstein and I had a conversation via our respective blogs. 

For those who do not wish to read the following posts

Fire George Karl?

At last! Algorithms to explain the fiasco that is the 2007-08 Denver Nuggets…

More from

here is the gist of the discussion:

The Nuggets are on pace to win about 50 games this season, a mark that might still not be good enough to get Denver in the playoffs.  Since Denver employs both Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony – two of the leading scorers in the NBA – it seems hard to believe that this team could miss the post-season.

Feinstein explains this by focusing on the alleged failures of Denver’s head coach, George Karl.  Looking at Wins Produced, though, we see – in Table One — that

a. Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony are not quite as productive as their scoring totals might lead one to believe, and

b. many of Denver’s players are actually performing better this year than these same players were performing last year.

Table One: The Denver Nuggets after 69 games

In sum, one can argue (and I did earlier this month) that there is evidence that Karl has been a good coach this season.

After I posted this argument earlier in the month, Feinstein called a truce.

“Wages of Wins” debate ends in a truce (at least as far as I’m concerned)…   

Professor David J. Berri of “The Wages of Wins” fame has responded to my argument against his that the 2007-08 Nuggets couldn’t possibly be good, regardless of Coach Karl’s efforts. We’ll just have to agree to disagree, as I will continue to believe (until convinced otherwise) that good coaches can turn inefficient players into more efficient players, bad players into mediocre players, good players in great players, etc. I am, however, a strong proponent of statistical analysis, and will be offering Professor Berri a position on my staff if the Nuggets ever make me their next GM (this might be a bad idea as I can’t even win my fantasy basketball league).

On a more unfortunate note, Professor Berri has declined my offer to trade him a copy of my book for a copy of his. His argument for not being able to do so is that he a) doesn’t have any free copies to spare, and b) his wife won’t let him pick up girls in bars. While I characterized my book as a guide to picking up girls in bars, it’s actually much more than that. In fact, about half the book is dedicated to managing a monogamous relationship – again, based on the advice of cartoon characters.

So, Professor Berri, if you’re reading this please know that I’ve already purchased your book on Amazon, but my offer stands to send you a free copy of mine.

Opening Lines, Pinky Probes, and L-Bombs

Via e-mail, Feinstein and I agreed that we would each purchase each other’s book.  Not only did I do this, but I have already finished reading Opening Lines, Pinky Probes, and L-Bombs.  

This book, co-authored with Justin Borus, provides exactly what Feinstein has advertised. It’s a guide to picking up girls and surviving a monogamous relationship.

I took this book on spring break and it proved to be quite helpful.  My time at the beach was spent with not one girl, but three.  And everyone had a great time.

At least, I think so.  I was either reading this book or sleeping on the beach.  My wife and daughters spent a fair amount of time hunting for shells and digging in the sand.  They told me they had fun, though, and I have no reason to doubt this story.

Although Feinstein and I may not agree on the value of George Karl (or correspondingly, the value of Iverson and Melo), I would still highly recommend the very funny (and insightful) Opening Lines, Pinky Probes, and L-Bombs.  

One last note on

Feinstein is posting a five part series examining recent general managers the Nuggets have employed.  So far the following two parts have been posted:

Breaking down the Bernie Bickerstaff Administration (Part 1 in a 5-Part Series)…

Breaking down the Allan Bristow Administration (Part 2 in a 5-Part Series)…

Not only are these a great read (not as good as Opening Lines, Pinky Probes, and L-Bombs, but still very good) they also get at the real problem in Denver.  The general managers pick the players in the NBA. And in Denver, the GMs have consistently let down the Denver fans.  Changing coaches might make fans of the Nuggets feel better for a few days, but until better players are employed, Denver is not going to compete for a title.  And hopefully when Feinstein finishes reading The Wages of Wins (or perhaps our yet unfinished sequel), he will agree with this one argument.

— DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.