Taking a Test from Pistonscast

Posted on April 18, 2008 by


Imagine taking a test where you are

a. asked questions that are not over the material you studied

b. answers must be provided the moment after the question is asked

c. if you give the “wrong” answer, many people find out (and some of these people may not say nice things about you).

My sense is that my students wouldn’t be too anxious to take such a test.  But each time I am interviewed on TV or radio, this is very much the test I take.  Although I am given some idea about the questions ahead of time, there always seems to be a surprise.  Despite such surprises, answers must be provided the moment the question is asked.  In other words, dead air is the worst possible answer. Finally, you know when you are answering the question that people are listening.  And if you give the “wrong” answer, some of these people are going to let you know.

Taking the Pistonscast Test

My latest test was written by John W. Davis and Deven Khrucell of Pistonscast.  A few weeks ago I made my first appearance on the Pistons podcast, discussing the greatness that is Amir Johnson and the productivity of Detroit’s bench.  This week the topic was Rodney Stuckey. 

The following link will take you to the broadcast (the link seems slow but I think it works):

Pistonscast from April 17


Rodney Stuckey for Rookie Guard of the Year, David Berri from The Wages of Wins Journal, and Top Listener Emails

As you will hear, John and Deven believe that Stuckey – the 15th player taken in the 2007 draft – had a very good rookie year. John asked me to look at the numbers (which you can see on their website), and I think I agree (sort of). 

It’s important to remember that John, Deven, and I are fans of the Pistons.  So our take on Stuckey is biased.  Still, I think you can argue that no point guard taken in the first round offered substantially more than Stuckey.  And as I note in the podcast, Stuckey got better as the year progressed.  Meanwhile – if you ignore Durant’s last game (which hadn’t been played when we recorded this broadcast) – Durant offered less in April then he did in March.

Discussing the greatness of Stuckey was not the only topic we covered.  John and Deven also asked about

– the drafting ability of Joe Dumars

– the value of statistics vs. a gut feeling

– Isiah Thomas vs. Allen Iverson

– the importance of the last second shot

– the value of Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose

I think I offered reasonable thoughts on all these topics. 

One Wrong Answer

But then towards the end of the interview my performance slipped.  It was then that I was asked about the Celtics and Pistons. Specifically, which team did I think was better?  Now as a Pistons fan, I would like to say Detroit.   But let’s face it, the numbers are pretty clear on this topic. Boston clearly has a better team.  In fact, Boston has one of the best teams we have seen in the history of the NBA (I will write more on this next week).

Of course, if you are talking Pistons with fans of Detroit, saying that Boston is better than Detroit is clearly the “wrong” answer.  Not surprisingly, I got some deserved grief for my response.

Despite my “wrong” answer on the last question, I had a great deal of fun taking the test.  It’s certainly great talking basketball with fellow Pistons fans.  And hopefully the Pistons will defy those damn numbers and make us fans happy in 2008.

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com 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.