A Weekend Tour Around the Wages of Wins Network

Posted on September 11, 2010 by


Our tour around the Wages of Wins Network begins at Courtside Analysis.  First, Ty Willihnganz offers an Updated Team USA Win Chart, as well as commentary on Team USA vs. Russia

Ty then observes: The Four Factors are just Win Score by another name

To encourage everyone to read this last post, here is Ty’s entire comment on the Four Factors (and just for the record, Dean Oliver — author of the Four Factors — doesn’t have a beard):

You ever notice fans and writers who are skeptical of Win Score seem to worship the so-called “Four Factors” as though they were brought down the hill in a golden box by a guy with a beard.

They never seem to see the irony.  The “Four Factors” are simply a parsed-out version of Win Score.

The Four Factors are (1) Field Goal Percentage; (2) Free Throw Rate; (3) Offensive Rebounding Rate; and (4) Turnover Percentage.  That’s just Win Score.

Win Score is a formula calculating a player’s ability to do one or all of the following: (1) create possessions, (2) turn possessions into points; and/or (3) commit acts that help the aforementioned or harm the opponents ability to do the same.

If you look at it “Factors” (1) and (2) are simply a measure of the team’s ability to turn possessions into points.  Field goal percentage is a self explanatory measure of the ability to turn possessions into points, and ”Free Throw Rate” is such a measure because free throws are much more easily converted into points than field goals — even for the very worst free throw shooters – so the more times a team gets to the free throw line, the more efficient they are at turning possessions into points.  

Similarly, Factors (3) and (4) are simply a measure of a team’s ability to create and protect possessions.  “Offensive Rebounding Rate” is a misnomer, or rather it is simply an indirect measure of overall rebounding.  Since Defensive Rebounds are simply “Anti” Offensive Rebounds, Defensive Rebounding Rate could do just as well, as could any sort of measurement of rebounding proficiency.  And of course turnover rate, or a comparison thereof between a team and its opponents, encapsulates a team’s ability to better protect against and better create turnovers.

And the other “half stats” or ”helpers” as I and others call them (assists, blocked shots, and personal fouls) are measurements of actions that indirectly help the two categories above.  (Thus the half value).

So there you have it.  If you worship at the throne of the Four Factors, you are actually already a fan of Win Score… you just didn’t know it. 

Its like, remember those old cheap colognes that would say right on the label, “If you love Drakkar, you will LOVE _________”.   Same deal.  Except Win Score smells better.

Continuing our tour…

Ty is not the only one offering excellent analysis.  Arturo Galletti has updated his NBA Free Agent Guide.  I would love to re-post this analysis, but Arturo loves adding picture, figures, and tables to his posts.  These make his posts even better, but make copying even harder (since each picture needs to be loaded separately).   Arturo also offered a guide to NBA general managers.  These posts were offere a couple of weeks ago (should have posted a link last weekend).

Build me a winner rev. 1

Build me a winner rev. 1.1 now with the Salary Cheat Sheet

I was reminded of Arturo’s advice to general managers when I saw that Tom Sunnergren – at Philadunkia – posted a comment about the Sixers hiring of Rod Thorn. Within Tom’s comment was the following advice for the Sixers:

What we at Philadunkia would have done then was hire Pritchard to serve as President, put under him as GM/chief interlocutor, a young upstart who’s learned at the hip of one of the heads of the Suns or the Thunder or another of the league’s success stories, and then thrown a wild-card in the mix as a special advisor.  Our wild-card would be Professor Dave Berri.

Berri, the author of Wages of Wins, Stumbling on Wins, and editor of and prime contributor to the Wages of Wins Journal, is a relentlessly clear-eyed sports economist at the University of Southern Utah who, amongst other terrific sporting insights, developed an algorithm that translates box-score statistics into how many actual wins a player responsible for.  How accurate is it?  His model explains and predicts team win totals with 95 percent accuracy.  He’s gained almost Bill Jamesean stature (For the record, the Red Sox won their two world series after hiring James as an advisor) amongst the small coterie of stat nerds that troll the web extolling the virtues of rebounding and making snarky comments about Al Harrington in the comment stream of any blog that hasn’t blocked them yet.  He’s smart, and because he’s spent his life in academia, pretty much any offer we made would be a huge raise.

This triumvirate strikes a near-perfect balance between age and youth, convention and originality, experience and innovation, certainty and risk.  It’s a completely reasonable arrangement.  

Which is exactly why it would never happen.

Tom has sent along some questions for me to answer, and these answers will touch upon why I am not really interested in working for a professional sports team (despite a number of conversations I have had with various teams in the past). Arturo, though, already has a cheat sheet ready to go.  Perhaps someone should be giving him a call :)

And we are walking and walking…

Andres Alvarez has been having fun with the historical data. His Time Machine Series has been looking at what would happen if the each team was allowed to use the best season of their players instead of the performance in the actual season the player played with the team.  So far Andres is up to the conference quarterfinals.  So keep checking back in to see who ultimately wins.

Much has been made about the play of Yi Jianlian in the FIBA World Championship.  Rob O’Malley – at Roblog – explains why he doesn’t think these numbers necessarily mean Yi Jianlian has actually improved.

Let me close by noting that Devin Dignam – at NBeh? – has offered a handy glossary of terms.  This is obviously something I should have offered years ago.  So I am going to put a permanent link to this on the right. 

– DJ