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Friday, January 06, 2012

What if ESPN's Main Basketball Blogger Wrote About the Miami Heat the Way that He Writes About the L.A. Lakers?

The following article is satirical but all of the cited box score statistics are true (they are deliberately taken out of context but the raw numbers are accurate). Some names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Stat-Centered Selfishness of LeBron James is Destroying the Miami Heat

by Aenry Habbott

LeBron James sprained his ankle during the Miami Heat's blowout victory over the Indiana Pacers but he stayed in the game simply to try to amass a triple double (he failed, falling two rebounds short)--but, despite being healthy enough to chase individual stats on Wednesday, he sat out Thursday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the only team that has beaten the Heat this season. This might have been the most important game of the season for the Heat but James did not care that Dwayne Wade also was sitting out due to injury, thus leaving the Heat very shorthanded; James came on to the court before Thursday's game, hit some shots and showed no physical limitations but he did not want to risk damaging his gaudy individual numbers.

Superficially, it is easy to see why so many people think that LeBron James is great: he scores, rebounds, defends and passes. But basketball greatness consists of so much more than what the naked eye can discern; basketball truth has only been revealed to statistical mavens like Bave Derri, an economist at Southwest Northeast Central Eastern College in Looneyville, Texas. Derri examined certain selected statistics and came to a startling, unconventional conclusion: James is actually a selfish player whose selfishness is destroying Chris Bosh's career and could doom the Heat to never win a title.

James attempted more shots than any Miami Heat player in 2010-11. The Heat went 0-1 when James attempted 30 shots. They went 0-2 when he attempted 24 shots. That winning percentage is even worse than the mark posted by the 9-73 Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73--and that was the worst team in NBA history! When James shoots the ball either 30 or 24 times the Heat are worse than the worst team in NBA history.

But that is only part of the story told by advanced basketball statistics.

Did you know that the Miami Heat went 4-0 in 2010-11 when Chris Bosh attempted between 19 and 22 field goal attempts? That is a perfect record! You cannot beat 100%; NBA executives may not understand this kind of math but Derri confirmed to me that no one--not Bill Russell, not Magic Johnson, not even Michael Jordan--has ever led a team to a perfect winning percentage. These advanced statistics show that Chris Bosh is actually the best player in the NBA--but James is so selfish that he won't pass the ball to Bosh. When Bosh attempted just nine shots versus Sacramento on March 4, 2011 the Heat lost. The Heat also lost four of the seven games during the 2010-11 season in which Bosh attempted 13 shots. During the 2011 playoffs the Heat went 4-1 when Bosh attempted at least 18 shots--and Derri informs me that his complicated algorithm explains that the one game the Heat lost when Bosh attempted at least 18 shots was actually Isiah Thomas' fault but the reasoning behind this is so advanced that only an economist could understand it so I will not even attempt to describe it here.

The final proof came on Thursday. With James using a minor injury as an excuse to sit out to protect his individual statistics, Bosh proved that he is in fact the most valuable player on the Heat. Without James around to stifle him, Bosh attempted 27 shots and led both teams with 33 points and 14 rebounds as the Heat defeated the Hawks 116-109 in triple overtime. One of the times that Bosh made a shot James did not stand up and cheer, proving that James does not really support his teammates when they are performing well. Derri notes that if James had stood and cheered then the Heat probably would have only needed two overtimes to win the game instead of three; Derri's new Based on Standing formula (also known as the BS formula) multiplies a team's efficiency differential by how many times its leading scorer cheers when one of his teammates scores but subtracts 10 points for every time he does not stand and subtracts 20 points if he scowls. Derri says that according to this new, exciting metric LeBron James is the most selfish player in the NBA. I asked five NBA coaches about this but never got a response because they each laughed at me. Derri told me to not be upset, though, because coaches actually have no impact on who wins NBA games anyway. Derri is an economist and he bases his conclusions strictly on advanced basketball statistics so if you disagree with him then your thinking is outmoded and the rest of the basketball world will soon just sneer at you because you are an uninformed Luddite who rejects all notions of progress.

On March 30, 2010, Chris Bosh--then a Toronto Raptor--attempted 27 shots as the Raptors defeated the New Jersey Nets 100-90. That means that Bosh's teams are 2-0 since 2010 when he attempts exactly 27 shots in a regular season game. The advanced basketball statistics prove beyond any doubt that when Bosh attempts 27 shots his teams are undefeated and, according to Derri, unbeatable.

As convincing as that data is, I saved the best stat for last. Chris Bosh's career true shooting percentage is .571, while LeBron James' career true shooting percentage is just .567. Those are not only advanced basketball statistics but they contain the word "true." I just don't understand why so many NBA executives and coaches ignore the truth--and the truth is that since Bosh has a higher true shooting percentage than James the Miami Heat's optimal strategy is for Bosh to shoot 27 times a game.


Professor Derri has combed through the data and uncovered something that may overturn the conclusions mentioned above: Mickell Gladness has a true shooting percentage of 1.000 this season and the Heat won both games that he played in. That suggests that the optimal strategy for the Heat actually may be to play Gladness more frequently so that he can get more touches and more shot attempts. I asked six NBA executives about this and they each hung up the phone after laughing non-stop for 10 minutes apiece, which just confirms that NBA executives are too stupid to understand advanced basketball statistics. Perhaps if I do dozens of more posts revealing that James is a selfish player I will someday convince them that I am right.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:55 AM



At Friday, January 06, 2012 8:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hilarious and so true!

At Friday, January 06, 2012 11:31:00 AM, Anonymous boyer said...

David, this is probably your best article yet. This is great stuff. The BS formula was a nice touch.

The best part about this is that while you're having some fun, there's some truth to what you're saying, specifically about how lebron/wade have no idea how to utilize Bosh, and that lebron could certainly have played last night, and he's probably concerned with his stats(speculative, but probably true).

Ironically, this article makes a lot more sense than any of the garbage Derri or others try to convince their readers of.

At Friday, January 06, 2012 6:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Henry Abbot post would be complete without ending at least one sentence like this, you know?

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 1:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Very funny!

My favorite part was: "Those are not only advanced basketball statistics but they contain the word 'true.'"

At Sunday, January 08, 2012 3:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. Really shows how Abbott and some others skew stats to make Kobe look bad and elevate their favorite player. Selective stats can be used to "prove" anything, and you capture this point quite well in your article.


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