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Sunday, January 08, 2012

What if ESPN's Main Basketball Blogger Wrote About the Chicago Bulls 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. Hopefully, most readers understand the nature of satire but in case you don't and/or are new to this site, here is a serious, detailed analysis of how Derrick Rose and other elite NBA players perform: Selecting NBA Award Winners: The Battle of Stats Versus Storylines Versus Logical Analysis.

Derrick Rose Refuses to Trust his Teammates

by Aenry Habbott

Before I started the False Bucket website I had a variety of different jobs and I met people from all different walks of life. One time on my lunch break I went to Starbucks and I was standing in line behind an elderly, somewhat shabbily dressed gentleman. He looked like he had not had anything to eat or drink for days. He ordered a coffee and a sandwich but then realized that he was a dollar short. I gave him a dollar and he smiled at me. I felt good all day and I will never forget how good it felt to help someone.

What does this have to do with basketball?

Basketball is part of the tapestry of life. On the court five people must work together in harmony, just like we all should work together in harmony to make the world a better place. Sharing is good on the basketball court and in life. Being selfish is bad.

Using all of your dollars only for yourself is selfish. Most of us understand that this is bad.

But a basketball player who shoots too much is just like a person who spends all of his money on himself.

Shooting is not sharing!

Derrick Rose is a very gifted basketball player. It is exciting to watch him cross over hapless defenders. It is cool to see him dunk over much bigger opponents. I get that. Derrick Rose is fun to watch!

But is Derrick Rose really an effective, efficient player? Before the advent of advanced basketball statistics we would have just had to rely on how we felt watching Derrick Rose play. And like I said, Derrick Rose is fun to watch. No one can deny that.

Derrick Rose is a point guard. Point guards are supposed to be the ultimate basketball sharers. They are supposed to give out dollars--i.e., shots--to all of their friends. I am sure that Derrick Rose is a good person. But advanced basketball statistics show that he is not a sharer.

Bave Derri is an economist at Southwest Northeast Central Eastern College in Looneyville, Texas, an institution that is to economic research what the Institute of Advanced Study was to physics back when Albert Einstein worked there. Derri does not deny that it is fun to watch Rose play but he recently sent me an email explaining exactly how the numbers show that Rose does not share as much as he should.

In the 2010-11 season, Rose attempted exactly 31 shots in a game once--and the Chicago Bulls lost. They also lost three of the five games in which Rose attempted exactly 27 shots. The Chicago Bulls were pretty good last year. They had the best record in the NBA (62-20). But four of their losses came when Rose attempted either 27 or 31 shots.

I get that Chicago fans want Rose to be the next Michael Jordan but Rose only ranked sixth on the Bulls in true shooting percentage. That means that when Rose shot the ball it was less likely to go in the hoop than it was when Rasual Butler, Joakim Noah, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans or Omer Asik shot the ball. Luol Deng's true shooting percentage was barely less than Rose's (.549 for Deng compared to .550 for Rose) but Rose attempted 1597 shots while Deng only attempted 1155 shots.

Sharing is caring, whether you are helping a homeless person in Starbucks or a Sudanese friend on the basketball court.

I know that advanced basketball statistics make some of you feel cranky but true shooting percentage is not only an advanced basketball statistic but it contains the word "true." If you are against using true shooting percentage to rank basketball players then you really are a primitive person who has not learned to value truth.

The sad story of Rose hoarding shot attempts carried over from the 2010-11 regular season into the playoffs. When Rose attempted 29 or more shots the Bulls went 0-2 but in the three games in which he attempted 18 or fewer shots the Bulls went 3-0. If Rose had attempted 18 or fewer shots in every playoff game the Bulls would have had a perfect playoff record! They would have been the greatest championship team ever!

What about poor Carlos Boozer? He went to Duke for three years so he probably is smart enough to understand the value of advanced basketball statistics. When he played for Utah, a team with a point guard who shared the ball, Boozer had two straight seasons in which he averaged at least 20 ppg and at least 10 rpg. That all changed when Boozer became a Bull and started playing alongside Rose. Boozer's scoring average plummeted to 17.5 ppg last season and in the playoffs it dropped to 12.6 ppg.

Rose tried to win those playoff games all by himself. He did not trust his teammates. He did not share the ball with them. If Carlos Boozer had been a homeless person in Starbucks, Rose would not have given him a dollar.

Derri came up with a new advanced metric to quantify the importance of sharing. He calls it Derri's Ultimate Methodology (DUM). This DUM formula is so advanced that only an economist could understand it so I will not even attempt to describe it here but Derri informs me that Rose has a -206.5 DUM number. Derri says that the only two guards he can find in NBA history who were more selfish than Rose are Isiah Thomas and Allen Iverson. Derri estimates that Thomas and Iverson have combined to ruin 10 NBA franchises. Derri is still investigating what impact Iverson's brief stint in Turkey had on Derri's beloved Detroit Pistons but preliminary indications are that Iverson is the reason that the Pistons are still struggling.

But, wait a minute. Didn't Isiah Thomas win two championships? Didn't Allen Iverson carry a thin Philly roster to the NBA Finals in 2001? Derri has all of the answers to your simple questions. Thomas' Detroit teams were successful because of Dennis Rodman. Derri notes that Rodman was a greater player than even Michael Jordan. Rodman had a DUM number of 666! Rodman's DUM number was more than three times larger than Einstein's IQ. That means Rodman was a basketball genius! Similarly, Iverson's Philadelphia teammate Dikembe Mutombo had a DUM number of 319. Mutombo was not quite the basketball Einstein that Rodman was but Mutombo was at least at the Kurt Godel level.

I spent half a day on the phone with various NBA executives talking about Derrick Rose and the DUM numbers but after I said my piece each of them just replied "Dumb----" and hung up the phone. I am mystified why NBA executives would not want to use every means available to improve their teams.

Joakim Noah, Omer Asik and Carlos Boozer are not basketball Einsteins or even basketball Godels but Derri's DUM numbers show that they at least are equivalent to some of the lesser known figures at the Institute for Advanced Study. It would be smart for Rose to pass the ball to them more often.

After all, a hero is nothing but a sandwich and a player with a low DUM number like Rose would not even buy a sandwich for a starving man.

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:29 AM



At Sunday, January 08, 2012 8:12:00 PM, Anonymous Duke Cullinan said...

Excellent, and funny!

I've been reading you for several years. Your writing is extremely accurate, thorough, and insightful. But if I had one complaint (which I've voiced via comments, on occasion) it would be that you are so serious you sometimes - paradoxically - hurt your own credibility. There appeared to be not a shred of humor nor self-deprecation . . .

Honestly, I would never have thought you had a sense of humor. But you really do. This article and the other satire about Le Bron/Kobe are both great and funny. This kind of thing is a nice addition to your body of work.

Well done!

At Monday, January 09, 2012 4:37:00 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Dum number. LOL. This is terrific. Always love your stuff, and tell anybody who will listen to me to read your blog. Here, I can get away from dum stats and am instead greeted by excellent journalism and a host of interesting, well-thought-out topics. As a journalist, I find your site really refreshing, and, unfortunately, a rapidly shrinking commodity. As a creative writing major, this piece slew me. Keep up the good work. P.S. You accidentally slipped "Berri" in, in middle of your column. Just don't want the dum stats guy to get upset.

At Monday, January 09, 2012 5:02:00 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Nice article, but you forgot to include the obligatory cheap shot toward Kobe in articles that have nothing to do with him.

At Monday, January 09, 2012 4:13:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Most of the time I play it straight here but Abbott's writing is so comically bad--and I have already offered so many straight refutations of it--that I decided to take the satirical route this time.

At Monday, January 09, 2012 4:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Yes, I could have done that but the point of this satire and the previous one is to demonstrate how ludicrous Abbott's writing is by applying the same "technique" to another team and its star player.

Abbott's "technique" is to take to tell anecdotes that have nothing to do with the subject at hand, appeal to an "authority" who is not really that authoritative either as an economist or a basketball analyst and to cite various stats completely out of context. Instead of responding to legitimate criticisms he dismisses them as "cranky" grumblings from people who are not enlightened enough to understand "advanced basketball statistics."

At Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:12:00 AM, Anonymous jonty said...


Funny and nicely written. I hate watching Wilbon and co. I have noticed that all the guys involved in advanced stats just spit out numbers and pat each other's back.

At Tuesday, January 10, 2012 2:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This series is hilarious. I read so many NBA articles that after a while I had forgotten just how polarizing Kobe is. I actually don't read many articles featuring him due to most of them being the same things repeated for a number of years. Substituting a different name and applying the stats similarly...it sounded so ridiculous to me. If i had read this article on ESPN I would have found it spectacularly uninformed. This series actually prompted me to Google old pieces on Kobe and it's incredible how many are so close how this article reads. I guess you just become used to the rhetoric after a while and don't notice. Thanks for a good laugh, David. I really enjoyed it.


P.S.: also had a chance to read the Dr. J articles. Awesome.

At Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


My hope is that anyone who reads these articles realizes that if you take Kobe's name out and put in Rose's or Lebron's then it is apparent just how asinine Abbott, Wilbon, Berri and others are when they take stats out of context to belittle Kobe and/or elevate Kobe's teammates to legendary status. Funny how Odom, Shannon Brown, Vujacic, Farmar and other "key" Lakers don't look so good when they move on to other teams (that will be the subject of an upcoming article).

Interviewing Dr. J is one of the very top highlights of my basketball writing career and I think that it is very important to make sure that his great career is not forgotten or diminished. That is one of the most irritating things for me about Abbott: he has been blessed with such a large platform to say whatever he wants about basketball and he wastes it with nonsense articles plus links to people who write nonsense articles. Abbott has never taken a stand on an important issue such as the Hall of Fame candidacies of ABA players or that ABA stats should be fully integrated into the NBA record book or that box score numbers are so inconsistently tabulated (particularly assists, steals, blocks and turnovers) that the so-called advanced basketball stats are skewed even if you accept the premise that the advanced formulas are correct (a premise that I do not accept regarding Berri, to name just one "stat guru").

At Tuesday, January 10, 2012 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

I may have mentioned this before, but Abbott had an article last year acting confused as to why a certain player was given a steal. The supplied video showed that he had no idea what he was talking about. The fact was that the statkeeper correctly gave the steal to the proper player. He doesn't even know how to define a steal. It's a shame he writes about basketball, especially for such a prominent, yet incompetent, business.

I just read your scout article when you shadowed Kevin Mackey. Now, that is extremely descriptive and informative. Most people not directly involved in the sport have no idea of what goes on behind the scenes. I love his 'eyeball' comment.

At Saturday, January 14, 2012 5:54:00 PM, Anonymous Oliver said...

Hi David!

I’m a longtime reader of your blog.
I want to thank you for your excellent work. Every time I talk to someone about american basketball I name your blog as a source of good journalism and writing.

It is really sad that good journalism is becoming more and more like a needle in the haystack - extremely difficult to find.

The reason why I’m writing this comment at this time is that I became even more aware of your excellent job today.

I wanted to read about the NBA today. And after visiting your blog I went to Yahoo! which I visit every now and then, because I think Adrian Wojnarowski is a good writer and someone who sometimes writes decent journalistic pieces about the NBA. Then my eyes catched an article from Kelly Dwyer about Kobe. I knew that he is a really bad... I don’t know... can I call him a journalist? writer?
But I was curious. I wanted to see if he still writes the same crap that he has written when I visited his blog several months ago. I was prepared for the worst. But what followed had almost epic dimensions in stupidity, self contradiction and bad writing.
A total disaster.
The good thing is that there were over 500 comments and 98% of them questioned Dwyers ability and sanity. The sad thing is that there were this many comments, which means there are definitely too much people reading this crap, including me this time.
I urge you not to read his work of art. There is the possibility of serious brain damage from reading this and I want you to continue your work on this blog.

Don’t invest too much in proving that many of the “journalists” do a bad job. I think their work does speak for itself. Not that one should ignore it completely or you don’t have the right to say it on your blog, but I think it eventually will suck too much energy from you and may lead to fewer interesting articles about other topics.

Since I live in Germany I don’t have the opportunity to see a lot of NBA games. So I’m even more dependent on good journalism. It is really sad that you don’t have the platform, like a lot of those knuckleheads, to cover the NBA on a broader basis, to cover more games and interview coaches, players or GMs.
I really enjoy your articles about the history of the game, the ABA and your interviews with coaches, scouts and former players.
It is something I won’t find here in Germany, because basketball does almost not exist in sport journalism and the overall journalistic standards are not really much better here.

Keep up your excellent work! It is much appreciated.


At Sunday, January 15, 2012 1:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Thank you very much for your support and your kind words.

Wojnarowski is a good writer. I am sure that he is embarrassed to be employed by the same outfit that employs Kelly Dwyer but if one wants to pursue a full-time career in this profession there are limited options.

Dwyer's writing is awful and his personal character is even worse, as I have documented here on several occasions. The less said about him the better.

I have long been puzzled by the gaping dichotomy between Henry Abbott's repeated assertion that he links to the best basketball writing regardless of the source and the reality that he frequently links to Dwyer, Berri, Krolik and a host of other people who don't know what they are talking about and/or simply cannot write.

I realize that by pointing out the truth about such matters I risk alienating not just the people who I am calling out (I could not care less about what they think) but also other readers who either are not interested in this subject and/or think that I am arrogant for saying such things but if bad writing and sloppy thinking go unchallenged then I fear that the journalism business and the craft of writing will sink to even further depths. I ignore as much of the nonsense as I can but some things simply have to be answered.


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