Welcome back to Ask A Blogger, my interview series with bloggers about the #bloglife and basketball. To see previous interviews, go here.
Today we are lucky to be joined by Andrew Lynch of ESPN’s Daily Dime Live, Hardwood Paroxysm, and Magic Basketball. He’s a very old (I kid, I kid) and wise member of #basketballtwitter, so listen to what he has to say folks. Oh, and make sure you follow him on Twitter dot com: @Andrew Lynch.
1. In just a few sentences, can you tell us who you write for/what your job is?
I host ESPN’s NBA chat, the Daily Dime Live, and I write for the TrueHoop Network’s Hardwood Paroxysm and Magic Basketball. On DDL, I get to interact with NBA fans who are watching games, moderating the comments and engaging them in discussions. On HP, I write weird metaphors and talk about advanced statistics. And on MBN, I advocate for Magic players who might not be getting the proper attention. It’s a fun mix.
2. How did you first get interested in/started with writing about basketball?
I had recently moved to Albany, New York, and was bored and snowed in on a December night. I stumbled into Daily Dime Live, and that was doomed from that point forward. Prior to that, I was unfamiliar with the whole basketball blogosphere, but a quick crash course caught me up to speed. My first step from fan to writer involved starting my own blog, where I wrote a few posts before taking over at Sun-N-Gun, the FanSided network’s Suns site. I wrote there for a few months, then Matt Moore over at HP emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in contributing for his site.
All the while, I was a regular in DDL. Once I joined the THN, I became a moderator in the chat. And when Zach Harper took a job with CBS, I stepped in as the host.
3. How does a normal day of blogging go for you?
A day of blogging for me actually starts the night before. I’m usually up until 3 or 4 in the morning (Arizona time, so anywhere from 5 until 7 AM Eastern) watching and rewatching games from the previous night, as well as reading recaps. When I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I might write a post and schedule it for first thing in the morning.
I’ll grab a few hours of sleep. Or more, if I feel like it. I try not to sleep too much, since I know being a successful person in this day and age requires never sleeping, but I looooooooooove sleep. Anywho, when I rouse, it’s immediately to the laptop to go right back into the same routine. Either more games or podcasts go on, and if I have a post I’m ready to work on, or if news of some kind has broken that interests me, I’ll get to writing.
If not — sometimes, even if so — I start reading. I think reading is one of the most important things you can do as a writer. It inspires, it offers new approaches — the written (or typed, or whatever) word is your friend. I have a ton of Google Alerts for each team, for general topics, and for individual players, and I tend to use those and my twitter feed to curate my reading. I’m not much of a feed user, because apparently I hate organization.
Another common element to my day? Spreadsheets. Always and forever, spreadsheets. If I have a question that has a quantitative aspect, I open a spreadsheet. My Google Docs is a graveyard of half-finished projects and data that I can refer to when necessary. I spend a ton of time perusing Basketball-Reference, the NBA.com stats website (including the awesome player tracking data), nbawowy.com
, and some of the more niche advanced stats websites. I also lurk on the APBRmetrics boards.
By mid-afternoon, I’m preparing for the games. If it’s a national television night, particularly ESPN or ABC, then I’ll be hosting the chat, so I try to have a few different polls and topics of discussion ready to go, as well as links from things I’ve read that I think will interest the chatters. If there’s no DDL, then I’m on twitter, occasionally pulling low-quality video to use in a post. Once the games are over, I give myself an hour or so to decompress, and repeat.
4. Switching to basketball things, what is one low-key thing in the league (player, team, set, etc.) that you really like watching right now that casual fans may not know about?
It’s kind of a catch-all response, but the variety in the pick-and-roll across the league is one of my favorite things about the NBA. It’s standard advice, but the more you can watch off-ball action, the better, and I think the pick-and-roll is a good place to start. My usual advice is to try focusing on what the guys setting the screens do both before and after they’re used by the guards. And the Heat are a good place to start. Chris Bosh is well-versed in both popping and rolling to the rim after setting a screen, and he’s adept at slipping the pick when the defense overreacts, too. Another Miami favorite is a double-screen at the top with both Bosh and LeBron, which gives them a ton of options. One can roll while the other pops, one can turn and set a flare screen for the other (or another shooter), Bosh sometimes turns to set a pindown after feigning a roll — it’s all designed to disguise the Heat’s next action and get them the best look possible. And it’s all testament to the coaching prowess of Erik Spoelstra.
5. You’re big into advanced stats. Can you give the uninitiated a very brief explanation of why they are important?
The basic building block of the NBA is the possession. What we refer to as advanced statistics are really just an attempt to analyze the game on a per-possession basis instead of a per-game basis. A more appropriate label might be rate-based statistics. An easy example is rebounding percentage. Rebounds per game is a fine metric, but it doesn’t give you much context. A guy who grabs a lot of boards per game probably plays a lot of minutes in games where there are a lot of misses, right? But we can’t really tell that from the number itself.
Instead, we can look at rebounding percentage, which is a measure of the percentage of available rebounds (offensive, defensive, or total, just like rebounds per game) a player grabs when he’s on the court. And you can give yourself a landmark between the two. A player who gets starter’s minutes and plays in games with an average pace and average number of misses and has a total rebounding percentage of 16% is roughly the same as a guy who grabs 10 rebounds per game. 8% would be 5 rebounds per game, and so on.
So there you have it. Thanks again to Andrew for joining the program. Make sure you follow him on Twitter (@AndrewLynch
) and stop by Daily Dime Live to check that out if you aren’t familiar with it.