Monthly Archives: August 2008

Countdown: 58

“Though you must go, we have faith in your resolve, and know you will return, as you have before. And when you do, we’ll be waiting. Our hearts are with you. Godspeed.” -Unattributed

Inspired by and blatantly ripped off from EDSBS, with permission.

NBA blog of the day:

Maybe We Should Change His Nickname To “Tropical Storm Artest”

So, the Rockets complete the trade for Artest this week. Now, Tropical Storm Gustav (seriously, who names these freakin’ things) is suddenly changing trajectory and may very well achieve landfall in Houston. And all the Rocket bloggers and journalists were worried about Ron-Ron just stalling the offense, punching a fan, burning down a Mexican restaurant, eating a mascot’s hand or, God Forbid, releasing another album. Now, Crazy Pills is bringing a bona-fide natural disaster along with him to Space City. Evacuate the city!

Coincidence? I think not.


Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse!

Let’s All Take A Moment And Be Thankful ESPN’s NBA Coverage Doesn’t Suck

ESPN dominates the sports media landscape with the sheer amount of coverage and the overwhelming nature of their company. They catch a ton of flack from bloggers (and rightfully so) for the ridiculous approach they take and the bombastic attitudes of both their anchors and their production. Their goal of building huge personalities with controversial “in your face” opinions often makes us want to vomit.

But I’ve been thinking about it, and really, as NBA fans, we’re incredibly lucky. Because ESPN.com’s NBA coverage isn’t just passable, it’s really pretty good. And even the TV coverage is improving. Sure, we get the occasional Steven A. Smith meltdown over Kobe, but Jalen Rose is surprisingly insightful, Jon Barry doesn’t act like he’s just trying to say things to get people riled up, and even Walton’s mellowed. But the ESPN.com crew is downright rational and provides good insight on a consistent basis.

What made me come to this conclusion is the new ESPN preseason predictions that went up today (hat tip: The Dream Shake). I expected to open it and be disgusted by the ridiculous flowery praise of marketable teams. But, outside of Cleveland being number 3 in the East, (really, Mo Williams makes them better than Orlando? really?), I don’t actually have any complaints with the list. And looking over their roster, I noticed that I not only respected, but admired almost all of the writers. Marc Stein is a freaking pre-cog. Hollinger is, for all the debate that rages about PER, still considered one of, if not the top stats writer in NBA media. Henry Abbott… well, I think we all know what to think of TrueHoop. Ford, Adande, Sheridan, Legler, Windhorst? I’ll take that lineup over Mortenson, Pasquarelli, Clayton and Berry, or their baseball crew. I’m kind of stunned to say it, but really, ESPN does excellent coverage of the NBA.

I kind of want to vomit right now.

SwaggerJack: Gil Arenas – The Lost Interview

Holly MacKenzie is a contributing writer for SLAM and Hardwood Paroxysm. Her SwaggerJack column runs every Friday on Hardwood Paroxysm. Today’s subject is an interview, kind of, with Gilbert Arenas, that serves not only as a reminder of how dynamic a personality Agent Zero is, but also of the importance of double checking your recording equipment. Yikes.

A Few Reasons Why I Love Gilbert Arenas

-He is only himself and unapologetically so.

-He remains humble while also being extremely confident.

-He gives back to his fans and sincerely appreciates them.

-He recognizes that as much as we love it, it really is just a game.

-He is all heart.

When I first started this column I told Matt I wanted it to be a space that reflected my love for the game and I wanted to start things off with two of my favorites. Those favorites would be Rod Benson and Gilbert Arenas—the All-Star bloggers of the NBA and D-League. While I easily set up a lengthy interview with Mr. Benson, I had to work just a little harder to track down Mr. Arenas. In the end, I was able to speak with him thanks to the Wizards fantastic PR people.

It was all arranged for me to call the Wizards training facility where I would be put through to Gil after he finished a workout session. While I had a set of questions prepared (and pre-approved), about being the bloggingest NBA player, the conversation was hijacked early and often by Arenas. Everything you read in the blog and laugh over on Youtube is true; the guy has such a wild personality and a broad range of interests. Blogging and basketball were hurriedly shifted to the back burner while we discussed Penny, Britney and wealth and happiness, among other things.

After the interview was finally over, I settled in to begin the dreaded transcription process. For anyone who has never done this before, it can only be described as painful. Taking a 40-minute interview and typing it out word for word—especially when you talk as fast, or laugh as much as I do—is not fun. But, it’s got to be done, so I usually try my best to dive in immediately when I’m still glowing from the info I’ve gotten.

Sitting down, recorder in hand, laptop on lap, a breakdown is about to take place. When I unhook the recorder from the telephone and press play I cringe as I always do upon hearing my own voice, smile when I hear Gil’s laidback “What’s up”—and then my heart jumps into my throat and my stomach drops onto the floor when the recorder stops. I fiddle around with it a bit, to no avail. Get some new batteries and its still the same story. 0:32 seconds of my 40+ minutes with Gilbert Arenas is all that the recorder captured. Sh*t. Damn. Motherf*cker. That wasn’t D’Angelo playing. I wasn’t playing either.

After a mini Russell Crowe/Naomi Campbell moment with the now-defunct recorder taking the place of a telephone, I stressed, worried and yes, shed a few tears. Called, texted and emailed pretty much every person I knew from SLAM asking what the hell I was supposed to do next. My panic only increased when everyone told me variations of the same thing: There really isn’t anything you can do. Even if you reschedule, you won’t get the same interview back. Ever.

That was one of the darker days of my young career. I’ve since purchased a shiny, new recorder that promises to work for at least a year. I’ve also calmed down considerably after hearing that every journalist will have to deal with slip-ups. I’ve decided I’m thankful mine was over the phone as opposed to falling flat on my face in a locker room or something. As it is always said, it could be worse.

As it is, it wasn’t a total loss. While I don’t have a recording/transcript, I did scribble down notes and then immediately after my recorder-throwing tantrum, I sat down and furiously unloaded everything that was fresh in my mind.

First up, after keeping his blog for the last few seasons, Gilbert was quick to say that the best part of the experience was grabbing the attention of fans that didn’t necessarily follow basketball or the NBA before stumbling upon him. After reading his blog, they’d decide to watch a game and they would come back. “Videogamers don’t know about basketball, but they see me blogging on their sites so they start watching, they start picking teams.”

Gil was also adamant that there was no negative for him as a result of having the blog and said that he doesn’t consider it to be negative at all unless it is hurting animals or people.

He has had “people I would have never thought” reading his blog, including Penny Hardaway, whom he has since met. When asked if it was as big a deal for him to meet Penny as it is for normal fans to meet their favorite NBA players: “I met my hero and I don’t put myself on that same level as him.”

Fact: He still had all of his childhood posters of Penny Hardaway on his bedroom walls of his father’s house before the recent selling.

When I told him he comes across as being authentic both in his blog and whenever we see him in games or interviews, he said he couldn’t be any other way. He has always been a joker and he is a happy person. From there we spoke about the fame and wealth that comes along with being a professional athlete and he reminded me that if you were unhappy before you got your big paycheck, there is a good chance you could end up unhappy after you get it and the excitement wears off.

Gil also spoke about how much he hates when people are put into a box and explained that when he rips off his jersey and throws it into the crowd after a game, it is his way of saying thank you for coming out to see me play. And he doesn’t just want to be remembered for his statistical accomplishments: “I want people to be able to say he had fun.”

When asked what advice he would give other bloggers, he said they’ve got to find their niche—and that everyone has one, whether it is positive or negative. He said to be entertaining and that Americans know drama. Giving examples, Gil mentioned NFL player Chris Cooley and, as a result, I’ve since become a fan and reader of his blog.

We talked about media, where I got to express my own frustrations with the journalists who judged his commitment, questioned his injury and said the team was better without him. He said he doesn’t let anything like that bother him. One thing that does get frustrating, however, is when a journalist reads something on a blog or in another column and they just run with it without checking to see if it is valid. Still, he was appreciative of the media overall and acknowledged that they are just doing their job, trying to get info on and from the players.

Somehow the topic of my favorite guy Magic came up, and Gil told me that when he shoots around, he doesn’t tie his shoes, because when you tie your shoes it’s game time. He heard this about Magic a while ago and it’s been his routine ever since.

After I asked him to explain taking and making game-winning shots, his description was so simple it did seem like a no-brainer. He said that after practicing so hard things get to be a routine and taking a shot is like, 3, 2, 1. When it’s the end of a game, he just flips his mind back to practice and the pressure drifts away. The other players may be there, but he does not flinch because he’s just taking another shot.

Over the course of the conversation, one sentiment that Gilbert repeated time and time again was that he is living his dream, having fun each day and he wants to be able to give that enjoyment and thanks back to all fans of the game. He even gave some of that back to me when he wished me well in my career and then gave a few pointers on members of the media and things to keep in mind as I navigate this sports world.

The best part of talking to Gilbert was talking to Gilbert. He was up for anything I asked, and he often added to my questions, went off on tangents and then turned them back onto me to see what I would say. As exciting he is as a player, he’s an even more exciting and enjoyable person off the court. I wish him nothing but health and success in the future.

Unfortunately, what you just read represents only a fraction of the interview that I had with Mr. Arenas. I hope, if nothing else, this shows that the man is exactly as he comes across in his blogs. He is humble, kind and very engaging. Hopefully in the future I will get to talk with Gil again and be able to bring you the goods in their entirety.

My favorite part of our conversation came just before we finished, when I got to tell Gilbert I’ve never hated to cheer for someone as much as when he dropped 60 points on my Lakers in L.A. He got a laugh out of that and I got to see that with Gil Arenas, what you see, hear and read, is exactly what you get.

Great Exercises in Internet NBA-Related Postings 8.28.08

  • Calling all bad trade ideas, please head to the Ben Gordon aisle. Repeat, bad trade ideas are needed on the Ben Gordon aisle. You realize that this could end up as the lineup of the Jazz in October 2009: Deron Williams-Ben Gordon-Frmmmhm Frhmmumm-Paul Millsap-Mehmet Okur? 8th seed? Maybe?
  • Great article on Amare’s talents and limitations on defense. His biggest problem is the same for most young athletic bigs. They get too wound up trying to make the huge SportCenter block. Which inevitably leads to Fabricio freaking Oberto laying in the ball after Parker drops the ball to him like he’s tossing him a brewski. If Amare would just stay where he’s at, his body size alone will defend enough shots.
  • You’ve (almost) been… THUNDERSTRUCK!
  • Musselman posts, I read it. It’s insane. He’s incredible. The way he’s embraced it is just ridiculous. Fascinating, must read stuff every time. My favorite for today? “A coachable player is not an excuse maker. He takes responsibility for his actions. If his coach takes him out and jumps all over him, he doesn’t blame the coach. He is accountable for his own errors. When he makes a mistake, he acknowledges it and moves on. He then does his best not to make the same mistake again.”
  • It’s amazing what fans of bad teams will talk themselves into: “Randolph is not just a low post threat, he is an elite scorer when motivated and in shape.”
  • Proud new papa Lee is interviewed at EtB. Paroxi-congrats to Lee on the new kiddo, by the way. May he hate Richard Justice as much as you do. Oh, and Corn and I have decided to call him “Skip To My Lou 2.”
  • 52 Things for the Grizz to focus on.
  • Wade’s got another redeem job he’s working on.
  • Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy.
  • Phoenix Stan might as well put a big sign up on BSotS that says “Please put Amare back on the shelf for four months for me celebrating injury on someone.” Jesus. Even we aren’t “happy” Manu’s hurt. We giggle at it, but it’s more the irony of a guy who always acts hurt when he’s never actually hurt actually being hurt. Jeez.
  • 2010: The Year of Possibility.
  • Paperboy: The Most Overhyped Thing since the new Godzilla movie. At this point, yeah, I’m sick of him.
  • Dreeeeeeeeeeeaaam, dream dream dream dream, dreeeeeeeeam. Whenever I want to win against a vastly improved Western Conference without an easy first round opponent, all I have to do is dream.
  • Gave my Knicks a double-nickel.” Anybody that can find that commercial for me, I will love you.
  • You’d never believe it, but a Lakers die-hard thinks Paul Pierce is overrated. You can’t overrate the Truth, friend.
  • More genius tattoos. Man, do I love Duncan.
  • Just in case you missed it, Nate’s “Intros” post deserves a Standing O.

The Arbitrarian: Envisioning the Olympics

David Sparks is The Arbitrarian. He profiles his stastical work every Thursday here at Hardwood Paroxysm. David is glad to be back at school, especially with his new Trapper Keeper and abacus. This week he takes a look back at Olympic Basketball and the ramifications the numbers supply within.

Admittedly, it’s a little late for Olympic basketball coverage, given that the competition ended sometime around 4:00 am EST on Sunday morning, but Thursday is Arbitrarian day, and so today I’m going to try to tell the story of the US Men’s Olympic basketball team retrospectively, in statistics and graphics.

Predecessors

This most recent iteration of the US men’s basketball team was slated to “redeem” the American program in international competition. After several successive failures to dominate their competition, much was made about the degree to which the rest of the world had caught up to the level of American basketball and/or how the American players, because of [insert arbitrary reason here] would no longer be able to dominate in international competition. Several of the more recent US squads were derided as selfish, non-fundamentally sound, failing to take international competition seriously–the narrative was one of how hubris could lead even the mightiest to fall.

It has been said that during those dark years, the US was “just fielding all-star teams,” and that part of Jerry Colangelo’s plan for a return to dominance was to field carefully constructed teams, with role players and specialists–not just 12 guys who could score. To what extent is this true? How much credit does Colangelo’s craftsmanship deserve? As we like to do here, let’s take this subjective claim, and apply a little bit of rigor to see if it holds up without the patriotic feelings and stirring redemption narrative clouding our judgment. For answers, let us look to an application of the SPI style trichotomy:


(Note: If you turn captions on (second button from left on bottom), each diagram is labeled with its year. Also, hit pause and use the arrows to review each image at your own pace.)

Above is a series of graphics depicting the SPI styles (based on their NBA statistics) of each team fielded by the US in major international competition, from the Dream Team in 1992, to this year’s “Redeem” Team, with the exception of the 1998 World Championship team, which was largely composed of non-NBA players.

What differences can we identify in each team’s composition? Did Colangelo really put together a thoughtfully composed team? It appears to me that this was at least some part of the difference between this year’s team and those recent teams that ended in failure and disappointment. The main thing I notice, in comparing the 2002, ’04, and ’06 teams (although especially the first two) to each of the others, is a relative dearth in the pure perimeter region.

Each of these teams has an eclectic smattering of interior types–some years they appear more offensively-minded than others, and the 2008 Olympic team, interestingly has only three players classified as such in the SPI scheme. But look first at the 1992 team, which is stacked to the gills with players in the 10 o’clock to 12 o’clock range, meaning that their statistics indicate a focus on perimeter play, or an absence of focus on scoring, relative to the league. Such is the case, to a slightly lesser extent, with each of the other teams up through 2000.

In 2002, the perimeter appears to have become less of a priority, stocked with
Andre Miller, Davis, and young Jay Williams–good players, but not the “pure point” types which manned some of the other teams. Further, that team was full of Perimeter Scorer types, three of which (Reggie Miller, Finley, and Allen), are known more for their shooting than their all-around game.

2004 may have been an even more poorly-constructed team, with essentially no Pure Perimeter players. James and Wade are capable of facilitating, but this is not typically their primary role, and James played relatively few minutes anyway. Instead, that role was left mainly to Marbury and Iverson, who are known to look for their own shot as often as they pass–and this subjective reputation is backed up by the SPI analysis.

The 2006 team was much better–it is obvious that effort was made to compose a team of players of many different types–this is the only year in which there is at least one player from each sextant of the SPI plot. This is not necessarily a good thing for winning, but it indicates that thought was put into how each player would fit together into a whole. Further, two actual perimeter players were included, Paul and Hinrich, and this team performed substantially better than their Marbury- and Iverson-lead predecessors.

This year’s team sees a return to past glory, likely in no small part to a fully-stocked trio of Pure Perimeter players, able to push the ball up court and facilitate any of the able scorers on the team. Interior play was de-emphasized, as the team’s focus would be on a disruptive defensive style aimed at generating turnovers and leading to fast breaks–for this, speed, not size, was key.

In sum, it appears as though part of the credit for the USA’s Olympic success really might belong to Mr. Colangelo. Though it is the players on the floor who do the actual winning and losing, a large part of the results likely stemmed from what happened way before the opening tip.

Now that we have covered the pre-Olympic preparation phase, let us turn our attention to what actually happened in Beijing.

Assessing productivity in these Games

Due to limitations on the ease with which game-by-game data can be collected for the Olympic tournament, I will be discussing productivity (as measured by MEV) rather than value (as measured by MVP)–but here, the story is pretty clear.¹ Below is a list of each athlete, with their SPI factors, points- and MEV-per game numbers, and Valuable Contributions Ratio. I’ve also included what I call Points Per Points Possible (p4), which divides points scored by the number of points possible on each of their shot attempts (2 for all field goal attempts, plus an extra one on three-point attempts, plus one for each free throw attempt).


Many of the most productive individuals play professionally in the NBA. These numbers indicate that LeBron James was the most valuable to Team USA, but note that Wade was almost as productive in substantially fewer minutes (his VCR is the highest on the US team). As such, I have to name James the MVP (for the team and the whole tournament), but Wade is the US’s Most Efficient Player, which is exactly what the team needed from its first man off the bench.

How did contributions break down for each team? Below is a series of charts that plot the sources of production for each team, based on tournament-cumulative MEV. Each player is colored according to their SPI type, and players with negative MEV are zeroed out (because it’s hard to depict the area of a negative number):


Click here if you want a whole window full of these pie charts.

Among the best teams in the competition, Argentina was more highly dependent on their top-tier players than were Spain and the US. The two teams most reliant on a single player were China, anchored by Yao Ming, and Iran, lead by Ehadadi. Croatia appears to have had the most balanced contributions, although this is often a trait of weaker teams, because it is easier to field a team of equally poor players than one of equally excellent players.

What did each player produce individually? The table above gives the summary report of the points-value of each player’s production, in the form of MEV. Below, however, I have the complete breakdown of each player’s counting statistics for the Olympic tournament, as a percentage of the simple sum of these stats for that player. I have tried to arrange the graphs such that adjacent areas make for easy comparison of paired statistics–missed field goals is next to points, assists next to turnovers, offensive and defensive rebounds together, followed by the defensive statistics, etc. Players are sorted by MEV/gp. Coloration is of course derived from SPI type based on Olympic statistics.


Click here if you want a whole window full of these little pie charts.

Seeing these pie charts all together as small multiples allows us to easily compare two or more players. Note, for example, that Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh were almost perfect substitutes for one another: they have almost identical per-game MEVs, and their stat distributions look very similar–the only exception seems to be that Bosh seems to have grabbed relatively more defensive rebounds and turned the ball over slightly more, while Howard did a lot more fouling.

Carlos Delfino’s SPI color identifies him as a very tournament-representative player; that is, his relative distribution of scoring, perimeter, and interior statistics reflect that of all players collectively. The gray color indicates this league-relative neutrality, and he serves as a useful benchmark against which to compare others.

As is evidenced by his orange color and large segment devoted to pts and fgx, a large portion of Bryant’s statistical contributions came from scoring. However, these statistics likely do not give the full picture for Bryant, as his role for most of the duration of the tournament was to shut down the opposition’s best players, not unlike a “Doberman.”

Jason Kidd (very pale blue, about halfway down) is one of few players for whom pts is not the largest segment. Rather his defensive rebounds and assists took priority, although so too, unfortunately, did his turnovers and personal fouls.

Michael Redd (rusty color, much closer to the bottom of the list) offers an interesting example of the usefulness of such a visualization. The first thing one notices is that his pts sector is matched in size by his fgx sector–he missed almost as many baskets as he scored points. Tip for the uninitiated: this is not a productive way to play basketball.

Another way to look at the data is through parallel coordinate plots, which are useful for depicting the rank of an individual across multiple categories. Below, I present PC plots for each member of team USA, where the vertical axis indicates that individual’s rank in each of 9 metrics, relative to the entire pool of Olympic players. On each plot, for ease of comparison, I draw gray lines for the remainder of the US team, but highlight each player individually in their SPI color.


Click here if you want a whole window full of these parallel coordinate plots.

p4 is Points Per Points Possible, described above, AS:TO is the assist-to-turnover ratio, TR/min is total rebounds per minute, DEF:PF is (BK+ST)/PF, which is just an amateurish way of measuring defensive skill.

Looking at these plots, we can see that Wade performed very well. He is in the top four on the US team in each stat, and it is apparent that he is in the top half across the board among all Olympians. Redd, although he was called upon to provide a shooting spark off the bench, was mostly a dud, with a p4 among the lowest in the competition. Bryant was second lowest on the team, but his shooting efficiency looks to have been better than about a third of the Olympic players, and thus much better than Redd’s. Note that due to a small sample size, some of these ranks will appear odd, namely Redd’s high ranking on the DEF:PF statistic and Kidd’s high p4 rating. Neither of high rankings are what we would expect from these players, but Redd played relatively few minutes, and Kidd only took shots he couldn’t refuse to take, resulting in good ratings for in these areas over a small number of observations.

I would be very interested to hear any more insights you glean from the above displays–feel free to copy any of the charts for your own use, just also please provide a link back to HP.

Olympic style

We’ve seen the NBA styles of the players that make up Team USA, we’ve seen their SPI factors and even their specific statistical breakdown. Now, we turn to a full SPI Spectrum graphic depicting each Olympic competitor, and their type, based solely on their production in the Olympics. Player names are scaled according to their MEV totals, so that the most productive players are the easiest to spot.


Fullscreen Version

Several things stand out to me. First, I am impressed by the degree to which this Olympics-based diagram matches up with the NBA-based diagram, for players who appear in both. Redd, Bryant, Williams, Kirilenko, Howard, Yao and Boozer all played similar styles in these Olympic games as they did in the 07-08 NBA.

Even more enlightening are the differences: Louis Scola played much more of a scoring role for Argentina than he does for the Rockets (understandably so). Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul shifted their focus away from scoring, relative to their NBA style, likely because they were not required on this team to carry their team’s point production. Anthony’s purported focus on rebounding is reflected in his shift from a somewhat perimeter-biased Scorer to an Interior Scoring type. Jason Kidd became an even more extreme Scorer’s Opposite, eschewing shooting opportunities whenever possible.

The most significant shift, however, might be seen in the play of LeBron James. Last season in the NBA, James lined up at about 12 o’clock on the diagram; the style with which he most closely aligned was Perimeter Scorer. In these Olympics, however, James’ style reflects his commitment to doing whatever was needed by the team. His minty-green color and placement at a little before 11 o’clock reflect his Pure Perimeter style, though his relative proximity to the center of the diagram indicates that his fit here is not perfect. Rather than being the primary scorer for this team, as he is accustomed to being in Cleveland, James stepped up the defensive intensity, leading his team in blocks (with eight), and finishing second in the tournament in steals (with 19!), not to mention leading the tournament, by a landslide, in menacing scowls. Further, he was second on the US team in assists (30; Paul had 33), his assist-to-turnover ratio was a respectable 1.76, and he finished in the tournament top ten in total rebounds. To put it in perspective, the role James filled for this US team was similar to that played by Magic Johnson on the showtime Lakers, which is quite a niche, indeed.

Conclusion

In sum, we can see that at least some of the hype is true. There has been some well-placed cynicism regarding the extent to which the “Redeem Team,” and our collective impression thereof, is a product of marketing. I have no doubt that at least some of what we believe about this team and its players is fabricated for the purpose of generating a positive image, and greater sales. However, at least two claims made about this team can be empirically verified, and I have tried to do that here.

The first claim is that this team is different from the failures which came before. Using NBA statistics and the SPI Typology, I am inclined to believe that in construction, this team is different than its three previous iterations, and more similar in design to the Dream Teams of the 1990s.

The second claim is that the players on this team changed their styles to accomodate each other, to better fit together as a team. Comparing SPI positions in the Olympics to SPI positions in the NBA, we can see which players had similar statistical distributions, and those which modified their style. Each player on the US team was either accustomed to or able to lead their NBA teams in scoring on any given night, and in Olympic competition, this ability to rely on others to score allows (at least theoretically) unselfish play. The question was always whether or not this team of able shooters would be able to “put aside their egos” and fill a specific role for this team, which may or may not include a substantial amount of offensive production. By and large, it appears as though the players asked to do so have responded positively. Though several US team members played with styles similar to their NBA styles, this reflected the reported desire of the coaching staff and management of the team (i.e. Michael Redd is supposed to be a shooter). Other players saw drastic shifts in their style of play, especially movement away from a focus on scoring, as a universally capable offense permitted each individual to do less of the shooting than may be required on their NBA squads. Based on this graphical evidence, I am willing to advance a tentative rejection of the null hypothesis that the players did not fill the roles they were asked to. Rather, it appears as though they played as a cohesive unit, maximizing their strengths and possibly sacrificing for the team.

I hope this late coverage was worth waiting for. I would be very interested in hearing your reactions to any of the ideas I’ve put forward, and I would especially like to know if you see any interesting relationships jump out in any of the SPI diagrams. I haven’t even begun here to discuss the interesting similarities between several of the international players and those from our own NBA in the Olympics, I suppose I will leave that to you. As usual, I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and in the survey, and please Buzz this up!







¹ If you are particularly interested in game-by-game contributions and value, I did track a modified version of MVP for team USA throughout the Olympics and pre-Games warmups. You can see the per-game and cumulative results here.