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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Basketball Lessons from Analytics and More: What You Don't Know Can Beat You

"You can observe a lot by just watching." - Yogi Berra

Goal: Discuss purpose of blogging to add value

Blogging shares ideas and opinions. Ideally, blogging builds a learning platform for both readers and the author. 

What enduring lessons emerge? 

Add value. The reader's time counts. Each reader should leave with questions or answers. 

Share memorable stories. The parish priest traveled to the Holy Land. Tragically, a parishioner's wife passed on during the trip. Returning her body to the US would cost $20,000, but a local explained that pilgrims who died could be buried on the Mount of Olives for only $200. The decedent's husband faced a daunting decision. Finally, he replied, "Please return her to America. Over 2000 years ago, a man rose from the dead in three days at this site. I'm not taking any chances." Humor helps. 

We can learn from anyone. Former NBA coach Lawrence Frank got his start as a student manager for Coach Bob Knight at Indiana. Steve Kerr adopted videographer Nick U'Ren's suggestion to go small and inserted Andre Iguodala into the NBA Finals starting lineup and the rest is history. Doug Collins told me that because he couldn't palm the ball, he learned to flex his wrist to trap the ball between hand and forearm. 

Leaders eat last. Leaders serve their followers. Simon Sinek shares, "Leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they did not think possible."

Score the ball. Hate the redundancy. Value the message. True shooting percentage (TS%) measures overall shooting percentage, including free throws. 

Correlation may not prove causation; you judge. 



Be efficient



The Rockets run selectively, but score a league-high 1.21 points per possession in transition.

To limit a team's scoring, benefit from understanding how they score.



The Warriors lead the league in scoring by cutting. They make over 300 passes per game. The 76ers are moving up in the cutting world. 

Salivating over that big man in the post? Post ups simply underachieve analytically. 



The post up game has diminished because the points per possession underachieves

Do more of what works and less of what doesn't

How you score depends on philosophy, personnel, and execution. What teams would you expect to score most efficiently in isolation? 



Only three clubs score more than a point per possession. The James Harden effect is obvious. 

The impact of personnel shows up for the Clippers. Over 20 percent of their possessions involve the pick-and-roll ballhandler and under 6 percent the pick-and-roll roll man. But they score 0.85 points per possession with the ballhandler and 1.27 points per possession with the roll man. There's a lesson for everyone. 

Lagniappe: 


Horns "down" set into wing ball screen and ball reversal. 

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