Back when I had a separate blog, I’ve written a little post about how various statistics can be used in various contexts to prove a point, basing this truism on Thomas Kuhn’s theories. The plot summary here is, everyone uses various criteria to prove theories. In basketball such theories are, for example: “LeBron is the best player in the world” “Marcin Gortat is a Top 10 Center” and so on, and so forth.
So let’s just say that you’re as demented as I am about proving Marcin Gortat’s worth as a Top 10 center. All you need is this little spreadsheet I have prepared out of boredom, based on the PER vs OPER stats as found on 82games.com:
Yep. If you say the basketball world is based around PERs, you’re going to take this one home with ya. Of course, this will not go well with a basketball blogger who knows anything about a) Centers b) PER c) OPER d) Basketball, but if you want to dupe your dumb friend into thinking Marcin is the 5th best center in the league, use this to prove them wrong!
What’s the reality? Gortat is arguably a Top 10 center, but just… Barely. Definitely not better than Brook Lopez or Marc Gasol though, especially if we account for the Nash factor.
Speaking of Steve Nash, want to prove he’s the most important guy for his team in the entire NBA? That he’s the MVP of all MVPs? Just post this little link and say: “look how much they depend on him, he must be the most valuable player.”
Look, stats need context. While some need little (points per play in post defense should only account for the post defense of the frontcourt buddy, for example.), others will probaby need a whole lot more, for example, when looking at opponent PER, make sure you know the system, whether the player is hidden or not, and so on, and so forth. If you don’t, J.J. Barea and Shannon Brown become elite defenders… Now that wouldn’t be true, would it.
If you try really hard, you can prove something by using the appropriate stat out of context, and if someone just doesn’t realize the meaning of said stat, he’ll bite. Remember guys: In rating basketball players, there is no truth, the most you can get, is consensus.