Death by Wasp
As one of the few human beings who can identify SB5K beyond the number, I know that he is a complex man. One driven equally by generosity and the spoils of victory. One who espouses rigor without being immune to colorful fascist pseudo-science. Fresh on the heels of his Plazas of Dread, which have changed the way graphs are viewed, he couldn't help but start out on the ultimate statistical journey: the search for a metric that could quantify FreeDarko-ness itself. Thus commences a project of staggering might and fallibility, in which the very glands of FD's ideology are exposed, milked, and tagged for posterity. Our former efforts have been but mere skeletons next to the Palace of Totality he will now foundate.
Speaking of big ideas, the Death of Positionality makes a triumphant return in this Slate piece on Durant/Oden. This builds on Dr. LIC's point while providing further theoretical underpinnings. This NF cat may be a marginal member of our squad, but he seems to get all the premier writing work—which is probably why he rarely graces us with his presence here.—Shoals
Since the first moments of this blog’s inception, I, SilverBird5000, have hoped to discern some deeper regularity beneath its scatterred collective affect. The survey/publication of the FreeDarko Top 50 last year provided the first opportunity for systematic study, though until now I’ve been slow to exploit it. If there's one lesson i've learned, though, it is that conventional box score measures are a path to nowhere. Outside of scoring a ton, the FD50 partake in few recognizable commonalities. To grasp their unity requires a entirely new arsenal of statistical indicators, the first and crudest i present to you today.
1. BLOCKS : HEIGHT
Shotblockers come in all sizes, sure, but only the giants own the stats. All that changes once you let this new instrument into your heart. Far from a simple 'points for effort' compensation scheme, the Blocks-to-Height ratio is itself a proxy for style. Lacking the usual machinery of extension, undersized shotblockers tend to be pioneers of their craft - exploiting weak-side blindspots or chasing down targets from behind. It is this innovative tendency as much as any plucky disregard for constraint which accounts for their overrepresentation on our list of favorites. As the chart below shows, nearly half of the leaders in inches-adjusted blocks per game also share a spot on the FD50.
2. STEALS+BLOCKS+TURNOVERS (Per Second)
Some players excel at taking away possessions, while others specialize in giving them back. In comparison, the FreeDarko player is often distinguished by his unique mastery of both. Our analysis finds a remarkably propensity to either steal, block or turn the ball over at any particular moment of a game – a kind of manic ambivalence towards the very principle of the possession. Below are 20 leaders in this category, measured as a per-second probability of committing any one three acts.
3. % NEAR and FAR
Though several selections among the FD50 are entirely uncontroversial, an equal number of names have merits that are less than obvious. The question of Martell Webster in particular has been asked of and among us more times than we care to remember, and together with Gerald Green and Mickeal Pietrus, never receives a satisfactory answer. Our third and final metric, which takes threes and dunks as a share of total field goals, finally offers a rationale for our otherwise mysterious fondness. Among players with at least 5 of each shot, Martell Webster ranks 3rd, with an astonishing 59% of field goals made either by dunk or long-range bomb, with Pietrus and Green placing close behind at 6th and 11th. They join five other members of the FD50 (including J.R. Smith at #1) among the top twenty players of the current season.
These three indicators mark the beginning of our journey. There is much more to come.