2.12.2007

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.

34 Comments:

At 2/12/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous ishootfours said...

I am in love with this work, but am left with a bit of confusion. I understand the premise of block-adujusted per inch but could you explain it a bit more? I guess I am asking for the equation?
Regardless this makes my day, Not only do I think these are brilliant in terms of FD but moreso PER stats etc. I would much rather see the BAPI and the combined shooting numbers than the numerous ones we have now, especially with the advent of NBA.com's new little shooting chart gadget. I'd be interested in seeing a combined three's, mids, dunks, and freebies, You can shoot or you can't no well I shoot 40% reguarly but once a line gets in my way I shoot 30%.

 
At 2/12/2007 3:54 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

yeah, the blocks/inches measure took a somewhat convoluted path. the initial idea was just to do a simple blocks-to-feet ratio, but because the height differences are so small, the blk rankings didn't really change. so to make the variation in height more significant, i used the formula block/games*(inches-84''). that is, for every inch a player is short of 7ft, the bkpg coefficient increases by one. it's completely arbitrary, i know, but then so is the FD50...

 
At 2/12/2007 4:03 PM, Blogger Stumbleweed said...

Once again, JR proves his crazy FD-ness (seriously -- 9% more than anyone else?). And I'm reminded of how crazy Gerald Wallace is. Now that he's got those shoulder pads, motherfuckers better get out of the paint and let the man fly through.

 
At 2/12/2007 4:10 PM, Anonymous Josh said...

"a kind of manic ambivalence towards the very principle of the possession."

to me this is one of the most artful lines I've ever encountered in the FD canon.

 
At 2/12/2007 4:13 PM, Blogger Rob I said...

I have trouble wrapping my feeble mind around the fact that one's propensity to turn the ball over is a measure of one's FreeDarko-ness.

 
At 2/12/2007 4:39 PM, Anonymous trouc said...

Have to agree that you guys are doing some great work, the stats and style guide especially. Gotta wonder about Wade being in the top 10 in 2 of 3 categories here. Does FD have an evil twin?

 
At 2/12/2007 4:43 PM, Blogger Trey said...

I would say this proves what a bunch of people were saying about the FD50 -- Kirilenko should have been on it.

 
At 2/12/2007 5:40 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

The third category (near and far) has to incorporate FTs into it somehow; then Gilbert and Wade might work their way into the list... maybe if you get fouled at the rim or at the 3PT line you should get some credit in the near and far category?

 
At 2/12/2007 5:41 PM, Blogger Bongo said...

Wade raises an interesting dilemma. In many ways, he is the anti-FD. His narrative is largely uninspiring, his style is copped directly from MJ (much more so than supposed Jordan robber barons Kobe and VC), his game is straightforward, he represents none of the untapped potential that is common to much of the FD greatest hits, and his personality is bland. However, it is true that he does seem to show up often on these so-called "stats" that attempt to categorize FD-ers. However, I believe as it is an admittedly crude way of doing business, there is no statistical representation of his intrinsic anti-FDness. However, his league domination might lead to the collapse of FD's relevance to winning. Also, surprised my boy Igoudala didn't show up on more of these lists- AI9's game seems suited to these analyses, except for his 3-point shooting (which is improving)

 
At 2/12/2007 5:53 PM, Anonymous ishootfours said...

The TO's included in the second category makes more sense than you might think. When a player has high potential, something that is always associated with FD, they typically have more propensity to turn it over. For instance Dwight Howard turns it over 4 times per game and he is a player considered to have the potential to be great. It could also be that in a sick sense it is exciting to watch a player of the FD magnitude because you really do not know what is going to happen; Will it be a top ten play, a well placed pass or a turnover leading to a transition bucket? It makes the game of basketball much more fun to watch when Gerald Wallace handles the ball instead of Matt Carroll.
And, like I said earlier I would love nothing more than to see a stat that tells us if someone can shoot or not, FT,3Pt,and FG all in one percantage. Yeah players like Shaq, Randolph have high FG% but incorporate the FT% and 3PT% and maybe we can see who can shoot instead of dunk?

 
At 2/12/2007 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kirilenko is totally FD. His wife is a smoking-hot Russian pop star who says he's allowed to sleep around once a year. He reads Russain novels in the locker room before games. I repeat: THE DUDE READS RUSSIAN NOVELS IN THE LOCKER ROOM BEFORE GAMES. And, offensively at least, his game is characterized by huge potential and frustratingly spotty results.

 
At 2/12/2007 7:10 PM, Blogger Bongo said...

Also, the turnover list is littered with stars, because stars handle the ball way more often and thus have more turnovers. On a list with a lot of stars, some are bound to be high on FD's list because of their massive talents and ability to possess unique games. It is been written by many baseball writers that uniqueness is a quality possessed by elite players (statistical uniqueness, as measured by similarity rankings and whatnot; they have all this in baseball). It seems to me as well that uniqueness is a quality highly valued in the FD player (Kevin Durant should certainly be FD when he enters the league). Thus it makes sense that the turnover list would be filled with FD players (following my twisting logic).

 
At 2/12/2007 9:05 PM, Blogger PANGER said...

spent the last ten minutes trying to figure out your blocks-height ratio using josh smith. wasn't pretty: "GOD DAMMIT!.... i am NOT this fucking stupid!... oh my god, i AM?"

ishootfours did what i shoulda done: asked. at the very least, come to the comments section first.

great stuff.

(and bongo,re last comment: i was just forming the question when you offered the answer.)

 
At 2/12/2007 9:22 PM, Anonymous BenQ said...

Where'd you find the statistics on dunks and threes made? I'm curious as to how many of Dwight Howard's field goals came on dunks.

 
At 2/12/2007 10:56 PM, Anonymous ishootfours said...

Can't beleive I or any other noticed this, Carlos Delfino in the third category? I am blown away, regardless that all he needed was 5 dunk attempts and 5 threes. It is just blows my mind.

 
At 2/12/2007 11:24 PM, Anonymous torgo said...

I'm taken with the idea of the Anti FD site. Who's going to make it? It could be beautiful, long, bland post after post discussing the plain functionality of the two hand chest pass, the set shot, and why the underhand free throw is sublimely pure. Mildly interesting posts on the efficiency of Wade, Eric Snow, and Mike Bibby. Who has time to set it up? What would it be called? Enslave Darko? League of Substance?

 
At 2/12/2007 11:32 PM, Anonymous ziploc p said...

FGA per minutes played?

got to reward the jackers

 
At 2/12/2007 11:33 PM, Blogger T. said...

BenQ - The 3's I believe you can get from any stat source (espn, yahoo, sportsline) dunk stats are usually found on 82games.com or basketball-reference.com.

I am excited to see Boki Nachbar show up on the potential freedarko list. Would that be the meta-freedarko - those players with so much unknown potential, they fly outside the freedarko universe?

First post for enslave darko: box-out skills and how to play the right way

 
At 2/13/2007 1:24 AM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

for dunks, i used this site:
http://sportsline.com/nba/dunk-o-meter/yearly

dwight howard leads the way with 152 - almost 50% of his total fgms! unfortunately, he has but one three to his name, hence his exclusion from the list.

 
At 2/13/2007 4:26 AM, Anonymous thomas said...

Anti-FD = NBATV post game commentary. Have you seen this crap?

 
At 2/13/2007 8:37 AM, Anonymous trouc said...

i think y'all are missing the point. wade's not exactly a "right way" player on the floor. he's pretty reckless and dynamic, prime fd traits, it's just that whenever i watch him he strikes me as sortof evil. the question is: is there a way of playing basketball that exhibits fd traits but is still the opposite of fd and not merely a half-version of it in the way that and1 is?

 
At 2/13/2007 9:33 AM, Anonymous SK said...

the anti-FD site should be "Kneecap Scalabrine". It's remarkable how much he's on the floor and how little impact he has on the game. Against Minnesota he played 37 minutes and took one shot. One shot! And it was a missed three-pointer to boot. Scalabrine also doesn't rebound (he averages like 1 board per 8 minutes played, as opposed to Al Jefferson (1/3 minutes) who he was blocking, and Leon Powe (1/3 minutes) who he is blocking), occasionally gets an assist. Oh but he has a "good brain" and I guess makes his rotations properly in the idiot dizziness that is the Celtics defensive "scheme". And his defenders say he's the one boxing out so Jefferson can collect his dozen boards a game, that Scalabrine "knows his role".

On second thought, "Scal Knows His Role" would be a better, less vindictive title than "Kneecap Scalabrine." I was a little bitter when I started writing the post.

 
At 2/13/2007 10:14 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

anon 6:10--saying a guy reads russian novels isn't really that meaningful when he is actually russian. they could be the equivalent of russian grisham novels for all you know. now, if you spot elton brand reading bulgakov in the locker room, then we'd be talking.

 
At 2/13/2007 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

from http://www.kirilenko.ru:

"I love reading. The most recent of the classics I read – “Master and Margarita” (Bulgakov). I like the fantasy genre: the work of Andrei Ilyin, in which he describes our criminal structures; the works of Viktor Suvorov – “Akvarium,” “Ledokol.”"

 
At 2/13/2007 10:24 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'll raise the recluse one: reading that shit as an adult is not that impressive if you're russian. would any of us care if dahntay jones were reading "on the road?"

actually, should probably be a white guy. if mike miller were reading "goodbye columbus."

wait, that's still not right. if ron artest were reading "native son."

 
At 2/13/2007 11:30 AM, Anonymous bernard snowy said...

so, have we all just collectively agreed to pretend the 50-minus-41 never happened? or should I expect a post in the near future on its repercussions? I would speculate on it myself but I am going to stop typing now because I just noticed some sort of terrifying bloody rash between my fingers jesus what the fuck

wv: qdnuajc = 7-foot django-loving eastern orthodox quadruplets

 
At 2/13/2007 12:39 PM, Blogger dickie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2/13/2007 1:02 PM, Anonymous Benq31 said...

Greg Ostertag reading Where the Wild Things Are.

... I'm going to Hell.

 
At 2/13/2007 2:39 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I think it's impossible not to like Master and Margarita.

Anyhow, it would be informative to graph out blocks per 48 on the Y-axis versus height on the X-axis, and include all current players, then just see who's the best compared to players of similar height.

Lastly, although it would be hard to tabulate, think about this:

(blocks per 48 + points per 48)/(inches of vertical leap)

The Mullin equation.

 
At 2/13/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Me thinks someone needs to match up each member of the FD50 with a book which would most encapsulate their FD'ness...

Hibachi: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas??

 
At 2/13/2007 2:50 PM, Anonymous Joel said...

I think they're waiting for everyone to hop off the Arenas bandwagon, followed by a long post that says (paraphrasing) Gil had gotten too big, mainsteam, a undeniable myth, and the 50-minus-41 & everything that has followed it shows his mortality and humanity and somehow makes him more FD than ever before.

Or something.

 
At 2/15/2007 2:07 AM, Anonymous Trev said...

And, like I said earlier I would love nothing more than to see a stat that tells us if someone can shoot or not, FT,3Pt,and FG all in one percantage. Yeah players like Shaq, Randolph have high FG% but incorporate the FT% and 3PT% and maybe we can see who can shoot instead of dunk?

The stat is called True Shooting Percentage.

PTS / (2*(FGA + (0.44*FTA))

Top 5 (qualified) 2007: Nash, Dampier, David Lee, Amare, Kapono
Top 5 (qualified) 2006: Nash, Childress, Wilcox, Kevin Martin, Eddy Curry

2007 Shaq: 52.5% TS
2006 Shaq: 58.6% TS (his FT% really brings it down
He did lead the league in TS% twice in his career, 1994 and 2003.

Shaq's career TS% is 35th all-time, better than Dirk, MJ, Karl Malone, Ray Allen.

 
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