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NBAGround >> Is Dirk really=Larry Bird?


5/25/06 2:59 PM
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kanotoa
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Edited: 25-May-06
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I used to laugh at the idea but if he wins a few titles i think people will have to consider this. I think things that will factor in: 1- How many titles Dirk wins. Bird won titles against elite teams. I don't think Dirk should get consideration unless he wins at least 2 titles. 2-Durability. Bird sort of fizzled in the latter years. If Dirk can perform at a realitively high level then this could boost him. 3- Clutch play. Dirk isn't the clutch player that Bird was yet. He can score of switches but he is still guarded by small players. If he makes a few highlight clutch shoots in the finals this will help. I think Dirk is more athletic than Bird and he is taller. Scoring wise I think Dirk may be superior but Bird seemed to have a better feel for the game and could seem to give his team that extra something to push them over the top. Dirk IMO still relies on his guards to carry the team. Other than SOG and UT, anyone care to opine?
5/25/06 3:26 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 25-May-06
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Bird was a better passer, and an even better shooter and scorer.  I think he was a better competitor as well.

I'm not one of these "today's players are crap" people, but Bird was a notch above Nowitski and Jordan was a notch above Kobe...it's just the truth.

5/25/06 4:38 PM
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Dan W
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Edited: 25-May-06
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Dirk's as bout as close as you'll ever get to seeing another bird. If he continues to improve he could get there someday. Right now i agree, Dirk isn't Bird (yet) Kobe isn't Jordan, and Lebron seems like a crazy hybrid of Jordan, Bird, and Magic.
5/25/06 6:27 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 25-May-06
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"Dirk should be compared to centers because he's 7 feet tall." That's ridiculous. You might as well argue Magic should be compared to power forwards because he was 6-9, or Barkley to shooting guards because he was 6-5. Dirk and Bird have fairly similar games so they're a good comparison. I'd say they're about equal as scorers. Both were/are fairly weak on D. What still makes Bird clearly better is that he was one of the 10 best passers in the history of the game. Dirk will never have that dimension. That's not to diss Dirk though. He's become a truly great player and has a shot at the MVP for the next several years (he's a MUCH better candidate than Nash was this year). He needs titles to have a really serious argument against Bird though.
5/26/06 12:09 AM
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shawns
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Edited: 26-May-06
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Dirk's past two seasons have been better than any seasons Bird ever put up.
5/26/06 12:39 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 26-May-06
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so what exactly is the implication of your "he should be compared to centers" theory? Moses Malone is a better comparison for Dirk than Larry Bird? lol And besides, Dirk is rarely "put at the center posistion" in any meaningful sense at all. He may be the biggest guy on the court, but in those cases Dallas is essentially playing without a true center. He's not asked to guard Shaq, Yao, etc., he's not asked to come over and block shots on the help side, and he rarely posts up close to the basket against the opposing center. The guy's not a center. Obviously. But who the hell cares- it's not relevant to anything.
5/26/06 1:17 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 26-May-06
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Initiative, think for a moment, or several if that's how long it takes, why comparing raw stats from different generations might not be a good idea.
5/26/06 3:30 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 26-May-06
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Shawns, you clearly have some sort of statistical analysis-based reason why Dirk's last two seasons were better than any Bird ever had.  Quit being coy and out with it.
5/27/06 4:58 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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My contention was a narrow one--that Dirk's past two seasons were better than any Bird has had. We should be able to make that comparison without referencing heavyweight boxing champs, former presidents, or penis size. Before doing that, I'll need to give a brief explanation of two modern basketball statistics, 1) PER, 2) Usage Rate. Then I'll explain why my original contention is correct. -cont-
5/27/06 5:17 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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Bitterness is a disease. 1) PER Player Efficiency Rating is based on a player's raw stats, much like many of the other single number rating systems (like Tendex). The reason I prefer the PER is that it is adjusted for the season in which the player is rated. Each year the average PER is set to 15. So in some years a PER 15 will have correspondingly higher raw stats than in other's. But it gives us what we're looking for: context. That is it's tailor-made for the type of comparison we want to make, in comparing seasons 20 years apart. Moreover, it passes the subjective test. Who is the all-time career leader in PER? MJ Second place? Shaq 2) Usage Rate is simpler, it tells us how many possessions a player uses in 40 minutes. But when you combine the two, that is a player's total production, with how many possessions he uses, you have what is in my opinion the most effective means of evaluating players. http://www.knickerblogger.net/stats/2006/jh_ALL_USG.ht -cont-
5/27/06 5:23 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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This chart is useful because PER is right next to Usage Rate. Scroll up and down a bit. You'll notice a number of interesting things. You'll notice that Dirk and Lebron had greater overall production than Kobe, while using less possessions. Did they have better seasons than Kobe? You bet. You'll also notice players like Zach Randolph and Ben Gordon, who use a ton of possessions and yet have average to slightly above average production. Are they hurting their teams? Are they overrated? You bet they are. Now, scroll down and find Ben Wallace. You'll see that he uses very few possessions and still has above average production. His ratio between the two stats is unique. This is statistical evidence of his effectiveness. (Maybe on another thread I'll explain why the juxtaposition of these two stats should be the foundation for constructing a team, i.e., we can show statistically why Bruce Bowen is a very good fit for the Spurs and might be a bad fit for another team). Let's get back to Dirk and Larry. -cont-
5/27/06 5:48 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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Simplifying just a bit, I'll follow Initiative's lead and compare what he seemed to think was Bird's best season, 1986 (though I think Bird's 88 season was probably better than 86) to Dirk's numbers this season. Bird 1986 Usage Rate = 29.5 PER = 25.6 (#1 in league) Nowitki 2006 Usage Rate = 27.5 PER = 28.1 (#1 in league) Bottom line, Dirk had superior production using less posessions. How is that possible, when some of Bird's raw stats are higher? You need only consider the leaguewide points per game in each season. 1986 110 points a game 2006 97 points a game (Mostly what's going on here is that Dirk managed to be a highly efficient scorer when points where harder to come by.) Mind you, the difference between the two seasons is far from great. Also, keep in mind that MJ, Shaq, KG, and David Robinson have put up better seasons. I think Duncan has too. I'd be glad to explain why other factors needn't be considered when comparing players, i.e., team success, media and league awards, position played, and others.
5/27/06 5:50 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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Hey initiative, glad you're on. Let me know if you have any questions.
5/27/06 5:59 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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btw, basketball-reference is the page for all basketball stats check out the depth stats from 1986 http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_1986_t.html Magic and Hakeem also had incredible seasons, but they both missed a lot of games. Alex English was a lot like Vince Carter or Carmelo, really good numbers but not as efficient as all-time greats like Bird and Magic, or Dirk and Lebron.
5/27/06 9:45 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 27-May-06
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does someone have the method used to calculate PER? I haven't been able to find it. I'm a motherfucking expert on sports stats, and I'm pretty sure PER is a "bad" stat (i.e., based on assigning values to other statistics, rather than measuring something quantifiable).
5/27/06 10:38 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 27-May-06
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The PER formula is long as hell, it's explained in John Hollinger's "basketball forecast" books.  If that's the criteria for sports stats it is a "bad" one since certain things (like assists) can't be assigned a non-subjective value.

Statistical analysis is a tool to understand basketball, but not the only tool.  I have a hard time believing Dirk's last two seasons were better than any of Birds.

(And I say this as a proud owner and obsessive reader of John Hollinger's books).

5/27/06 11:06 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 27-May-06
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"bad" in the sense that it doesn't measure anything real. It may give fairly good conclusions. Almost any intelligent fan can invent a stat that does that. Hell, add together PPG, RPG and APG and and you have a stat that will give you a pretty damn accurate list of the best players. But you can't really use these types of "assigned value" stats as anything more than a rough guide. If there's a large difference in PER (or whatever) it probably tells you something, but if there's only a slight difference you can't make serious judgements that player X is better than player Y. I believe I saw a list that said Arvydas Sabonis had the 6th (or thereabouts) best rookie season in NBA history, based on PER. Right there, things have gone off the rails. I think PER is based on minutes played, which immediately leaves out a crucial factor. If Arvydas, for example, could have sustained his level of play for 38 minutes a game he might indeed have had an alltime great rookie year. But because he couldn't his team was forced to bring in an inferior backup during the time Sabonis was resting. Minutes played is a factor, and unless a player's backup can maintain the same level as the starter, the more minutes a player is on the court, the more he is helping his team. That's just one small example of how stats like this mislead.
5/27/06 11:09 PM
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Yougottawanna
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Edited: 27-May-06
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It does indeed assign values to some stats.  But it's also a very respected stat amongst the basketball stats community, and most of the time it passes the "idiot test" (like, does Mark Madsen have a better PER than Tim Duncan).

But even people that use it acknowledge that it's a per-minute stat, and that it doesn't measure defense except for blocks and steals.

5/27/06 11:12 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 27-May-06
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well, I left out the key point YGW mentioned: you simply cannot determine the value of one stat relative to another stat. You can never say "an assist is worth .6 of a point", or "a rebound is worth 1.1 assists" or whatever. No matter how sophisticated your model, if it has that element AT ALL, it already has a built-in fallacy.
5/27/06 11:17 PM
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nogamejones
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Edited: 27-May-06
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^made that post before YGW posted. I don't doubt that it's a respected stat. It may be very good- it may indeed be the very BEST of the assigned-value stats. But don't depend on it. PER is like the bible: filled with wonderful wisdom, but don't tell me it's based on something real.
5/27/06 11:56 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 27-May-06
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"Watch the damn games fool! It's that simple!" Really? When was the last time you watched Bird? Did you see all of his games? Did you see even a significant percentage? And yet why are you willing to make definitive evaluations based on such limited information? Initiative, I think (and I'm not aware of anyone else advocating this approach), that a player's PER (production), has to considered in light of how many possessions he uses. I've answered your question already. NGJ, the PER is not a per-minute stat, it functions independent of minutes. (That makes it a nice tool for finding underutilized players.) However, that means you also need to consider minutes played. Minutes played doesn't help us differentiate between Dirk and Bird in our comparison, but it does help us differentiate between Sabonis' rookie season and Chris Paul this season. Sabonis rookie Usage Rate=24.1 PER=24.7 Minutes Played=1735 Paul Usage Rate=22.3 PER=22.1 Minutes Played=2807 Let me know if you disagree, but I don't think the stats mislead us here. Sabonis might have been a tad better than Paul, but clearly Paul had the better rookie season because he played so many more minutes. Without question this is art not science. I'm not advocating replacing subjective analysis with objective analysis, we need both. But unless we're so foolish as to contend that our subjective analysis is perfect, then we shouldn't disregard the objective analysis because it isn't perfect either. Most of us here are arguing about Larry Bird based on memories of a few amazing highlights. As you know, that wont get us much past beating our heads against the wall, "Dirk was better!", no "Larry was better!". I think I've shown a better approach. Really, why should it be so hard to accept that Dirk might have been a tad bit better than Bird? Without question, Bird was a better passer, but I think Dirk is probably a little tougher cover, e.g., more frequent trips to the ft line.
5/28/06 12:02 AM
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shawns
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Edited: 28-May-06
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NGJ I'm not sure how you're defining the word "real" here. If your point is that because the stat is imperfect then it shouldn't be depended upon, then I think you need to be establish that a perfect approach to subjective analysis exists. We're not going to get to perfect. We're trying to 1) describe and 2) predict human behavior. I think with the right approach to stats, we can do a much better job than most NBA gm's are doing.
5/28/06 1:24 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 28-May-06
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regular season Celtics games from 1983?
5/28/06 9:51 PM
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shawns
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Edited: 28-May-06
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correct
5/4/07 4:39 PM
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kanotoa
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Edited: 04-May-07
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The worst post I have ever made in my 20K career. Thank you God for not striking me down dead at my computer for blasphemy.

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