Featured Articles

Why Steve Nash is the Greatest Offensive Player Ever

Please welcome Jevan Pradas, aka The Basketball Philosopher, as a paid contributor to Chasing 23. While in graduate school Jevan cared more about winning his University’s intramural basketball championships than cramming for finals. Despite this, he managed to graduate with honors while studying Philosophy and Statistics. He now uses this unique analytics background to come to surprising and often counter-intuitive basketball opinions.

———————————————-

Skeptics : Steve Nash is the greatest offensive player ever? And you call yourself the basketball philosopher? I think you need to put down the hash and get back to your job serving me fries! Haven’t you ever heard of Michael Jordan? Magic Johnson? Wilt ‘freaking’ Chamberlain?

Of course I have. And they are all fantastic players. But Steve Nash is a better offensive player than all of them (though the wisdom of his loyalty at times might be questioned). And by the end of this post, you are going to agree with me.

I promise.

I won’t even beat around the bush. I have not one, but TWO knock down, airtight arguments.

Here is number one. Neil Paine of basketball-reference fame did a great analysis of the best offenses in NBA history. He used the stat offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) including regular season and playoffs for every team dating back to 1951. Of course eras are different, rules change, some that favor offense, some that don’t. So to make things equal, offenses are rated compared to their own era, by Z score (the number of standard deviations above or below the average a team was on offense).

The Greatest Offenses in NBA History

1. 2007 Phoenix Suns
2. 2005 Phoenix Suns
3. 1971 Milwaukee Bucks
4. 2010 Phoenix Suns
5. 1982 Denver Nuggets
6. 2004 Dallas Mavericks
7. 1975 Houston Rockets
8. 1987 Los Angeles Lakers
9. 2004 Sacremento Kings
10. 2006 Phoenix Suns
11. 2009 Phoenix Suns

Do you notice a pattern with the above teams? Other than the fact that, you know, I put certain teams in bold font? Of course you do. The top 2, 3 of the top 4 and 6 of the top 11 offenses of all time (2002 Mavs also had 18th best offense ever) were led by a 6’3 Canadian by the name of Steve Nash.

That’s not a coincidence. I feel like I could take off my boots and put my feet up on the desk, the case is closed as far as I’m concerned.

Skeptics: But wait a second! All that shows is that he played on great offensive teams. He did play with Amar’e Stoudemire after all!

So did the 2011 New York Knicks.

Are you also forgetting the 2006 Phoenix Suns? The year Amar’e had micro-fracture surgery on his knee and missed the entire season? That team was the 10th greatest offense in the history of the NBA. The team that featured a starting lineup of Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw and Kurt Thomas. That lineup produced a better offense than any team Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain ever played on. That lineup had a Z-score of 2.31 SD’s above the league average. The 1987 Lakers had a Z-score 2.33 SD’s above the league average. Almost identical. Tell me how is it possible that these two starting lineups are equivalent offensively unless Steve Nash is an offensive God?

2006 Phoenix Suns vs. 1987 Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineups

Position Suns Lakers
PG Steve Nash Magic Johnson
SG Raja Bell Byron Scott
SF Shawn Marion James Worthy
PF Boris Diaw A.C. Green
C Kurt Thomas Kareem Abdul Jabbar

 

Skeptics: It was Mike D’antoni’s system!

D’antoni’s system? Sure MD is an offensive minded coach, but that really hasn’t helped the mediocre Knicks team the past 4 years has it? During the last 3 years as coach of the Knicks, D’Antoni’s teams have never led the NBA in scoring and were as low as 10th (for the 2009-10 season). Additionally, the 2009 and 2010 Phoenix Suns are also two of the 11 greatest offenses of all time – and MD wasn’t the coach those years.

Skeptics: Enticing evidence I admit, but we are still not convinced. What else you got?

Knockdown, airtight argument #2.

There is a stat, my favorite, called Adjusted Plus/Minus. It breaks down plus/minus stats into individual contributions, and produces a number that tells you how many points a player adds to a given team’s offense (and defense) per game. Here are the league leaders of the last few years using a variant of adj. Plus/Minus called Ridge Regressed Adj. Plus/Minus (RAPM) which has less absolute validity (the point estimates are conservative) but more reliability. Even last year, Nash was still the best in the game.

2011 RAPM Rankings

1.Nash 6.2
2.Dirk 5.6
3.Wade 5.5
4.Ginobili 4.9
5t.CP3 4.1
5t.LBJ 4.1

But it was in the years 2005-2008 that Nash was truly head and shoulders above everyone else in the league. A quick sampling of one of those years:

2008 RAPM Rankings

1.Nash 7.4
2.Kobe 5.7
3.B. Davis 5.4
4.Lebron 5.3
5.Dirk 5.3

No one meant more to their team’s offense than Steve Nash. And it wasn’t even close.

*Unties boots, kicks feet up*

Case is closed fellas.

 

 

Related posts:

  1. My Vote For Biggest 2011 All-Star Snub: Steve Nash
  2. Steve Nash – A Case of Mistaken Loyalty
  3. The Top 5 Old NBA Player Seasons of All Time

Discussion

100 Responses to “Why Steve Nash is the Greatest Offensive Player Ever”

  1. Is this supposed to be a joke?

    And Nash is 6-3, not 6-1.

    And if Nash is so good, why couldn’t he ever even make 1 finals appearances, despite playing with multiple AS for most of his career: Dirk, Finley, Amare, Johnson, Marion. Bell was an all-defensive team member with the suns.

    And the mavs got much better essentially replacing nash with just Terry.

    Posted by boyer | March 7, 2012, 10:02 am
  2. The offense you run isn’t an indication of how good an offensive player you are. It shows what a good floor general you are. By the same argument, I imagine that we could spin this around and say Raja Bell is one of the best offensive players because he played guard for a team that had the best offense ever. I agree with almost everything Boyer says above. This is a weak debut to your chasing23 career

    Posted by alex | March 7, 2012, 10:07 am
  3. Welcome to the board. I was excited to read your first article and a noble first attempt, but like any “first time anything,” it’s usually not the greatest. I am sure that we will see greater things in the near future.

    My issue with your argument: Please don’t use “Malcolm Gladwell-type statistics” and statistics that you do not support. If you are going to use an algorithm such as Plus/Minus RAPM, then please share the details behind your formula and try to add more substance then including a table that no one understands. I don’t see how this Plus/Minus stat can include defense because we can all agree that when you talk about the great defensive guards in the league, Nash would not sniff the Top 50. I agree that Nash is a hall of famer and arguably one of the top facilitators in the game, but to prove your point, you need to compare Nash’s statistics in greater detail to MJ, Kobe, Wilt, etc. You’re explanation and conclusion is what I expect in the last 3 minutes of an episode of CSI (read “empty” and “lack of substance”). Like any young person, we always feel the era we watch basketball or grew up watching a sport showcases the greatest players of the game because we saw them play. It’s a shame because I think the greatness of Michael Jordan or Larry Bird gets diminished as each decade passes.

    I would love to see your analysis and algorithms used to argue who was the greatest player in any given year.

    Posted by Yensanity | March 7, 2012, 10:35 am
  4. Welcome Jevan – and thanks for the controversial, thought-provoking post.

    I think the tricky part here is in the title, which can be interpreted in so many ways: greatest scorer? best at creating offense? most efficient? etc.

    Perhaps, as Alex suggests, what we’re really talking about it the Best Floor General ever, i.e., who can create the most offense with a given set of resources.

    In any event, it’s compelling stuff to think about (since our usual tendency would be to go with Magic, Oscar, etc.)

    Posted by Brown Mamba | March 7, 2012, 10:48 am
  5. sorry for being so rough, this is a very well written article, but what I was really trying to say is that your point was defended by statistics that are mainly irrelevant and based on tons of calculations and offensive records. jordan, wilt, and magic have their positions defended by cold hard stats (apg, ppg, rpg) and championships. so until steve nash is the champion of those stats, i cant agree with your articles conclusion.

    Posted by alex | March 7, 2012, 1:57 pm
    • Hey Alex, thanks for reading and for your comments.

      In reply I would ask do you think there is more to offense in basketball than is measure by points/assists/offensive rebounds?

      Surely there is. Setting screens, floor spacing, ball control, knowing who to pass to, hockey assists, passes that lead to scores even though the player took too many dribbles and doesn’t get credited for the assist?

      All of those are important in terms of your teams offensive production. None of those are counted in the box score.

      For this reason, traditional box score stats aren’t taken very seriously anymore. If you listen to Mark Cuban’s podcast with Bill Simmons he says the following.

      “We KNOW that box score stats are useless.”

      We have better stats now, namely plus/minus stats and their derivatives.

      Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 11:41 am
  6. LOVED THE CONCLUSION AND I TOTALLY AGREE STEVE NASH IS #1 AND HE IS LOYAL AND HE PLAYS WITH HEART. HE DOESN’T GET ANGRY WHEN HE HAS THE RIGHT TO SOMETIMES, HE IS AN ALL ROUNDED PLAYER NOT SO MUCH LIKE THE OTHERS ALL ABOUT THE $.

    Posted by TP | March 8, 2012, 4:56 am
  7. Agree with the comments…Nash is hands-down the best player that I have seen to extract the most offensive production from his team. But I won’t crown him as the best offensive PLAYER. To me, that sounds that a play on words.

    Also, the ordinal ranking of teams here is not statistically valid. The ranking based on std dev is only true for samples belonging to that distribution, not across different sample populations. Unless the probability distribution functions of different sample populations (teams from different eras) are normalized using some factor, no comparison across populations would be valid simply bec they aren’t homogenous.

    Now, the second supporting fact also does not add credibility to the claim. The claim was Nash is the greatest offensive player EVER, the rapm nos only include the ” last few years”. How was the extrapolation from a “few years” to extend it to the entire NBA universe, past or present, is something that escapes my wits.

    So both “airtight” arguments apparently are leaking of fallacies. The first one’s a formal fallacy. The second one is an infornal one. I guess the author needs to lace ‘em boots since these ain’t cutting it.

    But nice try to be different. I would rather have you focus though on improving our understanding of the knowable, e.g., what’s so different with Doug Collins such that his teams seem to always overachieve, than trying to be too different with all those fantastic ‘odd ball’ claims. It can sometimes get too corny and ovely-dramatic. But that’s just my request. i’m just happy to ‘bash’ along. :)

    Posted by Jourdan | March 8, 2012, 5:04 am
    • Jourdan,

      Thanks for your comments.

      As to the ordinal ranking, if you read my post carefully, or Neil Paine’s original post you would see that teams are rated in comparison to their own year because of the various rule changes, quality of players, etc, that promoted or hindered offenses throughout era’s. The Z score’s are not meant to be used across different samples population. What the ranking is saying is that Nash’s Suns and Mavs teams were better in comparison to their era than Wilt’s/Oscar’s ..etc were.

      I’m glad you have a good grasp of statistics but you are attacking a straw man.

      If you want to use RAW offensive rating (playoffs and regular season) the 2010 Phoenix Suns are the best ever.

      “Nash is hands-down the best player that I have seen to extract the most offensive production from his team. But I won’t crown him as the best offensive PLAYER. To me, that sounds that a play on words.”

      How are you defining ‘best offensive player’ in a way that doesn’t mean ‘creates the most offensive production from his team.’ Why would best offensive player mean anything else?

      Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 12:09 pm
      • Jevan you are a breath of fresh air after my illogical verbal tussles with the likes of NBA Realist #2 who is as dumb as a rock. Thank you.

        Now, I still don’t get the ordinal ranking though. An ordinal ranking is a comparison between teams, is it not? A comparison of teams across eras? All that could be derived from the ranking above is that the magnitude difference between Nash’s Suns against competition is larger than say Magic’s Lakers against other teams in the 80′s, which doesn’t say much about Nash’s Suns relative to Magic’s Lakers to actually make the logical jump and say Nash’s Suns are better offensively than Magic’s Lakers. Consider this, suppose John’s height is 2 std dev away from mean height in the US. Pedro’s height is 2.3′std dev better than Mexicans’ mean height. Can I make a ranking putting Pedro above John and then conclude than Pedro is taller than John? That’s how wrong it is to use differentials to make conclusions pertaining to absolutes.

        Now to the next question you raised, it is clear by the reaction of people here that your view of what an offensive player is has not been the only interpretation. I myself interprets player’s offense as player’s ability to be more abt his individual stats irrespective of team outcome. And that has been what traditionally the meaning of offense, hence I see that as a play on words since you’re taking your own definition of it to then prove what it is for just abt everyone else despite that everyone might not even agree with your definition in the first place.

        Posted by Jourdan | March 8, 2012, 1:20 pm
        • Jourdan,

          Your critique of Paine’s rankings is correct. However the problem I see is, can you come up with a better system?

          In the end no stat is perfect and they all have flaws. This just has the least amount of flaws that I know of versus any other way of comparing team offenses across era’s.

          We could of course, use absolute Offensive rating (No z-scores) to compare teams. And the ratings would not be much different. Nash’s teams would still hold 3 of the top 5 ever, with Magic’s 87 Laker’s coming in coming in 6th.

          But then people would complain about the different rule changes (hand-checking, zone defense, the quality of NBA defenses as a whole (much better now than in the 80′s btw), so I think Paine’s ranking’s using Z-scores are superior to this.

          Either way Nash owns all.

          Is Paine’s metric perfect? No. But can you come up with a better way?

          “. I myself interprets player’s offense as player’s ability to be more abt his individual stats irrespective of team outcome.”

          What individual stats are you using? Box score stats? If we are using Adj. Plus/Minus stats than Nash’s individual stats are far superior to anyone else’s from his era.

          So it depends which stats you are using. I’d also like to point out that basketball is not a game of one on one. It’s a team game and I think we should all judge who the best offensive player is by who has the greatest positive impact on his TEAM’s offense.

          Thanks for you reply man.

          Cheers.

          Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 2:02 pm
          • Thanks for acknowledging the shortcomings of the ranking. People like you with good academic training seems to be better at comprehension by a long mile

            Anyway, I don’t see how rankings using standard deviations should be any superior or relatively better compared to other indices. In fact, I see it as worse than just absolute ranking since it’s statistically invalid at its very core – you just cannot use STD DEV to rank samples belonging to different populations. Whilst absolute ranking may be statistically inaccurate, ranking based on STD DEV is mathematically incorrect. No amount of rationalization could correct a mathematical error.

            Anyway, there are many ways to attack the problem of comparing teams from different eras. Off my head, you could readily come up with probability distribution functions for, say, scores, for teams belonging to the same eras. If these result to normal distributions, you could then conduct analysis of variance. You could use t-test, P-values, Scheffe’s, Tukey’s, Fisher’s LSD, or Duncan’s multiple range test, Newman-Keul’s to confirm whether there are significant differences between means for compared variables from different eras. Suppose you don’t get normal distributions or you want to take into account that the earlier eras maybe “too different” from the modern game, you could do rank transformation, and ordinally rank means statistics from of different eras, perform a non-parametric test such as Kruskal-Wallis and still be able to verify which eras are more alike than originally assumed. Most statistical package would offer pair-wise comparisons and even non-parametric tests so this wouldn’t be difficult. Thereafter, you could combine sample populations (different eras) that do not exceed the rejection limits, simplifying your data set for your further analysis. You then conduct multiple regression analysis on each of the homogenized sample population. You test for multicollinearities to reduce the number of predictor variables, and block others. Having created linear models for each sample populations, it would be easy to apply scaling to compare teams from each population.

            Alternatively, you could use stochastic models and Monte Carlo simulations to be more “fair” to the earlier eras where even the basic stats are absent, or to assign some level of randomness (or “doubt”) about how statisticians favour one player and not the other, e.g., inflate Nash’s or CP3′s assist numbers by being “loose” about counting assists. Admittedly, this non-deterministic process is definitely a lot more complex. But the upside is that its conclusions would be far more powerful and complete (supposing the stochastic models themselves satisfy mathematical rigor and of course, common sense).

            But heck, the short of all this is that I couldn’t excuse your flawed metric that supposedly justifies your conclusion. Simply highlighting the complexity of the issue, such as ‘team offense across eras” to justify the way you have simplified it is not formally valid.

            Now, on your contention abt putting a premium on team offensive numbers over individual stats to individually rank players is also not completely logical. Firstly, you cannot unequivocally wholly attribute the team’s offense to a single player. In mathematical terms, you have basically reduced it to this: Offense (Suns) = F(Nash), or that the Nash’s offense solely rely on Nash’s numbers and NO other factors affect it. This is gross oversimplification.

            What metric do I prefer? Hmm, I honestly don’t know..PER appeals to me since it is more holistic than others. I’d use 82games “Simple Ratings” to roughly compare players but in comparing really “similar” players especially players from different eras, I’d likely adjust numbers using scales/factors.

            Posted by jourdan | March 9, 2012, 4:17 am
  8. Agree or disagree, this was a fun read. Looking forward to more from Mr. Pradas!

    Posted by Tyler | March 8, 2012, 11:42 am
  9. Steve Nash? Please… Keep in mind that Nash played half of his career in a non-handchecking era…

    Had the same privilege been given to John Stockton all his numbers/stats would be far superior to Nash’s.

    And I’m not even sure if Stockton’s numbers aren’t better than Nash’s (do you know Stockton’s RAPM Rankings? Or Jordan’s for that matter???).

    Also, if your teammates suck, who’ll bring you more points? Jordan or Nash? Obviously MJ with very bad supporting cast would be able to produce more points than Nash.

    Oh wait, how about this year? Doesn’t Steve play on a bad team (Gortat being the 2nd best player)?

    Yes, he does. The result?

    94,8ppg (worse than League Average)

    Posted by doosiolek | March 8, 2012, 1:13 pm
    • Unfortunately APM only started to be kept track of by NBA teams in the year 2000. So we do have Stockton’s and Jordan’s numbers from those years. Stockton comes out as an absolutely fantastic player on both offense and defense, but offensively he wasn’t as great as Nash. Though of course Stockton was 40 years old..

      MJ, also approaching 40 comes out as an average offensive player. But then again this was Wizards MJ and I would dream of using that as an accurate depiction of prime MJ.

      “Also, if your teammates suck, who’ll bring you more points? Jordan or Nash? Obviously MJ with very bad supporting cast would be able to produce more points than Nash.”

      I disagree. We have lots of evidence of how MJ played on bad supporting casts.

      Here were the Bulls offensive rankings when MJ came in the league and put up monster numbers in the 80′s. (We don’t use ppg because pace was higher in 80′s then today)

      85: 11th of 23 teams

      86: 8th of 23 (MJ was hurt all year, Bulls offense miraculously got better..hmm..

      87:13th of 23 teams. MJ returns and Bulls get worse on offense

      88:9th of 23. Scottie now on team. Bulls still mediocre offense.

      89:12th of 25 teams

      And yes the Phoenix Suns this year are a slightly below average offensive team. But we have to ask why? Well it’s simple.

      When Nash is in the game the Suns have an offensive rating of 106.

      When Nash is OUT of the game, the Suns have an Offensive rating of 96.

      In other words, when Nash is in the game the Suns play like the Clippers offensively. When Nash is out of the game the Suns play like the Bobcats.

      Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 2:19 pm
      • Where did you get these rankings, and what rankings are they? Are they ORtg or something else?

        You also have to realize that when Nash is out of the game, most of the bench is in. So, the backup PG is usually with other bench players or more bench players than Nash is for longer periods of time. And bench players are almost always worse offensive players than starters. So, you just can’t use 106 with nash and 96 without nash, and make a definitive conclusion that nash is ‘the’ reason for the offensive being so much better. Obviously, it’s going to be better, but how much better is another issue.

        Also, if you see a red flag with the 87 bulls being worse on offense than the 86 bulls, then this ranking stat you’re using seems to be highly volatile, and can’t be fully trusted.

        And plus/minus stats can be useful, but they’re most useful as 5-man units. Hard to single out one player and make a definitive conclusion as that’s that, end of debate. And plus/minus would also include defense as well as offense, right? So, you could have a terrible offense, but an amazing defense, and still have a great plus/minus.

        Posted by boyer | March 8, 2012, 2:38 pm
        • Boyer, there is a link to the rating in the post.

          Your critiques of plus/minus are spot on.

          However no where in my post did I use simple plus/minus rankings. I used ADJUSTED plus/minus rankings.

          See you are right, plus/minus has all the flaws you mentioned. That’s where ADJUSTED plus/minus comes in. Adjusted plus/minus is plus/minus stats ADJUSTED for the quality of your teammates, the quality of opponents, home/away/ etc..

          Also adj. plus/minus can be broken down into offensive and defensive

          You can read more about it here.

          http://www.82games.com/ilardi2o.htm#table

          Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 3:38 pm
      • I agree with everything that BOYER wrote plus how come you say that Nash is the greatest offensive player of ALL TIME based on stats that were not available pre-2000s?

        Besides Nash is only great when playing in a particular system.

        Guys like MJ or Kobe or any true great scorer are capable to create their own shots. Nash simply cannot do that and has to play for offensive-oriented team that like to run in order to be effective.

        MJ or Kobe on the other hand, they’d be very useful no matter what team they’d play on.

        Also back in Jordan days handchecking was allowed. I cannot imagine what he would have done today at the peak of his athletic prime, but he would definitely shoot lots of free throws.

        But I make it sound like an MJ vs Nash debate when the fact of the matter is that there were/are probably a lot of guys who are simply greater on offense than Nash.

        As a side note – Bulls offense in 86 was NOT better than in 85. It was only better if you compare it to the rest of the league, but the absolute Offensive Rating was slightly better in 85.

        Posted by doosiolek | March 8, 2012, 3:11 pm
        • “I agree with everything that BOYER wrote plus how come you say that Nash is the greatest offensive player of ALL TIME based on stats that were not available pre-2000s?”

          I’m saying he’s the GOAT based on the fact that 6 of the top 11 offensive teams are teams Nash and only Nash played on.

          “Guys like MJ or Kobe or any true great scorer are capable to create their own shots. Nash simply cannot do that and has to play for offensive-oriented team that like to run in order to be effective.”

          This simply isn’t true. The 2009 Phoenix Suns were coached by Terry Porter who tried to turn the team into a defensive team, slowed down the offense and give the ball to Shaq, who led the Suns in total points that year.

          That Suns team? 11th greatest offense of all time.

          Nash was second in the league in Offensive RAPM, barely behind Lebron.

          Nash also did it with Dallas. In the three years the Nash was the starting PG for Dallas, the Mavs had the best offense in the NBA all three years.

          Better than the Lakers with prime Shaq and Kobe.

          Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 3:51 pm
          • Also with regard to handchecking– yes it is true. MJ played with handchecking.

            But he also played with Zone defense. The Mavs largely negated Lebron in the finals last year by playing zone, clogging up the lane and stopping him from driving. Teams would have tried doing the same to MJ.

            All in all, defenses were much less efficient in the 80′s than they are today.

            Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 3:53 pm
          • Well, I don’t think you can make definitive conclusions based off of any one stat, especially when that stat hasn’t been around until just recently and is far from being a fact that is reproducible every time. I’ll give you that Nash has certainly been a good offensive player during his career, but that’s as far as I’ll go.

            But, you’re right about handchecking. Jordan backers often say this about him, but forget other changes in the nba. Such as bigger, more athletic wing players on average nowadays, plus much more sophisticated defenses today. The Larry Brown pistons defense would suffocate anyone, regardless of handchecking or not. And shooting pct. have gone down across the board since jordan’s days, so one would could easily predict that it’s tougher to score today. So, I don’t think you can make any definitive conclusions when debating this. There’s advantages and disadvantages to playing in any era. Also, if handchecking hurt offenses, then it helped defenses, so by trying to say this to enhance jordan’s legend, it’s the reverse regarding his defense, and limiting handchecking would’ve limited his defensive abilities. In essence, it’s a push.

            Posted by boyer | March 8, 2012, 4:19 pm
  10. I meant MJ played W/O zone defense.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 8, 2012, 3:54 pm
  11. Eh, I dunno know about this premise. It seems to be a play on words looking for support. “Greatest Offensive Player Ever” because he was the point guard, admittedly a great one, on a lot of great offensive teams? Nothing against Nash at all, but I’m going to need to see a lot more than what’s here to buy this push on the correlation vs causation boundry.

    Also, let’s kill this “Jordan vs the zone and “bigger, stronger, whatever” stuff. Jordan’s last season was in 2003 not 1953. He turned 40 and averaged 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal shot 45% from the field and 82% from the free throw line. The idea that a prime Jordan would’ve been flummoxed by a zone defense (btw, man-to-man is still the base set) is pretty dubious.

    Posted by ks | March 8, 2012, 6:31 pm
    • Well, let’s flummox the handchecking thing as well then. If you actually looks #’s during most of jordan’s career, not including his wizard days, scoring team wise and individual have gone down over time in the nba, as well as FG pct. There are some ups and downs. But, especially since jordan’s highest scoring days in the 80s and through 92, his scoring totals went down overall and his FG pct. went down, too, and he was still in his prime at least through 93. And you’d think his FG pct. would increase around then since pippen was starting to become an elite player and big time playmaker as well for the bulls, making it easier for jordan to score.

      Jordan didn’t have that much mileage on him with the wizards. He was still effective, but still couldn’t lead his teams to even one playoff appearance. Take someone like Karl Malone with much more mileage at age 38 and 39. He was much more effective than Jordan was at the same ages. The pt. being, one person can make a claim about having an easier time scoring during this era, but then another person can say the same about another era. In the end, it’s all speculation, but jordan and malone would do great in any era.

      But, jordan would do better against zone defenses, because his outside shot was better than james, though james has improved his outside some. At the beginning of james career, he had no answer if his opps clogged the lane. He still doesn’t have a great answer to this, but he’s more equipped now to deal with zones that clog the paint.

      The problem with Nash as I mentioned before is that if he’s so awesome offensively, then where’s the finals appearances? He’s played with multiple AS for most of his career. If he’s the greatest offensive player ever according to jevan, then he’d have to have broken through at some pt., and that hasn’t happened. So, then when your stats say one thing but the real world says something else, it’s time to rethink your stats or at least not use it as real definitive evidence. Also, most of these AS that played with Nash were AS without Nash as well, so they were great in their own rights. Johnson, Marion, Dirk, and Amare were AS while not having Nash as a teammate. And some of his Marion’s best years were without Nash, as well as Dirk and Johnson, but Johnson was still entering his prime when with the suns.

      Posted by boyer | March 8, 2012, 7:04 pm
      • “The problem with Nash as I mentioned before is that if he’s so awesome offensively, then where’s the finals appearances?”

        Yes, because just having one great player = Finals/titles in a team sport. This has zero to do with Jevan’s post.

        Nash didn’t play much defense, and alot of the guys around him didn’t either. They played some great Spurs and Mavs teams (and some might even add bad officiating) that got in their way to the Finals. Steve however has been an offensive force even while playing against some of the better teams in the playoffs.

        Don’t know about best offensive player ever, but he’s certainly in the discussion among all-timers.

        Posted by The Realist #2 | March 8, 2012, 7:36 pm
      • Jordan didn’t have much mileage on him when he was playing his last season for the Wizards!? Stop it. He was 40 and coming off a major knee injury and two retirements. You guys need to retire that talking point.

        There’s no rational way you can argue that Jordan would’ve have a problem with today’s “bigger, more athletic players..more complicated defenses”…blah..blah..blah..and downplay the fact that a 40 year old Jordan put up All-Star level numbers in “today’s NBA” in 2003.

        Posted by ks | March 8, 2012, 10:50 pm
        • Nobody’s saying jordan would’ve had a problem with today’s zone, in fact if you read carefully, I said jordan/malone would’ve been great in any era. I was replying to doos. about how it’s not that simple to say that the handchecking rules have been changed, because so many other things have as well, and gave several examples on FG pct. and scoring that might indicate that it’s actually harder to score today.

          You were just saying and implying that zone defenses, etc. would have no effect on jordan. They have an effect on everyone, but again, jordan, kobe, lebron, magic, etc., any of the all-time greats would be highly successful in any era. I just don’t like the handchecking argument without fully understanding that there are other disadvantages currently and maybe more severe than handchecking.

          Posted by boyer | March 9, 2012, 6:56 am
          • Just a thought though: Could it be that the average skill level of players today are lower than in Jordan’s era? That it’s the primary reason why despite the changes in rules on defenses, which are intended to free up the game and allow teams to score more, FG% are down?

            Just check the FG% and TS% of foreign NBA superstars vs. American superstars. Why do we have Nash, Dirk, shooting higher percentages than native talents? I don’t think Nash experiences less defense than, say, Rondo.

            Admittedly, I haven’t checked the stats on this but I have the gut feel that it’s not that the defenses nowadays are better, it’s just that the average skill in the NBA has dropped that’s why you get relatively lower scores. It’s just that I have watched the Piston Bad Boys manhandled Jordan in the way that would result to flagrant fouls today. Plus, today’s NBA has allowed the proliferation of smaller players who rely on quickness to score which to me screams that driving lanes in today’s NBA are far less clogged than it was in the ugly ball 90′s.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 8:35 am
          • @jevan

            I’m not convinced that Steve Nash is the greatest offensive player of ALL TIME based on ONE stat.

            Statistics is a funny thing, you can use one to prove a point, then use another one to completely disprove that very same point.

            You would need much more evidence that you presented if you really want people to agree with your statement.

            @jevan & boyer

            I agree that defenses in the 80′s were less efficient than they are today, but you forget that Jordan was most successful in the 90′s. With the emerging of Detroit’s Bad Boys the defense in the NBA got better year after year to reach its peak at the end of the 90′s.

            This is when the NBA decide they must do something to boost scoring. This is why there were SEVERAL (not only HC ban) rule changes designed to make scoring easier for wing players (Nash also benefited from these).

            The same goes for athleticism – sure players in the 80′s were less athletic (including MJ himself), but this has changed in the 90′s. An average player today is actually smaller and physically weaker than his counterpart from 95-05 decade.

            You think today’s defenses would be able to contain Jordan? I mean look at Dwayne Wade. He is far less efficient shooter than MJ (and he is less physically gifted too) and yet he is more efficient scorer than Kobe Bryant. This is because he is better slasher than Kobe… but not better than Jordan!

            The same argument can be made for LeBron James (poor shooter comparing to MJ or KB, but yet overall much more efficient scorer than KB because of his athleticism).

            Physically MJ was almost as good as LeBron, skillwise somewhere in Kobe Bryant’s department. He was also better slasher than Dwayne Wade.

            All the above just leads to one conclusion: prime MJ would have absolutely abused this league. There would be no stopping him and this is because of two things: 1.no hand-checking, 2.touch fouls called nowadays.

            Zone defense (rarely played today and not completely banned during MJ’s era) cannot make up for that.

            I can only fully agree with boyer’s argument that had MJ played today his defensive stats wouldn’t have been as impressive as they are.

            Posted by doosiolek | March 10, 2012, 12:35 am
          • @ doosiolek,

            Agree with you mate. People seem to forget that the players in the 90s where Jordan ruled are generally bigger, and brutish than today’s NBA. The defensive rules then allowed good coaches to really devise wicked defensive schemes that really slows down the game and make it hard for smaller players to dominate. That’s why I admire the likes of Stockton and Reggie who have been able to still hold their own. It’s even a pain to watch those Bad Boy Pistons, Riley’s Heat, and Van Gundy’s NY. I honestly don’t think Chicago would be so effective in defense with their relatively disadvantaged frontline without handchecking. Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman were so effective in defense precisely bec they were allowed to use their solid base to push people around.

            On the flip side, Jordan will abuse today’s NBA with ease. He has shown glimpses of that as a 40-yr old in Washington. I just couldn’t imagine how he’d not top Kobe’s 81 when Jordan’s the superior player physically (bigger hands, stronger lower body, higher leaping ability, etc.). A prime Jordan would have been too proud to be upstaged by Kobe…not in his universe. And I don’t think he’d be less effective defensively either. His numbers might go down but definitely whatever those numbers are, they’d still be top-class nos. The thing with a prime Jordan is that he hasn’t shown any signs that anyone could upstage him on both ends of the court. That sheer will and single-mindedness will ensure that had he ever played today, he’d make fun of Kobe, Lebron, and Wade.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 2:00 am
  12. 25 comments after your first day on the site? I expected nothing less when you told me you were about to hash out your Steve Nash argument. Solid article but I do have to quote Perry Cox from Scrubs on this one, “Here that’s interesting. Of course, it’s gibberish, but it’s-it’s interesting nonetheless.” I will ask you a simple question: If you had to pick one player to have as your first pick in an all time fantasy draft to build your team around, who do you select? If you choose Nash you do NOT know sports.

    Keep them coming my man and let’s get you on the show soon to buck heads. And I expect a TG and Mitch plug in your next column…

    Posted by Mitch | March 8, 2012, 8:14 pm
  13. I like how the premise of the entire argument takes off from rating the most offensive teams.. not players.

    Basically the conclusion is because he was in the best offensive team, he’s the best offensive player?

    I would agree if it took into account things like PER, ppg, offensive rebounds, playoff appearances… the curve ball of “he was in the 10 best offensive TEAMS”.. he’s the best offensive player.

    To answer the thing about Mike D Antoni’s offense, it doesnt take into account the point guard that runs that offense as a Knick coach… not so airtight after all.

    Anyone who says they have an “airtight” argument always has holes they need to plug. 2 stats are not acceptable. One proves his teams were great offensively, and two the adjusted plus minus doesn’t compare him to others in other eras to answer if “he’s trully the greatest offensive player ever”.. I respect what is being said in the post but it’s very flawed and it’s not as airtight as it’s advertised.

    Posted by UN0 | March 9, 2012, 3:09 am
  14. “Now, on your contention abt putting a premium on team offensive numbers over individual stats to individually rank players is also not completely logical. Firstly, you cannot unequivocally wholly attribute the team’s offense to a single player. In mathematical terms, you have basically reduced it to this: Offense (Suns) = F(Nash), or that the Nash’s offense solely rely on Nash’s numbers and NO other factors affect it. This is gross oversimplification.”–Jourdan

    ——-

    Like I said the “airtight” argument is not, Steve Nash is not equivalent to 5 players, what are we breaking him down into, steals, offensive points, points, ppg averages? What about Stoudamire Marion and James Worthy to Kareem?

    Let me ask you a rhetorical question Jevan Pradas, out of the teams mentioned in the initial “argument” about best offensive teams featuring Steve Nash (your argument entails Steve Nash as the best offensive point guard in the best offensive teams, not Steve, the player as the best offensive player ever, just because Steve and Magic played on better teams, and were the best point guards of their era your argument falls short of talking about how Steve as the best offensive/scoring player there is.. That distinction belongs to offensive players, not offensive/distributing players with best teams as was the case for Magic and Nash.

    Top to bottom pretty much the argument this guy makes is invalid and not pertinent to the discussion since the data provided doesn’t correlate actual player’s offensive statistics vs other player’s offensive statistics, except for the 2nd argument in this discussion which btw only dictates efficiency per possession not actual scoring output.

    Posted by UN0 | March 9, 2012, 5:31 am
    • Agree, as with any absolute comparisons, it should be both volume and efficiency.

      Most guys are guilty of relying too much on efficiency numbers, percentages, ratios, per-min, or per-48/per-36 linear projections to make absolute claims. This is statistically invalid. You should read the article by Lochpster where he labelled Chandler an elite playet bec of his 0.70 TS% and the difference in defense that NY when he came along. Obviously, the so-called stat-heads here don’t appreciate the limitations of stats. And that, I guess, had something to do with the fact that most don’t bother to understand the ‘behind-the-numbers’ calculations and the simplifying assumptions that often are tied to the numbers, esp ‘advanced stats’. In layman’s terms, these people never bothered reading the fine print and are just all-sold to the numbers sans context…a case of veneration without understanding.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 6:41 am
      • Yes, furthermore the post is not grounded in a scientific approach that can prove the synthesis of the 2 arguments. Such rigid team-by-team offensive ranks are meaningless to determining what is inherently an individual accomplishment anyway. Finally, the aforementioned stats are fluttery in terms of an actual trend seen of volume/efficiency which are no doubt factors in determining raw offensive ability backed by numbers.

        Posted by UN0 | March 10, 2012, 4:03 am
  15. Jourdan,

    “In mathematical terms, you have basically reduced it to this: Offense (Suns) = F(Nash), or that the Nash’s offense solely rely on Nash’s numbers and NO other factors affect it. This is gross oversimplification.”

    I believe once again you are building a straw man case against me. If you remember my second argument was using adj. plus/minus (APM) to assess Nash’s individual contribution to the Suns offense.

    Using APM we can quantify each individuals contribution to their team’s offense. Let’s take 2008 as an example. Steve Nash APM was +10, meaning that he contributes 10 points to a team’s offense above an average player over 100 possessions.

    Here were the Suns starting lineup and their APM rankings

    1. Nash +10
    2. Giricek -2
    3. Hill -3
    4. Amare’ +4
    5. Shaq +1

    http://www.82games.com/ilardi2t.htm#table

    “just a thought though: Could it be that the average skill level of players today are lower than in Jordan’s era? That it’s the primary reason why despite the changes in rules on defenses, which are intended to free up the game and allow teams to score more, FG% are down? ”

    The average skill level of today’s players is WAY WAY UP compared to in the 80′s. Here’s an example. Take three pointers.

    In 1985 the average NBA team made 73 three-pointers…IN THE ENTIRE SEASON. Shooting an abysmal 28%.

    In 2011 the average NBA team made 530 three pointers at a 36% clip. At the very least, the players ability to shoot the three these days has dramatically improved.

    The fact is players today are much stronger than they were 20 years ago, and the most noticeable benefit to being strong in basketball is playing defense. Also defensive schemes, watching tape, statistic knowledge of players habits (think of the 50 page printout Battier gets of Kobe’s shooting habits before games) have all lead to a situation where NBA defenses are much improved since the 80′s.

    I think the difference in skill between today’s game and the 80′s is about equivalent to the 80′s and the 60′s.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 9, 2012, 9:07 am
    • Good pts. about skill levels today. I was thinking the same thing in response to jourdan. I’m not sure today’s players compared to 80s players has the same gap in skill level as 80s players to 60s players, but it’s probably close.

      One misnomer about the 3 pt. level is that you often hear what a Maravich or West could’ve done with the 3 pt. line when they played, but it was many years before guys were even shooting 3′s very often at all. It just wasn’t a big part of the game for many years. Now, with players being bigger, stronger, more athletic, and more active along with more sophisticated defenses, they can cover more ground, so offenses need to spread out more and use that 3 pt. line to their advantages, hence players’ offensive skills have improved over time.

      Take one elite player in the 60s, Jerry West. He admitted he couldn’t even dribble well with his left hand. I would guess that a lot of players during his era couldn’t dribble well with their off hands as well if someone as good as he was couldn’t. Players would get eaten alive today if they could only dribble with one hand. This also pertains to driving to the hole. If you know the scouting report on some players, then you can limit their strengths. Guys like wade, artest, and odom can only drive to the left. All 3 of them can still be effective, but if the defense knows this, it will be a huge advantage.

      Posted by boyer | March 9, 2012, 11:41 am
    • Well, firstly I never offered a strawman before. The counter-argument against your first argument was that it us simply a wrongly constructed, statistically valid ordinal ranking. Hence, no valid conclusion can be made from it. How was this a strawman? Highlighting a formal fallacy a strawman?

      Secondly, how is the accusation that you have oversimplified the argument for Nash through this: Team’s offense are better relative to competition, therefore Player X is unequivocally best offensive player, a strawman? Isn’t this the meat of your article? You said
      “xxx…I’d also like to point out that basketball is not a game of one on one. It’s a team game and I think we should all judge who the best offensive player is by who has the greatest positive impact on his TEAM’s offense…xxx”

      I just represented your words mathematically: Offense(Suns) = F(Nash). Again, how is accusing you of oversimplifying it a strawman? In fact, your post now squarely attempts to explain your rationale behind it. You want to justify that oversimplification by saying that Nash’s rapm nos. are better than his teammates ergo he’s the only significant factor that might have influenced the Sun’s relatively good offense. Well, that’s debatable since again, you shift from ratios as metrics within Nash’s team to a conclusion of an absolute rank in the entire NBA universe. If you want to use RAPM to argue that Nash’s offense is ordinally no. 1 in the NBA universe, then you have to consistently use RAPM for just abt everyone else, or the main suspects if you want to implement screening. This is the more statistically valid method than ranking teams’ offenses first (which is grossly wrong btw) and then coming up with rapm nos to put forward the notion that it was Nash’s offense that only significantly has impacted his team’s offense.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 3:47 pm
    • and going to the skills comparison, I believe you haven’t answered my question and addressed a totally different point. Ring a bell, mate? Now, this is a strawman.

      I was only after a very well-defined comparison…today’s NBA (or should I say the the NBA from the time it last introduced the major changes in defense) to Jordan’s time, which is basicslly the NBA before the latest major rules change.

      Comparing 3FG% of 1985 to 2011 is grossly misrepresenting it. Why 1985? Why not take the statistical mean of the era where Jordan played?
      Plus why 3FG%? Why not use PER, or Simple Rating, or any metric that attempts to create a composite index of a player’s skill level rather than just offering me 3FG%? Where do the likes of Jordan, Barkley, Pippen, Stockton, Robinson, Mullin, Drexler, Bird, Magic, Reggie, Ewing, Malone, Isiah, Olajuwon, et al stack up against Wade, Lebron, Kobe, et al? To me, the composite indices would tell the level of skills of Jordan’s Era (1984-1998) compared to what the level of skills in this Era (starting 2001-2002 season when all the rules changes that started in 1999 have been put into effect, changing the game by eliminating hand-checking). I really love to see the composite indices of players, e.g., PER, of team indices,e.g., team’s eFG%, and league averages. If I see, say, half of today’s players have better PERs than half of the players from Jordan’s era, then I might concede that the level of talent today has dramatically been up compared to Jordan’s time. Else, saying that today’s NBA is more skilled just doesn’t hold water.

      As for the comparison of different eras other than the ones that I specifically highlighted, I just couldn’t care less. I don’t need nos to say that game play in the 60s were just not at par with the modern NBA. I could readily deduce that just by watching the old games. Most of the teams then won’t even beat a div 1 team today.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 5:11 pm
      • Jourdan, how would PER help any? Each year’s PER is independent of any other year. The league average of PER each year is always going to be 15. Lebron might end up with the highest PER ever this year, but his PER this year is only being compared to players playing this year.

        I don’t think looking at individual stats is going to help much when comparing players between eras, other than 3 pct. and FT pct. That’s about it. FG pct. overall have gone since the 80s, but that’s still not necessarily going to tell us that that era’s players were better overall shooters. Those 80s/90s players you mentioned might’ve been awesome in their era, but would that translate to today’s game and by how much? It’s all basically speculation, but it some obvious today’s players are much better on average than 30 years ago.

        Here’s an interesting read on nash:

        http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/2012/03/comparing-nash-effect-with-bryant.html#links

        Posted by boyer | March 9, 2012, 6:48 pm
        • Well, that’s where the ‘half’ argument comes in. If half of the league in Jordan’s time produce an ave PER higher than half of the league today, then you could argue that the league during Jordan’s era is more skilled. The good thing abt PER is the very fact that you highlighted – it forces the mean to 15 every yr so you get to use the same measuring stick. To put in real terms, if half of the league then would be more efficient basketball players than half of the leagur today, then the league then has better players than the league now.

          Note, however that I gave PER as an example of a composite index. My main argument is that a composite index has to be used to compare players from Jordan era to today’s NBA. I don’t want the argument to degenerate into off-tangent discussions circling around PER. But thanks for zeroing in on it. I always enjoy it when people know what the numbers meant instead of jus blindly relying on them.

          And again, I don’t share your view that you can’t compare eras by relying on individual stats…counting stats, definitely not but advance stats/composite indices? Especially the ones adjusted by known factors as game pace, or re-weighted to accomodate rules changes? Well, that’s how econometrics work. If it can be applied in economic analysis, I don’t see why we can’t in bball. I don’t think bball is a lot more complex subject than economics. So yeah, people could speculate. Alternatively, they could create better stats and there’s no excuse for not making one to quash speculation.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 7:59 pm
      • Jourdan, about the “Where do the likes of Jordan, Barkley, Pippen, Stockton, Robinson, Mullin, Drexler, Bird, Magic, Reggie, Ewing, Malone, Isiah, Olajuwon, et al stack up against Wade, Lebron, Kobe, et al? To me, the composite indices would tell the level of skills of Jordan’s Era (1984-1998) compared to what the level of skills in this Era (starting 2001-2002 season when all the rules changes that started in 1999 have been put into effect, changing the game by eliminating hand-checking). ” Maybe you should post one just out of curiosity, and rank them somewhere else and post the link. I am also curious as to how they rank on a PER metric, if you oblige. It would be very useful in arguments and future debates.

        Posted by UN0 | March 10, 2012, 4:05 am
        • I’m actually thinking of doing that since this really strikes a chord with me as I see that era as basketball’s golden age and I honestly don’t see the collection of today’s best ever besting the Dream Team. I concede, though, that I may be irrationally biased..if I could get some time to dig up numbers and do some number-crunching, I would.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 4:34 am
  16. Sorry, i meant the ordinal ranking was statistically INVALID….hard to type into a phone.

    Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 4:31 pm
  17. Jourdan,

    1)I think you have to learn what statistically valid means. A measure is statistically valid if it measures what it reports to measure.

    The ranking of NBA offenses is based on how teams performed compared to other teams that year. Which teams had the greatest deviations from the norm.

    And the ranking measures EXACTLY that. It therefore measures EXACTLY what it reports to measure, i.e statistically valid.

    So can you drop the silly nonsense? It seems as if you are just arguing for arguing’s sake now.

    2) PER is a box score metric, and is in the words of mark cuban -essentially worthless. I do like 82games simple rating better, but not of that could be used to compare era’s. The reason being that these metrics are always measured against your competition. What do you think the Harlem Globetrotter’s PER would be against the Washington Generals? My PER in my local rec league is probably fantastic.

    Someone’s PER could be better simply because the opposing defense stinks and you get easier shots.

    It is not in anyway a measure of one’s skill, it is a measure of how one performs in certain quantifiable categories against the competition.

    Three point shooting though, is more a measure of skill. Let’s take 93 as a Year for Jordan, it’s about midway through his career (and they changed the 3pt line closer in after that, so I don’t want to use those years.)

    The average NBA team made 230 three’s at a 33 percent rate. Terrible compared to today’s three point shooting.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 9, 2012, 9:22 pm
  18. Jevan,
    1. The ranking is statistically valid IF this is what it was packaged to convey: ranking of team’s RELATIVE strength to competition. Now, it is invalid when it is packaged as: ranking of best team offenses in the NBA.

    Do you get that? That ranking can’t be used to compare teams across eras, which is what you’re doing. Again, ranking based on std dev is permitted within population, not across different populations. So it is a mathematical error, a statistical blunder.

    2. Huh? Does the NBA suddenly transformed itself such that the disparity is now comparable to streetball – pro ball difference? We’re talking abt the same league here, only different times (1984-1998 vs 2001-present). Don’t give me the globetrotters excuse. Have you even done anova to conclude that the league then is significantly different to now…that any sort of comparison based on a normalised metric is impossible? Where’s your proof?

    It’s a strawman/red herring combo to even bring up the argument against using per through allusions that the comparison between the NBA then and now is the same as comparisons between different leagues.

    Yup true, PER is a measure of one’s skill relative to competition in a particular yr, but the main point that’d allow its use for inter-year comparisons is that the level of competition in the NBA more or less stays the same. And there is no reason to believe that it has changed from Jordan’s time to now.

    And let me address your obsession abt 3FG%. Tell me, when is it easier to shoot a three-ball: a) in an era where people are allowed to push u around with their forearms and grab you here and there, or b) in an era where players couldn’t be touched? Also, is it no coincidence that today’s NBA has more foreign-bred players who happen to have fundametally-sound outside games than Jordan’s NBA? That these players have to shoot the ball from the outside since they are less athletically gifted to score primarily on the inside? Zooming only on 3FG% and FT% couldn’t provide a sound basis to say that the league now has better players than Jordan’s NBA. There are a lot more to that as games aren’t won on 3FG% alone. Could you honestly say that Jordan’s an inferior player to compared to anyone today bec his 3FG% is relatively lower? That’s how simplistic you want the assessment to be. Which is illogical to say the least.

    Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 10:22 pm
    • Curiously enough, how do you determine the ‘average team’ in Jordan’s time? Why chose years? Why not compare the statistical means of Jordan’s era (1984-1998) to present times (2001-present)? I think you know that it’s a fallacy to make generalizations out of single events, right?

      Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 10:28 pm
  19. Jourdan,

    This isn’t so confusing. Let me break it down for you as simple as I can.

    The first question is , what were the greatest offenses in NBA history? What does that even mean? How do you define a great offense? It’s kind of a nebulous term.

    Well after much logical reasoning, and determining that era’s change, rules change, etc. Neil Paine decided that the best way to compare teams from different years is to compare how they stacked up against their own competition. How far they deviated from the norm that year.

    Greatest NBA offense was then Operational defined as : How far a team deviated from the norm in a single year.

    so the DEFINITION of Great NBA offense became – how far a team deviated from the norm in a single year. Then Paine developed a statistic to analyze that. The Statistic measured what is was intended to measure. It is statistically valid.

    It is not a statistical error, a statistical error is saying 2+5 = 12. What you have a problem with is the operational definition. But like I said, come up with a better one and I’ll listen.

    But I doubt that any new operational definition you could come up with would somehow show that Nash’s Mavs and Suns teams weren’t the best ever, so the point is moot.

    2) Your quotes about PER shows you have a great confusion about what it is that stat measures. Once again, PER cannot change ‘on average’ from year to year. It’s not going to be higher now vs MJ’s era or vice versa. Nor will the PER of my rec league be different then the PER of the NBA.

    Your PER will raise if you grab a rebound, however for you to grab a rebound, that means someone else must have missed a shot. Your PER raises, their PER falls. If you get a steal, your PER raises, but their PER falls as they are given a turnover. If you make a shot, it raises your PER, but it deprives someone of a defensive rebound. Lowering their PER.

    It is always a balancing act. Get it?

    “And let me address your obsession abt 3FG%. Tell me, when is it easier to shoot a three-ball: a) in an era where people are allowed to push u around with their forearms and grab you here and there, or b) in an era where players couldn’t be touched?”

    Players generally don’t shoot 3 pointers while they are being pushed. So that doesn’t really matter now does it?

    “Also, is it no coincidence that today’s NBA has more foreign-bred players who happen to have fundametally-sound outside games than Jordan’s NBA? That these players have to shoot the ball from the outside since they are less athletically gifted to score primarily on the inside? ”

    These players wouldn’t have NBA jobs unless what they did was more effective than what American players were doing. This is one of the reasons the league has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. The game has became global, the competition for NBA jobs is not just from Americans, but now from the whole world. MJ practically played in the pre -globalization of the NBA, kind of like how Ruth played in the white only MLB.

    “Curiously enough, how do you determine the ‘average team’ in Jordan’s time? Why chose years? Why not compare the statistical means of Jordan’s era (1984-1998) to present times (2001-present)? I think you know that it’s a fallacy to make generalizations out of single events, right?”

    Average team= League average.

    If you want to compare the statistical means from MJ’s era go for it. It won’t help your argument. NBA 3p shooting has steadily improved over the last 30 years and is now better than ever.

    Also the NBA three point line was moved further in from 1994-97, so using those years would skew things. MJ didn’t play in 93-94, so I used the 92-93 season.

    The closer three point also helped offensive efficiency btw..giving MJ’s 2nd 3peat Bulls teams an added edge in that regard.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 10, 2012, 5:08 am
  20. I hate to say this, I really do, but if you had said ’Floor General’, I think there would be much less push-back. I am thinking if Nash had four championships under his belt it would be different. I am thinking if he were 6’11″ and built like Dwight Howard it would be different. I also hesitate to say this, but if he were American, would there be this much push back? Let’s face it. If some guy comes over from Russia and blows apart every record Wayne Gretzky put up in the NHL, Canada would implode. Same thing is happening here. The way this argument is progressing, it will be impossible to say that any player, ever, will end up being better than Jordan. That is not fact, that is just the way the statistics will be interpreted by those who never want to believe that it is possible.

    Posted by Stu Pendous | March 10, 2012, 10:22 am
  21. Jevan,

    Please stop the condescension. I am not confused one single iota.
    Let me simplify my points for you.

    1. “Greatest NBA offense was then Operational defined as : How far a team deviated from the norm in a single year.”

    That is wrong. Mathematically wrong. That is exactly like saying 1= 2.

    Let me walk you through an analogy. I like analogies since they could uncover even the best-constructed fallacy:
    Suppose we want to identify the tallest guy in Americas. Now, imagine this:
    a. Let’s group individuals into groups of 3, and then add their heights.
    b. Let’s get the average of the group sum per country and compute for the STD DEV of each group.
    c. Now, imagine that we did all the number-crunching and came to this.
    - 2 groups came as run-away winners in terms of STD DEV from their country averages. Group A from Mexic and Group B from the US.
    - Group A, comprising of Pedro, Juan, and Santiago, has posted 2.3 STD DEV from the Mexican average
    - Group B, comprising of Peter, John, and James, has posted 2 STD DEV from the American average
    - With your ranking, I could then rank Group A on top of Group B and then make the conclusion that Group A is the taller team compared to Group B.
    d. Now, we check Group A since we need to know who’s the tallest guy, not the tallest team. We see that Pedro’s towering at 6’8″ over Juan’s 5’7″ and Santiago’s 5’8″.
    e. We conclude, based on your “statistics” that Pedro’s the tallest guy in the American continent.

    Is this statistically valid? See the stupidity in using STD DEV to rank groups to get the tallest team??? Oh, by the way, John was the tallest at 7’2″, which will not emerge from the ranking of the tallest teams based on STD DEV.

    So there, the ‘operational definition’ that you parade here, which you say confuses me, is NOT STATISTICALLY VALID definition. It’s like forcing a square peg into a hole. It’s like creating a new math that says 1=2. There’s nothing about the ‘kind of nebolous term’ that excuses anyone from using statistics that WRONG WAY.

    I will repeat. You cannot. You cannot. You cannot make an ordinal ranking of samples using standard deviations from across different populations. That is only VALID for ranking samples WITHIN the same population. Stop the charades please. No amount of rationalisation could ever make this stupidity correct.

    And asking me for a “better stat” since I highlighted your grave error is fallacious. Don’t move the goal post mate. Asking me for a better stat wouldn’t make your ranking valid.

    Moot point? No. Not really since we’re back at square one. You haven’t established Nash’s Suns as the best offensive team. Hence, your (faulty) generalization that Nash is the best offensive player is not “air-tight”.

    2) “Your quotes about PER shows you have a great confusion about what it is that stat measures. Once again, PER cannot change ‘on average’ from year to year. It’s not going to be higher now vs MJ’s era or vice versa. Nor will the PER of my rec league be different then the PER of the NBA.”

    Again, I am confused? Wow. This is a strawman!!! I never said PER changes “on average” from year-to-year. That is stupid. Don’t put words in my mouth. In fact, I highlighted to Boyer that the very reason why PER could be used is that PER is normalised year-on-year to 15. It’s a good measuring stick bec. it doesn’t change year-on-year!

    PER is scaled so that the statistical league ave PER = 15. That does not convey the spread (measured by STD DEV or variance), or if the distribution is skewed! The scaling does not convey the mode, median, etc. abt the curve. All it does is to normalise it to a certain reference, in this case 15. No more, no less. It doesn’t force the mean = median value. It doesn’t force the curve to be symmetric or normal. No. Nada. Never.

    But heck, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I’ll spill this out to you. Check the PER for any year and see if the curve is normal (skewness = 0). For this season (until 25Feb 2012), the calculated PERs reveal that only 68 out of 448 players posted a PER equal to or higher than 15. That’s approximately just 15% of the league. 85% of the league is below PER = 15!

    And you know why is this the case? Because your “theory” abt PER is wrong. You said
    “xxx…Your PER will raise if you grab a rebound, however for you to grab a rebound, that means someone else must have missed a shot. Your PER raises, their PER falls…..
    It is always a balancing act. Get it?…xxx”

    This is absurd. Do you know how PER is calculated? Firstly, the factors for points, rebounds, TOs, etc, are different. Hence, it’s not straightforward to say that if counting stat goes up by 1 unit, another counting stat also goes down by 1 unit. Thus, the delta change in unadjusted PER for the rising counting stat would not be the same as the delta change in unadjusted PER for the dropping stat. This is the primarily the reason why symmetry is not guaranteed.

    In case you want to understand more abt PER, try reading Hollinger’s book.

    Besides, you could tweak PER to not use 15 as the reference PER. You could choose 10, or 5, or 21 and it woulnd’t even matter. It’s a scaling factor. It doesn’t change the distribution of unadjusted PER (barring the effects of team pace relative to league).

    In case you want a run-down, here’s the eqn: PER = [uPER x (lgPace/tmPace) *(15/lguPER)
    Should I give you the formula for uPER as well????

    Also, PER is a CONCEPTUAL TOOL. It doesn’t restrict me from calculating, say, a career PER, playoffs PER, PER over 10 years, PER for half-a-year, etc. The only thing that matters is that I have to properly define the set that I will apply it to. Heck, I could define the whole of Jordan Era as one data set from which I will compute a composite PER for each player that played in that era. I don’t even have to restrict myself to “per season” calculations. Instead of using player/team/league counting stats for a season, I’d use the player/team/league counting stats from 1984-1998 as my data set.
    So please stop the bull crap abt me saying PER “on average” changes blah blah. I never said any of that. As I have said, if half (that means 50%) of the players in Jordan Era have PERs higher than half of the players today, that simply says that that Era has a lot more skilled players compared to today. And also, comparing your league’s PER to NBA is stupid to begin with. Again, not statistically valid unless you could demonstrate first that your league is not significantly different from the NBA. You see in stats, you do hypothesis testing first. You devise an ‘experiment’ and you perform ANOVA. If the null hypothesis doesn’t hold, then no further comparison could be made.

    3. “Players generally don’t shoot 3 pointers while they are being pushed. So that doesn’t really matter now does it?

    Wrong. Hand-checking makes it harder to even get the the chance to attempt 3-pointers. So this partly explains why offenses in the 90s don’t rely on 3-point shots. And even if you could attempt one, the release point, body positioning, and court position may not be ideal to make it. And this is all due to that the defensive player could easily take you out of position, disrupt your movement and ball release by pushing you with his forearm, and grabbing you here and there. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see dismal 3FG% in that era compared to now (though I really don’t know if the magnitude difference is as huge as you claim it to be). You see, there’s always a benefit of using a combination of sound reasoning and stats. Sports science has improved tremendously in explaining and predicting player performance within certain parameters. And I’d tell you that it’s a lot easier to shoot the ball and make it when you could get to your spot, jump straight up and be able to release the ball without contorting your body or hurrying your shot since you’ve been pushed out or you fear a hard foul coming.

    4. “These players wouldn’t have NBA jobs unless what they did was more effective than what American players were doing. This is one of the reasons the league has improved by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years. The game has became global, the competition for NBA jobs is not just from Americans, but now from the whole world. MJ practically played in the pre -globalization of the NBA, kind of like how Ruth played in the white only MLB.”

    Wow! this is a chicken-and-egg thing. And I’d tell you that the league office has the rules change as the chicken rather than the egg. The changes in the defensive rules was designed to favor the outside game and smaller, slashing players more than what they have been in the 90s in the hopes of increasing game pace, creating more possessions, and scoring. I do agree that the level of talent globally has improved. But the rules changes made the foreign impact more dramatic than what they would have been had the rules not changed. Simply put, I agree that the influx of foreign players have added more dimensions to the game, but my point is that they have thrived in today’s NBA bec. of the way the NBA game has evolved. Now, unless you could show otherwise, then you couldn’t categorically give me this bull crap abt foreign players improving the league dramatically from what it was in Jordan’s days.

    And please, don’t compare Jordan playing in the 90s to Babe Ruth playing in an all-white MLB. Unless you have stats to back that up, that’s just another one of your “air-tight” arguments.

    5. “Average team= League average.”

    Oh, so is this some hypothetical team then? A hypothetical team that outpus some league average numbers? Or does this correspond to any REAL team? Just asking…since I see that you tend to confuse mean, median, etc.

    6. “If you want to compare the statistical means from MJ’s era go for it. It won’t help your argument. NBA 3p shooting has steadily improved over the last 30 years and is now better than ever.”

    And your point is? Again, 3-point shooting isn’t the only shot known to man. There’s also the 2-point shot in case you haven’t seen one. Consider this: Team A makes 20 treys, 5 2-pointers, that’d be 70 points. Team B makes 0 treys, 40 2-pointers, totaling 80-points. Who’s the better team? Now, let’s extrapolate this further…Team A belongs to League A that posts 3FG% = 50%, but makes 90 points on average. League B posts a dismal 30% 3FG%, but makes 120 points on average. Which is the better league?

    7. “Also the NBA three point line was moved further in from 1994-97, so using those years would skew things. MJ didn’t play in 93-94, so I used the 92-93 season.”
    Ah ok. wow. nice attempt at not skewing things. So choosing a single year X to prove a point about years X,Y,Z, is justified since year Z has some issues? Wow. Is this the stats that you studied in school? Just asking since it may be fundamentally not your shortcoming.

    You see the stats that I have learned and by the logic that I was taught in school say that arbitrarily or even qualitatively selecting a sample to prove a point about the population is statistically wrong and it’s a logical fallacy. Plain and simple. It doesn’t hold water. Not in the world of academe. Not in the world where reason lives.

    Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 4:57 pm
    • I agree with you that his “Steve Nash is the Best Offesive Player Ever” argument has huge wholes. But you cannot just figure out which era has the best skills by using PER. While PER is a good tool to use and yes I understand it give the same value that the box score gives its stats. PER also is just plugging in stats from the box score into it’s formula.

      It’s a good tool, but their are a lot of flaws in it. Yes assists have rules to them but it is also a little bit of opinion. It doesn’t account for hockey assists, decoys, and all the other things that don’t go into the box score. You can’t base someone’s skill purely of off PER. I would say that Kobe is more skilled than LeBron or D-Wade offensively but PER wouldn’t.

      In those two eras you can’t statistically figure out which one was more skilled, because one’s gonna be playing against more skilled players. And while their is no hand checking, defenses are ridiculously prepared for teams nowadays with at least 100x more ways to analyze a player’s tendencies before a game.

      Player’s are much bigger, stronger and faster than before. There is no athletic equivalent from the nineties to LeBron or Blake Griffin. Or point guards like D-Rose and Russel Westbrook.

      With player’s skill sets just starting with Kobe Bryant offensively no one can match his skills. Not saying their aren’t better offensive players, but tell me what on the court can’t do and do well. He has mastered every shot from post play to shot fakes and leaners. Every shot that’s been attempted Kobe has probably done it. He even added Dirk’s one legged fade away and it almost looks as good the shot that people have been saying for years that no one can use that shot like Dirk.

      Speaking of Dirk name a more ridiculous offensive threat from the whole floor from the nineties that was seven foot. Duncan is the best power forward of all time nuff said. Even the passers of today are ridiculous. CP3, Nash and Rondo have stupid passing skills that rival Magic and I’m a Lakers fan that hates to admit it.

      The skill set now is definitely better than the nineties just from the fact that teams have so many tools to research player’s tendencies and what you wanna do to that player and they still figure out ways to show their brilliance. I’m not saying it’s a huge gap but it’s definitely there.

      “And let me address your obsession abt 3FG%. Tell me, when is it easier to shoot a three-ball: a) in an era where people are allowed to push u around with their forearms and grab you here and there, or b) in an era where players couldn’t be touched?”
      Seriously when are people putting up three pointers with a guy all over them unless the shot clock’s dwindling or the game is on the line and someone’s playing hero ball. This point was just idiotic man.

      Yes I know my points are flawed they have no statistical backing, but you cannot accurately measure someone skill with any of the advanced statistics at all. The sport of basketball has evolved like it or not when the hell have you ever seen a 6’11” player like Kevin Durant with skills like him and more players with unique skill sets and unrivaled athleticism are sure to come in the future.

      Posted by J | March 10, 2012, 7:08 pm
      • I understand how you feel as a fan, and your doubts abt stats. Like I said earlier, PER is just an example. But it’s not all, be-all…you cross-check with others, like win-shares, simple ratings, etc. However, you have to use discernment when making comparisons. As I told Lochpster before, if I am comparing the size of the Pacific ocean to an Olympic-size pool, it really wouldn’t matter if I use a toothpick or a super-accurate ruler. The order-of-magnitude difference will show itself. Now, if I am to compare two pools, one in Berlin and the other in Beijing, i probably need a really accurate measuring tool. Get the logic? Comparing Jordan’s era with today’s NBA won’t siginficantly differ with the use of any acceptable composite player index, if all we’re after is order-of-magnitude comparison, like which has generally better skilled players.

        Now, it’s going to be a totally different comparison when you want to zoom into the greater details, like how the top 5% of the 90s fare against top5% today. Firstly, these players are your stastical outliers to begin with so any normal distribution-based comparisons would be statistically inaccurate. These ‘black swans’ demand a more elaborate statistical analysis, probably a combination of leading and lagging metrics. Leading metrics are what sports science attempt to quantify and correlate to lagging metrics…these are your quickness on the first step, vertical leap, angular velocity in a spin move, wingspan, palm size, etc. Lagging metrics would be your typical counting stats such as fgm/fga, rebs, assists,etc. And quite possibly you use other analyses: spatial-temporal such as you literally break the players’ game down to each sq.foot of the bbal court and his per-min impact on and off the court. I’d do these if I have the resources to categorically compare the Lebrons, Jordans, et al of the NBA. But this level of analysis is an overkill to compare widely different NBA eras. It is not statistically warranted. I hope you understand this very important point abt statistics.

        Secondly, it wouldn’t help your case to highlight anecdotal evidencea of ‘great’ players today to denigrate the players in the 90s. Basketball is not just abt athleticism or pure strength or physical attribute. It’s abt basketball IQ and EQ as well. Basketball is also not settled on who could make the fanciest shot. That’s not the skill that matters in basketball. It’s abt efficiently and effectively making shots. In fact, I admire players who are economical in movement yet produce the same results. So don’t offer me Lebron, Kobe, Dirk and Durant and expect that I will acknowledge them as having no equals in the 90s. And pls…don’t expect me to believe that basketball analytics today had made basketball harder today. How is it harder whem the same data set is both available to both offensive and defensive players? And to assume that these analyses weren’t happening in the 90s is stupid. They do film sessions back then, do scouting as well. And no amount of defense preps today will create a scheme that would match the brutality and physicality of Bad Boy Pistons’ D. I suggest you watch the Pistons-Chicago playoff series to see for yourself rather than just imagine how different the league was back then.

        Just a food for thought: Jordan at 40yo put up all-star stats in your NBA without the hand-checking. I just couldn’t imagine what he’ll do in this NBA at his prime.i just couldn’t imagine how you’d defend Magic at point-guard. How will CP3 guard Magic, the ptguard who effectively played Center in a highly-physical NBA. How abt Reggie? The guy who scored 8pts in the last 8.9s? Or Rodman, who averaged ~ 15 rpg in consecutive yrs in Chicago. Or what Ulajuwon’s dream shake? Anyone close to having that array of moves under the basket? I could go on…and this is not to engange u in a ti-for-tat battle of anecdotes. Rather, this is meant to highlight the futility of this exercise. Only unbiased statistical analysis could compare eras, not anecdotal evidences.

        Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 9:28 pm
        • “Just a food for thought: Jordan at 40yo put up all-star stats in your NBA without the hand-checking.”

          Just to set some facts straight here – hand-checking was still allowed between 2001 and 2003. MJ never played in a non-HC NBA.

          On the other hand zone defense is allowed since 2001/2002.

          This means in MJ’s final 2 years as a Wizard both HC and zone defense were allowed in the NBA.

          Yet Jordan’s numbers (except of shooting efficiency) were pretty damn good.

          Posted by doosiolek | March 11, 2012, 12:33 am
          • I think changes regarding hand-checking started in 99-00. see this link:
            http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html

            Anyway, the point that we both agree on is that a 40 freaking year old Jordan was competitive in this NBA, refuting the unvalidated notion that the solid players from Jordan’s era (1984-1998)are less skilled than today’s players.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 4:55 am
      • “Player’s are much bigger, stronger and faster than before.”

        This simply isn’t true. Get your facts straight. Players are definitely smaller than before (no wonder because it is not big guys who benefited from the recent rule changes).

        Stronger? I don’t think so. Era between 1995 and 2005 witnessed the strongest players ever.

        So the only true point, which you cannot actually prove although I agree with it, is that they are faster, but they must be to benefit most from the new rules.

        “There is no athletic equivalent from the nineties to LeBron or Blake Griffin. Or point guards like D-Rose and Russel Westbrook.”

        Show me today’s equivalent of Magic, Shaq, David Robinson or Jordan himself?

        And D-Rose or Westbrook aren’t actually true point guards. They are rather “point” guards which means their primary role is to score and not to “playmake”.

        No wonder, the rule changes simply allowed these guys to be great scorers. Had Gary Payton played today he would have been better than D-Rose by a mile.

        Posted by doosiolek | March 11, 2012, 12:54 am
        • I surmise that you have watched the games in the 90s as I had.

          I was actually laughing off my seat when I saw some of the names that they offer. But I wouldn’t engage in that tit-for-tat comparisons anymore than what I have already done.

          The rules changes made NBA wimpier in my opinion.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 5:00 am
          • Agree – the rule changes gave too much power to the officials.

            Not so long ago I re-watched NBA Finals 1996 and NBA Finals 2010. What struck me was the amount of calls made by the officials in 2010. It’s like they did not allow the players to play.

            Regarding the hand-checking changes you’re right, it all started earlier, but HC wasn’t completely banned until 04/05.

            Actually the process of killing the defense started prior to 97/98 and finished in 06/07 when they introduced the following rule:

            “On a clear-path-to-the-basket foul, the team that is fouled is awarded two free throw attempt and the ball on the sideline.”

            Prior 00/01 in similar situation, the player received two free throws.

            Most of the rule changes from 97/08 until 06/07 were designed to give offensive freedom to quick, athletic wing players.

            And it paid off. I just don’t like this new NBA. As you said, it’s wimpier.

            Posted by doosiolek | March 11, 2012, 7:12 am
          • First off with D-Rose, Russel Westbrook, LeBron and Blake Griffin by no means was I saying they were more skilled haha hell no. I was just making the point of the athleticism getting better. Mainly what I think is the league as a whole is more skilled. You’re right I haven’t watched much nineties ball, but the thing that’s always made me laugh is the same people that say the league has become a pussy’s league, which I agree with, are the same people that get on a player for making a really hard foul when emotion get the best of them. Like Bynum knocking Barea some sense when he was talking that shit and came in the lane like a 7 foot monster wasn’t there. Or when Garnett is throwing his elbows around. I really do wish players could play physical ball like back in the day. I’m not trying to take anything away from nineties legends, I have watched tape and a lot of those players can’t be duplicated, but their are plenty of players that can’t be duplicated from today’s game also.

            The main reason why I brought up Durant was, because he’s 6’11” probably 7′ and has the skills of a guard. I don’t think that has truly been seen before at least not like him. If he could learn to use his physical gifts right to play d at elite level he could definitely dethrone Jordan as the best. I’m kinda of a fan of his if you could tell.

            I’m not trying to be biased I have only watched tape from the nineties this is true. But I still think from top to bottom this is a “slightly” more skilled era maybe at the top you could say the nineties had it, but you also would have to include Lakers dynasty Shaq, and Tim Duncan in the newer era also. But what I”m saying is the middle tier and 10-12 guys in the rotation are ridiculous when you compare them to guys from the nineties.

            I’ve admitted that I haven’t watch as much nineties ball as I could have if I was born a decade earlier, but I am more educated in it than I think your giving me credit for. I’m love basketball, you could even say I’m obsessed with it. I’ve probably watched as much 80′s 90′s basketball you can without actually being around for it. So please don’t compare me to the “kids” that are comparing me too. While I don’t know as much about as you do about it, I know much more than most fans from my generation.

            I have mad respect for that era of basketball. Now according to many writers I don’t take them too seriously, but I’ve heard a lot of people compare LeBron to Magic. A better Shaq was around even if he was less athletic for the Lakers Dynasty. Of course their are no equals to Robinson, because Big Men lack skill nowadays, and Jordan haha nah got nothing.

            Actually forgive me for this, but I might have to just agree with you guys haha. I’m going through the names and yeah the amount of skilled players from the nineties eclipses the ones from today, but I’m still saying man watch out for that Durant fellow he could be ridiculous one day, if he could learn to play some d with them lanky arms and his speed he could a defensive nightmare. But I can’t get caught up in the if he does this or that been saying that about LeBron for years too, but yeah he hasn’t quite lived up to it. I guess sometimes you just gotta run shit through your head before you see the answer.

            And no offense Jevan, I know you’re more arguing about the way you got to the conclusion that Steve Nash is the best offensive player ever. But really he’s not even the best of his generation and comparing him to Michael, Magic whatever it may be you’re gonna fall short. The way you got to it was iffy from the beginning. I think you could he gets the most out of what he has around him. But him himself is not the best offensive player, he’s probably up there in the fact that he could go off for fifty if he wanted to he has the skills, and he could go for 30 assists if he tried in his prime. But that’s just hypothetical, overall he doesn’t hold a candle to the greatest offensive minds ever.

            Posted by J | March 11, 2012, 12:16 pm
  22. Jourdan,

    You are still not getting it. Quit being childishly emotional, calm down and really listen. Let me go through this again…

    When I say Steve Nash’s offenses are the greatest offenses in history..and I operationally define that as Steve Nash’s offenses are the greatest offenses relative to his era what i’m saying is the following.

    The Phoenix Suns/Mavs Offenses are the greatest offenses relative to the era they played in.

    THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING.

    So now, to go back to your analogy.

    “- Group A, comprising of Pedro, Juan, and Santiago, has posted 2.3 STD DEV from the Mexican average
    - Group B, comprising of Peter, John, and James, has posted 2 STD DEV from the American average
    - With your ranking, I could then rank Group A on top of Group B and then make the conclusion that Group A is the taller team compared to Group B.
    d. Now, we check Group A since we need to know who’s the tallest guy, not the tallest team. We see that Pedro’s towering at 6’8? over Juan’s 5’7? and Santiago’s 5’8?.”

    In your analogy group A IS the tallest group RELATIVE to their country.

    Do you understand that NO ONE is saying anything other than Nash’s teams were the best RELATIVE to their era than any other team?

    Do you agree that Nash’s teams are the best offensively relative to their era’s than any other team?

    If your answer is yes than you agree with me and you’ve wasted your entire time building a fictitious argument against a straw man argument that no one was saying.

    Since the goal was to find out which team was the best relative to it’s era (remember that’s the only goal here) and the statistic measures exactly that..i.e, what it intended to measure..then it is statistically valid.

    Capiche?

    Also, I DARE you to find a single operational definition of greatest offense that doesn’t somehow have the Nash led offenses as the best ever…Go for it.

    As for your musings on PER, it comes down to this as to why you are confused:

    “So please stop the bull crap abt me saying PER “on average” changes blah blah. I never said any of that. As I have said, if half (that means 50%) of the players in Jordan Era have PERs higher than half of the players today, that simply says that that Era has a lot more skilled players compared to today. ”

    No it does not. It just means their would have been greater parity between the rich and the poor today than there was then.

    PER is nothing but a measure of how you do against the opponents you play against. You cannot extrapolate it to a different sample.

    I’ll give you an example. I’ll calculate my PER from my rec league game on friday night.

    I’ll use Wayne Winston’s formula that explains 99% of the variation in PER.

    “45.75*(Points/Minute)+22.55*(Rebounds/Minute)+32.8*(Assists/Minute)+58.2*(Steals/Minute)-48.65*(Turnovers/Minute) -39.73*(Missed FG’s per minute) -20.6*(Missed FT per minute)+38.37*(Blocked Shots Per Miute)-18.68*(Personal Fouls Per Minute)”

    “45.75*(17/23)+22.55*(2/23)+32.8*(3/23)+58.2*(2/23)-48.65*(4/23) – 39.73 * (1/23)- 20.6 * (5/23) -18.68*(2/23)=29.48

    My rec league PER is approx. 29.48. MVP numbers in the NBA.

    Could I reproduce those numbers in the NBA? Of course not. PER is only germane to the competition you play against.

    “Oh, so is this some hypothetical team then? A hypothetical team that outpus some league average numbers? Or does this correspond to any REAL team? Just asking…since I see that you tend to confuse mean, median, etc. ”

    This is the league average. The MEAN.

    “And your point is? Again, 3-point shooting isn’t the only shot known to man. There’s also the 2-point shot in case you haven’t seen one. Consider this: Team A makes 20 treys, 5 2-pointers, that’d be 70 points. Team B makes 0 treys, 40 2-pointers, totaling 80-points. Who’s the better team? Now, let’s extrapolate this further…Team A belongs to League A that posts 3FG% = 50%, but makes 90 points on average. League B posts a dismal 30% 3FG%, but makes 120 points on average. Which is the better league?”

    In 2011 the players in the NBA shot the 3 pointer at 36%. That comes out to 1.06 points per shot.

    The league averaged around 46% on 2p shots. Coming out to .92 points per shot.

    Therefore, the 3 point shot is the better shot statistically than the two point shots, so far as you can make it more than 32% of the time.

    “Ah ok. wow. nice attempt at not skewing things. So choosing a single year X to prove a point about years X,Y,Z, is justified since year Z has some issues? Wow. Is this the stats that you studied in school? Just asking since it may be fundamentally not your shortcoming.

    You see the stats that I have learned and by the logic that I was taught in school say that arbitrarily or even qualitatively selecting a sample to prove a point about the population is statistically wrong and it’s a logical fallacy. Plain and simple. It doesn’t hold water. Not in the world of academe. Not in the world where reason lives.”

    See this is where you are not thinking rationally and it is hard not to be condescending towards you.

    By picking out 1992-1993, I am not choosing that arbitrarily. I am giving Jordan’s era THE BEST POSSIBLE year. I took the best year 3 point shooting wise from the NBA during MJ’s Chicago career (not including the years where the 3 point line was moved two feet closer in) to compare to and it still doesn’t come close to holding water versus today’s game.

    Your analysis and critique of my arguments is so way off it is astounding.

    “Just a food for thought: Jordan at 40yo put up all-star stats in your
    NBA without the hand-checking. I just couldn’t imagine what he’ll do in this NBA at his prime”

    Depends on the stats..

    Using Win Shares, MJ put up below average WS per 48 minutes in his final year.

    Using adjusted plus/minus MJ was slightly above average offensively in 2003, and below average in 2002.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 10, 2012, 11:11 pm
  23. @ UN0/J,

    Here are some stats between Jordan’s Era and today’s NBA.

    Today Jordan Advantage
    FG 36.44 39.97 Jordan Era
    FGA 80.62 84.95 Jordan Era

    3P 5.90 3.10 Today
    3PA 16.53 9.13 Today

    FT 18.86 20.87 Jordan Era
    FTA 24.94 27.76 Jordan Era

    ORB 11.47 13.71 Jordan Era
    DRB 30.25 29.06 Today
    TRB 41.73 42.79 Jordan Era

    AST 21.34 24.25 Jordan Era
    STL 7.46 8.53 Jordan Era
    BLK 4.88 5.23 Jordan Era

    TOV 14.50 16.29 Today
    PF 21.56 23.31 Jordan Era

    PTS 97.68 103.91 Jordan Era
    FG% 0.45 0.47 Jordan Era
    3P% 0.36 0.33 Today
    FT% 0.76 0.75 Today

    PACE 91.40 96.25 Jordan Era
    Ortg 106.04 107.17 Jordan Era

    Data is from http://www.basketball-reference.com.

    I refer to Jordan era as 1984 – 1998 and Today’s NBA as starting 2001 (when the defense rule changes came into full effect).

    Looking the the league averages above, it doesn’t look good for kids in this board. Seems their league isn’t as good as Jordan’s NBA across-the-board.

    There are interesting stats above – FG%, pace and ORtg. Despite the hand-checking and physical defense in Jordan’s NBA, the ave. number of possessions is higher, and players are more efficient at converting them to scores as well.

    And the disparity in 3P% is not as bad as advertised. 33% vs. 36% in terms of 3P%, especially considering that 3-points in Jordan’s NBA only constitute 9% of the total team points as opposed to 18% in today’s game. I could even make an argument here that today’s reliance on 3-pt shots may not be a good thing.

    Both eras also match up well at the FT line.

    I will try to get the stats on PERs. That won’t be easy since that’s a huge load of data. Hopefully, there would be calculated data readily available. But if there’s none, I could just calculate them.

    Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 7:25 am
    • Sorry…I mistakenly included season 98-99 in the Jordan Era. I have taken that out here:

      Stat Today Jordan Advantage

      FG 36.44 40.39 Jordan Era
      FGA 80.62 85.43 Jordan Era

      3P 5.90 3.00 Today
      3PA 16.53 8.84 Today

      FT 18.86 21.01 Jordan Era
      FTA 24.94 27.90 Jordan Era

      ORB 11.47 13.79 Jordan Era
      DRB 30.25 29.06 Today
      TRB 41.73 42.86 Jordan Era

      AST 21.34 24.50 Jordan Era
      STL 7.46 8.54 Jordan Era
      BLK 4.88 5.24 Jordan Era

      TOV 14.50 16.36 Today
      PF 21.56 23.39 Jordan Era

      PTS 97.68 104.79 Jordan Era
      FG% 0.45 0.47 Jordan Era
      3P% 0.36 0.33 Today
      FT% 0.76 0.75 Today

      PACE 91.40 96.78 Jordan Era
      Ortg 106.04 107.52 Jordan Era

      Same results anyway. Other interesting points btw:
      - The lowest League ave ORtg during the Jordan Era is 105
      (vs 102.9 in today’s NBA)

      - The highest ORtg during the Jordan Era is 108.3, which happened 5 times (which is the same as in today’s NBA but it only happened once in 2008-2009 season)

      - Today’s game couldn’t even get 95 possessions per 48 minutes, which the league had achieved from ’84 to ’94.

      How these kids think that their league is better overall is beyond me.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 7:46 am
    • Very interesting to say the least, what’s been said ad nauseum is that today’s teams do in fact rely on the 3pt shoot more today, for example look at Kobe’s attempts to Jordan’s. The propensity for Kobe to hit 3′s and attempt them only hurt his overall FG% — when midrange is most effective that’s why Jordan among other things had a higher FG%, it’s not to say Kobe doesn’t have his game, but the overreliance on the outside shooting is simply going to hurt you overall.

      One aspect of the Jordan era that is also quite interesting is the higher scoring output, a lot of this is you can correlate to the more 3pt attempts 18% in today’s game 2:1 ratio minus the style, talent in the league etc.

      Strictly based on the empirical evidence, and the great disparity in the 3pt shooting, you can also go into why there are less shot attempts overall, 3pt shots also account for more defensive rebounds as teams can go in the fast break. There is more to it than just perimeter shooting but it’s a very notable idea and brings forth more good discussions about the NBA and how talent may or may not actually have a part when in reality we can draw conclusions from the bad shot selection of today’s bball.

      Great stats Jourdan you killed it.

      Posted by UN0 | March 11, 2012, 7:47 am
      • It’s quite telling why the writer insists on 3P%…it’s the only stat that today’s NBA has at least an edge over Jordan’s NBA.

        Advice to everyone: Information is accessible. So please stop the intellectual dishonesty, fallacy, and misuse of stats since they’re easily verifiable, if it comes to that. Nitpicking’s a cheap trick.

        Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 8:12 am
      • I’m sorry man but mid-range shots are most inefficient shot. They open up other looks, but it has been recorded that they are very inefficient.

        Posted by J | March 11, 2012, 6:02 pm
  24. Just an observation here.. out of the top 10 teams in the best offensive ranking, how many of those went on to win a championship what percentage did? The Bucks and Lakers? Both had great PG’s, the Bucks also had Kareem the most prolific scorer in league’s recorded history right — the best achievement that the league bestows? This argument is pertinent in every way in terms of who’s also better offensively against other defensive teams. How will Nash do vs the best defensive teams? How did his statistically offensively superior teams fare vs the best defensive teams did it highlight his offensive superiority or did it simply imply that since he made “others better” that he, benefitted as a result of his playmaking ability? Which brings me to this next premise.

    Since the 1987 Lakers for instance won a championship, does it not in fact mean that since he was statistically offensively superior despite the fact Magic had a better offensive output in 1987 when such things like handchecking etc were allowed, than Nash? Allow me to refer you to this comparison

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=nashst01&y1=2004&p2=johnsma02&y2=1987

    There you will see a Nash 2004 output vs a 1987 Magic comparison, who had the best FG% and best shooting? Nash had better 3pt shooting.. and who won a championship? Nash had 108 3p’s made to Magic’s 8, Magic is no 3pt maker or nothing else, but his assists total didn’t preclude him from not being offensive or derail him from being an opportune scoring machine himself, (isn’t the ranking based on both offense for 2 pg’s in diff eras?) Magic pts: 1909 to Nash 1128. Playoff pts for Magic: 392 – 1909 = 1517.. accounting for Nash’s lack of playoff exp.

    Why did I use Magic and 1987 to compare him to Nash who is considered the best offensive player ever by the writer? Well Magic was in the list one time, he was superior everywhere else but 3pt shooting, Nash is superior in that category, he still outlasted Nash even without playoff points..

    Also check out Magic’s TS% percentage 52% to Nash’s 47%.

    I am not going to break this down mathematically, to adjust for why Nash had a lower TS% given his propensity to rely on the 3 pt shot thus unloading his percentages overall, like Kobe for instance. Those numbers are respectable for Nash still.

    So even when you break it down overall, much like the 3pt shooting 2pt shooting debate up top, Magic was superior offensively, Nash was just a better superior from range, so was for example Steve Kerr, 48% FG & 45% 3pt shooter, if Rajon Rondo gets Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, Bynum, and Monta Ellis for example in a team, he will likely propel whatever hypothetical team to be included in the top 10 rank, Bynum is a high % shooter, Iguodala is a cutter like Amare, Blake Griffin is a rebounder and scorer and Monta is a high clip shooter too… So what I’m saying is although Nash is a better shooter, Nash, the player is not offensively superior than Magic. Remember Magic had a TS% of 60 in the playoffs, 60!. This number if adjusted to Nash, vs the Celtics how would he fare?

    Listen to what is being surmised here by the writer, that since Nash had statistically superior offensive teams reoccuring in the 2000′s, none of which were in the 90′s where hand checking and hard defense was a commonality in the NBA, Nash appeared once again he was surrounded by and was part of 5 players who averaged double digit field goal attempts? No wonder that team with Ant Jamison, Dirk and 3 more players who averaged 14 ppg were scoring 105 ppg a game!

    Switch the premise, if Lebron were part of that team, he’s averaging just shy of 8.8 for Nash that season, if he had Jamison in the prime of his career a high % midrange shooter, Dirk a 7 footer, Finley and Antoine Walker in the primes of their careers, — are you telling me Lebron because he had let’s say for the sake of argument, he lost those guys mid-season and got Amare/Shawn Marion great pick and roll combinations, wouldn’t Lebron also make the list as well? He’s a 28 ppg or so scorer can’t we also say given the metrics that he would appear as many times as Nash did in the top 10? And isn’t it fair to also say that if Rondo had great pick and roll combinations, that he would also make the list as well? In a 10 year period, if he had Lebron James, Griffin, Kevin Love, and some other solid shooting guard, won’t he also get his team to the top 10 multiple times as well? Check the rankings and see where he is today. Rondo doesn’t have the 3pt shot like Nash, much like Magic, he went to the 2008 finals and won a ring despite all of this, not a top 10 offensive team, but much like Magic, he had great role players.. Despite the fact Nash is a great shooter he is not as great offensive as we make him out to be, his teams are great, and he’s a great pick and role player, but Magic had superior stats aside the 3pt shooting. If Magic were playing today he’d be torching the league as well maybe 25-27 ppg and 8-9 assists look at Lebron.

    Posted by UN0 | March 11, 2012, 7:26 am
    • Agree with you. Even when zooming only on Nash vs. Magic, it’s easily settled that Magic will thrash Nash as an offensive machine. It’s all but easy to see this.

      Nash is not a physical specimen like Magic. His physical attributes won’t match Magic. And in a league that puts premium on athleticism and raw talent, Magic already has the edge.

      He keeps on wiggling out of the conundrum that he’s in by using this whole BS abt “operational definition” as an excuse…

      Well, he just compared Nash and Magic not as relative to their respective eras, but to each other! The writer wrote “xxx…Are you also forgetting the 2006 PHOENIX SUNS? …That lineup had a Z-score of 2.31 SD’s above the league average. The 1987 LAKERS had a Z-score 2.33 SD’s above the league average. Almost identical. Tell me how is it possible that these TWO STARTING LINEUPS ARE EQUIVALENT OFFENSIVELY unless Steve Nash is an offensive God?…xxx”

      This is stupid. Two teams with the same std dev from their league averages don’t mean they’re offensively equivalent.

      And even when exposed, he’d still not concede this statistical blunder. Truly amazing act.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 8:01 am
      • Exactly the point, of my premise which is one I point to. Since Magic is a specimen doesn’t that preclude him from also being a good/superior scorer than Nash? Yes it’s unfair but the same is said about Nash who enjoyed a handful of above average supporting role players. Its what I said about Lebron and Kobe, it’s unfair to point it out but Lbj is a specimen, Kobe is not, it does influence and directly affect the statistics.. but on one flawed argument made by the writer, he’s focusing on 3-4 or whatever amount of offensive teams to tell us Nash is, when Magic although a specimen is superior than Nash overall, even when you consider how we key on the 3pt ability of a player. Nash is great but let’s not call him the greatest please. I’ll say this much, he’s one of the best offensive players, but NOT the best. That’s just not backed up any physical attribute, or even metric in many instances.

        Posted by UN0 | March 11, 2012, 8:34 am
  25. LOL, Jourdan

    All you are doing is helping to PROVE my point my friend.

    Let me ask you a question. Am I able to put a PER of 29.48 in my rec league because I’m an NBA MVP level talent, or is it because I’m playing against atrocious defenders?

    Do you understand the very simple concept that it is easier to put up great offensive numbers against inferior defenses?

    It was already brought up on this thread before that offensive ratings and FG% and the like were higher in the 80′s. Everybody knows this. It is common knowledge. I have no idea why you wasted all that time posting numbers that everyone knows.

    Everyone also knows, apparently except you, the reason why. And it’s not because players were better back than. Basketball isn’t the one sport in the world where the athletes get worse over time. Every sport, track, swimming, cycling, football, the athletes get better over time as the sport grows in popularity. There is a consensus amongst players, coaches, Gm’s, David Stern that players now are more skilled and athletic than ever.

    The reason that offensive numbers were better in the 80′s and–everyone knows this. is because…

    DEFENSES SUCKED.

    Let’s take an example that you constantly bring up. The Bad Boy Pistons. The 1990 championship Bad Boy Pistons had a defensive rating that year of 103.5.

    103.5.

    That would rank 23rd in the NBA today. The Bad Boy Pistons were as effective defensively as the 2011 Golden State Warriors.

    Do you understand that when the BEST defensive team you will play all year is only as good as the 2011 Warriors that it is pretty easy to put up some great offensive numbers?

    It’s a simple concept.

    Do you understand that Nash’s teams put up BETTER offensive rating’s (regular season + playoffs ) than
    Magic’s Lakers despite playing against superior defenses?

    Do you see how that is a plus in my favor?

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 11, 2012, 9:20 am
    • I will get to your “PER-busting” comments whenever. It’s easier to do this when there’s data as the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Suffice to say that you’re rehashing this stupid notion that the reason why you can’t compare PERs between your league and the NBA also holds true for the comparison between NBA today and 90′s. I already said that your league is way too different from the NBA such that any comparison based on a normalised stat is statistically going to be weak; that your league and the NBA won’t satisfy any comparison test that will confidently meet the null hypothesis. The comparison between the NBA using a normalised stat, esp when the gap years are only abt 5 yrs, is possible since the 2 sets would not greatly vary. I wonder why this simple concept – hypothesis testing, which I already posted before when I even explain that you misunderstood what scaling to 15 was, escapes you.

      Glad you brought up the “everybody knows the ’80s….” card. It confuses me that you lay down this trump card now when you have nitpicked a counting stat from the same era and didn’t bother to mention anything abt defense blah blah. You just simply picked a yr, took out 3P%, compared it conveniently to today’s figure, and then voila! Today’s NBA is more skilled! Wow. But now, with the ORtg, all of the sudden that’s not valid anymore since defenses sucked! Amazing.

      You see, an across-the-board comparison is far better than a single-parameter comparison, since like I said before, 3P shot is not the only shot invented. And fundametally, you just don’t look at efficiency, you also check the volume figure at which an efficiency figure is associated with. Looking at the actual counting stats, which btw, are the composites of vol x eff, Jordan’s era seem to be better or at par with today’s league. Amazingly you’d brought up one stat (again) to downplay everything else.

      Admittedly, what I offered are very rough figures, basic counting stats plus the pace, ORtg. I’ll work on this more and unearth win shares, plus/minus, etc. We’ll get to those.

      But it’s no denying that you spin nos here. You’re wiggling your way out of the stupid comparison of offenses across eras by using std devs calc for specifc eras and then promote single yr, single stats to compare eras. Such intellectual dishonesty. It’s amazing. Really.

      But unlike others, you wiggle your way cleverly with logical fallacies that are far complex that ad hominems. I salute for that. Nice job! Lol

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 2:16 pm
    • Also please take the DRtg with the grain of salt. I wonder why you don’t have the same level of skepticism against DRtg as with ORtg or any other counting stats that don’t favor your biased opinion?

      Anyway, could it be that it’s not that defenses sucked? That the DRtg in the Jordan era also speaks vol abt how good offenses are?

      And pls, stop labelling Jordan’s yrs as the 80′s. The data set contain more points in the 90s including the years that Jordan was out of the NBA. That’ not the 80′s.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 2:43 pm
      • Now, let’s get to the meat of it. What is PER?

        Firstly, you calculate the unadjusted PER. The equation for uPER is:

        uPER = 1/min *(3P + [2/3*ast] + [(2 – factor *(tmAST/tmFG))*FG] + [FT *0.5*(1+(1-(tmAST/tmFG))+ 2/3*(tmAST/tmFG))] – [VOP*TO] – [VOP*DRBP*(FGA – FG)] – [VOP*0.44*(0.44+(0.56*DRBP))*(FTA – FT)] + [VOP*(1-DRBP)*(TRB-ORB)] + [VOP*DRBP*ORB] + [VOP*STL] + [VOP*DRBP*BLK] – [PF*((lgFT/lgPF) – 0.44*(lgFTA/lgPF)*VOP))])

        where,
        factor = (2/3) – [(0.5*lgAST/lgFG)/(2*lgFG/lgFT))]

        VOP = [lgPTS/(lgFGA – lgORB + lgTO + 0.44*lgFTA)]

        DRBP = [(lgTRB –lgORB)/lgTRB]

        Finally, PER is derived by factoring in effects of team pace and then scaling it such that the statistical mean PER = 15.

        PER = [uPER*(lgPace/tmPace)]*(15/lguPER)

        So, why do I need to write the REAL PER equation? Because this fundamentally conveys that PER is a TRANSFORMED parameter. However, PER follows the probability distribution of uPER.

        And what’s so significant abt uPER? It is a LINEAR PARAMETER. And from math, linear parameters can be compared, transformed, and scaled using appropriate CONSTANTS!

        This mathematical truth when translated to basketball parlance conveys this: PERs computed from a data set can be compared to PERs computed from another data set provided that scaling factors, i.e., constants, and that BOTH PERs are referred to the same base.

        So please quit the BS abt PERs not being useable for comparisons across years. THIS IS STUPID FROM MATHEMATICAL PERSPECTIVE. Anyone who supports this bull crap is unable to understand mathematics.

        Ah, but since some people here would rather choose to venerate “stat-gurus” without the benefit of understanding, I will provide a link to a “gospel” preaching that PER could be used indeed for inter-year comparisons, especially when we are talking abt the SAME LEAGUE. Here’s the link

        http://www.hardwoodparoxysm.com/2012/03/understanding-advanced-statistics-player-efficiency-rating/

        Quoting the writer “xxx…Adjusting for pace allows us to compare players ACROSS DIFFERENT ERAS and STYLES OF PLAY…xxx”. Since a “stat-guru” with a website has said it, I hope people will be “enlightened” now.

        Oh yeah, there are differences between eras…but you could use some discernment to qualitatively judge whether the data sets are more similar than different, such that you don’t even need to scale IF all you are looking for are order-of-magnitude comparison, such as what I was proposing to compare the relative skills of the league during Jordan’s time and today. Determining the top 50% from the two eras that has a better average PER over the other do not require nitty-gritty scaling. Just looking at the two eras, Jordan’s era and today’s NBA are practically the same. Looking at the counting stats, the change in league averages has not exceeded 15%. Hence, since PER is linear and every counting stat only contributes a very small fraction to the PER, I wouldn’t expect any inaccuracy larger than 15%.

        And now, let me show you the constants calculated for each parameter in uPER for Jordan’s era (1984 – 1998) and Today’s NBA (2001 – 2010):

        Today Jordan’sParameter
        3 3 P
        0.67 0.67 AST
        2 2 FG
        -0.59 -0.59 (tmAST/tmFG)*FG
        1 1 FT
        -0.33 -0.33 FT*(tmAST/tmFG)
        -1.03 -1.05 TO
        -0.75 -0.72 (FGA-FG)
        -0.38 -0.38 (FTA-FT)
        0.28 0.33 (TRB-ORB)
        0.75 0.72 ORB
        1.03 1.05 STL
        0.75 0.72 BLK
        -0.35 -0.34 PF

        From the above, it is very easy to visually check that the “Era effect” will be miniscule, probably even negligible. The constants differ very slightly, which means that the notion that today’s league is ‘different’ from Jordan’s era is more fiction than truth.

        Given that the two uPER equations look very similar, I don’t even need to correct the PERs for pace, if all I am after is an order-of-magnitude comparison.

        Also, please stop the bull crap abt having more player today with PER > 15 than what I have shown earlier. I just got that from the web. You people could check the data yourselves.

        http://www.hoopsstats.com/basketball/fantasy/nba/playerstats/12/1/eff/1-1

        Again, don’t confuse MEAN with MEDIAN. The uPER was scaled so that the statistical mean for PER = 15. This does NOT mean that 50% of the league will have PER > 15. Again, the scaling doesn’t change the probability distribution of uPER. So if that is skewed, then it stays skewed. And it’s evident that uPER and PER are skewed; more players have PER > 15, which correlates with reality – lots of mortals and only a few superstars.

        I hope this PER debacle is clear now. If anyone is still confused, the best course of action is to enrol in a course in math. Not even stats, just basic algebraic mathematics.

        Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 7:16 am
        • sorry, that should read ‘more players have PER > 15, which correlates with reality – lots of mortals and only a few superstars.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 7:21 am
          • I don’t know what’s wrong but it’s not displaying it properly…so I’ll just say it in plain english:

            more players have PER LESS THAN 15 with very few players having PERs VERY MUCH LARGER THAN 15, which correlates with reality – lots of mortals and only a few superstars.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 7:27 am
    • Now that I data, I will reply to your PER BS.

      Firstly, your formula for PER is WRONG. Let me refresh your memory of what you wrote:

      PER = 45.75*(Points/Minute)+22.55*(Rebounds/Minute)+32.8*(Assists/Minute)+58.2*(Steals/Minute)-48.65*(Turnovers/Minute) -39.73*(Missed FG’s per minute) -20.6*(Missed FT per minute)+38.37*(Blocked Shots Per Miute)-18.68*(Personal Fouls Per Minute)

      THIS IS WRONG.The one who probably derived this equation was very specific to what he was analyzing. The factors that he used were likely to have been calculated from a very specific data set, since these factors are calculated from PARAMETER TOTALS – season totals, playoffs totals, career totals, etc.

      Hence, unless these factors are calculated using YOUR LEAGUE TOTALS, you can’t use this to calculated your PER.

      It pains me to see whenever people don’t understand what they are saying. I give you props though for having so confident about them…you’re oozing with confidence, that’s always good when you’re no good.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 6:30 am
  26. Why did you also waste your time analyzing Steve Nash’s worst playoff performance vs Magic’s best as if that is any kind of legit comparison?

    Who do you think you are fooling? Yes Nash had a 47% TS in 2004. That was his worst year, by far. An anomaly. And you didn’t think you would get caught doing this.

    Why did you not choose the year 2010 when Nash had a TS% of .634 in the playoffs?

    Because it would have made your argument look bad?

    Nash is and by a landslide the greatest shooter in NBA history. I refer you to this Hollinger article …

    http://valleyofthesuns.com/2010/03/10/steve-nash-is-the-best-shooter-of-all-time/

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 11, 2012, 9:32 am
    • Yup, Nash is one of the best pure shooters. Give credit where it is due.

      But to conclude Nash as better than Magic in terms of their overall offense? that’s a totally different ballgame.

      And sadly, your ‘air-tight’ arguments are leaking of fallacies such that this Nash vs. Magic debate is all but settled.

      Arguing that Nash is the better one purely bec of his impact on his team is just unfairly penalizing Magic for having better teammates.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 5:08 pm
      • Exactly .. the rooting interest is based on an overall efficiency ranking which is respectable, but since playoffs are of a different style, offense tends to dissipate. If Nash was as disciplined offensively and as brilliant as some have said, it would behoove us to ignore the final thing that would in fact cement him as a great offensive player, in the total sense of the word.

        Past is prologue right? Where is the hardware to back it up? He got MVPs and all of that… such is the farce of an airtight argument.

        Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 12:30 am
    • Not at all, the 2004 year was picked at random since your argument is based on a ranking, hence I pick any year – where according to you, as a repetition it merits his being an innately fabulous offensive player, while Magic who did not benefit from being in “offensively” superior teams in the top 10 anyway, he by far surpassed him. Can you also report how many times Nash was above, at or around Magic’s hish TS%? Why hence did you pick 2010 when he had a 63% TS% in the playoffs arent you distorting my argument and using it as a strawman argument? You are the one using rankings to support whats inherently a personal achievement or recognition.. Yes there is merit to the offensive team argument but it’s not an end all be all argument in the least that’s where your argument falls short.

      I don’t get the point about me picking 2004, or the reasoning against using it to be honest with you, if the repetition was an epiteth as a means to describe him as a home-run offensive runner, well there are legs to the argument, but he had great casts around him as well, so did Magic in 1987.

      BTW you ignored my premise that if Rondo had guys in the primes of their careers that he would also be in the top 10 for offense, John Stockton had Karl Malone, Nash had several offensively opposing players btw, good luck refuting this notion.

      Answer my question how would Nash fare vs defensive talent and not averages that do highlight him as a great player? What’s his record in the slowed down game of the playoffs even when he had good role players? You don’t answer it because it diminishes Nash as an offensively imposing player – it’s easier to look at his record from the regular season whilst ignoring playoffs stats.. why didn’t include playoff stats as well? It would behoove you to develop an argument and derive a rank of his offense from the playoffs because defense, and style is different and he can’t exploit it as you say he does Jevan. I have not looked at any such ranking based on efficiency, and this type from the playoffs, but why didn’t you include it? It just begs the question since that’s the time where defense is harder to breakdown and the style doesn’t benefit a Nash guy with pick and roll high offense, guys.

      Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 12:22 am
      • If the comparison isn’t legit why are you making it not be legit? According to you Jevan repetition conventionally argues the rest for you, why can’t one season hold up despite the fact it’s not his best year?

        I had an epiphany, I picked 1 year at random you picked one year at random, so because you refuted it by using another year where he did have a high TS% in 2010 as you said, why I can’t use Magic’s sole appearance in the top 10? I have a bunch of years to pick from but only 1 sample size for Magic so the 10 ranking is false in terms of being an accurate tool to dispense whether or not this is a noteworthy means to conclude something.

        As I said, Magic went to the Finals and had a 60% vs the Celtics… Celtics, do you have any idea what this means?

        Here is another year 2009 http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=nashst01&y1=2009&p2=johnsma02&y2=1987

        Nash vs 1987 Magic, pick every year vs Magic .. you could come up with any way to compare him, does it mean Magic was not offensive imposing? Magic was avg’ing 23.9 ppg once, how many times was Nash averaging that much in a high volume? Michael Beasley is a high % 3pt shooter this season, look at Ron Artests 3pt%… if you computed both shooting 10 3ptrs a game, Beasley would end up the higher shooter because he took the best shots right? His high % shooting comes from shooting the best shots, not at a volume, where Metta’s skills are diminishing, Magic on the other hand was still holding up well.

        Magic 13 seasons 17707 pts
        Nash 16 seasons 16389 pts — season is ongoing still has not reached Magic, even with high 3pt% shooting even with 50% FG shooting.

        Refute that my man.

        Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 12:40 am
        • Good job!

          hook, line and sinker! I was actually salivating to jump in on his allegations abt your “nitpicking”.

          It’s easy to ensnare these kids. You just create a logical trap, hide your intentions for a while, and then let them burn themselves.

          It’s amusing really to see themselves wiggle out of a logical conundrum with very little chance of getting out.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 6:20 am
          • No doubt. The real title of this article should be revised to denote the fallback antithesis “greatest shooter in NBA history”.

            A more prevalent argument can be made there.

            That’s folks.

            Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 7:28 am
          • That’s all folks I meant to say

            Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 7:31 am
  27. That last comment was directed at UNO btw.

    Posted by Jevan Pradas | March 11, 2012, 9:38 am
    • Btw why not take into account, things pertinent to offense as well, rebounds, offensive rebounds, total points scored, ppg averages. Magic was unarguably better for a team, that’s why he has the hardware to back it up.. that stuff is also important to deduct how one is offensive as well. So Nash gets a pass because he doesn’t have the height to get oRebs?

      The article is worded incorrectly, it should be in reality called Nash: Best shooter of all time. Then you have less holes to fill.. this article reeks of easily refuted notions, starting with generalizing offensive populations from a compiled list. Yeah Nash ranks high in a lot of thngs, but use your head, Nash as some have said, is not going to get you 30-40 pts a game can he? Look at how many times he had 30-40 pts and win shares things like that.. was he even the best player in the compilation of best offensive teamS?

      Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 1:00 am
  28. Jevan, nice first article. It’s amazing how much energy and time some of these posters put in to distort your points. Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Lochpster | March 11, 2012, 1:37 pm
    • Distort? How? Lyk highlighting these 2 fallacies to refute the conclusions:

      1. The ranking and consequent comparative analysis of NBA offenses are farcical since it is statistically invalid to ordinally rank samples from different populations based on the std devs from their population means. This is sacrilege in math. Any operational definition that attempts to ordinally rank samples this way is mathematically wrong.

      2. The conclusion derived from RAPMs that is true for a very small sub-set cannot be logically extend to the entirety of the NBA, past and present.

      Is it I who distorted facts or someone else?

      Amazing that the writer whines abt the use of counting stats to compare Jordan’s era and today’s game yet blatantly commit statistically invalid comparisons across eras by using the wrong metric. Amazing how he argues ardently abt PER being only applicable within a sample, yet ‘operationally’ adopting a metric that is PROVEN to be only useable for comparisons within samples, i.e, standard deviation, to ordinally rank and/or propose equivalence of team offenses across eras. What a display of logical consistency. But yeah, none of these matter to you since all you’re after is some relief on your bruised ego. Now, go look for stats to support your claim that Chandler’s elite. I heard the Martians had developed a sophisticated stat to support you. Now, fly to Mars! Lol

      Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 4:33 pm
  29. Jourdan, you make some good pts. and then you make some really bad pts.

    The stats you’re offering are all relative to the era in which they played in. If in jordan’s era, you think defenses were awesome yet the DRtg values were bad, then you come to the conclusion that the offenses were absolutely amazing then. However, if you think that in jordan’s era, that defenses were bad, then naturally offenses would have an easier time scoring.

    You can’t use DRtg in 1990 or whatever year you choose and compare to the DRtg’s of today, and expect to have any logical analysis or conclusion from that in order to decide which year contained the more skilled players. It’s all relative to that particular year.

    All we know is that DRtg’s have improved a lot since 20-25 years ago. What are some possibilities of this? Offenses could be worse or defenses could be better. There’s arguments to be made for each side potentially.

    I think it’s obvious and as does jevan that the athletes of today are much more athletic and more skilled. If you think otherwise, then that’s your perspective.

    I think that since FG pct. have gone down over time that that means defenses are much better, yet 3 pt. PCT. have increased, indicating that it’s probably much harder to get easier looks inside the arc and in the paint than in the past.

    Your examples about PER is way off, and there’s a lot more than 68 players about a 15 PER this year. Comparing PERs of 1992 to 2012 is pointless. As the player’s PERs in 1992 are only compared to those players within that year. It’s pointless and moot to compare 1992 PERs to 2012 PERs. One good thing about some advanced stats like PER is that it’s all relative to that year. You can see how good a player is relative to his fellow competitors just for that year. But, obviously it has some loopholes like all advanced stats.

    Posted by boyer | March 11, 2012, 5:14 pm
    • Boyer,

      I will refer you to my reply to Jevan above regarding PER. Please stop this bull crap. Study the PER equation rather than reading second-hand “opinions” abt it. You only need very little math to understand what the equation means.

      Abt DRtg, ORtg, etc., there are 2 sides to a coin. And to me, the arbiter has always been more analysis. Like I said, take everything with a grain of salt. Use discernment. Use reason. Basketball is a dynamic game, which we attempt to model through some linear equations. Obviously, there will be gaps here and there. So you cross-reference. You take another hard look at the data.

      I didn’t make a conclusion that the offenses are better rather than defenses suck in Jordan’s time. I raised it as a possible hypothesis – a testable inference. So please stop accusing me of bull crap. There’s a difference between conclusion and inference.

      And abt comparisons across years, do NOT tell me I couldn’t do it. If you can’t then don’t. But don’t generalize this as if it’s an infallible truth. It’s silly. We compare things everyday. If we could compare economies of Sudan in the 1950s to Canada in 2010, then there’s no logical reason why we can’t compare any basketball parameter from across eras. Saying that is just plain stupid. The comparison may not be straightforward, but it is possible. There’s a math invented for it…and that math is nothing close to having transcendental equations, tensors, or Riemannian geometry. It only need algebra, or at the most integral calculus.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 7:43 am
  30. A few people have pointed out the obvious. If Nash is the greatest offensive player of all time, why have the teams he’s played on never made the finals? C’mon gang, Nash is/was an excellent offensive player, but I seriously doubt anyone who saw Jordan, Robertson or Johnson play, like me, would take Nash over those three. There’s actually a lot of other players I think were better offensive players. I mean Chamberlain, Olajuwon, James, Walton, West.. the list goes on. The above players a coach could say “go out and get me thirty-forty points this particular game, and they could do it. Could you say the same about Nash? Trying to make stats prove Nash is somehow more of an offensive impact than those players just proves stats don’t show everything.

    Posted by john butala | March 11, 2012, 8:43 pm
  31. Magic is still up there in top offenses and has more rings. In his day it was hard to stray from the norm because of the lack of three point shooting. Nash is second IMO.

    Posted by C cD | April 19, 2012, 6:41 am
  32. Not sure Nash is THE greatest offensively, but I certainly agree he’s incredible (and personally, my favorite NBA player of all-time). What irks me is that I don’t think he’s gotten the true recognition he deserves. I always see him on “best” lists but rarely close to the top. Example: On this list of the top NBA players of all time, he’s WAY too low: http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-top-nba-players-of-all-time

    Posted by Jo | June 4, 2012, 1:30 pm
  33. I’d have to side with Jevan in his debate with Jourdan. Defenses have improved since the 1980s, even after the hand checking rule was removed. The last Celtics team to win an NBA championship was the GOAT defense.

    Posted by hype | December 30, 2012, 3:27 am
    • Maybe defenses have indeed improved in some areas, but at the same time they have gotten worse in other areas.

      Even if we agree to say that OVERALL defenses are now better I’d still think that under today’s rules there is no stopping prime Michael Jordan.

      Note that removing the hand-checking rule did not affect each player equally, i.e. centers did not benefit from it at all while quick, athletic wing players like Jordan, Kobe, Wade, James, Rose all benefited (or would have in MJ’s case) significantly.

      2008 Celtics would have not stopped MJ, they would not have stopped Kobe, if he had attacked the basket more. Instead he settled for long, contested 3-point shots.

      He attacks the rim or gets closer to the basket much more nowadays which is one of the reasons for his high scoring efficiency this year.

      Under today’s rules, if you’re athletic and attack the basket, even if you don’t score, there is a good chance you’ll get fouled and then make a pair of freebies.

      Jordan understood it all along (even when HC was permitted), it took few years for Kobe to finally realize it.

      Posted by doosiolek | December 30, 2012, 6:35 am
    • you really think that those Celtics were BETTER defensively than say the Pistons of 1988-1990?

      Or the Knicks teams of 1969-1973?

      Or some of the Russell Celtics?

      To say a team is the best ever is a very broad statement.

      There is a lot of unmeasurable and contextual information that is very nuanced in determining defensive greatness

      Have you researched this prior to your proclamation or are you just making a reactionary statement based upon your feeling?

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | December 30, 2012, 11:06 am
  34. Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

    Posted by MAGDALEN | October 18, 2013, 1:07 pm
  35. The author is using TEAM stats to make his point, which is ridiculous. you can’t use team stats to prove an individual player is the best at something. makes no sense. also, he’s using a small sample size with this plus/minus stat and that’s just one stat anyway.

    nash is nowhere near the best offensive player of all time. he is not a scorer, and it took him 9 years to average 9 or more assists per game. he holds ONE NBA offensive record by himself: career FT % in the regular season, which is not impressive, given the fact that he doesn’t even average 3 FTA for his career.

    Posted by Daniel | October 23, 2013, 9:32 am
  36. If you are going for best contents like myself, just pay a visit this site daily as it gives quality contents, thanks

    my webpage; Free Nintendo Eshop Codes

    Posted by Free Nintendo Eshop Codes | August 25, 2014, 4:57 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Redskins for 3 number 1 picks and a number 2 pick (although not much to argue there), and of course whether or not Steve Nash is the greatest offensive player of all time.  Which brings us to David Friedman’s latest article discussing the strengths and [...]

  2. [...] get touches at areas of the court where they can be effective. Whether or not you believe he is the greatest offensive player ever, Nash’s ability to break down defenses should also increase the number of easy buckets. Lastly, [...]

Post a comment

Subscribe by Email

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates!

Facebook Recommendations

RSS Latest Chasing 23 Forum Posts

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Our Sponsors