2014

It is that time of year again. The time that brings presents, food, and articles titled “The Year That Was…” This is one of those articles (sans title). It is time to acknowledge the awesome things for the year 2014 that just so happened to be my favourite (or least favourite)*

Best Female Anything

Jennifer Lawrence. I know, I know. You’ve already read so much about her, and really if any year was her year, wouldn’t it be 2013? Of course it was. But I have news for you, she has just gone back to back after a brilliant 2014 too. Sure she was only nominated for an Oscar this year, and only won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe.** But she also became the highest grossing female action hero of all time. She also broke the internet for real (as opposed to the forced and unsuccessful rubbish of that Kardashian shoot) when the fappening happened. She looked better in her selfies than some other (previously mentioned) celebrities did in their highly stylized advertorials/photo shoots, which caused people the world over to lose their minds. But the way she responded to that is what really gets her this award. She has long been a fantastic role model and these leaked photos do not change that at all. Can you imagine any other person being able to pull that off? I can’t. Here’s to J-Law going for a three-peat and having a fantastic 2015 too.

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Honourable Mentions: I am just using this as an apology to Victoria Azarenka. Clearly the pressure of being the 2013 winner of this column’s Best Female Tennis Performance was too much for her to bear! She had her worst year since 2010! Hope to see you on the comeback trail in 2015!

Worst Job Security

It has been a while since coaching in the NRL was considered a safe job, but it seems to be getting even worse for anyone crazy enough to back themselves at this level. Of the 16 coaches that walked into off season training with their clubs a the end of last year, only 9 of them will still be at the helm for Round 1 in 2015. Only 6 of those coaches were in their job at the start of 2013. In fact Craig Bellamy at Melbourne is the only person to have coached his team since at least 2011. Where it has gotten even worse is that once upon a time, for a coach to be fired, a team would want to have another coach lined up to take the job. A coach with strong credentials, a proven track record if possible, maybe even a ‘name’ that could be sold to the fans. Now it doesn’t even seem to be a consideration. The Assistant coach is given the job on an interim basis and the club just shrugs and says “We’ll see what this bloke can do”. In many cases that same interim coach can fail to generate any real results and be handed a multi-year contract!*** There are so many NRL clubs that just do not look to be a chance of winning a title in the next 3 years. Too many clubs have no plan. So when that no-plan brings them no success, the axe keeps falling on the coach.

Honourable Mention: Leeds United Manager. Talk about clubs with no plan. Neil Redfearn is their 5th manager of 2014. FIFTH! Additionally, he is their 9th manager since 2012. Ridiculous.

Best New TV Show

I, like many others, was extremely skeptical when I read that they were making a Fargo TV series. I, like many others, thought that it was a mistake to try and re-create anything about the quirky Coen Brothers film. I, like many others, thought that even if the script was good and it was well made, calling it Fargo put too much pressure on the show. I am happy to report that I, like many others, was completely wrong. Noah Hawley’s rendition of 2006 Minnesota shares a similar tone, a sociopathic murderer and mountains of snow with the original Fargo, and that is where the comparisons should end. Where Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective turned out to be all style and show with no substance, Hawley didn’t have to fool us into thinking the Emporer was wearing new clothes. The direction of the series was superb. The characters that inhabited this world were both eccentric and startlingly grounded. The story itself was compelling, realistic (given the premise) and was actually able to tie up loose ends. For all of the plaudits that McConaughey got for his performance on TD, the acting in Fargo was second to nothing on the small screen this year. Billy Bob Thornton came back from the acting dead in a performance that felt so natural, I would almost guess that the role was written for him. Martin Freeman has come a long way since The Office and even the smaller acting roles (Bob Odenkirk, Adam Goldberg, the always fantastic Stephen Root) were top notch. But the biggest plaudits should be reserved for the powerhouse performance delivered by Allison Tolman. It was the breakout TV performance of the year, and it wasn’t even close. Time will tell if this was just the perfect role or not but I will be WILDLY disappointed not to see her career deservedly flourish from here.

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Honourable Mentions: Cosmos – A Spacetime Odyssey may not have technically been a “new” TV show being that it was a remake of an old series, but it was outstanding television. Visually stunning, compelling, and educational and the world could do with more of it. Also, Silicon Valley and Broad City were both powerhouse new comedies for this year in completely different ways, and I loved both of them. It is so rare for comedies to hit their stride right from the beginning, but both of these managed to and anything that gets Kumail Nanjiani and Hannibal Buress on TV will always make me happy.

Best Rivalry

Aussie Basketball Potential v Boomer Reality wins this one. Ever since Shane Heal stood up to Charles Barkley in a 1996 friendly, Australia has fancied itself on the world stage of basketball. There have been many lean years since that 96 team played off for a Bronze medal in Atlanta, but as the years go by and more and more players begin to get meaningful minutes in the NBA and College basketball systems, the hopes of the nation rise again. We’ve never had a full starting line-up of NBA players but as the last NBA season wound down, we were as close as we had ever been with a starting line-up that could boast 4 NBA players. Of course as we moved closer to the Basketball World Cup, the same thing happened that always happens. Our star Centre and defensive lynchpin, Andrew Bogut pulled out. Then our star scorer and freshly crowned NBA champion, Patty Mills pulled out. Then we tanked a game to avoid playing the US until the Semi Finals, and lost to Turkey anyway. Boomer Reality beats down The Potential and continues its winning streak. But as ever, there is hope for the future. The 2016 Olympics hold an opportunity for the greatest ever assembled Boomers team to really have a run at a medal. A starting five of Bogut, Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles, Mills and Matthew Delavadova has solid NBA experience. Fellow NBA player Dante Exum will have developed into the type of player that could lead a second unit off the bench. A bench which could contain Chicago Bulls PF Cameron Bairstow, Zaragosa guard Chris Goulding as well as two of the top NBA Prospects over the next couple of years in Ben Simmons and Thon Maker (who are currently only 18 and 17 respectively) if they are even good enough to make the squad (something that wouldn’t even be up for question just a few years ago). It is the Boomers’ time. At least until reality kicks in anyway.

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Honourable Mention: You can take your pick between;

Wanderers vs attractive football – The run to win the Asian Champions League made Greece in 2004 look like Spain in 2010.

Wanderers players vs owners – for it to all come to a head right before the World Club Challenge was embarrassing for all.

Wanderers vs Al Spitty – Rivalries, both at home and continentally, are what makes football clubs. The Wanderers are now on their way to moving from a franchise to a club. Good for them.

Best Music that I actually paid for this year

This comes with the usual disclaimer that I almost never get to hear music the year that it comes out, and that my musical taste is far from ordinary etc etc. But for 2014 nothing really blew me away.

This has been the hardest section for me to write. I didn’t have high hopes for Opeth’s Pale Communion or Cynic’s Kindly Bent To Free Us, but both of them turned out far more interesting and fun than I expected, though still not as good as previous releases. I was heavily anticipating the new Bloodbath album, but the vocals from newcomer Nick Holmes have left the album falling a bit flat. I enjoyed Citadel by Ne Obliviscaris, but have not actually purchased it, so it is ineligible for this award. So when I look through my purchases for this year, the album that stands out the most for this year is not a musical album, but a comedy album. Hannibal Buress released his Live From Chicago album before he recently got some odd fame through his Bill Cosby rape jokes instigating some proper investigation into the decades of allegations against one of America’s most beloved comedians.  There is nothing particularly controversial on the album, but it is an interesting and hilarious look at Hannibal’s world. From gods real problems and unrequited love to just how weird it is to be a comedian, Hannibal’s unique delivery thankfully doesn’t wear thin and keeps the laughs coming for a solid hour. I really hope that this Cosby stuff doesn’t end up hurting the man that is probably our next great stand-up comedian^

Honourable Mentions: See above

Feel Good Story

The 2014 Football World Cup set records for goals scored and the whole group stage of the tournament was absolutely riveting. Spain getting demolished in their opening match and never recovering? Fantastic. Italy and England BOTH not getting out of the same group? Magnificent. Cristiano Ronaldo sulking his way to another early exit? Outstanding. Costa Rica being a Penalty save away from making the final four? Superb. Germany absolutely humiliating the host nation in the semifinal after Brazil had so many calls go their way earlier in the tournament? Delicious. But those few minutes that the Socceroos led the white hot Netherlands in a World Cup match? Absolutely glorious. We may not have got a point in the tournament, but we’ll always have that Timmy Cahill goal and that feeling inside of us that we were better than Pim Verbeek or Holger Osiek allowed us to be. That felt good.

Honourable Mention: The recent Martin Place tragedy seems to have brought out the best in more people than a misanthrope such as myself expected. The #illridewithyou campaign was good, but what was great is that it appears as though it wasn’t really needed!

WORST THING OF THE YEAR

The NFL is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that is run by very successful and intelligent businessmen (basically the 32 owners). So, how they could allow Roger Goodall, as commissioner of the league, to just be SO FAR off on the issues that have come through his office this year is really beyond me. The issue of domestic violence in the NFL may not be any higher than it is in society, but the handling of the Ray Rice situation (among others) was simply baffling. The brutal video that came out and FORCED the NFL to change the punishment was an embarrassment to the league. It is difficult to tell what is worse – that they almost certainly knew about the video and hoped it would go away, or that they didn’t take the issue seriously enough to track down that video.

BEST THING OF THE YEAR

In one of the great turn-arounds of the 21st century, the NRL Grand Final went from last year’s worst thing of the year to this year’s best. Is this wildly biased because I have waited my entire life for South Sydney to win the competition? Sure. Is this a list of MY favourite things of 2014? Definitely. The Bunnies are the most successful team in the history of the competition. So successful in fact that they have kept that mantle in spite of going 43 years between Grand Final wins. But besides all of that, the NRL Grand Final was a winner this year because for the first time in a few years, a likeable team won the competition. Credit should also go to the Bulldogs fans who, in spite of their poor reputation, were exemplary on the night and a credit to their club. I sat right behind them and didn’t hear or see a single negative thing from them all night. Gracious in defeat and friendly all day.  Penrith weren’t able to knock over the Bulldogs to give us our first Grand Final since 2005 where BOTH teams were likeable, but the Rabbitohs ensured the right result was had, and the streets of Redfern became the party of the year.

NRL GRAND FINAL RABBITOHS BULLDOGS

Let me know what your favourite things of 2014 were. What did I miss?

*As with last year that is deliberately broad

**Sounds like a pretty bad year so far! *rolleyes emoji*

***Which, as you may have guessed, does not provide the job security that it implies

^As we entered this new Millenium, Chris Rock was the reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World in Stand-Up comedy. I simply will not enter into any debate that he wasn’t. To be the Heavyweight Champion of the World in stand up, you have to be both the biggest and the best. Being good isn’t good enough. You also have to be big. But being big isn’t big enough. You also have to be good. Examples here are numerous. People like Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, Patrice O’Neal or Jim Norton are some of the funniest people to ever have lived, but without that next level of success in terms of being big, they can’t be the Heavyweight Title holders. But by the same token, Jeff Dunham may sell as many tickets as anyone on the planet, but when the comedy is lazy, safe, lowest-common-denominator stuff, then that also doesn’t get you the belt. With that in mind, by my reckoning, since 2000 the belt has gone at various times and for various amounts of time to the following people – Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Russell Peters, Kevin Hart, Louis CK and Bill Burr. I think Hannibal has the talent to reach this level in the next few years.

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I’m No Expert, But…

Firstly, apologies for the lack of articles of late, I’ve been moving house and it’s basically the worst thing that a human can do. Anyway, that’s enough whinging from me. On with the show.

 

 As a sports guy in general I have at least a loose understanding of pretty much every major and most minor sports that you can think of.

But I only really follow a handful of sports, and even then only certain leagues.

Rugby League, Football and Basketball are the main ones.

I follow the NRL but not the English Super League (mostly because of a lack of accessibility)

I follow the A-League and the EPL, but not really anything else (both a matter of accessibility and the vast number of world leagues just being far too difficult to consume)

I follow the NBA, but not the NBL (because I was a West Sydney Razorbacks fan, and I’m bitter about the way that all went)

But I still ‘follow’ many other sports and leagues – only casually. I have a team in the NHL (Detroit Red Wings), MLB (St. Louis Cardinals), NFL (Washington Redskins), AFL (Swans), Club Rugby (Randwick), La Liga (Malaga), Ligue 1 (Lille) and MLS (Vancouver Whitecaps) and I also follow test cricket (but only Australia and much more intensely when the Ashes is on) and have my favourite Tennis players (Gael Monfils in the men’s and Victoria Azarenka in the women’s)*

So what’s the point you may ask?

Well, in an effort to broaden the scope of this page a little, I’m going to attempt to write about an issue that is happening in one of my peripheral sports or leagues every so often, to give an outsiders perspective and try to see the issues as a layman. But of course when you read this, you need to realise that while I’m not an idiot and I do follow enough sport to understand what’s going on, I am by no means an expert and the things I bring up may have already been considered or dismissed.

So welcome to the first edition of I’m No Expert, But…

This edition’s topic is the MLB suspensions that have been handed down this week – in particular to A-Rod.

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The tl;dr version of the story is that Alex Rodriguez has been given the longest non-life suspension in MLB history due to some documents obtained from a Florida Anti-Ageing Clinic (whatever that is) that implicate him in the use and distribution of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) as well as attempting to destroy evidence of his wrong doing.

Now, this story is being reported as a 211 game ban (which as far as I know is only a potential figure if the Yankees go all the way this season, which isn’t looking likely) and when you see a 211 game ban, it seems insanely long. If it were in the NRL or AFL it would equate to a minimum of 8 seasons and if it were the NFL it would be about 13 seasons – or an entire career. Even in the NBA it would equate to about 2 and a half seasons, but in baseball? 211 games is only a little over one season.

Some other players were given 50 game bans (about 8 weeks) and all accepted their punishment, but Rodriguez is planning to appeal against his, which means he can continue to play until his appeal is heard. Something about this seems off to me. I understand and believe in the whole innocent until proven guilty thing, but the league has weighed up the evidence and given him a suspension. That says guilty to me. So now, as far as I’m concerned, he’s guilty until proven otherwise – i.e. the burden of proof is now with A-Rod. Therefore he shouldn’t be able to keep playing through his appeal. In life, once a person is judged to be guilty of a crime and then given their sentence – they go to gaol (assuming that is the sentence). They don’t get to just say that they will appeal and then go home.

But this is all beside the point I want to make.

The point I want to make, is that the short length of this suspension is a joke, yet somehow is seen by about 50% of baseball fans as being too long. Obviously this is all based on the accusations against him being true, as I’m assuming they are for him to get this suspension (and for the sake of this article), but anything less than a lifetime ban shows baseball up for the farcical sport that it has become.

It has a reputation about as good as cycling when it comes to PED’s and to give a guy who has not only admitted to taking steroids in the past, but is now (allegedly**) doing it again, as well as supplying them to other athletes and then trying to purchase and destroy all the evidence only a one year ban? Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!

What makes this worse for me is the revelation that baseball has set suspensions for first, second and third time offenders. So if you take steroids and get caught once, you’ll be kicked out for a quarter of a season. Then you are good to go. You do it again; you get a half a season. Then you are good to go. Do it a third time and boy are you in trouble. You have to get caught deliberately cheating three times for anything more than half a season. Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!

The next step on the spiral of baseball doping is the fact that in spite of admitting to using steroids in the past as well as all of the documented evidence against him in this current case. A-Rod has never tested positive to an official drugs test. So how bad are the drug tests!? If they can’t catch a guy who has ADMITTED GUILT, what is the point of them?

It is my understanding that MLB tests the players once in pre-season, then once during the regular season and then they can’t test you again. So you could get through your pre-season test, get your regular season test 20 games into the season, then you can do whatever you want for the rest of the season! Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!

All of this is because the Collective Bargaining Agreement is heavily in favour of the players “rights”. The Players Association has far too much power in this relationship. If they were your buddy’s girlfriend you’d call her the dungeon master and your buddy a whipped little bitch. They are so powerful that it wasn’t until the US CONGRESS threatened to step in that they finally changed their stance to be in favour of drug testing – and this was only in 2005! You need to encourage your buddy to set some better ground rules, don’t budge and if she doesn’t like it, get rid of her. Sure it will hurt, but it needs to be done for your buddy’s health.

Unsurprisingly the players union has come out against the league and in support of their player and have even called Rodriguez’s ban “inappropriate and almost ridiculous” which technically is a statement I agree with, only not the way they mean. If I were a clean baseball player I’d be livid that the union who is meant to represent me is backing someone who is cheating me.

Alex Rodriguez is possibly the most famous name in Baseball and for him to be so blatantly cheating is a slap in the face to not only the league, and the fans but to his fellow players.

Giving him anything less than a lifetime ban tells me that for all their show, the MLB is not serious about sending a message and stamping the use of performance enhancing drugs out of the sport.

To make matters more ridiculous, there is a strong feeling that A-Rod will win his appeal, because there isn’t much precedence for this length of suspension. However if the league had just had some bigger balls and given him a lifetime ban – there is no avenue for appeal.

The man is already 38 years old and even with this suspension (assuming it sticks) won’t play again until he is almost 40. It’s not even that big of a leap to say that if the suspension sticks it will end his career.

So where is the logic in not just going for it, giving him a life ban, drawing a line in the sand and at least trying to take something back for the sport.

I’m no expert, but that’s what I would have done.

 

 

 

 

*I used to like Lazio in the Serie A when I was young and before I understood their politics. Sport and Politics shouldn’t mix in my opinion.

**I don’t want to get sued. I have no money.

NBA Moneyball

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It all started with Moneyball.

Once the Oakland Athletics Baseball team used the Moneyball philosophy to win the American League West title in 2002 it started off the phenomenon in major American sports that is currently a little out of control, but will hopefully soon manage to level out to a point that works for everyone.

That is the ‘Advanced Stats’ phenomenon.

For those unaware, Moneyball was a book written by Michael Lewis (later made into a film starring Brad Pitt) about the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, Billy Beane. The book tells the story of how Beane used advanced stats and what is known as Sabermetrics to take a club that had a significant disadvantage in terms of revenue, to compete with the world’s top teams in baseball.

In short, he used nothing but cold hard mathematics to make all of his decisions, going against the established tradition of using scouts, gut feelings and the like. It was thought to be a suicidal move by many as it was happening (as he was willingly losing ‘star’ players to get players whose numbers fit the system) but has since proven to be not only a revelation in Baseball, but in all the major American professional sports.

Ultimately, it’s something that should have been applied to sports far earlier. It makes complete sense to try and do things this way in sports, especially as they become more and more professional. But even more particularly in a game like Baseball.

Baseball has the least number of variables to consider, and it also has the largest sample number from which to gather its evidence.

Baseball is, far more than any other major American sport, a one on one contest, over and over again, throughout any given game. It is a pitcher throwing against a batter. Straight up.

Sure, there are plenty of minor variables, from the simple things like the altitude or size of a stadium that a match can be played in, all the way to how well the catcher can read what pitches should be thrown to any particular opponent.

But when you consider Basketball, Ice Hockey, and American Football in the same context (play to play) there is so much daylight between the simplicity of a single baseball ‘at bat’ and the variable complexity of any other play in these sports that it’s almost not worth comparing them.

Add to this the fact that each regular season, every team plays 162 games, compared to 82 in the NBA and NHL or 16 in the NFL and it leaves you with a lot of data, that’s easy to dissect and manage.

It’s almost offensive that statistics geeks didn’t get a look in sooner!

The problem comes when everyone wants in on the action, and they want that action now.

 

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When I was a kid and following the NBA religiously, there were only so many categories of stats that were worth looking at. They could fit on the back of a Basketball card. There was  –

GP – Games Played

MPG – Minutes Per Game

PPG – Points Per Game

APG – Assists Per Game

FG% – Field Goal Percentage

FT% – Free Throw Percentage

3P% – 3 Point Percentage

RPG – Rebounds Per Game

BPG – Blocks Per Game

SPG – Steals Per Game

They were 10 honest stats.

All pure statistically, based on completely simple mathematics, and someone recording the number of times a particular basic play was made.

You used them to prove to everyone that Michael Jordan was the best player in the game.

That John Stockton was a freak of vision on the court.

Or that Steve Kerr was probably the luckiest man alive (with 5, count them 5, Championship rings in spite of these career stats)

But basketball wanted a piece of the Moneyball pie, and so now we have more statistics than I can even comprehend.

 

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To just scratch the surface of the current Advanced Stats being used in the NBA, there are now 12 “Advanced Statistics Categories” recorded for each individual in the NBA – just on the official NBA website.

Remembering this doesn’t include any of the basic statistics from when I was a kid. It also doesn’t include the other individual advanced statistics that are recorded by other companies and sports wesbites (which are quite literally so numerous I could never give you an accurate count).

This also doesn’t even go into all of the ways that these individual advanced stats are then used to create further advanced stats for teams, individuals and hypothetical scenarios.

Nor does it consider all of the advanced stats kept under categories like “player v player”, “team v team”, “team v player”, “lineup comparison”, the list goes on and on.

And you might be thinking ‘well… so what? Where’s the harm in that?’ Well you’re right in a way I suppose.

All that information is there so that someone somewhere can try to justify their analytics job. Or attempt to explain why they believe Player A is better than Player B. Or attempt to put down as an empirical fact, that which can’t really be put down as an empirical fact.

And that’s where I have a problem with it.

As previously stated, this stuff works in Baseball. There is enough sample data and a small enough list of variables, that there can truly be useful information in there to change and shape the future of the sport.

And the point of this isn’t to say that there isn’t useful information to be had somewhere amongst the forest of all of these statistical trees in the NBA, but there is an inherent flaw in the way that so many of these statistics are calculated that it’s beginning to mar the whole lot, and a large part of me wants to crawl into a hole and come out in 10 years’ time, when they may have a better handle on it all.

The problem that I’m seeing with a lot of this is that the people who have created a lot of these stats seem to be working backwards.

By that I mean that instead of using pure mathematics to quantify what may or may not be happening, they are taking what they believe to be true and trying to find an algorithm to prove what they think. This is basically the opposite of how science is meant to work. In fact it’s literally the opposite of the Scientific Method.

Take, for a nice simple example, the NBA statistic of “True Shooting Percentage”

Former ESPN analyst and stat man John Hollinger came up with this statistic as an attempt to determine who is the best true shooter in the game.

This is an advanced statistic that expands on field-goal percentage (FG%) to adjust for the fact that not every shot within the FG% is equal. It is used to gauge shooting efficiency and it takes into consideration points scored from three pointers, field goals and free-throws to get a measure of points scored each shooting attempt.

The technical calculation goes as such: Points / (2 * (FG Attempts + 0.44 * FT Attempts))

And that’s the problem. The value and/or difficulty of a 3 point shot or a Free throw are given arbitrary values that are simply decided by whoever comes up with the equation. It can be argued that the 3 point shot is given a fair ratio in this as it is valued equal to the points it is worth in comparison to the 2 point shot, but this argument falls over when you consider the 0.44 value that is attributed to free throws.

Others say that the 0.44 takes into account the fact that the Free throw is an open shot that you can set yourself for and is therefore a much easier shot, but this doesn’t take into account that a 3 pointer and a long 2 pointer are almost equally difficult.

You’re either basing it on points scored, or difficulty of shot. You can’t have it both ways. So the true shooting percentage simply can’t be trusted as a pure statistic.

Another big one is the Player Efficiency Rating (PER).

This one is described nice and vaguely as – the overall rating of a player’s per-minute statistical production. The league average is 15.00 every season.

At least in this one they are being honest and showing that this is a statistic that is worked backwards to make the league average 15. So it’s a formula that gets adjusted depending on how the league as a whole performs.

This one appears to have been invented to prove that the people that were thought to be the best players in the league in fact are the best. (However it appears to me to be an arbitrary statistic to put a number on that which can’t be measured.)

But then it started not to work out. Players that didn’t seem to be the 5th best player in the league had the 5th best rating, so adjustments were made to try and make the 5th best player in the league (roughly, obviously) come in with the 5th best PER. Then other statistics were invented like the ‘Value Added’ statistic which is “the estimated number of points a player adds to a team’s season total above what a ‘replacement player’ (for instance, the 12th man on the roster) would produce. Value Added = ([Minutes * (PER – PRL)] / 67). PRL (Position Replacement Level) = 11.5 for power forwards, 11.0 for point guards, 10.6 for centers, 10.5 for shooting guards and small forwards

Jesus! If ever there was an arbitrary calculation…

But the fact is that when you take this statistic and apply it across the league, the best players (to the eye) are at the top. For now anyway.

But this flies directly in the face of the Sabermetrics ideals. That was pure mathematics that was showing that the so called star players, were not necessarily as valuable as others with a lower value.  That’s what made it so ground breaking. These statistics seem to be trying to do the opposite.

The fact that so many of these statistics that have come through have had their formula’s adjusted since they were first introduced is just as concerning as the way they have been so wholly embraced as the be all and end all of measuring these athletes – as evidenced at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this year and the blanket media coverage it got.

Look, don’t get me wrong, Advanced Statistics are most definitely the future, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to permeate through to all of the world’s sports in the way that the US has been inundated. But working out which ones are valuable and which ones are useless is a long process and NBA GM’s would be wise to play with caution when it comes to these stats while they are still in the womb and use them only in moderation until said future actually arrives.