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Thursday, December 23, 2004
 
More Fun With Numbers
My latest toy is a very simple stat I read about in Dean Oliver's stats definitions from his Journal of basketball studies. He gives the following definition

Credits = Pts + Reb + Ast + Stl + Blk - FG misses - FT missed - TO

and describes the resulting number as "[a]n integer estimate of a player's value, making no fine distinctions, but, rather, distinguishing easily between very good seasons, average seasons, and poor seasons."

Like he says, no distinctions are made between the value of each number, so one steal equals one rebound equals one point. The guys who do well in this stat are either the standard fantasy basketball player, who excels in numerous categories, or who do very strongly in one or two categories and can make up for deficiencies in other categories.

Credits are bound to be biased as a measure of individual value since the inputs are themselves biased. It makes no refinements for a team's tempo, or for the level of competition, or for the skill of one's teammates. Basically it's used to separate the clearly productive players from the clearly worthless ones.

I tried to make up for some of the bias by using credits per team possession. This will presumably raise the scores of guys from slower-paced teams like Northwestern and reduce the numbers of players from Iowa and Michigan State. The formula I ended up with looks like this

[(Credits / Team Possessions) x 100] / Games

See my stats glossary or the above Oliver link if you're not familiar with possessions. Here are the current Big Ten leaders.

Player, Team............................Credit Rating
Jeff Horner, Iowa..................................29.1
Aaron Johnson, Penn St......................28.7
Luther Head, Illinois..............................28.0
Vedran Vukusic, Northwestern............27.5
Carl Landry, Purdue.............................27.1
Dee Brown, Illinois...............................26.8
Vincent Grier, Minnesota......................25.5
Jeff Hagen, Minnesota..........................24.8
James Augustine, Illinois......................24.6
Roger Powell, Jr, Illinois.......................24.1
Greg Brunner, Iowa...............................23.5
Terence Dials, Ohio State.....................23.1
J.J. Sullinger, Ohio State.......................22.5
Paul Davis, Michigan State....................22.5
Mike Wilkinson, Wisconsin...................22.4

Again, this formula shouldn't be used an a definitive answer to debates of who is better than whom, but it does a decent job of separating the men from the boys. If you were making out your all Big Ten team today, you could make a good case for any of the guys near the top of the list.

Jeff Horner - one of the league's best all-around players
Aaron Johnson - averaging a double-double, leading the league in rebounds
Luther Head - leading scorer for the first place team
Vedran Vukusic - token decent player from poor/average team
Carl Landry - 15.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg
Dee Brown - arguably the best player on the best team
Vincent Grier - conference's leading scorer

Non-Basketball News
Weather permitting, I'll be making my way back home on Thursday to see my parents before they leave for a short vacation. I plan to sit around for a couple days and soak up some DIRECTV and see some people I haven't seen in a long time, and then I leave for my own vacation on Saturday.

I'm flying to Oregon to spend some time with my sister and her fiancee. The agenda includes snowboarding, hiking, microbrew sampling, and if everything works out, the Portland-Oregon basketball game on the 28th. Needless to say I'm very excited.

Unfortunately, all this fun stuff means I'll be separated from my computer until after New Year's. I might be able to sneak in a post or two at my sister's place, but chances are I won't see either the Air Force or the St. Louis game, so there won't be much for me to write about.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great holiday season!

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