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They Said My Methods Were Unsound

By Matthew Yglesias

"They Said My Methods Were Unsound"

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Henry Abbot at True Hoop remarks that “The Wages of Wins blog keeps having all these team analyses, but they’re of no use if you don’t buy into the author’s central theory of how wins are produced” and that “10,000 applications of the same formula seems to educate little, especially when that formula has been met with mediocre reviews by some respected names in the field, and quite frankly fails the common sense test.” That seems very misguided to me. Performing team-by-team preseason predictions is precisely what the authors of a controversial method of quantitative analysis ought to be doing.

The criticism one would make of the WoW methodology is that even if you grant that they’ve succeed in decomposing the elements of team success, they’re method of breaking down individual players’ contributions is highly insensitive to the way actual basketball teams work. Consequently, the fact that in retrospect you can add up a team’s “wins produced” score and get a number very close to its actual wins has little value in rebutting that criticism. The real test is what kind of predictive value the WoW analysis has, so offering preseason analysis that we can then test against reality is precisely the correct, stand-up thing to do and if you’re interested in the general subject of quantitative analysis of the NBA it makes sense to pay attention.

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