One of the hottest blog-feuds going right now is between Dave Berri and ESPN.com's John Hollinger, two of the leading voices in the world of statistical analysis in the NBA, which only in the last season or two has really gotten the pub it deserves. (See TrueHoop for a good recap.)
Berri has a really interesting book, The Wages of Wins, that you might have heard of (Malcolm Gladwell has praised it) and that I definitely recommend as one of the more fascinating -- and controversial -- reads from 2006.
Berri also has a blog, which regularly has some pretty interesting arguments and analysis, which brings me to this post: Berri had a post casting some statistical skepticism that Adam Morrison is truly the leading candidate for NBA Rookie of the Year after the first month.
This was of particular interest to me, because in yesterday's A.M. Quickie post, I handed out my first-month NBA Awards and gave Rookie of the Year to Craig Smith. His stats were pretty good for a rookie, but what swayed me was that of the group of
I emailed Berri today asking him if I was on to something with my pick, and he replied that, in fact, yes: Craig Smith is the most productive rookie using his Win Score per-minute statistic (adjusting for position played). Here are the top six in that category:
1. Craig Smith
2. Paul Millsap
3. Kyle Lowry
4. Ronnie Brewer
5. Shelden Williams
6. LaMarcus Aldridge
Here's what I (Dan) find fascinating: Millsap was ALSO a second-round pick, which to me speaks volumes about the inexact science of the NBA Draft, as well as the opportunities for recognizing inefficiencies in the marketplace.
In the case of Smith and Millsap, two undersized power forwards, there was/is an obvious draft obsession these days with "length," which undoubtedly placed a discount on Smith and Millsap's talent based on their physical measurements alone.
Does this marks a watershed moment for the stereotypical college hoops "tweener?" More likely, they are two exceptional players who ended up in particularly good contexts to maximize their potential.
With thanks to Dave Berri, I now have some quantitative muscle to back up my qualitative arguments. And anytime I can bolster one of my wilder theories, it's a good day.