David Berri and Martin Schmidt of Wages of Wins fame have a new book out soon called Stumbling on Wins that was recently reviewed on True Hoop by Henry Abbott. It's quite interesting, and I wanted to point it out for anyone interested. Some ruminations after the jump.Stats analysts, right or wrong, generally get ignored for one of two reasons: either they aren't good writers, and hence do a poor job of communicating their ideas, or they lack humility and hence piss people off before they have a chance to really consider the ideas. Take, for example, Bill James. He's always been a pretty good writer (though he's gotten a lot better), but early in his career he was so blunt that he turned a lot of people off. It wasn't until he softened his approach by admitting there is much that he doesn't know that he has been embraced (relatively) by the baseball establishment. Abbott makes the point that Berri and Schmidt are too blunt in their assertions given how much we still don't know. However, they present certain ideas that are worth considering:
1. Teams radically overvalue players who do well in the NCAA tournament. Something we should especially be aware of as the Wolves evaluate draft prospects. Berri writes that appearing in a final 4 can improve draft position by 12 spots. Yikes. I wonder if we didn't see a species of this last season with Jonny Flynn. His amazing game in the Big East Tournament, plus getting to the Sweet 16 could not have hurt his draft stock; and in fact he began to shoot up draft boards around this time. Beware the late riser. Another draft note they make is that, despite rebounding ability being one of the most transferable skills from college to the pros, rebounding ability does not really effect draft position. Points, efficiency, size, and assists are among the stats that do effect draft position.
2. NBA teams radically overpay for scoring. Undoubtedly true, and perhaps at the center of our site's debate over Al Jefferson. I used to fall into this trap, and probably still do on occasion. I used to defend Allen Iverson, arguing that a) getting 25 shots off in an NBA game is a skill, and b) that even at low percentages, his teams were often better off with him hoisting because that's all they had. We have a slightly different argument about Jefferson, it seems to me, which is that you need someone who can put the ball in the basket, and that trading away Jefferson will create such a dearth of inside scoring that to trade him away would be a big mistake. But he's also the highest paid player on the team, and he's so highly paid because he scores points. If his points are overvalued by his contract, then trading him does make sense.
There are other interesting notes in the review, about peak age, defense, and more. You should check it out.