Monday, March 31, 2008

No one saw this coming...but we did!

Apparently TrueHoop is going to be spending time this week covering the "surprising" Sixers.

I'm actually pretty excited to see what sort of information Henry digs up this week and shares with us, but I did want to take exception to one comment in his post from this morning.
A veteran Philadelphia beat writer just said to me that "if anyone tells you they saw this coming, they're lying."
I enjoy reading the Sixers coverage on-line every day at, so I don't want to come off as too critical of the "veteran beat writer." To the extent that he's saying that most pundits and experts predicted the Sixers to be bad this year, then he's certainly correct. That said, I think the idea that no one could have seen a .500 season coming is a bit absurd.

Last season, the Sixers were 26-21 after the Iverson trade and waiving Chris Webber. Considering the lack of roster turnover from last year to this year, a prediction of a .500 record seems like a perfectly reasonable prediction to have made for this season. And guess what? I actually did make that prediction at the start of the season.

Not good enough? Well, you could always have tried making a prediction based on some of the advanced stats that are hanging around the internet, like Win Score. Oh wait. I did that, too, and my WP48-based prediction was for the Sixers to be a slightly better than .500 team. That prediction was probably a tad optimistic (as Professor Berri pointed out in the comments to this post), but apparently not by too much.

So somehow I managed to come up with two completely independent methods for predicting the Sixers performance for the year, and they both give reasons for thinking that a .500 record for the Sixers was a perfectly reasonable prediction for this season.

Good thing no one saw this coming.

[Just to be clear, the Sixers are currently at 37-37 on the season.]


Louis said...

Obviously the Philly beat writers and the NBA talking heads need to start reading your blog. I mean, they need to start reading your blog more often :)

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Anonymous said...

that wp48 prediction is ridiculous. any system that rates reggie evans as the sixers 2nd best player is flawed. i mean c'mon.

the sixers didn't start playing better until thaddeus young started playing major minutes. and anyone who says they could see thaddeus young doing what he is currently doing is also full of it. and win score/40 rated him an especially poor college player. it is obvious that mo cheeks and the rest of the sixers coaching staff has done a tremendous job with him.

i am looking forward to seeing prof berri's post on how he "predicted" the sixers would be average this year. just because you predict the right result but get the details all wrong (reggie evans = 12 wins, yeah ok) does not mean you get to take pride in your "prediction".

Louis said...

I must take issue with "Anonymous"'s tone. I came out against Sam's position that the Sixers would end up with as many wins as losses but he at least claimed to making his prediction based on those statistics. In the end his prediction seems to be coming true (and of course mine that they should tank and get a good draft pick has not come true) so he's entitle to a little self-congratulating in the face of the "no one saw this coming" line from the basketball talking heads. Also, if memory serves, Sam was pushing for Young to get playing time before the season got under way.

As for Mo Cheeks and the coaching staff, I can't agree more. I think they should get all the credit for the recent winning ways. I was excited when he rejoined the organization and I expect great things of the Sixers under his leadership in the future.

Sam Cohen said...

One of the reasons I'm interested to see Professor Berri's take on the Sixers is because we'll get a chance to see who Win Score credits for this year's performance.

(My guess is credit will go primarily to Dalembert, Miller, and Igoudala in some order, followed by Evans)

I agree that my initial prediction wasn't spot on -- among other things, it assumed that Evans would play many more minutes than he has (and I think he has not had as productive a season this year as he did last year on a per minute basis), and it explicitly did not take into account any of the rookies.

I'm interested to see how Young scores in the WP48 metric. He started playing more around the same time the Sixers started doing well again, but his playing time didn't come at the expense of Reggie Evans (if I'm remembering correctly)-- it came at the expense of the traded Kyle Korver who is not very productive according to WP48. So replacing an unproductive player with a productive one would certainly explain the better play, and doesn't require asserting that Evans hasn't been a contributor.

Overall, I think the main point of my post remains valid: it was reasonable to predict that the Sixers would not be the worst team in the league, despite what seemed to be the popular consensus.

Morty said...

Followed over here from Wages of wins. I'm not going to argue about the numbers because I'm not qualified to, mathematically. But These are not the same players as last year's team that finished 26-21. That team had Steven Hunter, Joe Smith and Kyle Korver playing big time minutes. Lou Williams played much less minutes in contrast.

Sam Cohen said...

morty- I agree it isn't exactly the same team, but when you return 4 of 5 starters I don't think you can really say the team is that different. Evans and Jason Smith replace Joe Smith and Steven Hunter; Young(and Williams's extra minutes) replace Korver. I don't think those changes are enough to say that last year's results weren't going to be a good indicator for this year's results.

Do other people agree?

Louis said...

I'm going to have to back out of the conversation at this point because I didn't pay enough attention to last years games, and haven't seen any this year, to have an informed opinion. Last year's numbers seem indicated that this year would end around .500 and that's where things stand. The team's makeup is different but the new players have filled the same roles as those that departed so it seems like a wash to me. Oops, that reads like an opinion. Oh well.