The Boxscore Geeks Show: Missing Kobe and Josh Smith

This Week's Show

I give my thoughts on why "Advanced Stats" and sports journalism may never really gel. We talk if Kobe should stop shooting. Finally, Josh Smith was cut by the Pistons. It's a Christmas miracle!



Video Show

This Week's Poll

Show Notes

Sports Journalism and Advanced Stats

I had a rant on Twitter recently about my thoughts on sports journalism.

Sports journalism is often at odds with advanced stats. The goals may not be the same. Fast narratives trump in-depth analysis. Also, as I've said before, the people writing may not be super proficient at stats.

I actually will quote the Henry Abott piece I mention.

To my shock, I was once introduced on SportsNation as a "stats guru." (Which, of course, prompted John Hollinger to e-mail me something about how easily they're handing out that title these days.) I explained later to the various TV people that I dropped math when I was about 12 and have a degree in broadcast journalism with -- I'm very proud of this -- a minor in Asian Studies.

The bigger point is I'm not into numbers. I just use them. This is the same relationship I have with lots of stuff, like my car, plumbing and DVR. Hell yes a set of wheels, running water and Tivo are integral to my life. I rely on them and appreciate them. I'm really glad there are people out there who know how to make such magic. But I'm not especially curious. I really doubt I'd read a book about any of those things. I just want them to work. But when better technology comes along, I'd drop any of them. (Bring on the hovercrafts!)

I am a fan of some of Abbott's work, including Kobe clutch. That said, it's apparent the reception is not that fans want more of this.

Kobe Bryant

Like sports journalists, it's hard to judge Kobe harshly based on how he acts (in regards to sports) when he's rewarded for it.

Yahoo Sports has taken a stance against Kobe. He needs to stop!

It's worth noting that a few weeks ago; Yahoo was singing praises for Kobe "showing restraint" in a win against the Spurs. A narrative that didn't match reality.

Kobe doesn't have much of a team around him. Currently, Ed Davis is the only above average teammate Kobe has.

Kobe "shooting his team out of games" is nothing new. It happened the Lakers' last title run. It happened with Shaq. Kobe's just older with a worse team now.

You can't even blame Kobe for hurting the Lakers team construction. He didn't veto the Chris Paul trade. He didn't injure Steve Nash. He didn't decide to give himself over $20 million dollars before getting Dwight Howard re-signed.

I fully applaud Kobe for taking a stand against the narrative about "selfless players" taking pay cuts. Kevin Draper and Jonathan Weiler have good stuff to say on this.

Josh Smith

In 2010 Josh Smith played really well. With the benefit of hindsight it seems likely this was an outlier, and he regressed to the mean.

Kevin Broom shows just how bad Josh Smith is this season.

"Defense is half the game" is what people say (I disagree with how this is normally cited). And yes, Josh Smith may be good at defense. However, this does not even makeup 50% of Josh Smith's game, and it does not counteract the rest of his poor play.

After our discussion last week about Adrian Wojnarowski, it's worth being curious why he thinks Houston is the front runner for Josh Smith.

The data says it's really hard for coaches to impact player performance. The data also says previous performance is highly indicative of future performance. So, I'm behind signing players that are already good as opposed to trying to improve players.

Unlike other NBA managements, the Pistons actually avoided the "sunk cost fallacy." This is rare.

The nuances behind trading players are not that simple (see Larry Coon's CBA) Ironically, I think there is a treadmill of mediocrity in regards to poor player signings.

I don't see picking up Josh Smith as a wise move. Even as a "low risk, high upside move", there are better high upside risks to take.

I did end up on TrueHoop for arguing about a similar risk the Mavericks took years ago with Chris Kaman. Also, "Chris Kaman is still not good.


One of my favorite shows is Sports Night. The quote in question was:

Look, I know there's a lot of jargon but some of these really are self-explanatory.

We talk Thomas Kuhn and the idea of paradigms and Rick Kuhn and point shaving in the same breath!

Shout Outs

Brian shouts out the Wages of Wins group. Thanks Brian!

In the spirit of Christmas, I shout out Abby Howard(@AbbyHoward) for a hilarious "Junior Scientist Power Hour" on Christmas.

Thanks to BPS for catching a typo in our chart in last week's show. We appreciate our work being corrected when it's wrong.

More thanks

We put a fair bit of "pre-work" into this show, including behind the scenes discussions/emails with other people. Thanks so much to Arturo Galletti, Ben Gulker, Dave Berri, and Patrick Minton for their input to topics that ended up on this show.