The Boxscore Geeks Show: Nash and Noel

This Week's Show

The Geeks talk the greatness that was Steve Nash, the prospect that is Nerlens Noel, and who the heck is Carey Scurry?



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Show Notes

Mandatory Russell Westbrook Shout Out

We don't want to talk Westbrook every week. However, we'll leave up a promise. If Westbrook gets a triple-double, he'll at least get a mention in the show.

Steve Nash Tribute

Steve Nash's MVP seasons were remarkable. I don't think we'll ever see an under twenty point per game MVP like Steve Nash. I hope I'm wrong.

Grantland has a great piece up on how Steve Nash played unconventionally and "changed coaching."

Let's not forget that Steve Nash was also one of the league's best scorers. When you factor in misses, Nash is a top twenty all-time scorer, right behind Kobe.

Steve Nash is one of my favorite counter-arguments to the so-called "Usage Curve" -- the idea that a player's efficiency goes down as they shoot more -- because Nash shows the major hole in the theory. Namely, a player is allowed to pass the ball. has player possession stats. In short, the usage stat, for its original purpose -- to estimate how much a player handles the ball - is obsolete.

We respect the hell out of James Harden's game. That said, Patrick thinks a player shooting twenty-five free throws a game is boring basketball.

We discuss the notion that Steve Nash wasn't athletic -- an idea Dirk Nowitzki reaffirms. People often confuse overt athleticism with other natural skills that matter. Nash's hand/eye coordination was obviously off the charts. A great book on the subject is "The Sports Gene." Things like big muscles are obvious. But things like coordination, eyesight, arm-length, oxygen capacity, etc. matter a lot too, and people often miss this.

Dennis Rodman had a 7'3'' wingspan to go with a 6'7'' body. Rudy Gobert has a 7'9'' wingspan!

Reminder, Nash took a pay cut to play in Los Angeles. It's absurd to expect him to leave even more money on the table, when he already gave the team a discount and tried his best to help them win.

Steve Nash was a better scorer and ball-handler off the dribble than Kobe. Part of Nash's decline was him holding and shooting the ball less in Los Angeles. It's a lot like Kevin Love in Cleveland this season.

There are a few major gaps in data in the NBA.

  • In the 1973-1974 season, we got offensive rebounds, steals, and blocks added to the boxscore.
  • In the 1977-1978 season, we got turnovers.
  • In the 1979-1980 season, we got the three-point shot.
  • In the 2000-2001 season, we got the play-by-play data.
  • In the 2013-2014 season, we got complete SportsVU data for each team.

Turning good shots into great shots is pretty much the secret sauce of Steve Nash's greatness.

Sometimes us quants use complicated decision trees. Of course, I don't have a problem with that.

Steve Nash encapsulates the key behind using the boxscore to examine players. A ton of Nash's greatness was in making less than an extra three-pointer a game. This is hard to notice game to game. But when you dig into the efficiency numbers, Nash's greatness gets even better.

Nerlens Noel

Last week we had Layne Vashro on the show. According to Layne's numbers, Nerlens Noel was a prospect up there with the likes of Anthony Davis and Shaq!

The number one pick is winning the rookie of the year if they lead the league in scoring. Well, unless you're Glenn Robinson playing next to Grant Hill and Jason Kidd. I don't think Andrew Wiggins needs to worry about the reserved spot in his trophy case.

A rookie getting blocks, steals, and assists at the rate Nerlens Noel is almost unheard of! Carey Scurry in 1985-1986 was the last time it happened! I'd never heard of Carey Scurry before today. He only lasted three seasons in the NBA.

The list of players that put up Noel like numbers are rare. He's only twenty years old!

Every player on the 76ers that has put up over eight assists per forty-eight minutes has also put up at least five turnovers per forty-eight minutes. In short, it's possible a better point guard could help out Noel's subpar shooting going forward.

Patrick says Embiid doesn't need to be the next Patrick Ewing. That would actually be a bad thing, as Ewing spent several seasons before he was productive.

The sad reality is that Ewing wasn't that hot when the Knicks started making finals -- he was quite good in his prime. Underrated stars like Anthony Mason are why the Knicks were so good in the 90s.

Thomas Robinson has looked good on the 76ers. They may have a strong frontcourt next season. Now, they just need a point guard that can distribute the ball.

Shout Outs

Patrick shouts out the Oklahoma City Thunder Media. The Thunder's front office has pushed them back.

Carey Scurry gets a shout out. He was totally a Nerlens Noel player before advanced stats. We can only wonder what could have been if the NBA front offices were a little more savvy.

I got to see Penn and Teller live. In terms of introspective skepticism, they are fantastic. They're also great performers and were very open for photos with fans. A class act who deserve my shout out.

Brian makes sure we give Steve Nash an extra shout out.