The Boxscore Geeks Show: Special Guest Layne Vashro

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

Layne cut his teeth at Canis Hoopus -- fantastic post on Rubio here. Like Patrick, Layne is a Timberwolves fans.

Layne has draft projection tools available at Nylon Calculus.

Layne uses a multitude of factors to assess NBA prospects. These are primarily boxscore stats, height, weight, and a variety of team factors.

Layne and Arturo have both noticed that players that play on good teams tend to be better than their numbers.

Layne looks at where teams shoot from. This tends to impact player performance. Shot selection mattering is nothing new to us or Nylon Calculus.

Patrick says Iowa State looks like a Moreyball D-League team.

O.J. Mayo doesn't count, but Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Patrick Beverley were athletic guards in the NCAA that had better games in the NBA thanks, possibly, to their athleticism.

Michael Beasley looked good in college and never lived up to the hype. Layne says he'd have taken Beasley every time.

Layne points out that a college season isn't that long. It is enough to let you know if the player can play.

Layne has been looking at shot location data in the NCAA for the last several years. It turns out that players that get unassisted shots at the rim tend to look more promising in the NBA.

Unassisted jumpers at the college level can signal bad future shooting. In college you can outshoot opponents, especially if they're facing shorter opponents. Harrison Barnes is an example of this. Shabazz Muhammad is another player that did this, but altered his game in the NBA.

Doing well in transition in NCAA is almost meaningless in regards to NBA skill.

Layne points out you should try your best to get a star with your draft pick. Shocking, I know. That said, he does back Patrick on the idea of not drafting for need. Sorry, Portland!

A key to using data is using it to inform hypotheses and being willing to change your mind. Both Layne and Gregg Popovich demonstrate this.

Layne says that Flip Saunders has an issue where he thinks any player can be "coached to play right." Sadly, most of these players have been playing a while. Flip, like others, overrates his ability to "mold young players."

Layne says athleticism may matter more than we think. We should clarify, athleticism means things like vertical ability, not what GMs think means athleticism.

While athleticism matters, Layne does say if a player can't play, it's not best to hope on that changing.

We bring up Andre Drummond, who we thought was a bad draft pick. Of course, we quickly changed our tune.

Layne says Andre Drummond moves around as he tweaks his draft model. That said, he shows up in the top five. Layne confirms that Drummond was not good in the NCAA.

Layne has done some coaching tools too, which also matter for future player performance.

Layne says he'd pick Karl Towns with any pick in the draft. Patrick does his best to shake Layne off this pick, but no dice.

Layne says Delon Wright is a good prospect, but he's not a true darkhorse as he's still a first-round prospect. Think Kenneth Faried.

Layne says this draft may be the most boring ever in comparing conventional wisdom and "stat knowledge." Are NBA teams learning?

We talk about John Oliver and his amazing takedown of the NCAA.

I saw John Oliver live. He had a great take on University of Wisconsin's large phallic football statue.

Patrick mentions Jim Boeheim has been a sleazeball. The ESPN Watch has some great material on this.

Patrick explains the difference between an "economic profit" and an "accounting profit."

Patrick had a friend who played defensive end for the University of Washington in the 90s. He said that every player in the locker room thought they'd make the NFL. Of course, the real numbers are much worse. Patrick notes that no college coach is telling their players to expect to miss the NFL.

Richard Sherman notes how hard it is to be a full-time student and a professional athlete at the same time.

Mike Birbiglia has talked a ton about how being a successful standup comedian requires being self-delusional. Essentially, if you're honest with yourself, you'd quit. The same logic applies to athletes.

Freakonomics has talked about the upside of quitting. Baseball and hockey players, for instance, make a worse decision to try and play baseball for a living vs. going for an education.

Malcolm Gladwell has talked how professional athletes are trained to have qualities that can be abused. In essence, college coaches that exploit college athletes are looking for people that have qualities that make them more obedient and delusional.

Shout Outs

Rest in peace Terry Pratchett. A great fantasy author, who will be missed. Sadly, I lied, neither "The Colour of Magic" or "Hogfather" are available on Netflix streaming. Still, both are worth checking out.

Ed O'Bannon and Jalen Rose, who helped make a great satire commercial in John Oliver's NCAA piece, and, in general, are great proponents of athlete's rights.

Below is how to guarantee yourself a shout out. Great work Michael!