The Boxscore Geeks Show: The OKC Screwjob

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Arturo competed regularly in the now defunct Truehoop Stat Geek Smackdown. Like Chris Paul he had all the moves and talent to win. He just got in his own head a few times.

Stan Van Gundy to the Pistons

One of our favorite coaches is heading to the Pistons. Arturo says the Pistons have Andre Drummond and not much else, but Van Gundy can work with that. As Arturo's work on strategy in the NBA shows, the style of play Van Gundy likes currently has edge in the NBA.

People may say Van Gundy is not an analytics guy. The thing is, he's just skeptical of common issues in current analytics work (e.g. blackbox metrics ala ESPN's new RPMBen Gulker, a friend of the podcast sums this up the move nicely at Detroit Bad Boys.

I confuse David West and Rashard Lewis. But I am curious about using Rashard Lewis as a power forward. Arturo has an interesting point -- Lewis was busted for PEDs.

I point out that Dumars' "success" in Detroit may have just been luck. He got Ben Wallace as a consolation gift for losing Grant Hill. Of course, Wallace was almost John Amaechi. Dumars also picked up Chauncey Billups, who turned out amazing. Of course, Billups' career until then had not indicated that had any shot of happening. Also, unlike Arturo indicated on the show, Amaechi was actually bigger than Wallace.

Arturo actually liked Caldwell-Pope, who didn't play poorly (for a rookie) last season. Arturo says a rookie season on a bad team should just be a mulligan, so hey two bright spots!

Steve Kerr to the Golden State Warriors

Who could have seen this coming?

Kerr goes to Golden State and disses his former "master" in Phil Jackson. Of course, $25 million over 5 years works pretty well to move loyalty.

There may be some racial stigma associated with Mark Jackson's firing. Jacob Greenberg over at the Diss has a great piece on this. Of course, we've looked at biases in hiring coaches before ourselves.

On the other side, Mark Jackson fought with star players, the owners, and also had more conservative views than would help a new San Francisco stadium.

Tangent - Will coaches be able to matter more with new system? Arturo compares it to the Wishbone vs. the Pass. This means there may be a short term edge, but it won't be around forever.

In terms of "three point power" for Golden State: Kerr had three seasons with 50% from the three point line. Stephen Curry has the single season record for most threes. Expect the long ball to keep raining down.

Arturo's prediction for New York's coach now that Kerr is out of the running is Derek Fisher.

Is Dolan a bad enough owner to scare away good assets?

"You're not winning a title with the current Knicks roster, at least not for a good long while." Arturo may not know the meaning of the word "current" As Brian points out that's a Yogism!

Arturo's best suggestion for the new Clippers' owners is "Beats by Dre" With $3.2 billion, why not? As Arturo says it would make Stern spin in his grave. I approve!

The Oklahoma City Screwjob

Westbrook got a "steal" that probably should have been called foul. And then Chris Paul had a "foul" that shouldn't have been called. It got Arturo to go far enough to suggest the NBA should bring in FIBA referees for the playoffs to avoid flubs like this.

Question: What is the statute of limitations for jokes about JFK assassinations? Arturo is claiming it's 50 years. I'm not so sure.

The calls seem to be going really well for the Thunder. With an iffy last second call dictating the potential future champ, it's hard not to compare this to the infamous Montreal Screwjob, where Bret Hart lost his WWF title to Shawn Michaels. A fantastic documentary on this (and free on Netflix) is "Wrestling with Shadows". Arturo also points to a great interview with Jim Cornette on the subject.

A less nefarious take is that referees are human. At Sloan there was a great paper on how umpires are biased against calling balls or strikes if it "ends the play." The book Scorecasting recounts how the crowd can impact the referees as well. And of course, stars get calls.

I steer the conversation back to wrestling and say I think the Montreal Screwjob was an elaborate kayfabe that we'll see uncovered when Bret and Vince are dead. My reasoning is that Bret got a concussion that forced him to retire and later got a major injury when he crashed his bicycle. Basically, real world injuries kept the story buried.

A point we've hammered this week is the wrong way to be clutch. Even though he got the foul, Westbrook contested three was a bad decision. Yet, the Thunder are living and dying by "Hero Ball" right now.

The Rest of the Playoffs

I ask Arturo a few questions about the playoffs:

  • What are your thoughts of Durant being unable to watch the free throws?
  • Can you say "Kawhi Leonard"? We muck this up every podcast. We try to fix that!
  • Is Wade back? Arturo's response is that Chris Anderson matters more.
  • Is Roy Hibbert back? I answer this no before Arturo has a shot.
  • Does Tim Duncan retire if he wins a title?

Arturo's finals prediction? Spurs in 5.


Arturo shouts out Coach Nick (@bballsource) for being a savvy eye on the Westbrook issue, Alfredo Arteaga (@UptownReport), for being a top notch Heat fan, and @pinwheelempire, for being an awesome Blazers fan.

Ben Gulker (@brgulker) gets one of my shout outs. Seriously one of the classiest and savviest stats bloggers out there. Next, Nik Bonaddio(@nikbonaddio) gets my shout out for keeping a level head during a stats argument I had this week.

Enjoy the podcast and we'll talk next week!