Stats Lie

There's nothing worse than living on the East coast and having the Cavs go through an early season West Coast trip...because you don't get to watch the games. You don't get a feel for how your team is playing. All you get is a boxscore.

Boxscores are nice. Don't get me wrong. You get to see neat little things like FG%, +/-, Points scored, Rebounds grabbed. They wrap the game up nicely into a neat statistical data that is easily read and understood by a great many people.

Unfortunately, they never tell the whole story. Certainly, if you are a Cavs fan, you can't expect to get a recap that really talks about how your team is playing. Even last nights game vs the Grizzlies, that 4 letter networks recap seemed to talk more about Memphis than the Cavaliers. The video highlights are exactly that...highlights. They don't truly show the ebb and flow of the game, who played well despite what the boxscore shows.

For instance, if I told you that a player was going to get 15 points on 5-16 shooting, 0 rebounds 3 assists and 2 turnovers and has a +/- of might think that said player had a bad game. Dion Waiters really wasn't that bad.

Watching the game is the only way to get a real players value. That's why front offices send scouts to watch players play. They don't send statisticians to watch boxscores. They don't rely on just a set of stats. They certainly don't rely on arbitrary stats like +/- or Ortg and Drtg. There's so much more to basketball.

A friend of mine once told me numbers don't lie. So, I told him the following story.

3 traveling business men are on their way home. They are swinging through a small town in the middle of nowhere and just needed a place to lay their heads down to sleep. So they stop at this little roadside motel and the manager tells them that the room costs $30.00 per night. Deciding to save some money, they share the room and each man pays out $10.00. About 30 minutes later, the manager realizes he is overcharging the men as the room was only $25.00. So he gives the bellhop $5.00 to give to the men. The bellhop, realizing that $5.00 can't be split evenly between the three guys decides to give each man $1.00 and keep two for himself. This means that each man spent $9.00 (which times three is $27.00) and he kept $2.00 for himself. That totals up to $29.00. Where is the missing dollar?

Trying to extract real information from stats without the context of actual game tape is like trying to find this missing dollar. In the case of this story, there is no missing dollar. Stats are to be used as an enhancement to real game data.

The case of Daniel Gibson (as brought up by Analytics in several threads) is like the missing dollar story. His +/- looks awful. But there's a myriad of reasons why. Playing with a bad bench. Playing in a lineup that at a time is not hitting it's shots. Limited sample size on a very short season. He's an efficient player with all of the other stats (conventional and advanced). It's just one data set that says he's bad (and in this case, epically bad.)

At the end of the day, watch the game, then read the boxscores, then draw the conclusions. Otherwise, you'll spend a lot of time looking for a missing dollar.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword

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