Last Night’s Numbers

Want to make you all aware of a cool series happening at Hickory High entitled Last Night’s Numbers. Modeled after Dwyer’s “Behind the Box Score,” “Last Night’s Numbers” provides interesting statistical observations relevant to the various statistical elements that inform Win Score and Wins Produced.

It’s become a daily read for me, especially on days like today in which I wasn’t able to catch all of last night’s Pistons game.

L.A. Lakers 103 – Detroit 90

  • Detroit, remarkably, had only 5 turnovers on the night. Unfortunately, they struggled to make shots, shooting only 39.4% from the field and 4 of 25 on three pointers.
  • The Lakers controlled the glass, grabbing 57.3% of available rebounds. The Lakers’ starters had 39 rebounds, only 2 less than the entire Pistons’ team.
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Joe Dumars disagrees with me

Joe Dumars had a Q&A session with Chris Iott of Mlive.com, which has been posted in pieces over the past few days. Apparently, he and I are seeing very different things with respect to certain Pistons players.

Regarding Monroe, Dumars says:

When he’s on the court, you don’t ever feel like he’s a lost rookie. He has an extremely high basketball IQ, he has a great feel for the game and he’s an exceptional passer. […] So, that’s what you’re seeing with him. I think that as he goes through this first cycle, he’s been good for us so far. I think he’ll be even better during the second cycle, meaning the second half of the year after he’s seen these guys for the first time, and now you play them again and again, he’ll have an idea of who these guys are.

Well, he really hasn’t been very good, Joe, respectfully. As I mentioned yesterday, he’s rebounded well – but he’s shooting sub 40% from the field! And then there’s the turnovers – which seem to get glossed over every time his passing skills are mentioned – and the fact that he doesn’t offer all that much on defense.

Regarding Daye, Dumars says:

I really like what Austin has done so far. Austin got moved to the four kind of in the middle of the preseason. He just kind of got moved to the four and we’ve asked him to go out there and battle guys where he’s giving up 40, 50 pounds. He’s never blinked an eye. Really liked him in the summer. Really liked him in training camp. Really liked him during the preseason. He’s been good during the start of the regular season, but we still are very encouraged by this young player. This is a skilled 6-11 guy who’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. Even if he gets knocked down, he kind of sticks his nose in there and keeps fighting. We like Austin. We like what he’s doing.

While I remain optimistic about Daye’s future at the 2 and 3, he has simply not been good at all at the 4. Not at all. He did have a very nice preseason, but he played major minutes at 2 and 3 during the preseason, but that hasn’t carried over into the regular, at least not yet.

Regarding our fallen Swede, Jonas Jerebko:

What Jonas provides for us doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score like you think. But that’s part of the continuity I was talking about. He’s one of those glue type of guys. The plays he makes, the diving on the floor, the taking the charge, the getting the extra rebound, man, we definitely miss that. Like I said, it’s probably one of those situations where it doesn’t show up in the box score, but it would really help if we had someone like him out there helping us right now.

I don’t want to be overly critical for the sake of being critical here, because Joe’s right (at least partially) that not all of what Jonas does makes the box score. And clearly, Joe values Jonas, as do I. But rebounds and steals – two things we aren’t very good at overall – do show up in the box score, both impact wins, and Jonas produces both. For whatever reason, these types of plays seem to get relegated to “hustle plays,” as if any player who hustles hard enough can produce them. While I’d agree that effort matters, rebounding and stealing the ball is as much talent as anything else – something Ben Wallace still demonstrates every night the Pistons take the floor. Unfortunately, when Joe inks contracts – at least of late – he seems to forget that.

Regarding not making trades this summer:

I would just say that I would assume for those who want trades that they would want good trades. The question for me is not, “Why no trades?” The question for me is, “If there’s not a good trade, why would I do it?” There was never a trade that made sense for us. It made no sense for us to make a trade if it was not going to be beneficial for us.

It seems to me, based on last season and the beginning of this season, that there shouldn’t be any “sacred cows” on this roster. Any trade that gets us out of the several bad contracts we have would benefit us, and there’s no one on the team that’s good enough to be untouchable (although I’m not sure I could live with Dumars if he traded Ben Wallace). To be fair, though, if I were a GM in the NBA, I’m not sure I’m buying what the Pistons are selling. So depending on what he means here, maybe we actually agree.

Lastly, Dumars on TMac:

I think so far, for about half of the eight games we’ve played, he’s looked good enough to help us on the court. There have been other games where he’s even kind of pulled himself and said, “I just don’t feel it tonight.” […] I’m very happy with how he’s kind of embraced the leadership role here. I’ve heard him speak up. I’ve heard him say the right stuff. I’ve seen him bring composure to the court when we’ve needed it. I’ve seen him play with a very high basketball IQ. So, those things have been all positives with Tracy

I’d be remiss to not give Joe credit where it’s due – he recognized talent where many other teams didn’t. But beyond that, it’s difficult for me to see what Dumars does.

Why another Pistons blog?

A new season for the Pistons begins today. And another new Pistons blog appears in the blogosphere. 

I’m a lifelong fan of my beloved Pistons, and I’m an avid follower of several Pistons blogs. Each of the blogs I follow has its own niche for me personally, and each of them produces excellent content on a consistent basis. My goal isn’t to compete with or reproduce what these blogs already do very well and better than I ever could. So, you won’t see (many) game recaps. You won’t see link dumps. You won’t see game threads. Hit the sidebar for several Pistons blogs that do that.

Instead, what you will see is statistical analysis applied to the Pistons (and maybe to some other teams that catch my fancy once in a while). Specifically, I will analyze and evaluate the Pistons through the lens of Wins Produced and its derivatives.

“But why would anyone want to do that?” You might ask. And it’s a great question.

A few years ago, a friend turned me onto the Wages of Wins Journal, a blog authored by Dr. David Berri. After reading through its archive, I hastily ordered Dr. Berri’s book, The Wages of Wins (and later on Stumbling on Wins). I read the book(s) in no more than a couple sittings. And things that I think I must have known somewhere beneath the surface of conscious knowledge started to make sense.

The 2004 Pistons were truly a great team. Ben Wallace actually was one of the game’s most dominant players. There’s a reason Dennis Rodman has so many Championship Rings. 

In short, I think these metrics explain how teams and their players win basketball games, and I think they do it very well. I don’t think they’re perfect; in fact, we know they’re not. I don’t think the stories these numbers tell say everything that can be said; in fact, we know they don’t. But they do tell us a lot, and they tell their stories more accurately than any of their competitors.

And that’s why I’ve decided to start this blog – because there are stories to tell about the Pistons that aren’t yet being told. 

If Wins Produced, et al, is unfamiliar to you, check out Required Readings. The Glossary of Terms might be useful too. Glad to have you along for the ride.