Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
But an ESPN The Magazine article from October 2013 detailed how more Major League Baseball teams — including the Boston Red Sox — are exploring the idea of quantifying chemistry to help better construct their rosters.
One aspect noted was that some teams, such as the Red Sox, have tried using more extensive background checks to gauge a player’s personality, which then helped them carefully determine if that player fits into the construct of their team.
NBA sources have heard rumblings of teams experimenting with the notion of trying to quantify chemistry — though it’s unclear if the Celtics are one of them — but it’s still in the earliest stages and nothing conclusive has yet been found.
Even still, chemistry is considered to be one of the next frontiers in the basketball analytics revolution, a notion raised several times at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conferences held last month in Boston.
I like to think I’m in a healthy place when it comes to this analytics revolution. There are some cool new ways to look at players and evaluate their true value. There are new statistics to give us a deeper understanding of the game and the SportVu player tracking has given teams more information than they know what to do with.
It’s like finding a new fruit growing on a remote tree somewhere. We’ll pick through it, figure out what we can eat, and we’ll discard the rest. Eventually, some of these statistics will just fall by the wayside when we find out they’re useless.
But this attempt to quantify intangibles will be the statistical version of trying to track Big Foot. There will be people who swear it exists, that it’s possible to find, yet there won’t ever be a solid number. There won’t be some magical, mythical formula that can tell you who’s got the heart for this game and who doesn’t.
It’s an intriguing idea, though, but it’s one that comes with some serious pitfalls.
“It’s kind of tough,” Sullinger said. “You can’t really gauge a team off chemistry. Sometimes the teams that don’t get along are the best teams.”
Sullinger added, “Chemistry is definitely underrated to me, personally, but to build a team off chemistry and not talent and certain pieces that you need is not a smart idea.”
I’ll disagree with one thing Sullinger said, but agree with the overall notion.
I think chemistry can be overrated a lot of times. Guys don’t have to like each other to play well together. You can have a solid professional relationship with a guy and then hate his guts off the court. All you need to be is talented and smart, realize that you have a mutually beneficial goal, and you can work through the rest.
It’s an interesting concept, though, and a sign that the statistical exploration of this game we love is only really just starting. Calling it a “revolution” is apt; we are witnessing a radical change in how everyone is evaluated. No longer are players judged solely on how many points they’re able to score or produce for their teammates, or how often they can corral rebounds. They are judged in groups of 2, 3, and 4. They are judged on not just making shots, but the types of shots they make most frequently. And this push to quantify the un-quantifiable is partly admirable despite the folly of the pursuit.
Or maybe they just been drankin’.
Page 2: Jeff Green inspires his teammates
The goal seemed fairly basic. When Jeff Green returned last season to basketball after a year away from the court because of heart surgery, he never wanted to miss another game.
Say what you want about his game — those maddening highs and lows in his performance — but the Celtics forward is driven. He played all 81 games during the 2012-13 season — one was canceled because of the Boston Marathon bombings.
And now that the countdown in this interminable season has only seven games left, starting tonight against Philadelphia in the Garden, the third complete season of Green’s six-year career appears to be in hand. The first came in 2009-10 with Oklahoma City.
And all that statistical talk about heart leads us to Jeff Green, who might be the poster boy for how that stat wouldn’t work.
Jeff Green has shown a propensity for… shall we say… disappearing? For every monster Green game, there have been a few duds, especially late in games. Yet, take a look at that link and look at the admiration the guys have for him.
After his return from heart surgery, Green is about to play two straight full seasons in the NBA.
That’s one hell of an accomplishment. That takes an immense amount of hard work, not just to return to this level after his chest was cracked open, but to stay healthy every day of a long season. That’s not easy to do, no matter what kind of wise crack you’re about to make in the comments about it being easy to stay healthy when you’re not going hard all the time.
It takes some luck, too. Think of all those drives and dunks, and more importantly, the attempted dunks where he gets fouled, where he lands somewhat awkwardly. I’ve seen guys not get up on their own after plays like that.
(please, basketball Gods, don’t let that last paragraph be a jinx)
Green gets a lot of criticism, and some of it is deserved. But some of it is our own fault for projecting expectations on him that were just too high. You can’t buy a Nissan Sentra and then get pissed off when you can’t win a race off the line at a green light. That’s on you, not the car.
So much of the criticism of Green comes from us wanting him to be more than he is. We want him to be a #1 guy, or a solid #2. And he’s just not. He’s not going to be a potential max contract guy. He’s not going to be your leading scorer every night. And he’s not going to provide the flashy stats every day of the week.
He’s a good NBA player with the ability to go off and occasionally be the best player on the floor. That’s why he makes $9 million and not $19 million.
I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve some criticism, because he definitely does. But I’m just saying that in reality, Green works harder than a lot of us give him credit for. The guys in the locker room know it. They look up to him for it.
I’d love to see someone try to quantify that.
OUR PARTY IS TOMORROW!!!!!!
We’re giving away two tickets to the season finale, so you can go say goodbye to the Celtics and thank them for a hard-fought season. We’ve got a few other prizes that we’ll give away, and we’ll be watching the Celtics AND the Final Four.
The rest of the links: