The No-Stats All-Star

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Teams are useful because their composition yields properties beyond the sum of their parts. Powerful teams reside in business, sports, government, marriage, the arts, science and beyond. This article makes the infrequent point of quality over quantity: The value not of more statistics, but of meaningful ones.

“Here we have a basketball mystery: a player [Shane Battier] is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.”

When he [Battier] is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse….When [Kobe] Bryant is in the game and Battier is on him, the Lakers’ offense is worse than if the N.B.A.’s best player had taken the night off…“a marginal N.B.A. athlete” not only guards one of the greatest — and smartest — offensive threats ever to play … He renders him a detriment to his team.

“For most of its history basketball has measured not so much what is important as what is easy to measure — points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots — and these measurements have warped perceptions of the game. (‘Someone created the box score,” Morey says, “and he should be shot.’) How many points a player scores…is no true indication of how much he has helped his team. .. if you want to know a player’s value as a rebounder, you need to know not whether he got a rebound but the likelihood of the team getting the rebound when a missed shot enters that player’s zone.”The No-Stats All-Star

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