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Gregg Popovich Slams Single-Game Plus-Minus

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Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune relates that Popovich, while a proponent of analytics, hates one box score stat above all others.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Portland Trail Blazers 111-110 victory over the San Antonio Spurs this week, Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune got a few words from Head Coach Gregg Popovich about the importance of analytics in the modern game. Sanguine, if not enthusiastic, about the NBA’s approach to statistical analysis, Pop reserved a strident criticism for a particular stat upon which casual observers rely: single-game plus-minus.

Eggers quotes Popovich:

“All of a sudden, the league slipped the plus/minus (into the boxscores) without any of us knowing about it,” Popovich said of a practice that began last season. “It’s the most meaningless thing on the whole sheet. I don’t know where (the idea) came from, who pioneered it, who slid it into the NBA, who thought it was cool.

”I’ve got no clue, but it’s the most useless thing there is on the whole stat sheet. It’s dangerous. It creates the wrong impressions for players. I hate it.”

Plus-Minus measures the point differential between opposing teams when a particular player was on the floor. It can be useful in large sample sizes but is near meaningless as an individual stat in an isolated game. Arguments about its validity bubble up on Blazer’s Edge from time to time. Now somebody can make a gif of Pop’s scowl and wagging finger to end it.

Eggers’ column also covers video reviews, All-Star voting, and the Houston memorial service for Blazers luminary Steve “Snapper” Jones.