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[Podcast] WHAT about Basketball Stats?

Tara and Cassidy talk to Raptors fan and analytics enthusiast Anna Jane Smith about what you can learn from basketball statistics.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s WHAT podcast features a hypothetical playoff scenario (that the Blazers would win), who would be the best retired Trail Blazer to have on the broadcast team, and what should Santa bring for the team this season? Then Tara and Cassidy are joined by Anna Jane Smith of Raptors Twitter for a tutorial on getting started with basketball statistics. Get out your pencil, you’re going to want to take notes!


0:45 Come to the Blazers WHAT meetup watch party!

5:45 If the playoffs started today (which has already changed) the Blazers would play OKC, how do you think the Blazers would do in a seven game series against them?

8:45 Which former Blazer would you like to have as a broadcaster

10:30 A bit about Clyde Drexler on Dancing with the Stars

12:00 What should the Blazers ask santa for this year?

16:30 How do you watch a game?

19:30 Introducing Anna Jane Smith how she got into basketball.

21:45 Helpful stats for evaluating individual players? Simplest stats are often the best.

23:30 In real time you often see what you expect to see. Sometimes it takes watching a second

25:15 time to figure out what is really going on.

25:30 What do you look at to figure out what is going on with a player vs what is going on with a team? Look at lineup data. What combinations are working and what combinations are not working?

27:45 Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus adjusts for teammate quality and opponent quality.

32:15 Jacob Goldstein’s Player Impact Plus Minus, Luck adjustment.

34:00 Defenses used to have less control over 3-point make rates, but that is changing as teams are learning how to be more effective guarding against the 3-point shot.

36:00 Would you prefer your team take more 3-pointers with a lower success rate or a fewer 3-pointers with better accuracy?

39:30 Do you think the league might use stats to make policy changes?

44:30 We can use numbers to bust through narratives a bit, to check assumptions about what we think is going on.

49:30 Some basics to get us started. Player Impact Estimate (PIE) from, watch for productivity vs impact stats, Cranjis McBasketball for Points Over Expectation (tutorial),

ESPN’s Real Plus Minus, Player Impact Plus Minus, BBall INdex, Basketball Reference,

53:45 Writers to follow: Jacob Goldstein, Jeremias Englemann, Cranjis McBasketball

56:45 Follow Anna on twitter @AnnaJaneSmith4

57:15 Just kidding, not really done! When is a sample size not small anymore? And don’t forget to pull the Phoenix game (or Bulls) stats out!

Get Social

Follow Blazer’s Edge on Twitter @blazersedge, WHAT Pod @HoopsAndTalks, Tara @tcbbiggs, and Cassidy @CassidyGemmet. This week’s guest: Anna Jane Smith (@AnnaJaneSmith4)

Women’s Hoops And Talks (W.H.A.T.)

Join the Women’s Hoops And Talks Facebook group to talk about Trail Blazers with others who identify as women who love basketball. Our next meetup/watch party is December 17 at the McMenamins on Broadway.

Music used in the episode: “Happy Alley” Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Blazer’s Edge Night

Help us send kids in need to see the Blazers play the Brooklyn Nets in March!