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  1. #1

    Are We Relying Too Heavily On "The Lottery"?

    Some interesting blog entries on Kenpom over the past few days basically make the argument that 3 point shooting is essentially the lottery.

    http://kenpom.com/blog/

    Some games you are hot (win the lottery) some games you are not (live by the bomb die by the bomb). Over the course of the season it all averages out.

    IMHO this in part explains Andre Dawkins. The kid can shoot but his game is largely catch and shoot from behind the arc. Games like tonight he won the Powerball but then others he will go 0 for and over the course of the season he will end up around 40%.

    An interesting argument can be made that a 2010 style defense (sag/contain) so that you can stop easy buckets better is a smarter overall strategy and just pray you don't "lose the lottery" in a one and done format come tourny time.

    It seems that against some of our better competition we have relied heavily on our outside shooting and in essence played "the lottery". Sometimes we win (UNC) sometimes we lose (Miami/Ohio St.). Does anyone else feel like our chances in March will largely be determined by whether we get "hot" and "win the lottery"?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLW View Post
    Some interesting blog entries on Kenpom over the past few days basically make the argument that 3 point shooting is essentially the lottery.

    http://kenpom.com/blog/

    Some games you are hot (win the lottery) some games you are not (live by the bomb die by the bomb). Over the course of the season it all averages out.

    IMHO this in part explains Andre Dawkins. The kid can shoot but his game is largely catch and shoot from behind the arc. Games like tonight he won the Powerball but then others he will go 0 for and over the course of the season he will end up around 40%.

    An interesting argument can be made that a 2010 style defense (sag/contain) so that you can stop easy buckets better is a smarter overall strategy and just pray you don't "lose the lottery" in a one and done format come tourny time.

    It seems that against some of our better competition we have relied heavily on our outside shooting and in essence played "the lottery". Sometimes we win (UNC) sometimes we lose (Miami/Ohio St.). Does anyone else feel like our chances in March will largely be determined by whether we get "hot" and "win the lottery"
    This seems fairly silly because it ignores two things.

    1) Twos are also the lottery. There's this idea that threes are somehow a wildly bigger gamble than shooting twos, which most college teams don't exceed much more than 50% on. It's not like you have a 90% chance of making a two versus high 30s% on a good three-point shooting team.

    2) It ignores that the bonus point means that you only need to hit 33.3% on threes to equal the equivalent 50% shooting percentage on twos. So shooting 38 or 39% from three is actually better than shooting 50% from two. Less "lotteryish," as it were.

    I agree that our fortunes in March will depend on whether we make shots or not.

    Just because people mimic the "live by the three, die by the three" meme as if it were a litany, it doesn't mean that open threes are some risky roll of the dice.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This seems fairly silly because it ignores two things.

    1) Twos are also the lottery. There's this idea that threes are somehow a wildly bigger gamble than shooting twos, which most college teams don't exceed much more than 50% on. It's not like you have a 90% chance of making a two versus high 30s% on a good three-point shooting team.

    2) It ignores that the bonus point means that you only need to hit 33.3% on threes to equal the equivalent 50% shooting percentage on twos. So shooting 38 or 39% from three is actually better than shooting 50% from two. Less "lotteryish," as it were.

    I agree that our fortunes in March will depend on whether we make shots or not.

    Just because people mimic the "live by the three, die by the three" meme as if it were a litany, it doesn't mean that open threes are some risky roll of the dice.
    C'mon... 50%? A great 3 point shooter will shoot 40%, but a great big man can shoot 70%. The 70% does not include all of the times that he gets fouled and goes to the line. If your big guy can make foul shots and get his own rebound from time to time, his ability to generate 2 points when he gets the ball in the post and makes a move could be at like 80%!!! You don't (tonight was an anomaly) really get fouled on a 3-pt shot too often.

    I didn't read the article, but we all know that if you are a 3 point shooting team and you go cold, you're dead in the water. Big guys that score with dunks and 2-4 foot shots don't really "go cold" like shooters do. That's the "risk". But a team that relies on a couple of bigs can't get back into a game as quickly as a good 3 point shooting team can. That's the advantage.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    A great big man can shoot 70%. The 70% does not include all of the times that he gets fouled and goes to the line. If your big guy can make foul shots and get his own rebound from time to time, his ability to generate 2 points when he gets the ball in the post and makes a move could be at like 80%!!! You don't (tonight was an anomaly) really get fouled on a 3-pt shot too often.
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.

    Boozer--and this is ridic--63%
    Elton Brand 61.2%
    Shaq 61.0%
    Hansbrough 53.5%

    The guys at the top are insane outliers compared to the average NCAAT big man. And they could still be equaled by a guy shooting a tad over 40% from distance. (Given the bonus point). And they're among the best ever from 2 in the 3pt era. You could look up some other guys, but you're not going to find anyone with a career college FG% of 80 or anywhere close to it. Also, recall that when you get fouled, the miss doesn't count (so it's doesn't bring down the FG%), and big guys generally don't have as high FT% as guards.

    In 1997 on SportsCenter, Rich Eisen called Duke "the mustang ranch of trey whores." Well guess what. Guys like Krzyzewski and Pitino know the score, they know what they're doing, and they've internalized what's going on with probability. When you have a number of guys on your team, guards/forwards, who can hit in the very high 30s from three, that's better than having run-of-the-mill big guys tossing from 8 feet. Dunks don't happen all that often as a percentage of possessions. Most big guys you can actually recruit aren't Carlos Boozer. And if you have a guard who can hit about 40% from three, that's statistically better than the overwhelming majority of all the big guys ever from two, given the bonus point.

    The three is not an insane lottery compared to the two. This idea is based on misconceptions.
    Last edited by throatybeard; 02-24-2012 at 02:36 AM.

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    Who’s gonna bury who
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.

    Boozer--and this is ridic--63%
    Elton Brand 61.2%
    Shaq 61.0%
    Hansbrough 53.5%

    The guys at the top are insane outliers compared to the average NCAAT big man. And they could still be equaled by a guy shooting a tad over 40% from distance. (Given the bonus point). And they're among the best ever from 2 in the 3pt era. You could look up some other guys, but you're not going to find anyone with a career college FG% of 80 or anywhere close to it. Also, recall that when you get fouled, the miss doesn't count (so it's doesn't bring down the FG%), and big guys generally don't have as high FT% as guards.

    In 1997 on SportsCenter, Rich Eisen called Duke "the mustang ranch of trey whores." Well guess what. Guys like Krzyzewski and Pitino know the score, they know what they're doing, and they've internalized what's going on with probability. When you have a number of guys on your team, guards/forwards, who can hit in the very high 30s from three, that's better than having run-of-the-mill big guys tossing from 8 feet. Dunks don't happen all that often as a percentage of possessions. Most big guys you can actually recruit aren't Carlos Boozer. And if you have a guard who can hit about 40% from three, that's statistically better than the overwhelming majority of all the big guys ever from two, given the bonus point.

    The three is not an insane lottery compared to the two. This idea is based on misconceptions.
    "Amazing" sure, whatever you want to call it, that's what I said... "great" big men, not standard. If Boozer shot 63% for a career, he had plenty of games where he shot 70% from the field! Haywood had games where he went 70%.

    I don't know why you repeated my original point, but I'll say it a 3rd time... if you get fouled on a shot, that doesn't go towards your FG percentage. Bigs get fouled a lot more than 3 point shooters do... probably like 10 times more often. It doesn't matter if their FT % is lower than guards. A guard shooting 3s isn't going to the line in the first place! Look at Hans %age that you listed. No way he's the ACC leading scorer with just that shooting %age--he LIVED at the line, which isn't accounted for in that figure.

    So a big guy has an ability to generate points in a way that is less risky than bombing 3s. If you get cold from 3 you are in trouble. It's a lot harder to "get cold" shooting dunks and 2-4 ft shots.

    Dunks don't happen all that often? You're really losing me there. The Plums dunk every game, and they are not even elite, as you mentioned.

    I've heard the math just like everyone else who watches basketball. But the raw shooting %ages of 3-pt vs. 2-pt shots does not take into account factors like GETTING FOULED and GETTING YOUR OWN REBOUND. A big guy's overall offensive productivity is based on these factors, whereas a 3 pt shooters offensive productivity is just based on his shooting %age.

  6. #6
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    shooting 3's seems to irritate the Tar Heels, so i'm onboard...
    "Either we're going down, or they are....... Kirk out!"

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    "Amazing" sure, whatever you want to call it, that's what I said... "great" big men, not standard. If Boozer shot 63% for a career, he had plenty of games where he shot 70% from the field!
    He also had plenty of games where he shot below 50% (even games below 40%). Don't confuse outliers with averages. When discussing what is an effective strategy for maximizing the liklihood of winning, it's the latter that's important.

    Bigs get fouled a lot more than 3 point shooters do... probably like 10 times more often. It doesn't matter if their FT % is lower than guards. A guard shooting 3s isn't going to the line in the first place!
    Now you're making up numbers. Not a good way to support a statistical argument.

    Look at Hans %age that you listed. No way he's the ACC leading scorer with just that shooting %age--he LIVED at the line, which isn't accounted for in that figure.
    Why is the hack-a-shaq strategy effective? When a big man is fouled, it's generally stopping an otherwise high percentage shot, replacing it with a lower percentage (often) shot. It's not always effective: in Carlos's case, he was ~75% free throw shooter. Fouling him was a mistake. The Plumlees are not 75% FT shooters.

    If you get cold from 3 you are in trouble. It's a lot harder to "get cold" shooting dunks and 2-4 ft shots.
    This is where you're completely missing the argument. It's already been conceded that 3 point shooting has a higher standard deviation (getting "cold" is an misunderstanding of the probabilistic event that is shooting).

    Dunks don't happen all that often? You're really losing me there. The Plums dunk every game, and they are not even elite, as you mentioned.
    How many dunks a game are there? what are the Plumlees' shooting percentage when dunking?

    I've heard the math just like everyone else who watches basketball. But the raw shooting %ages of 3-pt vs. 2-pt shots does not take into account factors like GETTING FOULED and GETTING YOUR OWN REBOUND. A big guy's overall offensive productivity is based on these factors, whereas a 3 pt shooters offensive productivity is just based on his shooting %age.
    The use of caps is totally unnecessary, and it doesn't make you correct.

    Ryan Kelly missed a three pointer, and grabbed his own rebound in last minute of the Carolina game. That's not a statistical argument of course, but missed three pointers also lead to offensive rebounds. Three point shooters do occasionally get fouled, and usually convert those free throws at a higher rate than inside players. In other words, your statement that "a 3 pt shooters offensive productivity is just based on his shooting %age" is completely false.

    I don't think anyone is arguing that an emphasis on three point shooting is always the best strategy. Certainly no one thinks that only three point shots should be taken. If this team had two Carlos Boozers on it, we'd see far fewer three pointers. But we don't. I like the Plumlees, but they ain't Boozers.
    Last edited by gus; 02-24-2012 at 10:15 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post

    Ryan Kelly missed a three pointer, and grabbed his own rebound in last minute of the Carolina game. That's not a statistical argument of course, but missed three pointers also lead to offensive rebounds.
    As a side note - he did the exact same thing in the FSU game, only at the beginning: shot a 3, grabbed his own long rebound, then hit a mid-range jumper for 2 that swished through.

    I was thinking, "Hmmm, new go-to move for Kelly?" =)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    What are the Plumlees' shooting percentage when dunking?
    It's incredibly unfortunate that this is actually a meaningful question in this debate. Thunder dumbs...
    "With seven national titles and 20 Final Fours in the 64-team NCAA Tournament era, Duke and UNC have had more playoff success than any other CONFERENCE." - Al Featherston

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    He also had plenty of games where he shot below 50% (even games below 40%). Don't confuse outliers with averages. When discussing what is an effective strategy for maximizing the liklihood of winning, it's the latter that's important.
    This is so condescending.


    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    Now you're making up numbers. Not a good way to support a statistical argument.
    No, I'm approximating. If I said that big guys shoot free throws a million times more often than 3 point shooters that would be making up numbers. Don't confuse your dictionary with your thesaurus.

    Would you really disagree that big guys get fouled 10x more often than 3 point shooters? I thought I was being pretty conservative. I would say for every guy that gets fouled shooting a 3 in a game, you see 10 fouls from someone being hacked in the lane.


    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    This is where you're completely missing the argument. It's already been conceded that 3 point shooting has a higher standard deviation (getting "cold" is an misunderstanding of the probabilistic event that is shooting).
    No sir. People get hot. People get cold. If things were all statistics, there would be no point in tipping the ball up. You could just run some numbers in your calculator while the Crazies cheered.


    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    The use of caps is totally unnecessary, and it doesn't make you correct.
    I thought it was like half unnecessary. I thought it was for sure necessary with the vowels, and then there were some consonants that I was SURE it was necessary.


    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    Ryan Kelly missed a three pointer, and grabbed his own rebound in last minute of the Carolina game. That's not a statistical argument of course, but missed three pointers also lead to offensive rebounds.
    Wait... NOT a statistical argument? You just came down on me in this very post for making a non-statistically sound argument! Isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?!?!


    Quote Originally Posted by gus View Post
    Three point shooters do occasionally get fouled, and usually convert those free throws at a higher rate than inside players. In other words, your statement that "a 3 pt shooters offensive productivity is just based on his shooting %age" is completely false.
    Yeah, that's my point. It's VERY occasional (note that "very" is in all caps, therefor it is correct).

    If it's completely false, please explain why. Seriously. Don't just say it.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    If it's completely false, please explain why. Seriously. Don't just say it.
    I did explain why. I think you need to reread my post.

  12. #12
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    Two different teams...

    Didn't want to start a whole new thread on this but it seems that we are a different team when Andre isn't getting his shot. We drive it to the hole much much more. He seems to be our lynchpin and I think the word is out. When he's allowed to shoot we can blow teams out.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SupaDave View Post
    Didn't want to start a whole new thread on this but it seems that we are a different team when Andre isn't getting his shot. We drive it to the hole much much more. He seems to be our lynchpin and I think the word is out. When he's allowed to shoot we can blow teams out.
    Yes, I agree to an extent. But in 10 min he had 3 turnovers and 0-3 from the field. I think the 3 TOs led to reduced minutes. He can do some things that will "allow" him to shoot more, and good defense + low turnovers are a couple of them.

    Boy, looking at the box: we had 7 assists (on 20 made shots) and 12 turnovers. Hmm.

    With Austin's speed, you would think he could be a little ball-thief, leading to easy buckets. He had no steals, and averages less than one per game. We average 6 steals a game but only had 2. We rank #190 in steals per game. I miss our ability to fast break on steals! Bring back Showtime to Durham!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    No sir. People get hot. People get cold. If things were all statistics, there would be no point in tipping the ball up. You could just run some numbers in your calculator while the Crazies cheered.
    I disagree with you with your conclusion: the game would still be fun to watch.

    But I was bored at lunch, so decided to look at Dawkin's three point shooting this season. Dawkins has been described as streaky, and lethal "when he gets hot"

    According to all the game trackers on ESPN, he shot 66/158 this season -- 41.8%.*

    This season, after a miss he is 28/66 (42%). After a make he is 38/91 (42%).

    After two misses in a row, if he shoots another in the same game, he is 10/25. After two makes: 11/24. After a miss and a make: 23/54.

    After missing three in a row, if he shoots another in the same game, he is 3/10. After three makes.... 3/10.

    I'm sure if we took this out over all of his games with Duke we'd see a similar pattern: whether he has made his previous shots has no predictive value whatsoever on whether he'll make his next one.




    * I think two attempts might be missing there, but I am not going to go through all the games to find it.
    Last edited by gus; 02-29-2012 at 03:11 PM. Reason: missed a word

  15. #15
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    Extremely a propos.

    Scoring efficiency by NBA court location:

    nbashots.jpg

    A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it.
    ---Roger Ebert


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    Who’s gonna bury who
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edouble View Post
    If Boozer shot 63% for a career, he had plenty of games where he shot 70% from the field!
    In that case, big men have statistical variation in how well they shoot too, just like outside shooters.

    How many times have you seen a big guy "disappear" or "get shut down" for a game? Maybe their percentage is more consistent but their output can vary widely based on the defense and scoring pace for the game.

    The other factor to consider is, how many great big men are there in college basketball? Maybe one per year coming out of high school would qualify as "great," and if he actually lives up to expectations then he'll be gone in a year. Conversely, there are probably 5-10 excellent three point shooters in each class. And Duke gets all of them So if you're going to build your program around a particular style of play, relying on three-point shooters is more "dependable."

    Finally, if you look at past National Championship winners, they all have excellent talent obviously but you can't really make any generalizations as far as them all having a dominant big man, or all having a sharpshooter. I think having solid guard play is probably a safe rule of thumb, but in the end it's overall talent and team play that matter
    Last edited by UrinalCake; 02-24-2012 at 10:12 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post
    In that case, big men have statistical variation in how well they shoot too, just like outside shooters.

    How many times have you seen a big guy "disappear" or "get shut down" for a game? Maybe their percentage is more consistent but their output can vary widely based on the defense and scoring pace for the game.

    The other factor to consider is, how many great big men are there in college basketball? Maybe one per year coming out of high school would qualify as "great," and if he actually lives up to expectations then he'll be gone in a year. Conversely, there are probably 5-10 excellent three point shooters in each class. And Duke gets all of them So if you're going to build your program around a particular style of play, relying on three-point shooters is more "dependable."

    Finally, if you look at past National Championship winners, they all have excellent talent obviously but you can't really make any generalizations as far as them all having a dominant big man, or all having a sharpshooter. I think having solid guard play is probably a safe rule of thumb, but in the end it's overall talent and team play that matter
    Yeah, I agree, everyone has statistical variation. For a season or a career though, big guys have a higher shooting percentage, generally speaking. They shoot their shots closer to the basket. There is always some crazy kid at a DIII school that shoots like 57% for 3 though.

    My opinion is that I don't see quality big guys "disappear" as much as 3-point shooters. A big guy can score 4 points, but still get 10 rebounds and just by being big, can have a presence in the lane, intimidating, altering shots, etc. Most great 3 point shooters don't have other abilities to affect a game. Guys like Redick and Curtis Staples aren't great defensive players, nor do they dish out a lot of assists. My point is that there are things to consider outside of shooting percentages.

    Your idea concerning the dearth of bigs and a 3 point offense being more "reliable" is interesting. I would point out that Coach K likes to build an offense around the personnel he has, albeit that does usually include some awesome 3 point bombers as you mention.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by throatybeard View Post
    This is absurd. Here are some career 2pt FG percentages in college, from AMAZING big men, not your standard big guy you're likely to have in a good recruiting year at a top-50 DI school. These guys are way better than even a fairly good Plumlee.
    Throatybeard makes a valid point. I'll use the two big guys I consider the Gold Standard as the example.

    Bill Walton: 65.1%
    Lew Alcindor: 63.9%

    Walton scored 1767 points in his career at UCLA with 273 coming on Free Throws (15.4%), while Alcindor scored 2325 points with 439 (18.8%) coming via the Free Throw. This season, Dawkins, a 42.2% 3PT shooter has scored 277 points including 34 on Free Throws (12.2%).

    So the percentage of points scored via free throws doesn't appear that large to me so it appears Duke is better off attempting 3 PT FGs and securing the bonus point from the field, especially considering Miles and Mason are not Lew and Bill.

    (And yes, I realize I'm comparing career numbers to numbers from a partial season but that's okay because we ain't doing rocket science here we are discussing basketball.)
    Bob Green
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  19. #19

    Agree with both

    Both arguments found here, have a lot of merit. I'm really looking forward to the day when we have both
    again.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Green View Post
    Throatybeard makes a valid point. I'll use the two big guys I consider the Gold Standard as the example.

    Bill Walton: 65.1%
    Lew Alcindor: 63.9%

    Walton scored 1767 points in his career at UCLA with 273 coming on Free Throws (15.4%), while Alcindor scored 2325 points with 439 (18.8%) coming via the Free Throw. This season, Dawkins, a 42.2% 3PT shooter has scored 277 points including 34 on Free Throws (12.2%).

    So the percentage of points scored via free throws doesn't appear that large to me so it appears Duke is better off attempting 3 PT FGs and securing the bonus point from the field, especially considering Miles and Mason are not Lew and Bill.

    (And yes, I realize I'm comparing career numbers to numbers from a partial season but that's okay because we ain't doing rocket science here we are discussing basketball.)
    When you adjust for getting 3 points versus just 2, that 63% FG% is equivalent to 42% from 3 land.

    It still boils down to greater than 50% from 2 or greater than 33% from 3 is the low water mark.

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