Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let Me Show You How Exciting John Wall Is

While you were waiting for the posting to pick back up, I was busy doing some work with the website Thuuz (pronounced like I am en-THOOZ-iastic about Nick Young's 'Thriller' hair) on excitement statistics - you're damn right I just used excitement and statistics in the same sentence.

The site has developed an algorithm to measure the excitement of a sporting event. The main idea they have now is to let you know if a game you have DVR'ed is worth watching (without telling you the score), and when the best time is to start watching. The algorithm takes into account factors such as the game's pace, novelty, and how close the score is. The output is supposed to be the excitement an unbiased individual would get from the game.

They approached me back in November, after I wrote about the Wizards-Pistons game in Detroit for Bullets Forever. The game registered a perfect 100 score in the Thuuz system and it turns out that these guys can do a lot with the algorithm and statistics. I got them to do a breakdown of each player's contribution to the game's excitement. They have done their best work with basketball, but measure the excitement of other sports as well.

For the table below, the only heading needing explanation is 'Impact.' This is a measure of the number of plays a player makes that contribute directly to the game's outcome - I believe this is something close to points, assists, rebounds, etc. The reasoning behind this measure is that the excitement rating would not highly rate a player on a good team, because a team that increases their lead is boring, not exciting, so a measure is needed for these types of players. I hope that makes sense. Without further adieu, the numbers for the Wiz-Pistons game:

Washington vs. Detroit

Player Play Time Impact Excitement Impact/Minute Excitement/Minute
Arenas 42.80 43 35.32 1.00 0.83
Hinrich 39.40 25 -2.95 0.63 -0.07
Thornton 31.32 17 -3.94 0.54 -0.13
Blatche 43.88 37 -19.97 0.84 -0.46
McGee 42.27 39 -42.98 0.92 -1.02
Armstrong 10.63 4 -14.10 0.38 -1.33
Young 30.68 20 5.92 0.65 0.19
Booker 9.15 4 0.99 0.44 0.11
Martin 14.67 9 -9.43 0.61 -0.64

Not surprisingly, Gil was the Wizards most impactful and exciting player. The interesting thing about this game though, is that John Wall did not play. So what happens when you add JWow to the mix? Fortunately, the Wiz played another game just 2 days later that also was a 100 on the excitement scale, this time with the Future. Here are the numbers:

Philadelphia vs. Washington

Player Play Time Impact Excitement Impact/Minute Excitement/Minute
Arenas 41.98 21 114.67 0.50 2.73
Hinrich 34.85 21 58.08 0.60 1.67
Thornton 8.17 0 6.28 0.00 0.77
Blatche 42.70 37 62.35 0.87 1.46
McGee 45.85 61 22.88 1.33 0.50
Armstrong 5.45 1 -8.99 0.18 -1.65
Wall 35.93 33 135.84 0.92 3.78
Martin 6.40 1 12.74 0.16 1.99
Young 31.75 27 74.61 0.85 2.35
Booker 11.87 9 7.30 0.76 0.62

Granted, it was a huuuge game for JWow, but look at his excitement rating! This is only 1 game, but the bottom line is that Wall was the most exciting player from any team in either game. This also gives a nice little comparison of how the team looks in terms of impact with Wall on and off the court.  I obviously sat on this data way too long, and any comparison with Gil Arenas is now moot with him off the team. If you are wondering why the Wizards have more total excitement in the 76ers game, it is because the rest of the excitement is accounted for by the opposition, so the Wizards drove the excitement in game #2.

Thuuz is starting to do a lot more with all of their data, so I just wanted to give you a taste of what they do as I begin to post their data more regularly. I have discussed with them what types of stats and metrics would be most interesting and useful, so let me know any and all ideas. The next step is for Thuuz to get larger sample sizes for individual players so we can truly track who is exciting over the course of a season........that way we'll have proof when John Wall becomes the league's most exciting player.

Mel Kiper Thinks The Offseason Dynasty Will Continue

I first of all should say that the break in blogging was because I was swamped by a lot of personal 'stuff', but am back and refreshed or something like that.........

I can't say I didn't see this coming, but Mel Kiper's first mock draft came out today and, well, I can't say I didn't warn you:

10. Washington Redskins
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
A gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he'll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton's skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren't. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.


I could give you the whole whole running QB thing being a bad idea, especially while our offensive line is a gaping hole of suck, but let's look at this more rationally and use some metrics. Football Outsiders has found a way to predict college quarterback performance in the pros with 2 simple stats: games started and completion percentage. I understand he put together the best individual season in recent memory, but for metrics, well he only started 1 full season. 66% completion  rate is great, but that figure is relative to others in the same school supposedly in a relatively similar system, and the immortal Chris Todd managed over 60% in 2009, so 66% is not that impressive. The overall metric indication on Cam Newton is: pleaselordno.

Soooo, what should the Skins do? Ryan Mallett actually has terrific metrics thanks to starting 2.5 years and would be a better QB pick. Even better though? Well, I have some bad news. I am a nut about the NFL draft, and Kiper's mock highlights the fact that there is a big dropoff after the first 9 players - and guess who picks #10!

Clearly, the Skins should trade back, take an o-lineman, Ryan Mallett, or just about anybody not named Cam Newton, even if we get to call him 'Killa Cam.' On the bright side, drafting the controversial Heisman trophy winner would continue the offseason dynasty that almost no team can take away from us.

(Image courtesty of