Ah, Sample Size – We Meet Again

Once upon a time, I was a serious NBA fan. It’s true. While my dedication to the league as a whole as waned (and my interest in the Knicks has inexplicably remained strong), I still find myself reading a fair number of NBA columns.

Which brings me to this brief roundup of the NBA’s Vegas Summer League. Author Brian Windhorst writes:

The reason [Daniel] Gibson can be so effective is not just his outside-shooting prowess, but his developing inside game. He is honing an effective floater and has shown he can get into the lane and draw fouls. And in fact, the free throw line is where Gibson may be most deadly, based on his 89 percent shooting there in the postseason.

The last sentence caught my eye, because in general it’s a bad idea to draw conclusions about a player from a his/her postseason statistics. This is, of course, because of the issue of small sample size.

So, I looked up Gibson’s career free-throw shooting percentage (FT%), because I strongly suspected that Mr. Windhorst was jumping to conclusions way too quickly about Gibson’s free-throw shooting ability. My suspicions were confirmed:

  • 2006-2007 Playoffs: 38/43, 88.372%
  • 2006-2007 Season: 28/39, 71.8%
  • 2005-2006 Season (college): 69/95, 72.6%

While it is certainly possible that Gibson will improve his FT% (he’s still very young), to suggest that Gibson is “most deadly” from the free-throw line after a statistically unlikely postseason performance is somewhat nuts.


2 Responses to Ah, Sample Size – We Meet Again

  1. Francoeur Frank says:

    Wow getting a bball blog in there. Slip-ups like this can lead to articles about other “better” sports. You better be careful once baseball’s ratings foe begins its season and steals all of the TV slots. You know what I am referring to.

  2. Keesup says:

    Frank: My first love will always be baseball (among the sports). But unfortunately, bad journalism has no offseason, therefore neither do we.

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