March 7, 2010
Last March, I unveiled a college basketball squad featuring five players that I believed to be the most overrated in the nation. The purpose of the exercise was less to single out and humiliate individual players (although Greivis Vasquez has never been a favorite of mine), and more to educate about the deceptive nature of certain basketball statistics. As I mentioned then, traditional per-game statistics can be awfully misleading about a player’s performance. Points, assists, and rebounds per game do not account for factors such as pace and efficiency. Because of this, I have begun looking at players like Monta Ellis in a whole new light. Ellis’ 25-5-4 line is superficially impressive, but when you realize that he plays in the NBA’s fastest-paced offense, shoots mediocre percentages, and turns the ball over as often as he assists it, his value takes a tumble. Ultimately, that’s why I single out these overrated and underrated players – so that you and anyone else who reads this can learn to evaluate players more intelligently using metrics that shed more light on players’ true ability.
Here are my selections for the 2010 All-Overrated Team and the honorable mentions. As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms, as long as you don’t use terrible statistics, selective memory, and mysticism to back them up. Read the rest of this entry »
February 10, 2010
UPDATE AT THE END
As I’ve mentioned with some frequency, I’ve been trying very hard over the last year or so to change the tone of my blogging. Initially, the content was snarky and malicious. It wasn’t above name-calling and other sorts of juvenile attempts to demean and persuade. I stand by what I wrote, and I believe that there were legitimate points to be made in every case, but I’m now fully aware that the tone was an impediment to being taken seriously. By writing more open-mindedly and with greater care, I really do feel like the quality of the blog has dramatically increased. I’m very proud of many of the things I’ve written (whether they’ve gotten four hits or 400) because I believe that these discussions are truly intelligent, perspicacious, and interesting. I’m enjoying this new and mellow approach to writing, and I think the quality reflects that.
Sometimes, however, I have to remind myself of why this blog emerged from the depths of my cranky imagination. Fan Interference began because a friend and I were really tired of the stupid things that sportswriters and analysts would write or say. They would write or say things that were disingenuous, narrow-minded, or factually incorrect, and it was annoying. And while I’ve tried to get away from posts that are no more than incredulous mockeries of ridiculous statements, it’s still the rock upon which the blog was built. So, right now I’m going to return very briefly to the basic purpose of this blog: pointing out and correcting the stupid things someone who is paid to analyze sports has said.
There is no more deserving recipient of the old treatment than ESPN’s college basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes. Dykes is an incredible and unique case because every time I watch a basketball game to which he’s been assigned, I know with absolute certainty that he is going to say something so outrageously and insultingly stupid that it’s going to make me legitimately angry at his continued employment. Not even Joe Morgan has this effect on me. Dykes is so blatantly incompetent, so aggressively dumb, so obviously misguided that I’m confident that he is the worst analyst I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering. The fact that he is paid to educate us about basketball is a prolonged joke at best, and a devious insult at worst. I thought all of these things as far back as last March, but in compliance with the self-imposed moratorium on crude behavior, I simply kept them to myself. His commentary during last night’s Tennessee-Vanderbilt game (go ‘Dores!), however, combined with some of his recent and more stupid than usual analysis to push me over the edge. Read the rest of this entry »
January 27, 2010
Like most fans, I was expecting Kentucky to beat South Carolina handily last night. I suppose Kentucky’s youth and questions about road performance are going concerns, but the Wildcats are roughly fives times more talented than the Gamecocks, so victory seemed like a pretty sure bet. Also like most fans, I was surprised to see Kentucky leading by only three points at the half. So I booted up my laptop, connected to something called the “Nunez network,” and caught the second half of what was an exhilarating game.
As you probably know by now, South Carolina ultimately pulled off the upset, ostensibly on the strength of a Herculean, 30-point performance by Gamecocks’ point guard Devan Downey. I know this is the reason why South Carolina won, because other than the occasional praise for Kentucky’s young talent, it was the only thing that commentators Jimmy Dykes and Brad Nessler talked about for an entire half of basketball. Ignoring the fact that the production team kept putting up graphics revealing Downey’s dismal field goal percentage (he finished 9-29, which my calculator tells me is 31%), Dykes and Nessler relentlessly praised Downey for his “great individual performance” and “his willingness to carry his team on his back.” In the waning moments of the game, Dykes said that “Downey is now in the discussion for National Player of the Year.” And while the fans were rushing the court, he offered his big finish:
“It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen as good an individual performance on the big stage as I did from Devan Downey tonight.”
I did and still do have some pretty heavy cognitive dissonance about Downey’s performance and its lofty praise. On one hand, it was clear from watching that South Carolina could barely be described as a basketball team for the two minutes that Downey wasn’t on the court. They were terrible without him. On the other hand, Downey’s 9-29 effort did contribute mightily to the team’s 34.4% shooting for the game. It’s hard to argue that shooting 31% on 29 shots is helping your team, no matter how incompetent your teammates might be. I still don’t know what to make of this conflict in analysis. Read the rest of this entry »