Hoops FeedbackThis page is devoted to feedback I've received from you. If you have a question to ask or a comment to make, send me an email and if I think it's of general interest, I'll post it here.
What's with all the triple doubles lately? Here is a count, broken down by month:
I noticed on the Smallworld Hoops Playoff game that they are NOT counting trades just yet (yes, I was unhappy with my original picks so I started early trading). I just thought Managers would like to know that so they can "jostle" their lineups without penalty. I've noticed that in my ten-team league (in which there is a team with a very familiar name!) that no one has picked any players yet. - Jeph J. (4/15)
It should be interesting to see how the SW Hoops playoff game plays itself out. In addition to thinking about the number of rounds each team might advance, there is a short-term concern that a top team like Chicago will likely sweep its first round series (as they have done often in the past, I think), whereas a lower-seeded team would likely play 4 or 5 games. An extra game or 2 in each round could add up to a fair number of points. Just food for thought. - Joe R. (4/15)
Way back in the NBA preseason, as I was learning the SW points system, I tried to assess not just the avg SW pts/gm for each player, but also what the top end would be for a player's best game. And sure enough, Shawn Bradley was the only one I had projected over 100. And now 6 months later, long after any sensible person would have dumped him, he pulls it off. Off the bench, no less.
BTW, do you happen to know if any of the top 50 teams have him? - Joe R. (4/8)response from Guru:
It makes sense that Bradley would be the one, since a game with double digit blocks would likely produce a triple-double, and blocks are worth a half-point more than assists. Bradley is the only player to get a triple-double in something other than points, rebounds, and assists.
I haven't surveyed the top 50 teams lately, but I know that the third place team, Irish by Marriage, has Bradley. - Guru
In "Getting What you Pay For," you intimate that there may be a premium for stable producers (analogous to a premium for reduced risk in a portfolio). However, I was wondering whether it was likely for the opposite to occur: desperate managers who are way behind will pick up a Jason Kidd, hoping for a really good week/game? Therefore, would it be possible for prices to actually be higher for these players?
Just a quick thought for the day... - Victor D. (3/19)response from Guru:
The point of that particular essay was more to illustrate that picking up a player for a few games may not accomplish the expected goal, especially if the player exhibits highly volatile performance. Even if there is an embedded premium for lower risk players, I think it is usually overwhelmed by other factors, including recent performance, intensity of schedule over the next several days, etc.
You are obviously correct that, at this point in the season, potential upside volatility may be desirable. Anyone who bought Kidd before Sunday was handsomely rewarded, not only by his big points on Sunday, but also by the ensuing price increase which was probably a direct after-effect of Sunday's game. I, on the other hand, picked him up on Tuesday, which may have puzzled some observers as appearing to be an uncharacteristic "chase the hot player after-the-fact" move on my part. However, my motivation was the opposite - I needed to neutralize his potential upside, since all of the other contending teams already owned him. Meanwhile, Hardaway had been performing well below his season average for several months, and once Kidd popped off a 97.5 SWP game, my margin for further adverse surprises was too slim to accept. Hence, I immunized myself against future Kidd volatily, so to speak. - Guru
Re: your daily blurb today (3/17), could you expound on the evidence for why trading activity must be stable? Can we totally discount the possibility that they are attempting to normalize price changes? (I don't know a good way to test this, but one result would be that if they were normalizing price changes, perhaps there are more players with no price changes later in the season (a zero is a zero is a zero...)).
If so, this issue has obvious repercussions to all their games. - Victor D. (3/17)response from Guru:
Now, to address your specific question, could Smallworld be "normalizing"? As an example, if normal trading activity is 1000 trades in a day, then if there are only 500 trades now, might they just be doubling the price change to produce the expected effect as if there were 100 trades? Good question, and one I can't answer. I hadn't even thought of it. And, since Smallworld tends to keep the actual price formula pretty close to the vest, I suspect we'll never know for sure. (I did look at the number of players with no price change, and that seems pretty consistent throughout the season.) If they are normalizing, though, that would help to explain why price activity still seems to have reasonable vitality. - Guru
I don't know if you are involved with SW Hockey or not, but if you are, check out Double Secret Probation. Ranked Number 5 Worldwide. The amazing thing is that in spite of having to trade Zubov, Modano, Lindros and Tkachuk this past week due to a rash of injuries, he still has 26 trades left! Clearly a Hockey guru! - Mark S. (3/16)
I found at nba.com a section where triple-doubles and quadruple-doubles are discussed. It is interesting to note that these terms are only found in a glossary of NBA terms, and not in the official rule book. This is how it reads:
A quadruple-double is discussed in the exact same manner, though the site mentions that it is extremely rare. Also, in answering your feedback question, a quadruple-double has only happened four times.
Also, Clyde Drexler missed a quadruple double by one assist, with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, and of course nine assists. He shot 8-21 FGs, 7-10 FTs and also had 7 TOs. - Rich E. (from Tenafly) (3/15)response from Guru:
Do you know if Smallworld would give the additional 25 points for a triple double consisting of one of the less common statistical feats (blocks and steals- not turnovers!)? Has this happened at all this year? I've heard of a quadruple-double happening (can't remember, maybe it was Magic Johnson?), but has anyone ever gotten double figures in all five (blocks, steals, rebounds, assists and points) catagories in one game? - Jeph J. (3/13)
I leave it to readers to notify me if they can find historical occurrences of quadruple- or quintuple-doubles. - Guru
Regarding your article on Team Success Ratings: The reason that your formula put Rodman and J. Williams at the top is that
By the way, you might want to try a formula like this:
This formula produces a high correlation between wins and losses, AND rates players fairly well.
One more thing. Just a question, How well does the sonics win loss percentage correlate to your system? - Jeff I. (3/7)
response from Guru:
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Jeff. I certainly recognize the limitations of applying this formula to individual players.
By the way, although you sent this in a week ago, I didn't publish it right away because I wanted to try out your proposed formula. When I did, however, I found it to be slightly less correlated to W/L percentage than the Smallworld formula. If you have some work to support your assertion, I'd like to see it, because we're evidently doing something differently.
And as to your question on the Sonics: I'm not quite sure how to answer it. However, if I recalculate my team success rating correlation without the Sonics included, the correlation actually gets slightly lower. So it would appear that the Sonics' success isn't at odds with the formula, if that's what you expected. - Guru
Just wondering if you know the NBA's exact definition of a "Triple Double". I believe it is one of two possibilities: 1. Triple Doubles consist of getting double digit figures in three of five categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots.) 2. Getting double digit numbers in any 3 categories. Using this method, Tim Duncan had a triple double on March 4, when he posted 35 points, 17 boards, and 10 turnovers. Do you know what the specific definition is? It makes more sense that a triple double is very close to the first definition I described, but the other is a possibility as well. If the NBA does not specify categories that are needed to get a triple double, then all Tim Duncan owners should get 25 more points. But I think that's just hopeful wishing on my part. - Charlie B. (3/8)
If you need an example of foolhardy early season trading to achieve gains, check out (in your second chance league) Caitlin. I have not one but FOUR (Bobby Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, Detlef Schrempf, Zan Tabak) players on the injured list and surprise, surprise: 0 trades left. This is my gift to you as a demonstration of a woefully inadequate trading strategy. Use wisely and don't laugh too hard at my fall into the depths of suckdom. - [Caitlin manager] (2/22)
I always figured that the best way to learn how to do something well is to first screw it up a few times. So, are you learning? This example looks like a good teacher! - Guru
With March Madness lurking around the corner, I have been paying more attention to college basketball than the pro game, especially with my UNC-Charlotte 49ers seeking a NCAA tournament bid. While looking at Saturday's box score for UNC-Charlotte's Conference USA rival, Cincinnati, I happened upon a remarkable performance. Kenyon Martin produced a HUGE game for Cincinnati, consisting of a triple-double with 24 points, 23 rebounds and 10 blocks. I did a brief calculation, and I found that to be 105 smallworld points. I wish he was on my team!!! - A. McLain (2/22)
It's interesting to me to consider whether a trade like Murray's $1.5 million rise was "worth it". I am going to disregard SWPoints here, and think of this solely in terms of roster value, for simplicity's sake.
Really, this deal involves two trades, one to pick up the "temporary" player, and one more to let him go after he rises because you don't want to hold him long term... you will lose the money you just made. So you are pretty much locking yourself into a second trade. But again to keep this simple, I'll ignore the second trade.
OK, my next point is that you must consider the sum of (a) the change in price for the initial player you sold (somewhat analagous to opportunity cost, though not exactly), as well as (b) the amount your "temporary" player (Murray) went up (in this case your capital gain of $1.5 million).
So, for the value of this trade you have to add a+b. I think (b) is pretty obvious, but (a) is often overlooked. If the guy that you sold in order to buy Murray rose $500,000 yesterday, then you really only made an extra $1,000,000 from buying Murray, not $1.5 million. On the other hand, if you sold someone who dropped $500,000 yesterday, then the deal is really worth $2 million for you, because even though your roster value only rose $1.5 million, it WOULD HAVE dropped $500,000 otherwise.
Let's say our overall objective is to get from $50 million to roughly $140 million, as that will allow us to have only top-tier players on our roster. Well, we need to make about $90 million in 50 trades... but really we want to hold on to 5 trades in case of injuries, so $90 million over 45 trades, or $2 million per trade.
That doesn't mean $2 million EVERY trade, just on average. If we can score a few blockbusters that give us $3 million or more (most frequently with rookies early on in the season or with players returning from injuries) then anytime we can find a deal to bring in $1.5 million or more, we'll take it! The blockbusters should bring the average up to where we want it.
However, there are two reasons I would NOT have taken Murray (even if I knew he'd rise $1.5 million). One is that he will not hold his value. I MUST sell him now that he's jumped $1.5 million or I will lose my profits, so once again this deal really requires two trades.
Secondly, I already had a roster filled with players I think are solid. They won't drop drastically, and may even rise. So with my second trade, I'd probably end up with the same player (or a similar one) that I started with. So for my two trades, I'm only $1.5 million ahead, or $750,000 per trade. Not enough, in my opinion, to be worth it.
I just noted that I had the highest single day point total 2 days in a row! It would be cool if you could check and see if any other team has done that thus far this year. I would think that I am the first! - Doug Taylor (2/13)response from Guru:
If there's someone that you're looking to buy, and you're just $1.5m short of funds, then the trade might still make sense. But, if there are no obvious opportunities, then you might have to settle for something that will dampen the average trade value. It's much safer to buy someone who you expect to hold his value once it has increased. That can give you ample time to find the next move.
And, of course, there's no guarantee that he'll go up the max. In this case, we already know that Murray went up the full $1.5m, but in advance, you take the chance.
Which is why I didn't bite, of course. (Now watch Murray go on a big streak and make us all look stupid!) - Guru
I am in the second chance league in smallworld. My team is the Carolina Hilltoppers2.
I just noted that I had the highest single day point total 2 days in a row! It would be cool if you could check and see if any other team has done that thus far this year. I would think that I am the first! - A. McLain (2/12)response from Guru:
In fact, on the average, if you were ranked #1 on one day, then on both the day prior and the day after you were ranked around #150.
What have you got in store for tomorrow? - Guru
I have read your price fixing articles, and I agree with your proposed concept. What are your thoughts about capping daily price movement? It seems that that can seriously affect the ownership percentage of a player. With the current system, if a lot of people buy a player in a short period of time, a lot of the buy orders will get cut off, and the price will never move up based on actual ownership, but when people sell the player over time, the price will get hammered since the ownership isn't properly represented in the price.
If there is a price change limit in the future system, it seems to me that maybe the trades that get cut off should carry over to the next day. Also assuming this new system is used, I think that percentage of teams that own a player should be a public stat, as it can be very useful in making trades.- B. Roth (2/11)response from Guru:
In general, I think a daily price change limit is a good idea. I don't have any thoughts about whether the current $1.5 million is the appropriate amount - although I don't think it should be any higher. - Guru
Regarding the question on the Celtics draft pick from the Nuggets (see below) - I believe he is referring to the trade that the Celtics and Nuggets made over the summer. Denver received Eric Williams in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick. Boston was motivated to make the trade for salary cap reasons. - J. Erickson (2/9)
This is prompted by the Price Fixing, The Sequel in the Hoop Pointers section.
On the surface, I think your idea sounds interesting as a way to "get every player involved." On the other hand, I think in the last paragraph you begin to touch on complications that will be difficult to anticipate.
I started with baseball and played in the football league as well. I think one problem is that Smallworld attempted to raise prices so there was no "easy money." Example: In the baseball, the IPO's were all low and you could buy the most prestigious player and make a good deal of money easily. They raised prices to counter this but in a way made a good portion of the league overpriced and therefore inactive. Your idea is interesting, but I think a simple way to combat the inactivity in some players is to slightly underprice all players at the beginning of the season. All players could then have activity. Adjustments would have to be made to the rate of change per buy or sell but this would be much easier than implementing an entirely new algorithm to the pricing formula.
My second thought. I don't know if you played baseball, but the entire setup was different. Skip the next description if you did.
Briefly, you got points for categories, (e.g. HR, SB, RBI) and then all managers were ranked daily. The manager with the most HR got 40,000 points for that category (assuming 40,000 is number of managers in the league), the manager withthe least got 1 point. Points were totaled for all categories and that gave you your point total as of any day.
Basketball, although good, is not on the same level of addictiveness. League ranking and differences in the league stay relatively constant. EX: In my league the top 5 have been the same since day 3. There is no requirement in basketball to have a balanced team. In a way, the goal is to determine which stat smallworld undervalued and pick players that excel in that stat. In baseball, the managers determine how many wins versus how many saves you needed. If the whole league has 8 starters and 1 reliever, it did you no good to have 3 relievers because you ended up on the flat part of the distribution of managers. Example: An extra save might move you up 2 spots in the rankings, i.e. 2 points, while an extra win would move you up 20 spots, i.e. 20 points.
I think the baseball format is far superior. It forces a well balanced team, the collective group of managers place decide the importance of different catergories, and finally rankings and point totals move many times quicker.
Just some thoughts that I had. - M. Storey (2/7)response from Guru:
I don't think my pricing suggestion dramatically differs from the current framework. Smallworld has been tinkering with the process in each successive season, with Hoops offering the price limit of $1.5m per day. (I remember in baseball that players would occasionally jump by $5m or more in a day, which really created some outrageous opportunities.) I've talked briefly with Erik at Smallworld, and he's mentioned that other changes for baseball are contemplated, with the intent of providing better balance between the sport vs. investment aspects. The feeling about Hoops is that the investment element over-dominated, since it was possible for a manager to accumulate such a mother lode that he could just buy the top 12 players, regardless of their price. (That's essentially what I did with my team.) Recognizing undervalued talent for the lower-to-middle tier players became rather incidental (other than as a means to generate early season price gains). My suggestion for tinkering with the pricing formula is designed to bring more players "into play", again with the hope of introducing more differentiation among successful teams. Even if it produces some unintended side effects, I think it's worth trying.
I'm not quite sure what underpricing everybody does. Player prices only have meaning in how they relate to each other, so if every player is "underpriced" as you suggest, some are still relatively more expensive than others. (There is no way to intrinsically value Penny Hardaway. You can, however, figure out how he should be priced relative to Michael Jordan, or Brevin Knight.) It would also mean that one could afford a higher caliber roster on day one, so that it might have the effect of rendering the weaker players even less relevant than they are now. Thus, I think your suggestion might have a more serious unintended side effect than mine. I certainly don't think it's a "safer" way to change.
As to the difference in scoring format, I do remember the ranking format for baseball, and I also liked its emphasis on statistically balancing your team, and on evaluating players based on their contributions to the individual categories. I expect that this year's baseball game will be in a format similar to the winter games, though. (There was an appeal posted on Smallworld's site several months ago asking for ideas on creating the baseball SWP formula, so it sounds like the die has been cast.) I'm not quite sure why, but it seems that Smallworld prefers the current format over the individual category ranking.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments. - Guru
My friends and I in division Softer Touch have a burning question: What's a Talaxian? - R. Pastrovich (2/6)
Talaxians are among the least likely races to excel at basketball, due to their compact stature. I named my team after them because of my enjoyment of Star Trek and the unlikeliness of the fit. - Guru
I heard that a year (or more) ago the Celtics and the Nuggets made a trade that gave the Celts Denver's draft pick this year. I don't know if it's the 1st or the 2nd round, but given Denver's record this year, you can understand that this may be a big draft pick? Am I right? - D. Milet (2/6)
The whole basis of your stats are skewed because these All-Stars compile many of their numbers against players with less talent. There are no lower-level players in the All-Star Game so your numbers are not valid. The West may win the game, but it won't be because of your stats. - J. Bauer (2/6)
In any event, I realize the stats don't determine the game. No stats ever do - especially for a single game. That's why underdogs win so often. All I was trying to do is make some comparisons, and to get you thinking. Looks like I succeeded. - Guru
In the past month, the average # of trades remaining for the top 50 teams has dropped 50%, from 5 to 2.5. We are also nearing the point at which half of the top 50 teams will have 1 or less trade remaining. Note that the dates I have done this on aren't regular... just whenever the mood strikes me. - Doug Taylor (2/5)
You pointed out a few players who have had recurring price swings. The first one was Brevin Knight. More recently, Rik Smits was having huge games back-to-back with ineffective games, causing his price to have ups and downs. Currently, Donyell Marshall seems to be the one, who can have a double-double game one night but then be almost useless the next. Is it worth spending 2 trades (to sell when high and then buy back when low) for a gain of $1.5m ( in a good day )? I believe not, because to become a top team in the 2nd Chance League you need to gain something like $1.25m per trade, and my example produces only a gain of $0.75m per trade. I figure this because in the 2nd Change League, the leading teams are worth about $100m now, and they have used about 40 trades, which works out to $1.25m per trade.
So what's a manager to do? The bottom line (as far as I can see) is that if you have a player like Marshall and you expect his price to be going down, maybe it's better to leave him on your roster, since his price will probably go up again. Of course, if you know his price is going down and you see another player whose price will go up, you could buy the other player and make the average value per trade more attractive.
Guru, you taught us that the first thing to do is to gain value, and then to buy the players you want. It's hard to imagine how your Talaxian team could be worth $145 million, but in the 2nd Chance League, I can understand how each trade could be worth $1.25m, and that's all you would need to be one of the leaders. This gives me more hope that everyone who visits your site daily has the potential of owning a high ranked team. - David Milet (2/3)response from Guru:
I was wondering how accurate the Small World point system was at really showing it like it is. In other words, are the best teams (Lakers, Jazz, Sonics, Bulls, Pacers...) producing the most Small World points? The reason I ask this is I've noticed the hapless Nuggets have a lot of fairly productive (or at least valuable in relation to their point production) players in Jackson, Battie, Fortson etc. I'd like to see a real comparison charted out comparing an entire NBA team's Small World points totalled up and then contrasted with that team's won-lost record.
It could also be done a different way: How frequently does the NBA team scoring the most Small World points win the game? What would each team's records be if the schedule was replayed and the scores were tabulated using Small World points instead?
Also, I would like see which team's players have the highest Small World dollar value, and which teams are getting the most production for their money. Thank you for your time, you are doing a remarkable job, and Guru is in my browser as a "check daily" site. - J. Johnson (2/1)response from Guru:
I know there is one team stat that will correlate perfectly with teams' won-loss record: points scored. At the individual player level, you need all of the elements of the game - rebounding, assists, steals - to produce the most points for the team, but at the team level, points is the only statistic that matters. I'm not sure what a game-by-game SWP comparison tells you. Perhaps others have some thoughts to share? - Guru
Better response from Guru:
After posting the first response several days ago, Doug Taylor sent me some quick analysis which, among other things, pointed out the idiocy of my first response. (This is probably the point at which I should tell you that the first response was really posted by my evil twin!) There is no reason to assume that points scored will correlate with winning percentage better than SWP. And in fact, it doesn't! Using stats through Sunday, team points scored were only 60% correlated with winning percentage, while team Smallworld Points exhibited a 73% correlation.
This led me to do some additional analysis, which proved to be quite interesting, and a bit counterintuitive as well. I'll publish my results in a coming Hoop Pointers article. Consider this your "teaser".- Guru
The fans and coaches should have consulted your site before making their All-Star picks. Perhaps then they wouldn't have committed some gross injustices in their selections. Fans in Washington must be especially irate, as Chris Webber and Rod Strickland got shafted. Webber is easily the most productive center in the East, and even if you count him as a forward, he rates second only to Grant Hill. Meanwhile, Strickland is the most productive guard in the East, and he too got left off the team altogether. The Wizards may not be the best of teams, but that doesn't defeat the fact that two of their players are having terrific seasons.
As for the two worst selections, blame them both on the fans. Kobe Bryant may be great one day, Penny Hardaway has been great in the past, but neither has had a season worthy of All-Star status. Kobe shows flashes of brilliance, but 24 smallworld points/game isn't going to cut it. And Penny has spent most of the season riding the pine. Even when he has played, he's only managed 29.2 smallworld points/game, hardly worthy of selection over Strickland.
This mess is indicative of the growing problem in the NBA: people choosing image over substance. I'll still be tuning in to watch the game, though, if only to see Larry Legend coach Air Jordan. Fantastic! - N. Mason (1/27)response from Guru:
Often, fans are criticized for picking sentimental favorites who are past their prime over current producers. This time, they've gone to the other extreme, picking a future star ahead of his time. - Guru
What's the deal with Hakeem's recent price move? He's not scheduled to return until after the All-Star break, which is 2 weeks away, and his price has increased well over $1 million already? Are people THAT anxious to get him on their squad, anxious enough to sacrifice 2 weeks of output by someone else? I did notice that none of the top 50 teams picked him up, because they would lose their position and maybe never make it back up to where they were. I will be watching his price closely over the next 2 weeks - it should be interesting. - C. Baum (1/27)
Let's do some quick arithmetic. Suppose you picked him up last week for $6.5 million. A good $6.5 million player produces around 30 SWP/G, so if you lost 10 games of production, that's a 300 SWP cost. Hakeem's early season average was close to 40 SWP per game. If he comes back to play right after the All-Star break, he'll have 34 games remaining. An extra 10 SWP/G for 34 games produces a pickup of 340 SWP... which makes the attractiveness of the strategy pretty marginal at best. Of course, as we get closer to the break, the opportunity cost of having Hakeem too soon reduces with each passing game. So it actually appears that the market is bidding his price up very efficiently. Maybe Smallworld managers aren't irrational after all? - Guru
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