Thunder’s Serge Ibaka’s Importance: Defense and Rebounding Are Not Little Things

November 9th, 2010 by Jonathan Tjarks Leave a reply »
With seven rebounds, two blocks and the highest plus/minus rating on the team, Serge Ibaka was the key to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s comeback win against Portland last week.

TNT announcer Reggie Miller remarked that “Ibaka does all the little things that help a team win.” His comment, an uncontroversial reflection of conventional wisdom, was a good window into how people misinterpret basketball games.

Rebounding and defense are not little things!

David Berri, an economist at Southern Utah University, made a splash in NBA statistical circles with his controversial 2006 book Wages of Wins. After running a regression analysis to determine which statistics correlate with winning records, he found that teams overvalue scoring and undervalue rebounding and field goal percentage.

The next day, ESPN announcer Mark Jackson declared that Chicago should be willing to give up Joakim Noah to get Carmelo Anthony in a trade. But according to Berri’s Wins Produced statistic, which he used to beat ESPN’s NBA experts in predicting the NBA playoffs two years ago, Noah produces .27 wins per 48 minutes while Anthony only produces .108 wins. ...

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