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Imitation Sports Blogging

I must object to the obsequious coverage the TV commentators were giving to Gilbert Arenas during last night's 110-108 loss to the Kings. Yes, obviously, he's a very good basketball player. And yes, obviously, 43 points is a lot of points. But when you take 37 percent of your team's shots, scoring 40 percent of your team's points is hardly a new landmark in offensive efficiency. When you shoot 4 for 7 from the free throw line and your team loses the game by two points, you're screwing up. Mike Bibby, a bona fide superstar, scored five fewer points off nine fewer field goal attempts. He had more than double Arenas' assists, four steals to Arenas' two, fouled the opposition one fewer time, and shot 7-8 from the free throw line. Not coincidentally, the team he was playing for won. That is a great game.

UPDATE: Spelling error fixed. To be clear, the point here isn't to get all down on Arenas. "Not as good as Mike Bibby," is hardly the worst thing you could say about a basketball player. The point was directed against the people covering the game for Comcast Sports who were falling all over each other to praise the genius of Arenas while saying basically nothing about Bibby's more well-rounded, more professional, and ultimately more victory-producing play. And, yes, Larry Hughes wasn't playing. But neither was Stojakavic.

February 28, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Well, the ability to get shots off can be a skill in itself.

That said, I'd agree that Bibby played the better game. That guy is just awesome. As highly as people already think of him, he's still underrated.

Posted by: JP | Feb 28, 2005 11:08:54 AM

Uh, Arenas scored 39 points from the field in 32 shots. The rest of the team scored 51 points from the field in 54 shots. Plus, it's harder to have a high shooting percentage when you're taking most of the shots because the defense is keying on you. If we didn't allow for that, Mark West would be considered the greatest offensive player of our time.

Posted by: Social Scientist | Feb 28, 2005 11:11:16 AM

Now this is quite right. It's important for a star player to be productive. But it's as important - in fact, I would venture to say MORE important - to be efficient - good shooting percentage, etc. That being said, Bibby did have five turnovers, to Arenas's three.

Part of the issue here may be that Bibby played the point entirely, since Sacto doesn't have another PG. OTOH, since Steve Blake played 34 minutes, it appears that Arenas played primarily SG. Hence the difference in assists and turnovers.

Anyway, while I didn't see the game, from the boxscore, it would appear to me that Bibby had the better game.

Posted by: Al | Feb 28, 2005 11:12:13 AM

Wow. In all the basketball commentary I've seen you shoehorn in here, this is the first time I can honestly say you've said something that sounds like you know what you're talking about. Congrats! That's quite a milestone.

Posted by: collin | Feb 28, 2005 11:50:37 AM

That said, with Larry Hughes on the bench and Jamison scoring 7 off of a horrible game (1 for 6 from 3? 0 for 2 from the stripe? Kwame scored 10, fer chrissakes!) it seems obvious that Arenas was filling in the gaps from the 2 spot. Thus, one should not compare apples and oranges, or Bibbys with Arenas's.

Posted by: collin | Feb 28, 2005 11:56:01 AM

Is "Spots" supposed to be "Sports"?

Posted by: collin | Feb 28, 2005 12:03:02 PM

actually, 43 points on 32 shots is a pretty good performance (1.34 points-per-shot-attempt is a very handsome number), but missing 3 out of 7 free throws is a terrible performance, and the simple act of scoring 43 points is meaningless.

And yes, Mike Bibby is certainly a much better player than gilbert arenas (i can never see mike play without thinking of the times, under red holzman, when the knicks would play henry bibby and dean meminger together, a couple of 6'1" guys, and they would still get rebounds out of the guard slot).

Posted by: howard | Feb 28, 2005 12:15:05 PM

Field goal percentage is not by itself a good measure of productivity. As commenters have alluded to, as you take more shots, the defense applied against you should increase. In addition, I would argue that beyond some number of shots (presuming that you take wide-open/fast-break shots first), there should be decreasing returns to adding to the number of shots you take, based on fatigue, the spot where you recieve the ball on the floor, time left on the shot clock etc.

I'm a Wiz fan and I could always point out that with a healthy Arenas, certainly this is the most competitive the team has been since Webber departed.

One way to look at the impact of Arenas is to use a rating system where the team's performance is judged with and without Arenas on the floor. By this measure, Arenas is the 12th best player in the league:

http://www.82games.com/rolandratings0405.htm

Posted by: Utt | Feb 28, 2005 12:24:12 PM

Is "Spots" supposed to be "Sports"?

Hey, now the title of the post is understandable!

I'll mention that it is amazing to me that Mike Bibby has not yet been on an All-Star team. He is certainly deserving. Perhaps he's been overshadowed by C-Webb and Peja, but for someone who was the 2nd pick in the draft and has been consistently an important player for a great team the last several years, he seems to me to be fairly underrated.

Posted by: Al | Feb 28, 2005 12:32:19 PM

" When you shoot 4 for 7 from the free throw line and your team loses the game by two points, you're screwing up."

No.

If he were 12/21 from the line that would be screwing up.

Posted by: Njorl | Feb 28, 2005 12:44:18 PM

Al, of course the reason that Bibby is "underrated" is fairly simple: he doesn't do sportscenter-worthy spectacular things. He's simply an extremely good player who shows up and does his job every night. In today's NBA world (well, not just the NBA; in today's world, period), that's not how you earn recognition....

Posted by: howard | Feb 28, 2005 12:52:28 PM

***stop the half-court presses***

local sports announcer overstates local players talent. fails to recognize excellence of opponent.

in other news, jimjeff guckert is hired by the wizards to "cover" post game press conferences to provide "balance."

Posted by: annoying pedant | Feb 28, 2005 2:05:27 PM

The Wizards were missing Larry Hughes, Juan Dixon, and Jared Jeffries, and Jamison was shooting the ball badly. When you combine all of that, Arenas had to put up lots of shots just to keep them in the game.

Remember that shooting percentages are (like most other things) subject to decreasing marginal returns. Even though Sacramento's whole defense was geared to stopping Arenas, he was still a more efficient at scoring than the rest of the Wizards. A pretty impressive accomplishment.

I'm a big fan of Mike Bibby, but right now I'd say Arenas is a better player. Arenas's problem is that can't carry the load all by himself. The Wizards need to get healthy, or risk falling from playoff contention.

Posted by: RC | Feb 28, 2005 2:23:58 PM

Wow. I read an Yglesias blog and get reminded of Dean 'The Dream' Meminger as a bonus. That was fun. My favorite vintage backcourt pairing was Calvin Murphy and Mike Newlin in Houston in the early '70s. Mutt and Jeff were athletic and must have been the best freethrow shooting pair of all time. And the best part was they couldn't give away Rockets tickets for Hofheinz. Two bucks would get you in the door and you could sit behind the benches.

Posted by: Nat | Feb 28, 2005 3:30:32 PM

well, hal, while we're taking a stroll down memory lane, perhaps you also remember the least athletic backcourt pairing of all time, the injury-induced backcourt of ernie grunfeld and scott wedman that cotton fitzsimmons had to resort to one year in the playoffs. they did all right, too, as i recall....

as for dean the dream, there was a nice piece in the nytimes a few months ago about him: it turns outo that he's had 3 decades of cocaine problems, although he's been clean for a while, and his son is a sucessful attorney or some such thing who tries to keep dad on the straight and narrow. For those of you who aren't oldtimers like Hal and me, Meminger and Mike bibby's dad backed up walt frazier and earl monroe, so they didn't get a lot of minutes, but they made the most of them....

Posted by: howard | Feb 28, 2005 4:17:08 PM

"I must object to the obsequious coverage the TV commentators were giving to Gilbert Arenas during last night's 110-108 loss to the Kings."

TV commentators are expected to be "homers".

Let's not forget that the sublime Marv Albert was recently fired from doing Knicks games because he was insufficiently supportive of the home team.

"But when you take 37 percent of your team's shots, scoring 40 percent of your team's points is hardly a new landmark in offensive efficiency."

As other commentators have noted, Arenas's box score is actually quite efficient.

For future reference, to determine offensive shooting efficiency, divide points by (FGA + (FTA * .44))

And from the single angle replay I saw, it seemed like he had a justifiable gripe on the foul called on what looked like a good block on Mobley.

"Not coincidentally, the team he was playing for won. That is a great game."

Of course, Bibby had a better supporting cast on the court with him...

Posted by: Petey | Feb 28, 2005 5:56:38 PM

"Let's not forget that the sublime Marv Albert was recently fired from doing Knicks games because he was insufficiently supportive of the home team."

And serendipitously, I just learned that Albert was hired today by the Nets. Woo-hoo!

And congrats to Al, who now has the best play-by-play guy in the business calling games for his beloved Nets.

Posted by: Petey | Feb 28, 2005 7:33:43 PM

Has anyone seen any John Chaney blogging?

There's a semi-interesting political tie-in to his recent travails.

From an SI story on his suspension:

Chaney has never backed away from a confrontation.

In January, Chaney used his time at a Philadelphia sports writers dinner to rail against President Bush and the war in Iraq. Chaney rambled on until he was nearly booed off the stage. He challenged one dissenter to meet him outside.

That echoed similar sentiments weeks earlier when Chaney scolded the people of Ohio, the state that helped Bush win the election with 20 electoral votes, saying, "It's not the people I hate, it's what they did that I hate."

Chaney's political sentiments seem tame compared to some his postgame comments, often filled with raspy expletives.

In a loss to Xavier last March, Chaney said if he had a baseball bat, he'd beat some of his big men.

"I'd kill them. That's how bad I am," Chaney said then. "That's how vile I am."

Posted by: SoCalJustice | Feb 28, 2005 11:56:05 PM

"There's a semi-interesting political tie-in to his recent travails."

It's hard not to like a Democrat with a fighting spirit.

I feel similarly toward both the people of Ohio and John Kerry.

And as a Philly-born boy who grew up watching Big 5 games at the Palestra, I've got a soft spot for crazy John Chaney in the first place. This is even though I no longer watch the college game - as a good lefty, I prefer to see labor get properly compensated.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 1, 2005 12:41:50 AM

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