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Phil Birnbaum: Sabermetric basketball statistics are too flawed to work

3
You know all those player evaluation statistics in basketball, like "Wins Produced," "Player Evaluation Rating," and so forth? I don't think they work. I've been thinking about it, and I don't think I trust any of them enough put much faith in their results. [sic] My comment: I think the "big question" you're asking is not whether or not "sabermetric style" statistics and analysis can be applied to basketball -- I think it can -- but which measurements are useful. Someone like Wayne Winston would probably argue that you're absolutely correct that there's too much noise and outside influence in box score statistics to massage them into something useful. However, I think he'd also argue that you can massage +/-, adjusting for opponent, and get an idea of which five-man units work well together and which don't. It'd be nice to know WHY Landry Fields makes such a huge difference for the Knicks, but until we get a better handle on how to measure his individual contributions, we can see that the five-man units on which he plays are significantly better than the five-man units without him.
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