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Michael Lewis: ‘Can’t Be Too Stupid to Play Baseball,’ NBA/NFL More ‘Articulate’

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BOSTON—”You can’t be too stupid to play baseball,” according to Moneyball author Michael Lewis, “I was struck by how articulate (NFL and NBA) players were, compared to baseball.”

Certainly the most controversial statement of the weekend of talking Value Add Basketball (see top 100 below) at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that included everyone from stats guru Nate Silver (left in the photo with me) to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson to former basketball national champion at Duke Shane Battier.

While Charles Barkley was also attacked frequently for his recent comments describing analytics as “crap” pushed by a “bunch of guys who never played the game and never got the girls in high school,” most of the weekend was spent using very friendly language about the need to balance the observation of scouts with analytics breakthroughs—a balancing act I did in naming the Breitbart Sports All-American team last week.

For example, from a pure analytics/Value Add perspective Gary Payton II of Oregon State ranks as a 1st team All-American; Jahlil Okafor of Duke gives up so many points in the paint, turnovers, and missed free throws that he fails to make the top team. However, we balance the analytics with expert observation, and named Okafor first team instead.

That being said, here are the pure numbers as the regular season closes. The two big breakthroughs come from the Big East. Playing great against the No. 2 conference based on RPI and most computer systems has propelled St. John’s Sir’Dominic Pointer to the verge of a 1st team All-American (6th and behind only Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky among powerforwards).

One I will argue with observers on is D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera of Georgetown, who has moved up to 13th in the country and second in the Big East despite getting little credit. Pointer has averaged 19 points and 4 blocked shots a game during a 6-1 stretch that has St. John’s securely back in the NCAA tournament. Smith-Rivera has been dominant in Georgetown’s current 3-1 streak with an offensive rating of 134 (would score 134 points in 100 times with the ball) including hitting seven three-pointers in the only loss as they split with St. John’s.

Rnk Player Ht Yr Offense Defense Position Value Add
1 Wright, Delon 55 Utah 6′ 5″ Sr 6.98 -4.49 PG+0.74 12.21
2 Kaminsky, Frank 44 Wisconsin 7′ 0 Sr 7.93 -3.17 C-0.38 10.72
3 Towns, Karl-Anthony 12 Kentucky 6′ 11″ Fr 5.06 -5.45 PF-0.02 10.50
4 Payton, Gary 1 Oregon St. 6′ 3″ Jr 2.54 -6.56 SG+0.55 9.64
5 Cauley-Stein, Willie 15 Kentucky 7′ 0 Jr 3.39 -6.00 C-0.38 9.00
6 Pointer, Sir’Dominic 15 St. John’s 6′ 6″ Sr 3.98 -4.96 PF-0.02 8.92
7 Grant, Jerian 22 Notre Dame 6′ 5″ Sr 7.08 -1.08 PG+0.74 8.90
8 White, Aaron 30 Iowa 6′ 9″ Sr 6.14 -2.74 PF-0.02 8.86
9 Russell, D’Angelo 0 Ohio St. 6′ 5″ Fr 5.81 -2.47 SG+0.55 8.83
10 Walden, Corey 2 Eastern Kentucky 6′ 2″ Sr 4.78 -3.21 PG+0.74 8.73
11 Van Vleet, Fred 23 Wichita St. 6′ 0 Jr 5.44 -2.51 PG+0.74 8.69
12 Tuttle, Seth 10 Northern Iowa 6′ 8″ Sr 5.52 -2.87 SF+0.26 8.65
13 Smith-Rivera, D’Vauntes 4 Georgetown 6′ 3″ Jr 5.79 -2.08 PG+0.74 8.61
14 Boatright, Ryan 11 Connecticut 6′ 0 Sr 5.20 -2.05 PG+0.74 7.99
15 Tarpey, Terry 25 William & Mary 6′ 5″ Jr 4.21 -3.03 PG+0.74 7.98
16 Pangos, Kevin 4 Gonzaga 6′ 2″ Sr 5.93 -1.30 PG+0.74 7.97
17 Booker, Devin 1 Kentucky 6′ 6″ Fr 5.57 -1.80 SG+0.55 7.92
18 Marks, Derrick 2 Boise St. 6′ 3″ Sr 4.97 -2.06 PG+0.74 7.78
19 Wiltjer, Kyle 33 Gonzaga 6′ 10″ Jr 6.22 -1.56 PF-0.02 7.76
20 Rozier, Terry 0 Louisville 6′ 1″ So 3.55 -3.60 SG+0.55 7.70
21 Payne, Cameron 1 Murray St. 6′ 2″ So 5.41 -1.42 PG+0.74 7.58
22 Portis, Bobby 10 Arkansas 6′ 11″ So 5.14 -2.82 C-0.38 7.58
23 Baker, Ron 31 Wichita St. 6′ 4″ Jr 5.09 -1.92 SG+0.55 7.57
24 Okafor, Jahlil 15 Duke 6′ 11″ Fr 5.44 -2.13 PF-0.02 7.55
25 Christmas, Rakeem 25 Syracuse 6′ 9″ Sr 4.01 -3.54 PF-0.02 7.54
26 Kalinoski, Tyler 4 Davidson 6′ 4″ Sr 5.80 -1.19 SG+0.55 7.53
27 Gathers, Rico 2 Baylor 6′ 8″ Jr 3.87 -3.97 C-0.38 7.47
28 Hield, Buddy 24 Oklahoma 6′ 4″ Jr 3.84 -3.00 SG+0.55 7.38
29 Cook, Quinn 2 Duke 6′ 2″ Sr 6.36 -0.45 SG+0.55 7.36
30 Randolph, Levi 20 Alabama 6′ 5″ Sr 5.06 -2.02 SF+0.26 7.34
31 O’Neale, Royce 0 Baylor 6′ 6″ Sr 5.10 -1.97 SF+0.26 7.33
32 Harrell, Montrezl 24 Louisville 6′ 8″ Jr 3.78 -3.56 PF-0.02 7.32
33 Dunn, Kris 3 Providence 6′ 3″ So 2.63 -3.94 PG+0.74 7.30
34 McConnell, T.J. 4 Arizona 6′ 1″ Sr 3.50 -2.94 PG+0.74 7.19
35 Morris, Monte 11 Iowa St. 6′ 2″ So 5.05 -1.37 PG+0.74 7.16
36 Harrison, Aaron 2 Kentucky 6′ 6″ So 3.23 -3.37 SG+0.55 7.15
37 Gill, Anthony 13 Virginia 6′ 8″ Jr 4.74 -2.41 PF-0.02 7.13
38 Trimble, Melo 2 Maryland 6′ 3″ Fr 4.80 -1.78 SG+0.55 7.13
39 Hilliard, Darrun 4 Villanova 6′ 6″ Sr 4.15 -2.41 SG+0.55 7.11
40 Lee, Damion 14 Drexel 6′ 6″ Jr 5.44 -1.41 SF+0.26 7.11
41 Collinsworth, Kyle 5 BYU 6′ 6″ Jr 3.68 -2.65 PG+0.74 7.07
42 Jones, Tyus 5 Duke 6′ 1″ Fr 5.10 -1.19 PG+0.74 7.04
43 Mason, Frank 0 Kansas 5′ 11″ So 4.29 -2.00 PG+0.74 7.02
44 Martin, Hassan 12 Rhode Island 6′ 7″ So 2.58 -4.45 PF-0.02 7.01
45 Dee, Johnny 1 San Diego 6′ 0 Sr 4.75 -1.69 SG+0.55 6.98
46 Henton, LaDontae 23 Providence 6′ 6″ Sr 4.77 -1.81 SF+0.26 6.84
47 Hawkins, Corey 3 UC Davis 6′ 3″ Sr 4.79 -1.49 SG+0.55 6.83
48 Brogdon, Malcolm 15 Virginia 6′ 5″ Jr 4.11 -1.97 PG+0.74 6.82
49 Forte, Phil 13 Oklahoma St. 5′ 11″ Jr 4.34 -1.91 SG+0.55 6.81
50 Hayes, Nigel 10 Wisconsin 6′ 8″ So 5.64 -1.17 PF-0.02 6.78
51 Rice, Rayvonte 24 Illinois 6′ 4″ Sr 3.99 -2.53 SF+0.26 6.78
52 Spangler, Ryan 0 Oklahoma 6′ 8″ Jr 3.89 -3.23 C-0.38 6.74
53 Moody, Stefan 42 Mississippi 5′ 10″ Jr 4.53 -1.63 SG+0.55 6.71
54 Ellis, Perry 34 Kansas 6′ 8″ Jr 4.07 -2.62 PF-0.02 6.67
55 Peters, Alec 25 Valparaiso 6′ 9″ So 5.11 -1.55 PF-0.02 6.64
56 Woodley, Zikiteran 23 Northwestern St. 6′ 2″ So 6.75 0.39 SF+0.26 6.62
57 Taylor, Brandon 11 Utah 5′ 10″ Jr 4.13 -1.93 SG+0.55 6.61
58 Hunter, R.J. 22 Georgia St. 6′ 6″ Jr 3.95 -2.39 SF+0.26 6.60
59 Warney, Jameel 20 Stony Brook 6′ 8″ Jr 3.68 -3.28 C-0.38 6.58
60 Lyles, Trey 41 Kentucky 6′ 10″ Fr 3.39 -2.91 SF+0.26 6.56
61 Yogi Ferrell, Kevin 11 Indiana 6′ 0 Jr 6.57 0.76 PG+0.74 6.55
62 Caffey, Michael 5 Long Beach St. 6′ 0 Sr 3.16 -2.64 PG+0.74 6.54
63 Randle, Chasson 5 Stanford 6′ 2″ Sr 4.93 -0.85 PG+0.74 6.53
64 Harrison, Andrew 5 Kentucky 6′ 6″ So 3.00 -2.78 PG+0.74 6.52
65 Ulis, Tyler 3 Kentucky 5′ 9″ Fr 3.56 -2.22 PG+0.74 6.52
66 Walkup, Thomas 0 Stephen F. Austin 6′ 4″ Jr 5.36 -0.90 SF+0.26 6.52
67 Haws, Tyler 3 BYU 6′ 5″ Sr 6.15 -0.09 SF+0.26 6.50
68 McKinney, Mikh 10 Sacramento St. 6′ 1″ Sr 4.38 -1.35 PG+0.74 6.47
69 Richardson, Josh 1 Tennessee 6′ 6″ Sr 3.72 -2.18 SG+0.55 6.45
70 West, Jalan 12 Northwestern St. 5′ 10″ Jr 5.36 -0.31 PG+0.74 6.41
71 Saunders, Wesley 23 Harvard 6′ 5″ Sr 3.03 -3.11 SF+0.26 6.40
72 Lacey, Trevor 1 North Carolina St. 6′ 3″ Jr 4.94 -0.88 SG+0.55 6.37
73 Sykes, Keifer 24 Green Bay 6′ 0 Sr 3.33 -2.29 PG+0.74 6.36
74 Webb, James 23 Boise St. 6′ 9″ So 3.95 -2.78 C-0.38 6.35
75 Brown, Anthony 21 Stanford 6′ 6″ Sr 4.32 -1.47 SG+0.55 6.34
76 Newbill, D.J. 2 Penn St. 6′ 4″ Sr 4.23 -1.53 SG+0.55 6.31
77 Paige, Marcus 5 North Carolina 6′ 1″ Jr 4.19 -1.34 PG+0.74 6.27
78 Hollis-Jefferson, Rondae 23 Arizona 6′ 7″ So 3.18 -2.81 SF+0.26 6.24
79 Green, Javonte 2 Radford 6′ 4″ Sr 2.56 -3.70 PF-0.02 6.24
80 Frazier, J.J. 30 Georgia 5′ 10″ So 3.94 -1.55 PG+0.74 6.23
81 McClellan, Sheldon 10 Miami FL 6′ 5″ Jr 5.01 -0.94 SF+0.26 6.21
82 Uthoff, Jarrod 20 Iowa 6′ 9″ Jr 3.21 -2.74 SF+0.26 6.21
83 Prince, Taurean 21 Baylor 6′ 7″ Jr 3.26 -2.96 PF-0.02 6.20
84 Hewitt, Jelani 5 Georgia Southern 6′ 2″ Sr 2.47 -2.99 PG+0.74 6.20
85 Johnson, Stanley 5 Arizona 6′ 6″ Fr 3.00 -2.93 SF+0.26 6.20
86 Bembry, DeAndre 43 Saint Joseph’s 6′ 6″ So 2.10 -3.55 SG+0.55 6.20
87 Anderson, Justin 1 Virginia 6′ 6″ Jr 4.20 -1.72 SF+0.26 6.18
88 Looney, Kevon 5 UCLA 6′ 9″ Fr 3.47 -2.69 PF-0.02 6.14
89 Mockevicius, Egidijus 55 Evansville 6′ 10″ Jr 2.79 -3.70 C-0.38 6.11
90 Young, Joseph 3 Oregon 6′ 2″ Sr 4.66 -0.69 PG+0.74 6.09
91 Harrison, D’Angelo 11 St. John’s 6′ 4″ Sr 3.98 -1.83 SF+0.26 6.07
92 Simons, John 34 Central Michigan 6′ 8″ Jr 4.80 -1.28 PF-0.02 6.06
93 Parker, Jacob 34 Stephen F. Austin 6′ 6″ Sr 4.47 -1.60 PF-0.02 6.04
94 Greene, Ty 5 USC Upstate 6′ 3″ Sr 4.59 -0.88 SG+0.55 6.03
95 Johnson, Brice 11 North Carolina 6′ 9″ Jr 3.39 -2.65 PF-0.02 6.02
96 Harris, Marvelle 23 Fresno St. 6′ 4″ Jr 3.37 -1.90 PG+0.74 6.01
97 Baldwin, Wade 4 Vanderbilt 6′ 3″ Fr 2.84 -2.41 PG+0.74 5.99
98 Miller, Shonn 32 Cornell 6′ 7″ Sr 1.27 -4.74 PF-0.02 5.98
99 Johnson, Dakari 44 Kentucky 7′ 0 So 2.74 -3.61 C-0.38 5.97
100 Clark, Gary 11 Cincinnati 6′ 7″ Fr 2.65 -3.33 PF-0.02 5.97

 


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