Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fun with numbers

There's a 66 percent chance Charles Barkley was right the other night when he said analytics are "crap," that what matters in the NBA is talent.

Eighty-eight percent of guys who used to play will say what he said about guys who didn't, which is that they don't know doody.

 Eighty-nine point six percent of the time, the guys who played will go on to say what Barkley said, which is that the guys who didn't play “never played the game, and they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game.”

There's a 77.8 percent probability they'll say that because they really are channeling high school again, when the jocks were king and the analytics types -- like, say, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, the target of Barkley's ire -- were the weeny little guys wearing pocket protectors. And, no, they didn't get the girls ,because they spent all their free time figuring the odds that they would go to Harvard while the jocks wound up selling Slurpees at the 7-Eleven.

There's a 99.57 percent chance that's a ridiculous stereotype that doesn't hold up to serious scrutiny.

Sixty-seven percent of the time, the jocks wind up graduating from prestigious universities, too, and 41 percent of the time they do so with degrees that don't involve Theory of Keeping Air In The Balls 101. (Obviously this applies more to members of the New England Patriots than anyone else). In other words, some of them are smart, too, like Barkley -- who says really funny, really provocative stuff 81 percent of the time.

Of course, there's a 77.621 percent chance that what he says is obvious.  Sure, if you've got Michael Jordan on your team, you don't need analytics to beat anybody. And teams put together solely by the numbers never win anything worth talking about (See: The Oakland As, stars of "Moneyball"). But there's a 88.53 percent probability that analytics have some value, too.

That means there's a 99.9 percent chance this entire argument is moot. And that it's 100 percent the product of that age-old jocks-vs.-nerds thing alluded to 3.8 paragraphs ago.

Go figure.


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