The Freakonomics blog is always on our radar, as they post about interesting statistical measures and relationships (always one of our favorite topics). Yesterday, a post about the recent NBA playoff series between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, in which they compared the shooting efficiency of Carmello Anthony and LeBron James, caught our eye:
Because Melo was a far less efficient scorer, he had to attempt 34 more shots from the field than LeBron in the series. And because shot attempts are a finite resource, this means that other players on the Knicks had to attempt fewer shots… Such a story highlights an important lesson: scoring totals in the NBA can be quite deceptive. A player can boost his scoring totals by simply taking more and more shots. But if this shooting is inefficient, teams actually suffer from this choice.
While we’re no fans of LeBron here in Chicago, and writing about basketball this close to the Bulls playoff exit is hard to swallow, emphasizing shooting efficiency rather than points scored hits close to home for us. We’re always harping on how investors shouldn’t fall in love with the returns of a program (how many “points” it has scored) without also considering the risk side (how efficiently the program scored those “points”). It’s why we include risk factors such as downside deviation, drawdown, etc. (roughly 3 risk factors for every 1 return factor) in our managed futures rankings. Bottom line: if you’re only looking at who scored the most points, you’re missing out on who the best player to help you win championships might be.
Maybe NBA reporters will read Freakonomics’ advice and take a page from the book of managed futures – using risk-adjusted scoring numbers instead of just how many times a player scored (ignoring how many shots they put up, how many points scored by the man they were guarding, etc). But we won’t hold our breath… or even be watching now that the Bulls are home for the summer.
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