Thursday, July 26, 2007

Similarity

One of the most fascinating, relatively new analysis methods for baseball players is judging players statistically against all players throughout the game's history and coming up with their most similar players. There's a couple of ways to go about it, the Baseball Prospectus runs theirs through a computer system called Pecota, and baseball-reference.com runs theirs through a system called "similarity scores". Pecota is based on projecting the future and similarity scores is based on what they've actually done so far. Well, as you might imagine, there is some ground breaking work being done on this front in basketball as well. If you'd like to know more about the method behind this madness, there's a link at the end of this that will explain it all. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the current Blazers roster and where their similarity scores lie, note that these are most similar at age and based solely on past performance, not projecting what they will be:

Brandon Roy: Jason Richardson (Ray Allen & Paul Pierce make an appearance on his list)
LaMarcus Aldridge: Michael Doleac (yikes, see disclaimer below)
Travis Outlaw: Michael Doleac (this isn't exactly going as I had planned)
Martell Webster: Marvin Williams
Jarett Jack: Joe Dumars
Joel Przybilla: John Salley (apparently we've entered the Detroit Pistons part of the program)
Steve Blake: Pearl Washington
James Jones: Kenny Walker (of former slam dunk champ fame)
Raef LaFrentz: Herb Williams (no idea)
Sergio Rodriguez: apparently not enough data
Channing Frye: Sharone Wright (and Michael Doleac making an appearance at #2)

Grain of Salt Disclaimer: Each of these contain 10 most similar players, I'm just putting out the #1 guy on the list. For example, LaMarcus also has Al Jefferson, Chaz Villanueva, and Vlade Divac on his. Basically for the younger guys it has a really wide range that could go either way. It would also appear that when they have a wide range they always throw Michael Doleac on there. He's got to be the most comparable player in the league just looking at this small sample size.

Overall, not all that surprising, a lot of young players that could still go either way but there's some real promise there. That's kind of the "firm grasp of the obvious" way to look at it. Then there's the Greg Oden factor. As we all know, he changes everything. The link explaining similarity scores is listed below.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/similar.html

13 comments:

ziggythebeagle said...

I think similarity scores are very useful in projecting a player, and their accuracy is a proven tool. I think it is important to fully understand what the tool does. Lets take a look at Martell for example.
At the age of 20, these are the 10 players most alike Martell at the same age

DerMarr Johnson 922
Joe Johnson 922
Bill Willoughby 918
Al Harrington 911
Mike Miller 904
Tim Thomas 898
Rashard Lewis 898
Rudy Gay 898
Marvin Williams 894
Sasha Pavlovic 890

That is a actually a very impressive group, all of whom play(ed) big minutes, and perform(ed) well. That tells me that at a similar age, Martell matched up well with a number of good NBA players, but very few NBA all-stars.

Travis Outlaw at age 22
Willie Burton 916
Doug Smith 906
Al Harrington 904
Louis Orr 901
Kiki Vandeweghe 898
Chris Porter 897
Peja Stojakovic 896
Tim Thomas 896
Drew Gooden 896
Jack Givens 895

This is a more diverse group than Martell's. Travis is similar to more all-star type players, but also more NBA journeymen.

Only one of the players on Travis' list was a HS draftee, and more players who played multiple years of college. Martell has only played 2 years so he will be compared essentially only to other HS or freshman draftees, but he has about the same similarity scores as does Travis against players who had 3 or 4 years of college.

How about Channing Frye in his rookie year

#1 Lorenzen Wright 952 (2000-01 Wrights best year by far)

#2 Roy Tarpley 943 (94-95 the one year Tarpley played after his suspension)

#3 Mehmet Okur 943 (03-04 last year in Detroit, 22.5 minutes)

#4 Tom Owens 939 (81-82 the year after he left PDX near the end of his career)

#5 - #10 Sharone Wright 939 (95-96 and 94-05 many people forget Wright who's career was cut short by injuries)

#6 Matt Gieger 939 (99-00 second best year of his career)

#7 Kevin McHale 938 (91-92 second last year of his career, similar to his peak years except he got hurt)

#8 and #9 Dino Radja 938 (93-94 and 94-95) the 2 best years of a very good player who's career was cut short because of injuries

As a rookie Channing Fyre was very comparable to some very solid NBA big guys.

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