Monday, January 26, 2009

Kodachrome Maybelline

With too much time on our hands, we at JPO decided to aggregate the 2009 all-star picks made by a variety of pundits:

David Friedman

TNT's Inside the NBA crew (as summarized by David Friedman)

Marc Stein of ESPN

John Hollinger of ESPN

Peter Vecsey

The SI / crew

Our raw data can be found here (it's a Google Docs spreadsheet). Basically, if a given analyst chose a given player to the All-Star team, we coded that cell as "1". Otherwise, we coded a 0. We then calculated an average score for each player across the 12 analysts. The average score is found in the extreme right-most column of the spreadsheet. We then sorted the players according to their average scores.

The data has a bit of a problem in that some of the analysts (Hollinger, Stein, Vecsey, Friedman, and the TNT guys: Webber, Payton, Smith) took the fans’ choices of starters as a given, and chose only reserves. As a result, those analysts are assuming that Allen Iverson and Amare Stoudemire should be part of the team, and as a result, I coded Iverson and Stoudemire as "1" for those analysts. The SI analysts, who chose starters and reserves, all did not pick Iverson to be a member of the East team, and it is highly likely that none of the other analysts would independently choose Iverson to be a starter; his average score of 0.583 would have probably been zero if the fans had not chosen him. Four of the five SI analysts, though, picked Stoudemire to be on the West team, which suggests that most of the Hollinger Stein/Vecsey/Friedman/TNT group would have picked Stoudemire as a reserve even if he were not a starter chosen by the fans. Thus, Stoudemire's average score of 0.91 is likely only slightly inflated above what it would be if he were not "locked in" by the fans’ vote.

What stands out from this analysis? Surprisingly, 8 of 12 analysts chose Shaquille O’Neal to the West team, equal to the number (8) who chose Pau Gasol, playing for a much better team. Steve Nash, the former six-time all-star starter and two-time MVP, received only two votes, fewer than Paul Millsap, who got three. It seems likely that next year Billups and Shaq will fall out of this discussion, while guys like Durant and Millsap, who received only a couple votes from this sample, will be much more serious contenders. I also would expect Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum to put up all-star caliber performance next year, particularly given the likely strength of their teams.

In the East, I was surprised that 11 of 12 analysts chose Paul Pierce, who is averaging only 19 and 6 while shooting 44% from the field. Also, every analyst picked Joe Johnson, which is mildly surprising: he got more votes than Devin Harris (who has surely wowed more than JJ has) and Jameer Nelson or Mo Williams (who have quarterbacked their teams to a much better record than Johnson has). Also, three of the analysts decided to omit Chris Bosh from their squad. Chris Bosh — he of the 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 50% field goal percentage! — actually lost out to Zydrunas Ilgauskas for backup center on the ballot of two selectors.

My ballot, if anyone asked me, would most closely resemble that of Steve Aschburner or John Hollinger for the East all-stars, and Paul Forrester for the West all-stars.

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