For awhile there I thought I could just completely neglect this blog, never write anything again, and just do Skype podcasts because talking is just so much easier than writing. I didn’t think that…not really. But kind of. Really, it’s that I’ve been busy polluting my mind with grown ass man thoughts like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?” and “YOU’RE GOING BALD YOU SHOULD JUST QUIT BEING A PUSSY, SHAVE YOUR HEAD AND ROCK THAT SHIT LIKE AN UGLIER VERSION OF A ‘BIG-BONED’ JASON STATHAM.” My birthday and the holidays do this to me.
But now that things are all settled down I refocused my attention on things that really grind my gears. Take for example, this headline: “Neil Paine (of Basketball-Reference): Blazers F/C J.J. Hickson Tops List of ‘Overrated Rebounders’”.
I’m fairly certain that I’m on record as saying that hell will freeze over on the day that I defend J.J. Hickson. Well then. Those terrible motherfuckers burning away in eternal damnation better grab their mittens, because this shit’s about to go down.
Let me just get this out of the way: I like advanced stats. Advanced stats helped usher us out of what I like to call the Ricky Davis era. There’s a reason John Hollinger just got hired as the VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies and there’s a reason Daryl Morey is one of the most respected GM’s in the league. Advanced stats are good by me.
Pictured: This is a live shot of Brian, aka Endo (the other half of the Ballin’ with Bozos crew), using his computer to talk about stats because stats are great and he loves stats.
But let’s look at what Paine had to say about Hickson:
Superficially speaking, Hickson appears to be one of the league’s best rebounders, averaging 10.8 boards per game (sixth-best in the NBA) with a 21.7 rebounding percentage (fourth-best). However, there’s plenty of evidence that many of those rebounds have simply been stolen from his teammates, not opponents. ..Despite Hickson’s gaudy individual stats, the Blazers have a negative net rebound rate with him in the lineup, and they actually rebound at a better rate when he’s not on the floor.
I think my head is going to explode. Cool.
Herein lies my beef with this analysis. We are completely overcomplicating an easily identifiable trait. The guy can rebound. That’s it. It’s not like saying the guy can shoot (because he can take bad shots) or the guy can pass (because he can make bad decisions). When a guy’s rebounding, he’s not gonna wait for somebody else to grab it. He just freaking rebounds. There’s no greater science to it – unless he’s literally bowling over teammates to grab rebounds to pad his stats, and if that were the case it would be plain to see for everyone watching.
Now, I know what the counterargument would be to my rant here. It would be “Nobody ever said he’s a bad rebounder.” True. But the entire purpose of that column was to rile things up by identifying a cool thing, tainting it one way or another, then acting like it’s all good. It’s like how I passive-aggressivley sneeze in people’s beers at bars. Dude it was an ACCIDENT. No HARM no FOUL.
I already know what J.J. Hickson is: an energy guy that will chase rebounds and do some fun things and he’s probably best served coming off the bench. He’s playing out of his mind this year and somebody is gonna overpay him because it’s the NBA and that’s just what happens. Truth is, I don’t expect J.J. to be on the Blazers next year, and therefore I’m not attached to him as a Blazer at all.
Why am I so mad about this, then?
Because this is the kind of shit that makes Reggie Miller believe he has some sort of credibility. When the old dogs start saying stuff like “you know it when you see it” and try to discredit advanced stats-guru while signing a Qyntel Woods type for $20,000,000 they’ll point to things like this. And that drives me NUTS.
Hi. I’m David Kahn. Gavin is talking about bad personnel moves, so I have no idea why he’s inserting my picture here. He can be very wacky that way.
That said, Neil Paine and I can still be friends. He’s doing his damned job. ESPN likes these kinda headlines and Paine has got to GET HIS, if you will. He and the rest of the advanced stats dudes can run circles around me in regards to PER and all that stuff. Keep up the good work.
(Important Note: See what I did there at the end? I sneezed in his beer, so to speak.)