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The No-Stats All-Star


Stashed in: Basketball, Moneyball, Creativity, Character

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Classic profile of stats-driven defensive star Shane Battier by Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame.

One of my favorite sports articles of all time.

There are plenty of lessons to be had for startups as well:

- Be careful of vanity metrics

- if you don't understand the stats you have, you are wasting time

- Finding the most important metrics to measure takes domain knowledge, intelligence and creativity. Don't pass it off to the intern.

It is so easy to say "just use the data" and SO hard to know which data to use!

I love this paragraph:

Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly ­reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways. “I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”

Obvious weaknesses and almost invisible strengths make for the most interesting players.

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