David King on cybersports: Sabermetrics (a real word) makes its way into NBA but needs catchy label Web Posted: 11/04/2005 12:00 AM CST
San Antonio Express-News
Just in case you want to discount the contributions of the Society for American Baseball Research (sabr.org) to the National Pastime, consider this — no one has ever coined a word about the statistical analysis of football, soccer or lacrosse, based on work done by fans of those sports.
However, online dictionaries from Merriam-Webster (m-w.com) to Dictionary.com to Infoplease.com define "sabermetrics" (with the additional "e," the combination of the society's abbreviation and the root "metrics," for measurement) as the statistical analysis of baseball data, either done on computers or in ledger books by guys wearing green visors. (Note to Microsoft: Quit underlining "sabermetrics" as a misspelling in Word ... it really is a word.)
A number of teams, most notably the Boston Red Sox and Oakland A's, use some sort of sabermetrics to rate players. And more and more organizations are hiring geeks to evaluate everything from free agents to minor-leaguers to potential draft picks (they're hidden in media guides under titles like "systems coordinator," "baseball operations advisor" or simply "Bill James").
And now arrives on the scene a similar form of analysis for the NBA, at 82games.com. The site, prominently mentioned in the Sports Illustrated NBA preview issue, takes the same sort of statistical approach to pro hoops, including things like the best two-man and five-man combinations in the league (not surprisingly, if you consider the results, the top pairing in the NBA is Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili).
The site, which still is in its developmental stage, also analyzes the use of the 24-second clock by teams, the shooting effectiveness for players from different spots on the court and the defensive effectiveness of NBA players. There are lots of charts and graphs, accompanied by lots of weighty, important-sounding analysis.
And to let you know just how serious the Webmasters are, here is their message statement:
"Compiling and creating lots of cool NBA stats is the task, but to what end do these statistics serve? Our goal at 82games is simple: we want to help teams be more successful. Well, ideally we'd like to help one team, but until we find the right exclusive arrangement, we are working with all comers."
Maybe they need to invent a buzzword. Don't think 82gamemetrics is going to work.