The NBA is the most sports-obsessed country on Earth, and it’s not even close. I would say that if you can’t find a nation of two hundred million people as obsessed with professional basketball as we are, then you really should look for another country.
But obsessiveness is what brings us here. This site is a Wiki page about the top scorers in the NBA last season. I’ve written it in the style of a discussion-group transcript, which I think makes it more interesting than a straightforward list.
I’m hoping to find some way to capture the obsessive thrill of watching the NBA: that feeling that something genuinely amazing is happening every time you see a player do something new or unexpected.
The NBA has a scoring leaderboard, but the leaders are not chosen based on who made the most baskets. The list is determined by who shoots the most free throws in each game. Most of the time, you can’t really tell whether a shooter was a better scorer because he scored points or because he took more shots. At least not without doing some arithmetic.
But also see:The NBA’s Most Valuable Player award is not based on best individual performance
The average NBA player who makes it to the playoffs is a 30-year old who has played in the league for 12 years. He has played four seasons, with at least half of those seasons spent averaging more than 23 minutes per game. He has played 1,000 games and scored more points than all but fifty players ever.
If you gave the NBA equivalent of Tim Tebow a real team, he would get 28 points per game on a few plays a game.
In the NBA, there is a small but consistent bias against players who score more in the first half than they do in the second. The second half is when you win games, after all, and a player who can’t score in that period is a liability, not an asset. This bias against scoring later makes sense within the context of basketball itself; it’s better to score early and often than late and defensively challenged. But it does not make sense in the broader context of basketball scoring, which is about all of life. Anybody can get into the habit of yielding to gravity or fatigue or whatever other counter-productive tendency gets in the way of actually getting things done.
If you want to be really good at anything, you have to fight against these tendencies as hard as you can every day. But if you don’t have any desire to be really good at anything, you can coast by with only occasional bouts of zeal and commitment. That’s why we see this bias against scoring late and for guys who don’t score much at all: if you are already only moderately good at something, it doesn’t take much more effort to get even moderately worse at it than to get slightly better at it.
A detailed study found that the NBA scores are “made up.” A computer algorithm determined how to simulate a game of basketball and then used an average of thousands of simulations. The algorithm was able to determine the probability that a certain team would win a game with each player on the team playing a certain number of minutes. The code was then fed into a betting program, so it could predict the odds for different teams to win.
More than half (54%) of the simulated games were won by the team expected to win, and 41% were not. In other words, less than half (46%) of the simulated games accurately predicted the result. Any good sportsbook could have easily taken advantage of this information by creating fake game results and charging people exorbitant fees for placing bets on them.
Information about one person can be useful to others, but it doesn’t belong on a wiki page. The best format for such a page is in a book or an article.
The wiki page does have the advantage that you don’t have to go searching for it in a book. But it’s not really useful. It just seems like you’re giving away information to people who would have found out any way. And if someone has already gone to the effort of finding the information and putting it on the wiki, then why go looking for it again?
If you want to give away information about someone, put it in an article on that person’s page.
The NBA is a team sport. It’s hard to score individually, because the whole team has to move and shoot together in order to make the basket.
But there are small individual advantages in hockey and basketball. In hockey, if someone shoots the puck very quickly in a certain direction, it can skate through the net and score, while most of the time an ordinary shot will bounce off the boards before it can reach the goal.
In basketball you can get more points by shooting over your opponent than by shooting under him; and you can get more points from a “layup” (a very quick jump shot) than from any other shot.
But these advantages are small, and it’s hard to tell which advantage might be useful for a given play. And even if you do guess right, there are no automatic rewards for guessing right without watching what happens afterwards; there’s no show-stopper when you guess wrong.