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Sunday, June 8, 2008
A Geek's Geek Speaks

David Berri of the Wages of Wins has analyzed the performances of geeks in the TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown:

In 2007 I participated in Henry Abbott's TrueHoop Stat-Geek Smackdown, placing a respectable third. This year I was not able to participate (for reasons I will explain in a few weeks). I did, though, take the whole "geek" thing one step further. Whereas the geeks Henry assembled used numbers to forecast the winners in the playoffs, I used what I know about the methods used by the geeks to forecast the winner of the smackdown. Yes, I forecasted the "top geek" (and what that makes me I do not wish to consider). And my choice -- Justin Kubatko -- did indeed win the contest.

Looking at last year's contest, it appeared that Kubatko and I were using essentially the same approach. In forecasting the winner of each series we considered each team's efficiency differential. Kubatko, though, took one extra step. He also considered home court advantage. And with this extra step he was able to win in 2007. Given that I think his method is best, I fully expected Kubatko to win again in 2008.

It's interesting to note that Kubatko has picked the Lakers to prevail in the finals. If we consider regular season efficiency differential and home court advantage, the Celtics are the obvious choice. The Lakers acquisition of Pau Gasol, though, presents a problem. If you only consider what the Lakers did with Gasol in the line-up, you could argue the Lakers are better than the Celtics. At least, that's what Kubatko is arguing.

Although I understand the argument, I am still going to stick with the Celtics. I would note, though, that the teams are pretty close. And I am not sure the numbers can call a series between teams where there is so little difference. In essence, I think calling this series involves little more than guessing. Of course, although I understand this point, I still hope I guess right.