Defined roles in the NBA equals success

Updated: October 26, 2010, 2:48 PM ET
By Peter Keating

Today's Winners in Statistics and Analytics:

Gino Cimoli, Willie Mays, 3-point shooters

Today's Losers:

Bill Belichick, offensive rebounding specialists, Horace Stoneham

I love it when statistics prove able to measure concepts that we usually think of as unquantifiable or "intangible" -- like chemistry in the NBA. Since hoops action is continuous and so much action takes place away from the ball while traditional stats track things like shots and rebounds, it seems like there could be no way to isolate the effects teammates have on each other. But Nima Shaahinfar, a lawyer, University of San Francisco sports management grad and Thunder charter, has come up with an ingenious way to do just that, and recently presented his work at NCSSORS. His conclusion: Other things being equal, teams where players have well-defined roles score more points -- with a couple of key exceptions.