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Basketball IQ

"Basketball IQ" seems to be a term that gets tossed around a lot lately - usually in the context of Tyrus not having much, followed by someone defending Tyrus by pointing out he hasn't played organized basketball for as long as many of the others on the team.  We rarely spend time defining "basketball IQ," although I've seen debates on other blogs about whether it's something that is innate or developed over time.  For me, it's somewhere in the middle - someone with high basketball IQ would be a player who knows what play to make when and where to be on the court.  This, I think, does develop over time, but everyone starts at a different point and has a different capacity for how high that basketball IQ can go.

Sometimes we talk about the "dumb" but athletic guys who get by largely on talent, sometimes the "smart" guys who lack speed or hops but carve out a role playing niche, and sometimes it's the guys who have been blessed with both.  Fortunately, we don't have to spend much time talking about the guys who lack brains and athletic gifts, since Matt prefers we don't get too personal on BaB.

Anyway, I recently stumbled across this website Basketball IQ - the hoop world's think tank.  There's really not much there, which leads me to believe that either the hoop world isn't thinking much or I'm just too stupid to get it.  But I like looking at rankings, even if it's usually just to see what I disagree with.  And this site is an absolute doozy!

Basically, this site lists 397 guys who have played in the NBA this season, along with the usual stats - baskets, free throws, percentages, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, turnovers, points - each sortable for the whole list or by position.  And in the very last column is a category labeled "Prod" - it's not defined, but I'm assuming that stands for "productivity" or "production" and is this site's version of the classic composite stat.  The formula for "Prod" is not given, nor is there a general explanation as to how the different stats are valued.  Given some of the guys near the top, I'm guessing it has to be calculated on a per minute basis.  (How else could you create a ranking that would result in DJ Mbenga being 2nd in the NBA?)  This is the default ranking when you first get to the site.  Denver's Chris Anderson is tops (76.4), and some dude named Jeremy Richardson, who apparently played some for Orlando, is last (6.1).

Given how little is explained, it's not exactly clear what the "Prod" ranking has to do with basketball IQ.  A big part of me wants to assume absolutely nothing - formulas by nature are stats based, and imo stats show little to nothing about basketball IQ.  It's kind of like trying to measure the value of a "glue guy" statistically.  On the other hand, someone went to the trouble to develop a composite rating, and at least so far that's the only thing unique to the website which they've chosen to name "Basketball IQ."  Maybe that just refers to the reader's basketball IQ?  But when you look at the rankings, you kind of have to wonder whether any IQ at all is involved, so who knows?  This is how the Bulls (including a couple of former Bulls) rank in "Prod" according to Basketball IQ.  (First number is league-wide ranking, second number is the player's "Prod.")

14. Tyrus Thomas 58.1

18. Joakim Noah 56.4

69. Thabo Sefolosha 45.6

104. Brad Miller 42.2

106.  Aaron Gray 42.1

121. Kirk Hinrich 41

177. Drew Gooden 36.3

181. Lindsey Hunter 36.2

211. Luol Deng 33.8

276. Derrick Rose 29.6

287. John Salmons 28.9

296. Andres Nocioni 28.5

301. Tim Thomas 28.1

319. Ben Gordon 26.3

379. Anthony Roberson 20.5

Aside from the highly humorous fact that a website named "Basketball IQ" has ranked the two guys who could not get minutes early on because they didn't know the plays so much higher than everyone else - how on earth do you come up with a formula that ranks the two Bulls I imagine most would agree were the most important/valuable to the team this year in the bottom third of the NBA?  Looking just at the Bulls rankings, I'm guessing whoever developed this formula values defensive stats more than offense, and bigs (average center score of  46.4) more than guards (average PG score 35.4), but still....

So I've emailed the website admin, hoping to get some clarification of what, exactly, this is all intended to rank.  This just is so far off of how I'd rank Bulls' players in any category (overall, offense, value, IQ), except possibly defensively - not to say this would be my defensive ratings, but at least it isn't 180 degrees off.

Meanwhile - Tyrus supporters go crazy, and Ben haters gloat while you can.  Oh, and if any Thabo fans have pried themselves away from the OKC site, you can celebrate as well, I guess.  Or we could have a civilized discussion about basketball IQ or player rankings.  Take your pick.