My biggest regret of the last two weeks is being unable to attend the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference held last week at MIT in Boston. Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz, and the rest of the TrueHoop network were all over the coverage and did a tremendous job getting the results of the conference out to the public.
I’m in the early stages of writing a paper exploring the Ewing Effect on the Utah Jazz when Deron Williams is out of the lineup, so I would have loved to rub shoulders with the Kevin Peltons, the Dean Ollivers, and the John Hollingers, et al. (It should be noted that I watched part of the D-League All-Star game in Dallas while sitting between Hollinger and James Goldstein, so I really have nothing to complain about).
And speaking of Hollinger, he may win the award for best paragraph in the history of sports statistics:
For that reason, some of the moments at this year’s conference didn’t come in the headline presentations, but in small rooms where academics presented papers on topics like officiating bias, valuing blocked shots, adjusted plus/minus and Nash equilibriums in NBA offenses.
The last item was, to me, the most interesting, because it helps explain why a lot of NBA offenses aren’t terribly successful in last-shot situations. (When we say Nash equilibrium, by the way, we’re referring to John Nash, not Steve; and when we say John Nash, we’re referring to the guy from “A Beautiful Mind,” not the one who drafted Sebastian Telfair ahead of Al Jefferson. Also, the paper was presented by somebody named Brian Skinner, which had us taking bets beforehand on whether he’d be a backup center with a two-toned goatee.)