ShanWOW! You’ll Be Saying Wow Every Time.

Kurt —  November 30, 2009

Six straight comfortable wins. The Lakers have given away so many coupons for free greasy tacos lately that cardiac surgeons in the area are readying themselves for the extra business coming their way. We could talk about Jordan Farmar’s great play of late, or the real reason Kobe hasn’t resigned with the Lakers yet (a great read from Larry Coon) or the good defense or how much all these big wins will help us in the ever-important Hollinger Rankings.

But these are the times as fans we should savor and enjoy. Our good team is beating bad teams handily, as they should. We all know this has not always been the case. Sit back and soak it in.

And enjoy a little of the Lakers version of the Victory Cigar — a Shannon Brown dunk or 20 (courtesy the video master LD2K).

to ShanWOW! You’ll Be Saying Wow Every Time.

  1. The thing I really appreciate about Hollinger’s power rankings is that they remove the human bias. I am sure the formulas are impeccable and the math far beyond my meager comprehension.

    But what I like best is that the teams with the best records are at the top and those with weaker records are lower down and the worst records are at the bottom. No way to figure that stuff out without some real number crunching.


  2. Kurt

    Don’t be too quick to dismiss mr hollinger’s rankings.. they had the lakers pretty high in 07/08.. combination of bynum’s development, etc.. of course the pau trade kind of blew that away.. but they do a pretty decent job of objectively telling whose hot because they adjust for strength of schedule and opponent.. n laker opponents lately have been.. well..

    bottom line i’d rather have the lakers beat the celts or cavs by 5 pts than blow out the nyets for 30.


  3. I sure do love me some Shannon Brown. It’s great having a guy on our team that makes even garbage time exciting.

    Also, do we have any amateur video editors amongst the regulars here? I would love to see somebody put a clip together mixing ShanWOW highlights with the ShamWow infomercial–guaranteed YouTube sensation.


    • Anon, I’m not dismissing the Hollinger Rankings more than any other rankings. Fortunately, this is not a college football blog where the computer systems and votes of the media have any impact on who wins the championship. Rankings can make for good conversation on a slow day, but I rarely pay attention because they just don’t matter in the end.


  4. I do hope the Shannon gets the invite to the dunk contest.

    His vertical leap is nearing video game levels, and I love that big long stride he takes when he lands. Pure playground style, but the crowd and his team mates eat it up.


  5. VoR,

    Or Hollinger’s Power Rankings can be seen as self fulfilling prophecy. I’m pretty sure the Cavs finished at #1 last year. How’d that work out?

    I’m not bashing the Power Rankings, but has it effectively picked out frauds? The real “contenders” from the “pretenders?” I doubt it. As we saw last year. Just like simple W-L columns. Just a different language.


  6. Kurt, wondahbap

    No disagreement bros. there’s no prize for topping the hollinger rankings.. (nor the regular power rankings for that matter).. im just saying they have some merit when it comes to telling whose hot.. because its difficult for us to be objective when it comes to our beloved lakers.. (or the hated celtics) we blow out the nyets and suddenly we’re ready to make parade preparations? there was a post on the previous thread saying kobe’s mvp because he had 30 8 n 7.. really? a big game against the nyets and we’re ready to give it to him already?

    the lakers have had a ridiculously easy schedule to start.. 17/21 at home.. so i’d proceed w/cautious optimism.. there are tons of things to be optimistic about.. (ronron’s steady “triangulation” comes to mind) but i’d hold of the wild declarations and celebrations till they’ve really been tested. the hollinger rankings won’t tell us whose gonna win the ring this year.. but neither will a couple of blowout wins over the league’s bottom feeders.

    (though yes shanwow should be in the dunk contest)


  7. I know some of you don’t care for this stuff, but here was a question posted over at ESPN for Chris Sheridan, and his response. I know this is nitpicking, but how can people take some of these so called experts seriously?

    Based upon what you have seen so far with Ron Artest come playoff time will the Ariza/Artest trade benefit the Lakers. Assuming they play either the Celtics or Cavs. in the finals.

    Chris Sheridan (3:29 PM)

    Based on what I’ve seen so far? He’ll be a tremendous asset in the finals, should they get there. He’s going to be an even bigger distraction sometime in the meantime — especially if he keeps playing as poorly as he has been and his frustration boils over — and his going on Jimmy Kimmel in boxers will look tame by comparison. I’m with Hollinger on this one and believe the Rockets got the better end of this deal. If I’m wrong, we’ll see why in the finals.


  8. @8 – I had the exact same thought you just posted written down, including quote and all, when you beat me to the punch.

    It really seems like it’s “experts” not watching games and instead reading box scores.


  9. Very few of us fans really watch our competitors on a regular basis. Sure, we tune into a game or two and watch when it is interesting, but we don’t really spend the time necessary to do proper analysis. I suspect some of these “talking heads” are not much better than us fans – except they may pay more attention to the ESPN highlights.


  10. those comments about Ron A. are contradictory. He’ll be a “distraction” during the regular season but a “tremendous asset” in the finals?! And even if it made sense — which it doesn’t — how is that a bad thing?

    for the most part I ignore “experts” and just watch the games for myself.


  11. What is interesting about Hollinger’s ratings is that 10 of the top 15 teams are in the Western Conference. With all the recent discussion about how the league has balanced out, I don’t see much evidence of it in his numbers.

    Also, I find it rather incredible that the T-Wolves are rated lower than the Nets. How does that happen with any objective measure?


  12. Hollinger’s ratings tell us what they tell us. They are based on the proven premise that point differential is the best predictor of future performance, but since tracking that wouldn’t necessitate a fancy named tracking system, he added twists: Adding weight to the last 10 games (later becomes 1/4 of the season) and trying to factor in home/away records and opponent records.

    Those sound reasonable enough, but they do force some subjective decisions as to which factor to weigh more.

    For instance, Phoenix is atop the Lakers right now despite the Lakers having had a harder schedule and a higher pt differential. Why? Because Phoenix has played more games on the road. Their schedule has been ridiculously weak though (.458 for the season, .423 for the last 10) , so if you figure that they have a lot of games against good teams coming up, while the Lakers will have to go on the road more often (against good and bad teams), which do you think will affect their teams’ record more?

    Personally, I expect the Lakers to do pretty well on the road. On the other hand, I expect the Suns to have more issues against elite teams because their defense is poor.

    All in all, though, we shall see. At this point in the season individual games have large effects. Especially with the 10 game measure. If you win by ten one night, and 11 games previous, you’d lost by 20, that’ll have a huge effect on your rank there. Hence the volatility we currently see. As the season goes on, it is a fairly good predictor, though not absolute. That is, the top 5 teams in his rankings will probably be very good teams, though its no sure thing to say #1 is better than #2.

    One “concern” I have, and t isn’t much yet, is that while the Lakers have played very well against poor teams, they have lost to 3 potential playoff teams, giving confidence to the Mavericks, Nuggets and Rockets. While each of those games had its own reason for it, I hope when the schedule does become more difficult, the team makes it a point to send messages to these teams.


  13. +- watch.

    Artest #1
    Kobe #2
    Nowitzky #3 (17 games)

    8,9. ESPN seems to have a lot of experts doing NBA coverage. You would think that if you get paid to write about something, you might actually watch it rather reading the crib notes. And if you read crib notes, you might bother yo look at the stats as well, including +-.

    Note to Kareem from 3 posts ago. +- is notoriously volatile, highly dependent on teammates, team, and circumstances – and it is early in the season.

    But it isn’t nothing either. You cannot lead the league in +- unless you are the right guy playing the right role for the right team. Artest is the right guy for the Lakers.


  14. 8- Sheridan doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I saw people on twitter pointing out how he was claiming certain people were starting for teams when it hadn’t happened in 3 weeks.

    Maybe he has decent contacts iaround the league for reporting purposes, but until he’s proven I need to take him seriously, he’s probably the last espn talking head I’d listen too… Well, maybe after Jalen Rose. Possibly Broussard. Does Jon Barry write for them?


  15. Good piece Kurt.

    On another note, anybody catch the end of the Clips/Grizz game?

    Tinsley played as poorly in the 4th as any basketball player I’ve ever seen. Time to put him back on the shelf, a la Larry Bird.


  16. couple things: i’ve been really impressed with artest, particularly defensively (well, duh), but it seems like his shot is coming around. i was a big ariza fan, but i think we’re coming out ahead on this one. Second, and maybe more controversial, while there’s no doubt farmar had a great shooting night last night, did anyone else notice that the ball seemed to move a WHOLE lot better when he came out?


  17. Ah the beauty of FB&G! That comment by Sheridan was realy bugging me.I love the fact that I can come here and you guys make it all better.


  18. 17–It was a stunning finish.

    Starter Mike Conley was injured, and Hollins chose to ride Tinsley instead of Marcus Williams in that game. Also, you have to give a bit of credit to Baron Davis for bodying him up on pick-and-rolls and defending him well. For a guy not yet in NBA shape, you can’t expect him to play that many minutes and not struggle. As a back-up, he has played rather admirably and quite effectively.

    Also, every game Marc Gasol plays, the less foolish the Grizzlies look for trading away Pau. He has a fine all-around game and is a tremendous bargain at only $3M a year.

    If only they’d taken Sun Yue instead!


  19. It’s important to remember that experts rarely let go of their personal biases when doing analysis. With Hollinger, the personal bias goes into how he determines which stats should be considered, and what the relative weightings should be.


  20. The flaw with Hollinger ranking is this: he predicts the playoffs based on regular season records.

    Not really a flaw but if you think about it for, say, 7 seconds or more, you know its limits.

    Still, his rankings allow for a more specific argument and discussion when comparing teams, as opposed to simple Wins and Losses.


  21. Not only has Ron’s defense been superb, but he is averaging more points, has a slightly worse fg %, better 3 pt %, more assists and rebounds. Granted he is averaging 9 more minutes than Ariza was getting for the Lakers. Comparing them this season, Ariza only has a better PPG average (by 5 pts), but on 7 more shots.

    Ariza’s stats:



  22. Sheridan wrote that “Ariza has been more active than Artest”… but Jon Wooden wrote “never mistake activity for achievement.” Hmmm… who to believe?


  23. Speaking of bias, there’s barely any mention of Portland’s chemistry issues in True Hoop.

    Brandon Roy and Nate McMillan have arguably sabotaged Andre Miller’s productivity. At the very least, this much is true: Steve Blake hasn’t played very well at all, but plays more minutes than Miller. Why?


  24. Putting on my statistician hat: There’s nothing terribly wrong about the Hollinger rankings, and there’s plenty that’s right about it. There are certain things I would do differently (I’d do the weighting more smoothly, and I’d account for injuries), but all in all, it’s a reasonable effort.

    The only trouble is when predictions are made using those rankings, without acknowledgement of any other factors (the ceterus paribus disclaimer). The playoff predictor is silly. There’s plenty of difference between a seven-game series and a set of seven games scattered throughout a regular season, but the playoff predictor treats them as the same. And don’t get me started on the precision the predictor purports to have. Three digits of significance on the probabilities? Ack.

    So, take the ratings as a useful indicator of current team strength, modulo any issues about what the ratings do or do not incorporate. Ignore the predictor and anything else like it.


  25. Brian,

    Or you could look at the standings, watch a few games and check out some head to head matchups…. 🙂

    I really have no problem with these rankings or any others – Its all part of the fun of fandom – They just don’t tell you much more than the standings do.


  26. If Hollinger’s programs had any real predictive ability, he’d be making millions in Vegas instead of slumming it up at the worldwide leader.


  27. There is also the saying “The best don’t always win”


  28. Stats people often have an unreasonable bias against personal observation because they can’t quantify it. The “free market” economists had the same problem. Neither the market nor basketball are completely rational situations. People react within the context of their situation. Since this really frustrates the statisticians, they often choose to ignore things that are not measurable.

    Follow them at your own peril.

    Me, I prefer to read as much as I can, then add in some personal observations and common sense.


    • Just in a fair defense of Hollinger — the man watches a lot of basketball. He’s a stats guy, he’ll defend his numbers. But don’t make the mistake of saying he doesn’t watch the games, he watches a lot of them. And a lot live (he lives in Atlanta with passes there, plus he travels for the WWL to games).


  29. A nice article Kurt about Kobe’s assist to Vince Young, shows what he is made of, as we Laker fans know. I hope the world remembers that the name ShanWOW originated here at FB&G, and that is a great collection of video clips about what he does. I am looking forward to seeing some of that live coming up here at a Laker game, it just seems that in every single game, he does an incredible dunk or block 3 feet above the rim. Who says Artest is not “fitting” in, and Ariza would be better? All seems fine at the SF position to me so far this year. I am not even slightly worried about Kobe not re-signing with the Lakers. I mean, after we win another Championship this year and many more years in sight, he would not dare leave Lakerland, right?


  30. Someone who watches Houston more closely could weigh in on this, but I think Ariza has been much better for Houston’s team chemistry than Artest was. Artest is a better player, but I could see a Houston fan being pretty happy with the results. (And I’m sure that lots of the “experts” who are on record as saying Artest is going to blow up are reluctant to let that go just because the facts don’t back it up. (Confirmation Bias at work!))

    As to the topic, when we had the recent discussion about bench players looking for their own shots/highlight plays, I was thinking that ShanWow had the best excuse. It fires up his team AND you can almost hear the cash register ring with every throwdown. I hope he works on his game, but you can’t blame him for thinking he can turn a highlight reel into a pretty big contract somewhere.

    I’m really happy the highlight reel included defensive plays rather than just all dunks.


  31. VoR (4:52 p.m.): First of all, as Kurt says, Hollinger does watch the games, too.

    Secondly, the ratings aren’t designed to tell you something essentially different from what the standings tell you, so much as they are designed to give that something more reliability. For example, if you have two teams that are both 9-5, but one did it mostly on the road against better teams, and the other did it mostly at home against inferior teams, wouldn’t you say that the former was the stronger team?

    What the ratings do is try to formalize that same kind of reasoning, using historical data to inform the “correction factors” represented by strength of schedule, home/away weighting, etc. It’s generally a well-supported approach to team assessment. In my opinion, it is just as irrational to downplay the stats as it is to overplay them (a la the playoff predictor).

    Ultimately, though, Kurt’s right, unlike the BCS (bleah), these ratings do not matter. They have no real bearing on who wins the title, beyond reflecting what happens on the court.


  32. I’m pretty sure that Hollinger’s stat-based rankings are NOT meant for predicting an outcome of a single game. On any given night, in this league of professionals, a bottom-dweller can take out a contender (see: Wolves-Nugs) Sometimes it’s a matter of luck, other times it’s just a bad match-up. I doubt that Hollinger will ever tell you “Team A will beat Team B tonight” using his statistical findings – his formula just tells us how both teams have fared so far against the rest of the league. The furthest he’ll go is tell you the LIKELY outcome.


  33. I don’t have a problem with Hollinger. He expects the Lakers to take the top spot in his power rankings when Gasol gets more games in.

    Sheridan’s comment, on the other hand, is downright ignorant. He’s obviously watched very few Laker games this season. Most of us hated to see our native son go to the Rockets, and were understandably wary of Ron-Ron coming here. But new s*%@ has come to light! The guy is leading the league in (+-), and there are a number of reasons: smothering man-to-man defense, quick defensive rotations, decent 3-pt shooting, very few unnecessary offensive isolation plays, superb passing, and solid offensive rebounding.


  34. Ariza is doing what he is forced to do, but not quite yet ready to do in an efficient manner.

    But the Rockets expect and accept that, so it’s a good deal. To be honest, I think he found the best situation to develop himself as a complete player that he would have never gotten in LA, and that’s why I’m feeling less sorry for the kid. Now whether he’s ready for it or not is another spiel altogether…

    Also, Artest has been given us a bit more consistency in the effort front. Like he said, he’s the only piece that’s changed, so if we fail to repeat, it’s on him. Thus far he played like he really meant it, and that means that there’s at least one guy out there who is risking his hind every game, which really addresses our true weakness – playing down to the competition.

    All in all, it’s a win win, because both provide things that the other couldn’t, and it’s a real wash because both teams got exactly what they were looking for.

    Of course, we’ll end up with the better record and another shot at the championship, but that’s pieces other than Artest and Ariza at work.


  35. if i couldn’t watch any games, i might read power rankings. even then it seems like trying to squeeze more entertainment out of the sport than is actually there — basketball for accountants.


  36. The highlight reel makes me miss Walton even more…


  37. WhiteLightnin’ November 30, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Yeah, the Ariza/Artest case has a lot of ins, a lot of outs to it. I’ve been in a few arguments with friends about whether the Lakers are better off with Artest. They all think Ariza was better, I disagree. I think the pundit’s uninformed articles have influenced them because the difference seems obvious to me.


  38. Artest has been great on court and thats all that matters.. Plus ariza never went on jimmy kimmel in his boxers. Im surprised that didn’t make it to NBA’s top 10 plays of the week.


  39. When I see Bryant and Artest on the court together, it is like they are going into battle in a war with the same goal, win the game at any cost. Then there are the two 7 footers and another guard on the battlefield to help in the cause at the same time, just a beautiful sight to see, the chemistry in action amongst them all.


  40. I highly recommend anybody with the opportunity to watch Monta Ellis play recently. It didn’t show against the Lakers, but he’s playing his heart out. Tomorrow night may not be a great example either in Denver, but generally speaking, he is playing like an MVP candidate. And he’s doing it on both sides of the floor- his defense against Granger is why he fouled out tonight (his 6th foul was an iffy offensive foul that should have been an And-1 to give him 47 or 48).

    This warriors team should be a lot better than they are. They are banged up something fierce, but they still have the pieces to put it together with a coach that can give them discipline (and that could be Keith Smart).


  41. I think defense is one of those things you that you only truly appreciate in retrospect – you don’t draft a guy for his D, but you will trade for one. I think the media has fallen in love with Ariza for the defense he played last year and that same love hasn’t been applied to Artest because they still have a “jury’s still out” mentality because they haven’t truly appreciated the D he’s been playing (yet). I think in time, they will and everyone here will look like geniuses (everyone here is!) for seeing it before the “experts”.

    I also know that we could win with both, so I don’t bother with too many heated debates. You can file it under “everyone wishes they had these problems”.


  42. First of all, Hollinger thought the Lakers came out with Ariza, not the other way around. I don’t know what Sheridan was talking about.

    Also, I’m not a big Hollinger fan, but his rankings are pretty useful. He gives a lot of weight to strength of schedule and even more to margin of victory which is important. If you look back, the teams that are ranked 1-3 end up winning the title and he’s gotten it right a few times.

    And man, this really is something to enjoy. The Lakers have been having way too much fun. Shannon dunks, volleyball passes between Odom and Gasol, it really is something.

    This team feels quirky (in a good way) and unique, they are really fun too watch. It’s also really cool that they have their signature move now- a Shannon Brown dunk as the exclamation point.


  43. Hollinger falls into the same trap that all statisticians fall into. The things that can’t be measured by stats will end up classified as irrelevant or “noise”. Unfortunately in the game of basketball, that includes things like “effort” or “clutch”, the latter of which Hollinger has killed tens of thousands of words trying to disprove/lessen the existence of.

    The fact that his stats can’t tell him when certain players are mailing in half the season leads him to take some fairly bizarre positions, such as his claim that the 99-00 Lakers were a better team than the 00-01 Lakers. The stats can’t tell him that the team slept through about 50 games of the regular season, he just saw a falloff in defensive efficiency and called it a day.

    The fact that effort is a large part of overall point differential is lost on him as well. A team like Cleveland who played the entire regular season last year with something to prove (both for certain individuals and as a team in general) and spent 81 of 82 games blowing the doors off of bad teams…and losing on the road to good teams. The point differential stat was through the roof and made them the darlings of his ratings, but you can’t be surprised at the Cavs dropping all 3 road games in Orlando last year. It was what they did all year.

    As Laker fans this year, we should be fully aware with how irrelevant point differential can be as far as long term/playoff predictions go, the fact that Morrison and Sasha are terrible means nothing in the long run; if they can’t get it together, they won’t be in the rotation in the playoffs. But it’s killed our point differential.


  44. @ 33 – I think the Rockets are ok/happy with the Ariza-Artest swap. Not because Artest was a bad influence on chemestry, actually he was quite a leader together with Battier, and a lot of people were suprised in a positive way about his attitude and unselfishness.

    But I think a lot of people question if it would have stayed that way for another year, since Rockets aren´t true contenders this year, and Artest would be less in awe with his situation.

    On Jordan and ShanWOW, it really starting to dawn on me that we might just simply stick with the two “point guards” of the bench, not in competition with each other, but as the guard squad, and let Sasha wave the towel.

    They bring such different things to the table, and a with the size advantage the Lakers has at just about every other position, it wont be a big deal to play them together… and speed in the backcourt is becomming an issue with Fisher and Kobe (saving it for PO).


  45. As a stats guy, Hollinger determined that final point spread was the key logical determinant to the better teams – would they blow you out? All formulas have to start with some basic hypothesis.

    This just didn’t work out and he had to add in other objective factors to approximate the real world. Over time, I would argue that the coach, and his philosophy/approach, have a fair amount to do with the final point spread. Phil and Popovich – as obvious examples – treat the regular season as a place to experiment and rest vets as much as possible. This naturally leads to lower margins of victory than would otherwise be true. Other coaches have to win by as much as possible to keep their jobs and draw in fans. I really don’t know how Hollinger would be able to objectively quantify this. I would love to hear his comment on this.


  46. a while back (after the Knicks game) I posted this:

    I continue to be flummoxed by Hollinger’s power rankings – – in the latest installment the Lake’s 10-pt win over the Knicks looks like a loss, as they tumble from 5th to 8th. Hollinger claims the numbers don’t lie, but there’s *got* to be a built in fudge factor he’s not revealing. (pay particular attention to the numbers of the last 10 games of the teams that passed LA, where the ‘bias’ is supposedly built in.)

    I bring this back now to raise two points..
    1) at the time this was posted, it generated only a couple of comments, to the effect that all rankings are meaningless (this was to be expected, as LA was ranked 8th).
    b) LA moved to 2nd in the ranking on Sunday, due entirely to the blowout W over GSW.

    I now realize that herein lies the real problem with Hollinger’s system – entirely too much emPHAsis is placed on the most recent game or two (not just the most recent 10, as he would have you believe).


  47. At least we can put to rest (for now) the kvetching from the beginning of the season about the Lakers not blowing teams out like the Celtics were doing.

    The Lakers have been known for playing down to the competition for the last 20 years (even last year). It is good to see them putting away bad teams in the 1st quarter.


  48. I for one was and still am very happy about the Lakers acquiring Artest in place of Ariza. He’s been the perfect fit. I feel like his unselfish nature has been beneficial because there doesn’t seem to be enough shots to go around at times.

    I know we’re not even halfway through the season, but based on our starting five I really feel like this Lakers team can go down as one of the greatest teams of all time. We’re not lacking anything. I fear that not winning the championship will go down as a big negative for Kobe’s legacy, as he is considered one of the top players if not the top player in the league and having the most talented team in the league.


  49. I seem to remember Hollinger saying last year that he would put something in his system that would negate the effect of excessive blow outs. Ultimatley there is no difference if a team wins by 20 or 35, but in his system those extra 15 points are huge. Maybe he’s still searching for a way around it, or he might have just forgoten about it.

    I don’t realy mind Hollingers rankings or PER at all. The only thing I don’t like is that he’s so dependent on it. We all know there are factors that are not included in his calculations, but he seems to think his numbers are the be all end all.


  50. Kurt, et al..
    maybe you guys haven’t thought of this (or maybe it’s too much extra effort), but when you announce “new post up” why not provide a link *there?


  51. Prediction:

    Lebron will win the dunk contest this year based on reputation, but Shannon Brown will be the fan favorite, creating controversy.


  52. Lakers&DodgersFan December 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm hosted a poll on what should be Shannon Brown’s new nickname. ShamWOW, Cannon Brown, TNT Legs, Go-Go-Gadget Calf Muscles, and Slammin’ Brown were the possible nicknames. Cannon Brown won. I think that’s a great nickname for Shannon Brown! Do you?