Shane Battier Has Betrayed Us All

December 9th, 2009 by John Krolik

First of all, if you haven’t seen my recap yet, here it is. It’s much longer than this, and is more about last night’s game. I was going to include this as a bullet of randomness, but it’s bizarre enough so that I feel it warrants its own post.

Allow me to disclaimer here: I am a huge fan of advanced statistics, and believe they’re changing the way basketball is being reported on for the better. I am also a huge fan of +/- based metrics, and as anyone who reads this site knows, I use them all the time to support what I’m saying. I don’t think they’re all-encompassing, but they can certainly be useful when put in context and show some things that were previously invisible. Furthermore, I believe that Michael Lewis’ excellent piece on Shane Battier might have been the best piece of sports journalism last year, and believe the article holds up tremendously. And I’m a big fan of what Daryl Morey is doing in Houston.

But every now and then, there’s a piece of irony that you just can’t pass up. According to basketballvalue.com’s +/- data, Shane Battier has been one of the 10 worst defenders in the NBA this season. That’s “unadjusted” +/- data, but according to Basketball Value’s version of “adjusted” +/- data, Battier still comes out terribly.

And this has been noted before, but Kevin Durant, who became the poster child for players exposed by +/- data, has been absolutely fantastic by every +/- metric so far this season.

80% of the reason I’m posting this is just because it’s ironic and kind of funny. But there’s also a grain of truth somewhere in there about how much the situation a player is in can influence his +/- rating, and how comparisons using it have to account for a number of lurking variables.