Monday, July 07, 2008

Swing Player Lineups

I have had a lot of questions lately about my positional analysis for the midseason report. I think it best to try and clarify my approach.

In order to do this with 100% accuracy, I would need to chart every play in every game to understand which player was playing which position on the court offensively. Additionally, I would need some inside information from the coaching staff as to how they use positions in their offense.

This is not something have either the time or the access to achieve.

Lacking that capability, I use a rule of thumb established by the leading basketball plus/minus analysts out there today. Roland Beech of and his team have been doing advanced plus/minus analysis and other statistical work for a number of years on the NBA. They use a rule of thumb which lists a roster in the order of which they would play positions from point guard to center. For the Storm this season I have been using the following order...


Beck almost exclusively played point and Griffith almost exclusively plays center.

That is how my positional numbers appear...I designate a position for a player based on where they are likely playing consdering who else is in the lineup.

This is an approach with inherent faults, particularly when we talk about swing players who play multiple positions. This weakness is even further by a coach like Coach Agler whose offense if full of swing players who actually change traditional positional roles from play to play. For example, the only difference in a Paul Westhead SG/SF was which side of the court they ran on the break. I don't know how Coach Agler determines his positions, since I haven't taken the time to watch taped games. I have too much fun with live basketball to analyze what is happening. It might be fun for me to sit next to a game statitician some time to see how they accomplish it. I have charted many taped games in the past. I did some work for where I was counting dribbles, charting shots, charting defense, crediting potential assists and the like, but it was always from tape. I actually love doing this and if I had access to enough game tape I would probably come up with a lot more interesting data.

Back to the topic, however, it was pointed out to me that my order is not quite aligned with the probable thinking of Coach Agler. Apparently, at the very least, he would swap Swoopes and Gearlds so that the order looks more like the following...


That effects a number of lineups but significantly changes the positional values for Swoopes and Gearlds because of the strength of this particular pairing. With this different approach the numbers make a reasonable swing...

Swoopes as SG: +3
Swoopes as SF: +43
Gearlds as SG: +23
Gearlds as SF: +18

It still shows Swoopes is playing better at her natural position, but makes Katie's numbers more balanced.

In order to keep my analysis aligned with the coach's philosophy, I have modified my lineups and my order to report the remainder of the season with the new order.

My other question at this point is how O'Neil will be used. So far she has been used mostly at the point, so that is why I have her before Wright in the order. If she stays with the team and plays more shooting guard I may be forced to make an adjustment.

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