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mike_lu is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:03 AM   #1
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Durvasa posted about this guy Haralabos Voulgaris in the NBA Dish, as one of the world's best known gamblers (on the NBA, especially, but also poker). Came across this guy on the Internet in 2010, but with Durvasa's post I reviewed some of what he's written (sources at end of post) and want to share some thought. Especially in light of the way Morey assembled the team, and the style we are playing.

Warning: One of my long threads again ... but worth a read I think

Haralabos Voulgaris (Bob)'s posts will be in normal text. My humble thoughts in italics following. Note most of the stuff were from Apr 2010 in a thread. I leave out the questions for Bob, and just paraphrase it back into his text.

Bob: Best 3 coaches in the NBA - Stan Van Gundy, Scott Skils, Gregg Popovich. I think SVG and Skiles do a better job of managing the end game than any other coaches in the league and its not even close. These 3 coaches have one thing in common, they look to take a lot of corner 3s, and they do a great job of defending the corner 3, if you do nothing else as a coach but focus on the above - you'll be ahead of the curve.

Me: Very much our team philosophy, as explained by Morey's advanceds stats. SVG would be my ideal coach - can certainly play along with Morey's philosophy + be better at in-game adjustments.

Bob: I think steals are valuable only because the resulting possession has a much higher EV than a possession that starts off off a DREB or a made shot etc. Offensive Rebounds also have a higher ppp than regular possession.

Me: This is how the Rockets are playing. Lin, Harden are top 10 in steals, Parsons is gambling a lot more this year than last year on D. Steals turn into fast breaks and are high Expected Value possessions. So next time we rip our players for gambling or help defense, think about this. Note also we have no offensive rebounding at PF. Millsap is actually better than Josh Smith in both steals and offensive rebounding, although Smith is pretty good also. Blocks are over-rated as a stat as you'd don't necessarily get possession of the ball, and frequently the ball goes out of bounds not resulting in an immediate transition opportunity. You can block 3 shots straight and still get scored on without getting possession. Thomas Robinson will be great on the offensive boards and is something Morey mentioned as his strength. Offensive rebounds usually leads to immediate shot at rim, high percentage shots.

Bob: Help Defense when the main defender is already engaged is damn near useless. Help defense when you are forced to close out due to rotation or because of a blow by is valuable.

Me: Lin is a pretty damn good help defender for a guard. But needs to pick his spots better. Asik is wonderful on help defense. Harden is fairly average.

Bob: Regarding Dirk, if you do in fact pull away the other teams PF or C and you can have an advantage rebounding at the SF position (as the mavs likely do with Marion) this is a tactical advantage.

Me: Another advantage of having a stretch 4 that isn't discussed often. But we don't have great offensive rebounding SFs.

Bob: In fantasyland terms, If I could pick any player (age is a factor) to build a team around starting next year, I'd likely only pick LeBron and Dwight Howard before KD.

Me: Note this was in 2010, and KD's improved a lot since then. But assuming Dwight Howard is healthy, you can bet Daryl Morey will do whatever he can to get Dwight as a free agent. Clearly top 5 player when healthy.

Bob: I think a team that plays at an above average pace can definitely win a championship if they had the right personnel.

Me: Daryl Morey agrees, emphasis on 'if the had the right personnel'. I think a guy that can singlehandedly sweep all defensive robounds and play incredible interior D at the 5 spot is the most important person, and that's obviously Asik. And Dwight would be an upgrade on Asik, especially on Offense.

Bob: I think the number one change in the NBA over the last few years has been the better teams adopting the 3 point shot more liberally. One of the things that made the Spurs so good for a number of years was they understood the importance of the corner3 point shot both on offense and on Defense. Aside from a layup or dunk, no other shot has a higher ev (points per attempt) than a corner 3 point shot. Its the shortest distance of any of the 3 point shot and you get 3 points for it if it goes in. There are 2 point shots that are further (tougher) that net you around .80 points per attempt and the corner 3 point shots are ~1.5x as efficient.So its the most effective shot aside from a close in paint shot, AND a team game planning around the corner 3 is a good crude indicator of effective game planing.

Me: This is how we play, offensively and defensively. Take corner 3s and in the paint shots, and take away in the paint shots and corner 3s on D. We will continue to get more players that fit this description.

Bob: In a perfect world all you would want to do is take layups or corner 3 point shots. Of course basketball doesn't work like this - and if the other team knows that is all you are trying to attempt they would just go out of their way to protect these areas so you have to balance it.

Me: That's where the Rockets need to work further on, especially when the 3s don't fall. We need a more balanced game when things are taken away ... it's a work in progress now, and that's why we usually play poorly against really good defensive teams, and teams that understand this (like SAS, Miami).

Bob: On Offense, the ideal situation would be to have a dominant big who commands a double team and surround him with players who can score on the perimeter. If you can add a penetrating pg then you are pretty much set. This is what the spurs did with Duncan, and this is what Orlando is doing with Howard (minus the penetrating PG). Its also a good example of how when Nelson is actually clicking for ORL they are very tough to beat because now you can get wide open looks from penetration, or from dumping it in to Dwight.

Me: This is where Morey wants to get to. Dwight with penetrating guards Harden + Lin and 3pt shooters all-around. Houston with Olajuwon is another example, but we didn't have great penetrating guards (until Drexler), but did have great 3pt shooters. Dwight + Harden + Lin (who needs a better 3pt shot) will be crazy hard to beat, a star PF or not.

Bob: I think the real x factor in team building is building around what you have or what you can get. For the NBA you are really just biding your time until you have a great opportunity, be it luckboxing the lottery or making a great free agent acquisition or trade. And then when you do luckbox, you have to make sure you make the right decisions afterwards. The two best teams in the league right now are CLE and ORL - they both double luckboxed the lottery (getting the #1 pick and also having a dominant player available at #1 [Lebron and Dwight]).

Me: This is where Rockets are. We decided not to tank (luckboxing the lottery), BUT got Harden via trade. And Morey is in the process of making right decisions afterwards now. This offseason will be crucial.

Bob: If you don't have a star player, or someone to really build around then you really want to just build an exciting competitive team while spending the least amount of money doing so.

Me: Les/Morey built via this approach also. And lucked out with Harden (and to a lesser extent Lin/Asik).

Bob: When I speak of dominant big man, I mean dominant. Duncan, Dwight, Shaq, Hakeem, Yao

Me: Healthy respect for Yao. Injuries derailed his career, and I won't say he was top 10 all time, but Yao was much much under-appreciated even in Houston (and clutchfans). People who said we should've traded Yao earlier with his injury concerns, in my opinion, don't know basketball, and don't know that it was a higher percentage outcome to take a risk on Yao with his injury than to trade him for even a 2nd tier center like Verajao. If you take this piece of information on Yao, and combine it with the above comment on a dominant big man and a PG that can penetrate ... you'll understand why Morey allegedly sent TMac a PPT presentation/video basically begging him to drive the ball to the hoop more instead of settling for jumpers.

Bob: TS% does a good job of explaining what its attempting to explain, I prefer just using pbp data to not have to estimate the role of free throws and instead using points per possession used. If you can combine usage %, and the ability to create offense for others along with points per possession in a meaningful way you are probably close to measuring true offensive worth.

Me: Harden is crazy good, and Jeremy Lin is pretty decent. You have to balance Lin's output this year for his NBA-starting-PG-lowest usage rate

Bob: Best and Worst on offense (http://aloneinthecorner.com/post/489...rst-on-offense) Basically PPP and importance of 3pt shooting

Me: I view this in terms of how good Harden (~1.5ppp) and Lin (~1.3ppp and better than Tony Parker) are on PPP for the team on possessions where they drives to the rim, and how this two-prong attack will eventually be very difficult for teams to stop once Lin gets a better 3pt shot. And if can get a Dwight ...

Bob: My Thougths on Avery Being Fired (http://aloneinthecorner.com/) - basically an article on pace and transition points

Me: If only we could get Memphis in the playoffs.

Bob: I hope its not over, but it likely is… (http://aloneinthecorner.com/page/2) Basically the point of a Kobe/Wade/Lebron being a defacto PG on the team and just getting a 3pt shooter that can defend to complement them.

Me: Basically what McHale tried to do with TD, except finally realized TD makes way too many bad decisions, shoots too inconsistently (despite high overall 3ptFG%), and is actually only average on defense. But Morey will try to get another 3pt shooting PG or 3pt shooting SG that can defend PGs next to Harden. But also that if Lin can improved his 3pt shooting on spot-ups, the Lin-Harden combination will be crazy good (especially if we can get a healthy Dwight).

Bob: On a podcast - Loves Pau Gasol as a player (more specifically as a center), but recently looking old (or not 100% back from injury)

Me: We all know Morey loves Gasol and tried to get him. If healthy, would he do it again?

So basically, I think Haralabos Voulgaris and Morey's stats are telling the same story. If you can get the 'right' data, and analyze them correctly, you should come to the same conclusions!

------------------------------
Sources:
http://bbs.clutchfans.net/showthread.php?t=234309
http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/dol...op-nba-gambler
http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/19...is-bob-763371/
http://aloneinthecorner.com/

Last edited by mike_lu; 02-24-2013 at 02:40 AM.
 
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DonatasFanboy is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:33 AM   #2
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Great thread, great read to start the day. The Avery Johnson firing blog post (one of the links at the end) - also very worth a read.

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el gnomo is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:43 AM   #3
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If anyone is interested in the full Q&A, you can find it here:

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/19...71/index2.html

Includes all kinds of topics such as gambling, poker, NBA, etc... facsinating insight into a really cool dude. His screen name is 'coltranedog'.
 
el gnomo is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:44 AM   #4
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^^^ Whoops, didn't see that you added the sources...
 
mike_lu is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by el gnomo View Post
If anyone is interested in the full Q&A, you can find it here:

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/19...71/index2.html

Includes all kinds of topics such as gambling, poker, NBA, etc... facsinating insight into a really cool dude. His screen name is 'coltranedog'.
Also read a bit about how a heavy minute player's substitution pattern is best if he gets rested short stints (eg 2-3 minutes) frequently as opposed to sitting out 6-8 minutes (or more) at a time. Which disrupts rhythm. Can't seem to find it. McHale is pretty poor with the substitutions, time-allocation etc.

Last edited by mike_lu; 02-24-2013 at 03:04 AM.
 
Kwame is offline Old 02-24-2013, 02:56 AM   #6
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Haralabos uses a statistical software known as STATA that's also used in the social sciences to analyze data quantitatively. Also, it's important to note that from my understanding he primarily bets on totals aka over/unders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_lu View Post
So basically, I think Haralabos Voulgaris and Morey's stats are telling the same story. If you can get the 'right' data, and analyze them correctly, you should come to the same conclusions!




 
albuster is offline Old 02-24-2013, 03:00 AM   #7
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The problem with that is Pop has more championships than those two coaches. Surely, Pop won't win all those championships without the timely and decisive moves he made and still makes. I don't buy any of the things said by Bob. The empirical evidence does not support his propositions. Nice analysis though.
 
mike_lu is offline Old 02-24-2013, 03:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albuster View Post
The problem with that is Pop has more championships than those two coaches. Surely, Pop won't win all those championships without the timely and decisive moves he made and still makes. I don't buy any of the things said by Bob. The empirical evidence does not support his propositions. Nice analysis though.
Bob still mentions Pop as one of the top 3 coaches, so it's not a dig on Pop.

SVG had Howard, but Howard's supporting cast was so poorly built. And he still took the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Scott Skiles has never had a good team, so I think Bob makes the adjustments probably based on:

1) players on the team
2) impact of coaching decisions on eg last 3 minutes of game

But yeah, to me personally, Pop is the best coach out there. Takes virtually every player that he gets and weaves him into the rotation or a specific role that optimizes the Spurs' chances for wins. But he is not without fault. I mean Spurs rode a 10 game play-off winning streak into the 3rd game of the conference finals against the Thunder, as the hottest team in the league, and probably the best rested (best minute/game planning throughout the regular season + getting 4-0 sweeps in the first two rounds), yet had no answer in 4 games against the Thunder.

So for me, you can disagree with Bob on any or many of the points he claims, and certainly on whether Pop is the best coach in the game, but to say 'I don't buy ANY of the things said by Bob' is pretty ignorant in my opinion.
 
gate470 is offline Old 02-24-2013, 03:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_lu View Post
Also read a bit about how a heavy minute player's substitution pattern is best if he gets rested short stints (eg 2-3 minutes) frequently as opposed to sitting out 6-8 minutes (or more) at a time. Which disrupts rhythm. Can't seem to find it. McHale is pretty poor with the substitutions, time-allocation etc.
Thanks for the info, great read. Haralabos Voulgaris is a interesting guy.
 
hocash is offline Old 02-24-2013, 04:55 AM   #10
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Most interesting thing to me is something I've also been thinking about lately. Harden has been monster efficient but he gets to the line at a much higher % than your average NBA player. So his TS% is really higher than it should be.
Not a knock on Harden but just something for accuracy's sake. Play by play analysis is the way to go.
 
OremLK is offline Old 02-24-2013, 05:17 AM   #11
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Oh, SVG would be a really good coach for this team. I like the idea of hiring him in the offseason.
 
DonatasFanboy is offline Old 02-24-2013, 05:34 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hocash View Post
Most interesting thing to me is something I've also been thinking about lately. Harden has been monster efficient but he gets to the line at a much higher % than your average NBA player. So his TS% is really higher than it should be.
Not a knock on Harden but just something for accuracy's sake. Play by play analysis is the way to go.
That doesn't make harden's TS% 'higher than it should be', though. Getting to the line is generally the best play in basketball. Even a 50% FT shooter shooting 2 freebies is a fairly solid play in terms of efficiency.

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OremLK is offline Old 02-24-2013, 09:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonatasFanboy View Post
That doesn't make harden's TS% 'higher than it should be', though. Getting to the line is generally the best play in basketball. Even a 50% FT shooter shooting 2 freebies is a fairly solid play in terms of efficiency.
Not to mention the chance of making an And-1, which by the way Harden leads the league in.
 
mike_lu is offline Old 02-24-2013, 09:57 AM   #14
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Actually if I understand it correctly, TS% actually takes into consideration free throws. Each free throw is counted as 0.44 shots. So two free throws is ~0.88 shots (or possession). It is less than 1 because of things like And-1, or a technical + possession of the ball again, among other reasons.

So either way, TS% approximates for a high FT% and high FT rate, or you can get something similar using point-per-possession as well.

It is stats like effective field goal percentage that doesn't take into account free throws.
 
rockbox is offline Old 02-24-2013, 11:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Bob: I hope its not over, but it likely is… (http://aloneinthecorner.com/page/2) Basically the point of a Kobe/Wade/Lebron being a defacto PG on the team and just getting a 3pt shooter that can defend to complement them.
I've been saying this since forever. In a modern NBA, you don't need a PG that racks up tons of assists. Everyone on the team should be able to pass. You need PG that can defend and shoot, and getting to the basket is a bonus.

That is why I think Tony Parker, right now is the best PG in the NBA despite not having the best assist numbers.

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DonatasFanboy is offline Old 02-24-2013, 11:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_lu View Post
Actually if I understand it correctly, TS% actually takes into consideration free throws. Each free throw is counted as 0.44 shots. So two free throws is ~0.88 shots (or possession). It is less than 1 because of things like And-1, or a technical + possession of the ball again, among other reasons.

So either way, TS% approximates for a high FT% and high FT rate, or you can get something similar using point-per-possession as well.

It is stats like effective field goal percentage that doesn't take into account free throws.
i think his argument was that TS overrates free throws.

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napalm_black is offline Old 02-24-2013, 11:53 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwame View Post
Haralabos uses a statistical software known as STATA that's also used in the social sciences to analyze data quantitatively. Also, it's important to note that from my understanding he primarily bets on totals aka over/unders.







2013 and you're still after Battier? I guess I have to give you credit for sticking to your cause.
 
mike_lu is offline Old 02-24-2013, 12:01 PM   #18
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2013 and you're still after Battier? I guess I have to give you credit for sticking to your cause.
Yup, but Battier still got a ring playing a significant role
 
WinkFan is online now Old 02-24-2013, 01:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_lu View Post
.
[/I]
Bob: I think steals are valuable only because the resulting possession has a much higher EV than a possession that starts off off a DREB or a made shot etc. Offensive Rebounds also have a higher ppp than regular possession.

Me: This is how the Rockets are playing. Lin, Harden are top 10 in steals, Parsons is gambling a lot more this year than last year on D. Steals turn into fast breaks and are high Expected Value possessions. So next time we rip our players for gambling or help defense, think about this.

------------------------------
Sources:
http://bbs.clutchfans.net/showthread.php?t=234309
http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/dol...op-nba-gambler
http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/19...is-bob-763371/
http://aloneinthecorner.com/
Gambling and failing don't result in a transition opportunity. In fact, it leads to a higher value shot for the opponent. So how many easy shots are we giving up to get an extra steal a game?
 
AroundTheWorld is offline Old 02-24-2013, 01:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwame View Post
Haralabos uses a statistical software known as STATA that's also used in the social sciences to analyze data quantitatively. Also, it's important to note that from my understanding he primarily bets on totals aka over/unders.








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