The value of Tim Duncan’s blocks
Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz, and numerous other TrueHoop Network writers are at the MIT Sloan Sports Conference. While there, Sebastian Pruiti of NetsAreScorching and NBA Playbook reported on a paper presented by John Huizinga, a professor of business at the University of Chicago (via TrueHoop):
Is blocking a lay-up more valuable than blocking a jump-shot?Â Mr. Huizingaâ€™s data says yes.Â In his presentation, he said that it all comes down to expected value.Â A jumper has an expected point value of 1.04 while a lay-up has an expected point value of 1.54.
Although intuitive in its own right, this information paints a counterintuitive portrait of some of the NBA’s better regarded frontcourt defenders. For instance, “Looking at it this way, Brendon Haywood, who many people think is a very good defender (me included) actually is a less valuable shot blocker than Jermaine Oâ€™Neal.”
Huizinga’s paper is titled “The Value of a Blocked Shot in the NBA: From Dwight Howard to Tim Duncan,” and not without good reason, explains Pruiti:
…As [Huizinga] explained, through a series of charts, Tim Duncan has had the best season in history when it came down to value/block with 1.12, meaning he saved 1.12 points with every block and Dwight Howard ended up with the worst season in terms of value/block with with .53 (both came during the 2008 season).
Long ago I noticed that most of Tim Duncan’s blocks came right at the rim, which is why I am so excited to read about Huizinga’s paper. Rather than stoke the debate between traditional scouting and advanced statisticians, it further shows how the conclusions of one can work symbiotically with the visual evidence of the other.