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The W - Basketball - Science vs. Streak
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Since: 11.7.02
From: New Jersey

Since last post: 3747 days
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#1 Posted on
Here is a situation where I dispute the common mathematical theory based on empirical evidence.

In one game Sprewell shot 9 Three pointers. Being around a 33% 3-pt. shooter, he could be expected to make 3 and miss 6. Instead he makes all 9.

Going by math, the odds of this happening are roughly one in 20,000. Each shot has a 33% probability of sinking independent of all the other shots.

I've seen enough basketball games to find fault in this theory. A streak shooter like Sprewell, John Starks, Jordan, Iverson, or Kobe Bryant gets hot and when they are hot their shots are more likely than not to fall. When they fall out of the zone they are as cold as ice.

Do you believe in players getting hot, finding the zone, and getting on fire? Or should a streak shooter keep shooting even if he misses his first 8 shots, because the next shot has a good chance of going in?
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Pittsburgh PA

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#2 Posted on
Completely believe in it and I think that any streak shooter needs to keep shooting. I play high school ball and I make a living shooting from deep, and I have to say its all about rhythm. Once you find the rhythm, it's all good.

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Since: 2.1.02
From: The Silver Spring in the Land of Mary.

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.05
you are over-analyzing...

ok, he made 9 of 9 and he's roughly a 33% shooter, therefore, if that sample was large enough, he should miss 18 more, + 2 more misses for every 1 more he makes in the meantime...if he truly is below average from deep...

that was one freak occurance in his average...go back at his stats and i bet there are nights where he went 0 for something on 3 pointers...

data for averages have high points and low points. this was a high point. now if he does this almost every night for the rest of the season, than that is a different story

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Since: 2.1.02
From: Kentucky - Home of the 8 time NCAA Champ Wildcats

Since last post: 223 days
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#4 Posted on

    Originally posted by skorpio17
    Going by math, the odds of this happening are roughly one in 20,000. Each shot has a 33% probability of sinking independent of all the other shots.

I'll echo Rikidozan's comment about outliers within any data sample, but I'll ad that the original thought is slightly flawed. I doubt if anyone would consider successive performance in sporting events to be independent events.

The independent event analogy is best left to a fair 2-sided coin where the outcome of the preceding event has no effect on the probability of the outcome of the next event. There is always a 50% probability of a given result on the next toss of a coin, regardless of previous outcomes. In sporting events, however, variables other than random chance effect the outcome: rythm, fatigue, stress, opponents, confidence, muscle memory, teammate performance, etc. However, Spree did have a record setting performance, so that speaks to the low likelihood of anyone going 9-9 from behind the arc.

Since: 23.1.02
From: In a Blue State finally

Since last post: 506 days
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#5 Posted on
Also, with sports, you have to remember that players may get successively better/worse with practice/age/injuries, etc. So rather than just an outlier, this may be the starting point of a trend that moves Sprewell up to a 40% 3pt shooter. Something that doesn't happen with coins.


Of course, it could all depend on who he was playing. Did they just forget to guard him outside?

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Since: 12.1.02
From: Indianapolis, IN; now residing in Suffolk, VA

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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.52
Hell, part of his (or anyone's) outstanding performance may be based on things in his life outside basketball, like what he ate or his state of mind. Was he well-rested before playing? Did someone say something to him beforehand that caused him to do so well? Did he do so well because he was more relaxed, or more focused? Did he have better shot selection than usual? Did he shoot more 22-foot “cupcake” shots than 23'9" “tittie” shots? Was he less well-guarded than usual? Was he playing a lousy team? Did he score most of his points when the other team's best defender was on the bench?

In addition, I'll agree that finding a rhythm is very important.

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Since: 11.7.02
From: New Jersey

Since last post: 3747 days
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#7 Posted on
My point is gettting misunderstood. I'm saying that finding a comfort zone when shooting is more important than relying on pure numbers. Here are two examples of what I'm talking aboutn regarding coaching mistakes.

Many times a player will hit 5 straight shots and the coach will put him on the bench. When the player comes back in 15 minutes later, he is cold, he misses his shots. I'm saying when the guy is hot, feed him the ball and let him score.

The biggest coaching mistake cost the Knicks the finals against the Rockets. John Starks was a notorious streak shooter, when he is cold he is horrible. Pat Riley is a stubborn coach who leans on his veterans all game. So, here is what happened; Starks went something like 3 for 20 shooting and the Knicks lost the championship by that one game. During the game it was obvious that Starks was killing the Knicks, but nobody told him to stop shooting or benched him.

Bottom Line: If you are that cold, stop shooting and pass the ball.
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I somewhat disagree on this point. There are a lot of free agents out there, but there are also a lot of teams with cap room.
- It's False, Yao to remain with Rockets (2010)
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