With the Brooklyn Nets down four to the Detroit Pistons and under 30 seconds left, Deron Williams broke free into the lane, seemingly ready to put down an open layup or easy dunk. Then, all of a sudden, the ball popped out of his hands, off his knee, and out of bounds. No whistles were blown.

Replay clearly showed that Brandon Jennings, Williams's defender, hooked Williams's arm, which led to Williams losing control... MORE →

 

Brook Lopez Free Throw

Why don't we treat this like it matters?

ESPN's HoopIdea was founded last season with the spirit of making basketball, already the best sport in the world, even better. But just as important as making it better, is understanding it.

Recently, I begun taking efficiency numbers from NBA.com, as opposed to Basketball-Reference, because the two sites calculate possessions slightly differently, and I was more comfortable using the direct NBA numbers. But yet, something felt off.

As a self-proclaimed stathead, it's easy to get wrapped up in successful formulas. Indeed, many of them are, though imperfect, excellent at helping understand a bigger or alternate picture. From the simple numbers like effective field goal percentage, which take into account the value of a three-point shot, to John Hollinger's PER, which could use its own book on its much-inclusive calculation, using them in context helps you open a world of insight on the game of basketball.

But I've wondered something for a while now, exacerbated again by a conversation on Twitter today: why in the world do we estimate possessions?... MORE →