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Basketball on Paper: Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis [Kindle Edition]

Dean Oliver
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $18.95 What's this?
Print List Price: $18.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

Journey "inside the numbers" for an exceptional set of statistical tools and rules that can help explain the winning, or losing, ways of a basketball team. Basketball on Paper doesn’t diagram plays or explain how players get in shape, but instead demonstrates how to interpret player and team performance.

Dean Oliver highlights general strategies for teams when they’re winning or losing and what aspects should be the focus in either situation. He describes and quantifies the jobs of team leaders and role players, then discusses the interactions between players and how to achieve the best fit. Oliver conceptualizes the meaning of teamwork and how to quantify the value of different types of players working together. He examines historically successful NBA teams and identifies what made them so successful: individual talent, a system of putting players together, or good coaching.

Oliver then uses these statistical tools and case studies to evaluate the best players in history, such as Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Charles Barkley and how they contributed to their teams’ success. He does the same for some of the NBA’s "oddball" players-Manute Bol, Muggsy Bogues, and Dennis Rodman and for the WNBA’s top players.

Basketball on Paper is unique in its incorporation of business and analytical concepts within the context of basketball to measure the value of players in a cooperative setting. Whether you’re looking for strategies or new ideas to throw out while watching the ballgame at a sports bar, Dean Oliver’sBasketball on Paper will give you amazing new insights into teamwork, coaching, and success.

Editorial Reviews


"At the risk of succumbing to hyperbole, BASKETBALL ON PAPER is a revolutionary strike for statistical analysis of the game of basketball. . . . There has never been a basketball book quite like [it]." --HOOPSWORLD.COM

From the Publisher

Basketball stats and strategy for coaches and fans alike.

Product Details

  • File Size: 10588 KB
  • Print Length: 393 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1574886878
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; 1 edition (November 30, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,230 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Tool August 17, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been using the formulas and ideas presented in Dean Oliver's book for the past three years. I was never a math fan, but my spreadsheets for calculating basketball statistics are the most complicated I have ever created and it was this book that started my obsession. The book inspired me with a fascination over a new way to look at the game and the players that bring it to life. Mr. Oliver's work was just a starting point and over the past few years I have added other formulas and other mathematical approaches to looking at the game, but I would not have gotten anywhere without this book. It is an essential tool in my toolbox for evaluating and enjoying the game of basketball.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Statistical over simplicity July 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a statistician, and someone who also loves sports, I have totally enjoyed the "new" satistical approaches to sports stats, from tversky to moneyball to learning you should never punt. Sports arguments are often a lot more fun these days (e.g., 90 percent of the ESPN analysis on NBA draft night is how well the players scored the ball in college, when that appears statistically to be only a minor indicator of professional success.

The problem I have with much of the literature aimed at the general public though, is that is over simplifies the problems, and all to often takes away the argument by assumption. John Maynard Keynes taught us that the big problem with statistics is not the methods, it's having no way to validate the numbers we put in.

So here we have an assumed method of picking the best offensive and defensive teams in history, no discussion of why most of those teams did not win a championship, no discussion of alternative methods. We get probabilities of winning streaks, but only a couple paragraphs on problems with those stats. (player injuries as the only example.). What about the fact that NBA teams almost always lose the second game of back to back road games? What about teams tanking at the end of the season to improve draft position?

I appreciated large parts of this book, but also found myself deeply frustrated with it at points. There are better books out there for people who want to get started on modern sports statistics.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mature Look At Pro Basketball December 23, 2003
Oliver's work shows a maturity that has been lacking from many basketball evaluation books--John Hollinger's "Basketball Prospectus" being another exception. Not only are players evaluated statistically but their roles on their teams are considered in context in relationship to their numbers. If you want to gain an understanding of basketball as perhaps you've never had before, and are willing to accept the ambiguous nature of numbers themselves, this is the book for you!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Analysis / Easy to understand January 9, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought it was an excellent book. The author was clearly very knowledgeable both as a basketball player and as a quantitative analyst. Probably this dual identity is also what allowed him to communicate the findings so well to non-analysts while preserving enough of the meat of the analysis for pure analysts to see where it would all lead to.

Best book on sports statistics that I've read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you love stats and basketball... August 19, 2005
This is a great book for people who are both numbers geeks and basketball geeks. I wish that there was more of a focus on college basketball, but that's just me. The author even replied to a couple of my questions regarding some of the formulas via email. Highly recommended for a basketball fan intrigued by statistics and indexes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best analytics book August 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Phenomenal book. By far the best analytic book out there. If you like basketball and want a further understanding of the game; this is the book for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed how I watch college basketball May 8, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While Oliver's methods and approaches are all applied to the NBA game in this book, they nevertheless can be applied in whole to the collegiate game. After reading "Basketball on Paper" over the last year and watching the 2009-2010 college basketball season, I can truly say that this book has revolutionized how I view a basketball game -- all for the better.

Without giving away key premises, Oliver truly dives deep into the fundamentals of how a basketball game works to determine tools to evaluate how teams and players do just past the final score. Typical cliches are challenged -- some proven, some shown to be irrelevant -- as he puts a statistical and logical argument behind why the proposed approaches are superior. And I agree with his results. After focusing on them over the past year, I can truly say that this book has helped me further understand how and why a team wins just behind the final score. Diving into the box score alone can reveal hidden gems that you might not have thought about otherwise. If you're a stat nut, a basketball fanatic, or some sort of a combination of the two, this book is a definite must read.

Considering that this is one of the greatest books I've ever read, I'd say it is worthy of a five star rating.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good perspective on the numbers behind the game. March 20, 2014
By Anthony
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has helped me identify some key statistics in the game of basketball. This in turn has improved my coaching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
I am almost half way through the book and already sure that it will be a very satisfying book. Thanks to the author.
Published 2 months ago by mehmet gedik
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Have for Anyone Interested in Basketball Analytics
This is a must-have for anyone interested in basketball analytics. Mr. Oliver does a great job of taking you through his thought process. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for basketball minds.
A great explanation of how to compare players through stats. A great book for basketball minds. It will expand the way you look at basketball.
Published 5 months ago by Trevor Andershock
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, well-written
For a basketball/ stats nerd it is awesome! It is written well and helps to think about basketball in different ways. Read more
Published 10 months ago by JOSEPH R BOYER
5.0 out of 5 stars performance
many of the stat refered to you can find on espn .com from john hollinger really helped in understanding point totals
Published 12 months ago by firemanxx
3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't rate this - complexity is for teams with bank of statistics...
I chose this for help with beginning basketball coaching and found it not written for this audience. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Philip L Cohen
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Basketball Stats
We ordered this book because my Husband is looking at a job in Basketball statistics. He loves this book, it's great for anyone who wants to learn more.
Published 15 months ago by SSmith6
4.0 out of 5 stars Basketball on paper
I found this research very interesting some aparts are above my level of the math but the concept makes you look at the game very different. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Coach Wack
5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
Different but very interesting approach of basketball without x and os'
Really worth reading it even if you don't believe in stats
Published on March 18, 2012 by dimdan
1.0 out of 5 stars decent book, would like more depth, and more coverage of advanced...
I was hoping for something that focused more on the newer basketball statistics. The book correctly points out that X per game may not be that good a measure of something, because... Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by B. Einhorn
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