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Pro Basketball Prospectus: 2003 EDITION (Pro Basketball Forecast) Paperback – October 21, 2003
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There hasn't been an annual book with a comprehensive scouting report on each NBA player since Rick Barry and Jordan Cohn stopped writing the "Pro Basketball Bible" a few years ago, so Hollinger is filling a big void for NBA diehards. Hollinger's discussions aren't as detailed as Barry/Cohn's, but they're insightful, accurate, and the best I've found on the book market. He has a good eye for evaluating player skills, and doesn't just recite numbers like a rotisserie league groupie.
Basketball statistics aren't as informative as baseball's, and are pretty poor at assessing the defensive end of the floor. Hollinger has come up with measures that give a better indication of a player's value than the official stats, and has the all-too-rare skill of knowing how to PROPERLY use basketball statistics. This year, Hollinger doesn't provide a separate essay on statistics related to each team. Instead, he expands upon last year's methods for determining each team's defense against each position, and provides a "Similarity Scores" method to estimate how a young player's performance might evolve in coming years. The book includes a chapter on each team, with a two-page evaluation of the team's overall performance, followed by a brief statistical summary for each player and a few paragraphs on that player's strengths and weaknesses. This is a book with a limited target audience, but NBA fanatics like myself will find it invaluable. I hope to be buying this book for many years to come.
(1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
Hollinger has written a great book, there is an introduction explaining his methods at the top, then a couple of general essays about the game (On Defense, and the greatest rebounder ever...who you ask? Read the book <g>). Then there are the team essays. Each essay begins with a general overview of the team's season and future prospects, which leads into a statistical discussion about the game or the team ("Are mid-career perforance jumps a fluke?" or "Does Defense win Championships?").
Then there are player comments for current players and rookies. The convential wisdom is always questioned, and the book offers tons of insights (Tracy McGrady better than Kobie, read the book if you don't believe it).
I'm not really a big basketball fan anymore, but I have to say I loved this book. It offers cutting edge research into the game. While some of the studies are rough, they are a great begining for a sport where the statistical analysis has been lacking (much like baseball before James came along).
If you're a basketball fan or just a sports statistics fan (I fall into that category) buy this book, its really top notch work.
His insight into today's pro game is unique. The chaper on "Rebounding" in which the numbers of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are compared with the players who followed them, should be required reading for any sports fan or any undergraduate taking statistics. If you are a free-thinker who doesn't merely accept the opinion of the crowd or your local columnist, this is the basketball book for you. Prepare to be intrigued and to look at the pro game with a new appreciation.
Greg Thomas, Ph.D.