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At last! Algorithms to explain the fiasco that is the 2007-08 Denver Nuggets...

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If I've learned two things in my lifetime, it's never question Reggie Theus' officially listed height to his face (story for another time), and don't get into an argument over empirical data with an Economics Professor.

One of the authors of "The Wages of Wins" has commented on this blog, suggesting that my argument blaming the coach for our team's problems doesn't quite add up. Professor David J. Berri points out that since some of the Nuggets players are playing "a bit better" this season (based on his algorithms that measure player performance), Coach Karl is doing an okay job. Well, try telling us fans and Stanley Kroenke's accountant that they're playing "a bit better" when we either miss the playoffs, or get knocked out in the first round again.

I have a great deal of respect for Professor Berri's work, enjoy reading his online journal and look forward to reading his book for more insight - assuming I'm smart enough to understand it. I, however, believe that a hybrid of in-depth statistical analysis and general basketball know-how is the key to building a good team. For example, according to Malcom Gladwell's New Yorker review of the book, "The Wages of Wins" states that Allen Iverson's MVP season of 2000-01, in which he took the Philadelphia 76ers to the finals, ranked him as the 91st best player in the NBA. 91st! This means that either the data doesn't account for intangibles like hustle, leadership, locker room presence, camaraderie with teammates, etc...or that Larry Brown is one hell of a coach.

But accepting that I'm not familiar with Professor Berri's formulations in regards to a coach's impact on a player, I have to ask him a general question: Isn't player performance - past and present - attributed to the coach getting that performance out of them in the first place? At least somewhat? Professor Berri may argue that the current Nuggets players aren't capable of being a lot better to begin with, but I would argue that it is the coach's job to make them a lot better. Hence why Coach Karl and his NBA coach colleagues get paid millions of dollars a year.

So who's right? Both of us? Neither? Perhaps the chicken-and-egg debate about coaching vs. player performance will just rage on for eternity.

In the meantime, may I suggest Professor Berri trading me a copy of his book in exchange for a copy of mine? This way, I can learn about the intricacies of the Win Produced vs. Win Score formula, and he can learn how to pick up girls in bars from the perspective of cartoon characters. It should be noted that my book didn't get a New Yorker review from Gladwell, but received high praise from the Playboy Magazine Blog.