Kirk Goldsberry explains an interesting new basketball shooting statistic he and a colleague have developed today. I’ll be discussing two strange statements that Mr. Goldsberry made. One is strange for logical reasons, and the other is strange for syntactic reasons.
In the introduction of the article, Goldsberry is expressing an amazing fact about LeBron James:
…However, consider the following ridiculous statistical couplet:
No player scored more points close to the basket than LeBron James last season.
No player converted a higher percentage of his shots near the basket than LeBron James last year.
Think about that. Not only did he outscore every player in the entire league within the NBA’s most sacred real estate, he converted his shots at the highest rate, too.
Okay, I’ve thought about it, and I don’t find it ridiculous at all. Unless James took substantially fewer shots close to the basket than did other NBA players (which even someone as NBA ignorant as me knows just can’t be the case), the fact that he was more accurate makes it essentially a mathematical necessity that he would outscore everyone else. This seems like an oddly innumerate bit in an otherwise relatively statistically sophisticated article.
The syntactically strange sentence is more fun. Goldsberry writes:
No player accumulated more points than expected than James.
It’s clear what he means – no one exceeded the number of expected points to a greater degree than did James – but, as written, this sentence is meaningless. I mean, I can garner some meaning from it, but it seems ill-formed for expressing that meaning (or any other).
It reminds me of the plausible Angloid gibberish sentences “More people have been to Russian than I have” and “In Michigan and Minnesota, more people found Mr Bush’s ads negative than they did Mr Kerry’s.“