John Hollinger Is A Useless Tool

Screw the flowery language, the references to Raymond Carver, solipsism, and obscure players from the 80’s. We’re taking a break from niceties today. You see we’ve had a chance to read ESPN’s latest look at college basketball’s NBA prospects and we’ve come to one irrefutable conclusion that can only be expressed through blunt colloquialisms: John Hollinger is a useless tool. 

Hollinger, one of ESPN’s head NBA writers apparently as a result of lost bet, is consistently ludicrous yet sky.gifeasily ignored because his nonsense is at least usually confined to the NBA. His ouvre revolves entirely around a statistical formula to quantify a player’s value, an amalgamation of statistics that Hollinger no doubt spent hours locked in his office devising. It is useful and only mildly annoying when it does things like conclude that LeBron James and Chris Paul are very, very good.  

We could live with the fact that Hollinger is trotted out as some sort of expert just because he has a statistical tool with a catchy nickname to support what most basketball fans have concluded by doing things like, oh I don’t know, watching basketball. But what really, truly peeves is that not only has Hollinger so obviously never played a game of basketball in his life, he lacks a basic understanding for the game, a feel for the things that could be picked up by spending more time using the ESPN press pass to actually observe the game in action rather than holing up in the media room perusing box scores. As anyone who has played or watched basketball for long enough knows, it is the one sport where a team and a player can be much more or less than the sum of its statistical parts, a game of nuance where one player’s toughness may be worth much more than another player’s ability to put up 20 then disappear in the 4th quarter. It’s the kind of knowledge that prevents you from saying such blatantly nonsensical things like the most important piece of last year’s Golden State/Indiana trade, the trade that led one team to the playoffs for the first time since the Clinton administration and another to irrelevancy, was…wait for it…Ike Diogu. Sarunas Jasikevicius is still pissed. 

As much as we revile Hollinger when he’s writing about pro basketball, it’s a whole other thing when you step all_bras.jpginto our world, pal. You see, in his latest missive Hollinger has come to the rescue of NBA GMs everywhere, taking the guesswork out of scouting by concocting a formula to isolate the best pro prospects currently playing their college ball. He spent a lot of time on this baby, going back to the lab to refine it numerous times, no doubt sweating over beakers and test tubes like an 80’s movie montage over a Kenny Loggins or Oingo Boingo soundtrack, and has come to the inescapable conclusion that the best pro prospect in college is…Michael Beasley. 

So the first Hollingerism, using a complicated statistical calculation to conclude the glaringly obvious, certainly holds true. But this wouldn’t be a Hollinger calculation without the second Hollingerism, the completely random result that could have as easily been reached using the scientific method of my four year-old and a Magic Marker. Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin checks in second, a point I won’t argue because I love Griffin (though not enough to draft him second), with names such as Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo not even appearing in his top 25 prospects. Of Mayo, Hollinger says, “Let’s just say he’s got a lot of work to do if he’s going to play point in the pros.” Of course anyone who has actually fucking seen Mayo play would know that, despite the preseason hype, Mayo is not a point guard. At best he will be a combo guard, and frankly from monkey.jpgwhat we’ve seen he will be an offensive killer. God forbid we should ask Hollinger to put down the computer and watch the game he writes about. 

Hollinger spends a lot of time lauding his system for its efficacy in providing results that are as utterly random as the actual draft. When he first introduced this calculation in last year’s draft preview, he commented smugly that “at least this one doesn’t result in consecutive lottery picks being spent on Jared Jeffries, Melvin Ely and Marcus Haislip”, which would sound a lot better if he didn’t illustrate later in the very same article that he had Jeffries as the 7th best prospect in the 2002 draft. He also oddly seems to think that his system is proven out by the fact that in the 2006 draft, by far the top player in his analysis was Tyrus Thomas. And although he is occasionally vindicated by players like Carlos Boozer, he is more often proven a complete ass by the likes of Michael Sweetney, Curtis Borchardt, Luke Jackson, Andre Emmett, et al. In other words, his infallible system produces results that are either painfully obvious or as completely arbitrary as the draft itself. In other other words, John Hollinger is a useless tool.

7 Responses to John Hollinger Is A Useless Tool

  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    a) Hollinger can play ball (at least from what i’ve heard)

    b) Hollinger watches a lot of basketball (check the breakdowns of every player in his NBA preview)

    c)Hollinger never said his system was “infallibe”

  2. John Krolik says:

    pretty much agree with the stuff that was said above; Hollinger is proud of his stats and thinks (perhaps rightly) that they lend a bit of objectivity to the often overly subjective analysis of players (e.g. the consensus that LeBron is not a “closer” late in games-how’d that work out), but understands that they don’t exist in a vacuum, which is made evident, as was mentioned, in his player breakdowns, which talk about why a player’s rating may be too high or low (defense, on/off court, et al.) Now David Berri is a useless tool.

  3. James says:

    You’re missing the point of Hollinger’s ratings. They are not a stand alone, end-all-be-all system he designed to replace the art of observation. They are a different form of statistical analysis that tries to go beyond the conventional forms like points per game, rebounds per game, etc. And Hollinger will often point out that his eyes disagree with his ratings.

    Stats are (or should be) used to help form an opinion on a player or team; not to form it in full. Hollinger’s goal is to make those stats more accurate than the ones people have used in the past. Even if he misses the mark too often, which I agree he does, he realizes the numbers aren’t perfect, and they can lie. But he’s always willing to tweak and learn, and to judge based on what he sees rather than what his computer says alone.

  4. pyramidofexcess says:

    We appreciate the devil’s advocates, we really do. It’s better than our usual feedback, which mostly consists of offers to increase penis size. But we still stand by what we said, that Hollinger’s statistical analyses produce results that are either blatantly obvious or utterly random, results that could be as easily derived watching games intelligently. Anyone could conclude that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and Michael Beasley the best in college ball, but it’s the latter sin that is his greatest. Watching 10 minutes of a USC game, not a lot to ask given this is your job, would tell you that O.J. Mayo isn’t an NBA point guard. He will be an off guard, we would guess a very good one. To evaluate him as otherwise is irresponsible. Hollinger’s reliance on numbers and his lack of feel for the game also leaves no room for a guy like Stephen Jackson, a player whose numbers sometimes stink to high heaven yet is absolutely invaluable to what the Warriors do. Until proven otherwise, we’ll stand by our belief that Hollinger is utterly useless.

  5. KickYourAss says:

    I’d rather read that smug intellectual’s articles than listen to your whiny ass

    P.S. You should give us a link to his ratings, if possible. I like that stuff.

  6. pyramidofexcess says:

    But of course, anything you want. We’re really sorry we weren’t responding to your link-related needs earlier, so here you go –

  7. Hollingerisanahole says:

    So you know, that response from “Devils’s Advocate” was actually from Hollinger himself.

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