September 19, 2008
Almost three years ago to the, um, year, Deadspin's Will Leitch set out to salute the most outstanding blogs for each NBA team. He called it "Blogdom's Best." So cute. But a lot has changed in the last few years — Ballhype, Blog World, RSS feeds! — so we here at Ball Don't Lie have decided to take a second look. This aft: the best statistical blogs.
I'm not going to get into too serious a discussion about this, because I know a post like this will either be batted around endlessly by two different sides that have little interest in learning about what the other thinks, or it will be summarily ignored.
What I can tell you is that watching games counts more than anything. You have to know, and understand the game. But after watching thousands and thousands of hours of games earlier this decade, I still found myself completely at odds with what most cable or broadcast TV commentators and prominent NBA columnists were telling me in their weekly rants. How could they be watching the same games as me? What is with all the pinstripes? Doesn't anyone want to talk about Jason Kidd's defense?
As I started to dig a bit more, I found a whole litany of already-established voices who were watching as much as I was (and, a reasonable guess, about five times as much as the crew mentioned above), while doing something revolutionary with that accrued knowledge. These were fans and talented writers who were as thirsty for new knowledge as I was, and over the years, their work has slowly seeped into the consciousness of the NBA fan, while quickly seeping into the way some of the best front offices in the NBA.
Now, as it is with all these team-inspired blog rankings, the 3-2-1 in this case is completely and wholly subjective. And it has to do with blogs; not columnists, and not message boards. So while I recognize that Dave Berri (a man who makes some great points from time to time) has a fervent and admirable batch of followers, I still ca'’t convince myself to tell you that someone who values rebounds as much as he does should be included in any top three. I don't agree with him.
And while giants like John Hollinger and Dean Oliver may be the granddaddies in this realm, John's "blog" is really only a series of short (though required reading) columns, while Dean's internet pursuits are mainly limited to one groundbreaking book, and the odd post on the must-read APBR message board. And while 82games.com should be almost an involuntary muscle-memory spasm for every NBA fan to type after they hit CTRL-L, it doesn't quite pass the "blog" test.
Not only that, but the first blog-type site that I discovered after the late, great OnHoops.com died — Harlan Schreiber's HoopsAnalyst — still misses the cut for a variety of reasons. It might be my favorite of any site besides the one I write for, but it falls just short of a blog, and doesn't rely on stats as much as the others. It doesn't mean you shouldn't refresh its front page a couple times a day, but it does mean that it doesn't quite fit, here.
There are others, and Count the Basket has all the links. But for my money, these are the three you need.
3. Sactown Royalty — No, the site isn't incredibly stat-heavy, and it does focus on one team. But Tom Ziller is one of the best basketball scribes I've ever read, and I've read them all. Over and over again. Tom also has the good sense to try and back up his brilliance with statistical findings, rather than anecdotal evidence. The man is brilliant.
Relatively new, allowing the world to hear the voice Kevin Pelton has developed over turns with Hoopsworld, 82games.com, and the former official home of the Seattle SuperSonics. Kevin's patient and deft touch, mixed with that intelligence and that wit and that insight, cannot be ignored.
1. Knickerblogger — Not only is this site's stat section the absolute go-to move for anyone who wants to speak intelligently about basketball, it was the first NBA blog to consistently utilize advanced statistics to tell you that New York might not want to go after Jamal Crawford or Eddy Curry, or that they should play Michael Sweetney (don't laugh; in 2003-04 2004-05, the team really should have played him much, much more) or David Lee extended minutes.
Mike K. is a dead-set legend. He's made it so those who have no idea about advanced stats have a passing shot at getting a firm grasp after a lunch-hour’s worth of research, and that absolute junkies still have a home to go to when they feel a need to learn, learn, learn.
Because there's always something new to learn about this game, and this league.
And it's a damned shame some of the more well-compensated analysts that you too often tune into watch or click over to read don't share the same sentiment.
If you would like to nominate a specific team blog for selection, let us know right here.