Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals?

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Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#1 » by wigglestrue » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:42 am

Don't we have enough of a smattering of complete games (playoffs included) on tape of Russell and Wilt and West and Baylor (although not so much Oscar, maybe) and others to count up a decent enough, random enough sample from which to extrapolate a career average for any player with a certain minimum of games-on-tape?

Heck, shouldn't it even be entirely doable for just a single person to eyeball and categorize the gameplay of all those individual games in the exact same complex, fastidious way that Synergy does it using current gametapes? Why hasn't some blessed OCD-fueled basketball-loving completist done this yet, for 100% of all extant games on film for This Player, That Player, etc.? Couldn't possibly be harder than cataloguing (82 * 15) games in a single season.

Who's game? And how can it be done satisficiently, with enough good data, to get at a decently-grounded guess at what bpg and spg would've been for all-timers with pre-1974 primes. Would, say, 10 or 20 games be enough? Way more than that needed to rule out a fluke?

Mind you, we're not talking about taking 5 games circa 1965 and extrapolating that into a hypothetical 1964-65 season average. No, more like, taking as many career games as a Russell has on tape, from his rookie season to his final game, hopefully something like the equivalent of a couple months' worth of games in a row from one season. So...about 30 games? And then averaging that, and the result would be a really rough approximation of a career average, but it would at least be based on a sort of random assortment of whatever-games-we-happen-to-have-on-tape-for-that-player, spread thinly throughout a whole career. (Please don't tell me that there are only, like, 10 full games on tape in existence of a pkayer like Russell...?)
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Stea 

Post#2 » by Witzig-Okashi » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:28 pm

wigglestrue wrote:Don't we have enough of a smattering of complete games (playoffs included) on tape of Russell and Wilt and West and Baylor (although not so much Oscar, maybe) and others to count up a decent enough, random enough sample from which to extrapolate a career average for any player with a certain minimum of games-on-tape?

Heck, shouldn't it even be entirely doable for just a single person to eyeball and categorize the gameplay of all those individual games in the exact same complex, fastidious way that Synergy does it using current gametapes? Why hasn't some blessed OCD-fueled basketball-loving completist done this yet, for 100% of all extant games on film for This Player, That Player, etc.? Couldn't possibly be harder than cataloguing (82 * 15) games in a single season.

Who's game? And how can it be done scientifically, with enough good data, to get at a decently-grounded guess at what bpg and spg would've been for all-timers with pre-1974 primes. Would, say, 10 or 20 games be enough? Way more than that needed to rule out a fluke?

Mind you, we're not talking about taking 5 games circa 1965 and extrapolating that into a hypothetical 1964-65 season average. No, more like, taking as many career games as a Russell has on tape, from his rookie season to his final game, hopefully something like the equivalent of a couple months' worth of games in a row from one season. So...about 30 games? And then averaging that, and the result would be a really rough approximation of a career average, but it would at least be based on a sort of random assortment of whatever-games-we-happen-to-have-on-tape-for-that-player, spread thinly throughout a whole career. (Please don't tell me that there are only, like, 10 full games on tape in existence of a player like Russell...?)


How many games are in the archives that are available to be estimated? I was under the impression that there wasn't a lot out there.....I know that I've heard from people that Wilt and Russell would have well over 3,000 blocks if the stats were accounted for back in their heyday, I think Kareem would be around 3,800-3,900 easily total.

I think it is fine just the way it is not to try and make (semi)educated guess, especially from what limited resources we have of their tape...I used to be aggravated by it, too, but I'm over it....I am interested in knowing exactly how many games are available, though....

To answer your question on the lack of a person dedicated to it; I think there are people who would definitely like to find those resources. I was hellbent on becoming one of those types of OCD-archive researcher when I was around 16. (I would still like to research for a living, but not for basketball). I just think it can be attested to a lack of available games....
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Stea 

Post#3 » by wigglestrue » Sun Feb 16, 2014 7:14 pm

Anyone here know how many full games for 60's stars are a) preserved and b) available?

According to some people, in pretty much every single season they played both Russell and Chamberlain would have threatened or perhaps demolished Eaton's single season record of 5.56 bpg. It's possible that Russell and Chamberlain would've each retired with twice as many career blocks as Kareem. Unadjusted for pace, of course, as per their rebounding. But still, even if adjusted for pace, they would probably co-own the first twenty entries under Most Blocks in a Single Season. If the high end of the anecdotal, journalistic, and rare actual statistical data are correct.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#4 » by bricks29 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:25 pm

I would try to estimate blocked shots by determining a percentage of opponent's missed 2FGA relative to minutes played. These are some known percentages:

.28 Gilmore '71 (college)
.22 Olajuwon '83 (college)
.21 Bol '87, Bol '89
.20 Bol '86, Gilmore '70 (college)
.19 D.Robinson '86 (college)
.18 Eaton '83, Bradley '96, Ibaka '12, Whiteside '16
.17 Eaton '85
.15 Rollins '79
.14 Rollins '78, D.Robinson '92, Mutombo '95, Ewing '84 (college)
.12 Olajuwon '93
.11 Gilmore '72(ABA), E.Smith '74
.10 Olajuwon '94, G.Johnson '77
.09 Walton '77
.07 Abdul-Jabbar '76

We would need opponents' missed 2FGA in order to estimate. I have those for Chamberlain's stint with the 76ers and I have made some sample estimates.

1965-66 (first full year w/Sixers)
Opp. missed FGA while on floor: 4575
If he blocked 21% (Bol's best years): 961 blocks... 12.2 per game
If he blocked 18% (Eaton's, Bradley's, Ibaka's, and Whiteside's highs): 824 blocks... 10.4 per game

1966-67
Opp. missed FGA while on floor: 4853
If he blocked 21%: 1019 blocks... 12.6 per game
If he blocked 18%: 874 blocks... 10.8 per game

1966-68
Opp. missed FGA while on floor: 4889
If he blocked 21%: 1027 blocks... 12.5 per game
If he blocked 18%: 880 blocks... 10.7 per game
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#5 » by Chicago76 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:30 am

A few reasons:
1) limited sample size generally
2) the dramatic change in statistical environment from the late 50s to late 60s. Pace, rebounding, offensive efficiency, shooting range, etc. All of these things influence blocked shots and steals. If you have some footage from 67, that won't tell you much about 1960. Today, if you have footage from this season, that still tells you quite a bit about 2010.
3) sampling bias. Archived games are more likely to be two very good opponents going head to head or a legendary performance by a star. Counting blocks/steals in a Celtics-Warriors game where Bill Russell is completely dominant may not be a good indication of how he fared in a ho hum game vs the cellar dwelling Chicago Packers in the 5th game of a road trip in January.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#6 » by feyki » Mon Jan 2, 2017 8:06 pm

Search Cavsftw's posts . He has a data , which is around 180 games with recorded steals and blocks about Russell and Wilt . I'd remember around 8.1 Blocks and 4.5 Steals for Russell and 8.8 Blocks and 1.5 Steals for Wilt . With adjusting pace and lg offfence , 2.7 Stl/5.8 Blk for Russell and 1.2 Stl/6.2 Blk for Wilt on 100 possesions .
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#7 » by old rem » Thu Jan 5, 2017 4:59 am

Not much archive before 1970. Videotape was rather new and costly.. also not good with indoor light. Good film, while possible, also was costly and tended to not last well.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#8 » by DoItALL9 » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:56 pm

You also have to remember Wilt loved making unbelievable statistical figures so even if you could find out exactly what the numbers are/were it'd be a little unfair to those guys because he and other players likely would've gone for more if they were being counted back then.

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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Stea 

Post#9 » by old rem » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:36 pm

wigglestrue wrote:Anyone here know how many full games for 60's stars are a) preserved and b) available?

According to some people, in pretty much every single season they played both Russell and Chamberlain would have threatened or perhaps demolished Eaton's single season record of 5.56 bpg. It's possible that Russell and Chamberlain would've each retired with twice as many career blocks as Kareem. Unadjusted for pace, of course, as per their rebounding. But still, even if adjusted for pace, they would probably co-own the first twenty entries under Most Blocks in a Single Season. If the high end of the anecdotal, journalistic, and rare actual statistical data are correct.


the TECH in the 60's for video tape...was problematic. The tape is not 'archival", and the machines able to play vintage tapes are scarce. it's like if you had some old 8 track audio tapes... IF the tape has not badly aged.. finding a good player is hard.

'Back in the day" there was no ESPN,NBA-TV,TNT. You'd get maybe 2 national broadcast games a week (at best) and local TV tended to not do a tape archive. This was YEARS before VCR ... so....the machines looked like reel to reel tape recorders. they were EXPENSIVE. In some cases... tapes were re-used. at BEST.. the quality was not good at first and would degrade with time.

As an old Timer... I'd say Wilt and Russell blocked a LOT of shots. More than Mutumbo? Olajuwon? Maybe. When Russell began, late 50's he was BIG, it was several years before there were TALLER but athletic bigs, like Wilt, Bellamy. ....and then there were quite a few.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#10 » by SinceGatlingWasARookie » Sat Jul 7, 2018 3:53 pm

From a few games I watched of Wilt and Russell I noticed opposing players shooting shots that were too blockable. It was as if the players had not yet fully adjusted to what good shot blockers were capable of doing. Also, a higher percentage of shots were being taken closer to the basket.

Do players block more shots in more meaningful games (playoff games, televised games)? If the answer is yes then that could throw off archived games as a sample, because the archived games are not random games.

I think using the samples to make a guess at blocks and steals is reasonable. I would expect Russell and Chamberlain to come out with very high shot blocking numbers.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#11 » by pdevos » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:58 pm

A lot of the problems on even the shooting aspect is how traveling was called. So you couldn't cradle the ball or control it as easily as you had to make sure you were directly on top of the ball, ergo, always having to 'find it' by comparison of today's players can cup the ball however they want, fully aware of where the ball is, and also controlled movements (and many steps afterwards) to avoid the defender. It was, pick up and shoot it (w/o the steps) back then so it was much easier for bigs to time the blocks.
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Re: Why Can't We Reliably Estimate 60's Stars' Blocks & Steals? 

Post#12 » by BigRedDog » Sun Aug 18, 2019 10:49 pm

we cant even reliably estimate players blocks, steals, or assists from the 90's...

heck im not sure they are very good at doing it TODAY... steals dont seem to usually go to the guy who generated the steal... its easier and alzier to give it to teh guy who winds up with the ball than the guy who created the deflection

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