My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video

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My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#1 » by coastalmarker99 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 2:32 am

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1:52-on: Ben claims Wilt’s 1962 is not in the best 100 seasons of all-time.

But Ben never tells his viewers that Wilt’s 1962 ranks in the TOP 4 ALL TIME in WS, OWS, and PER.

If that's not a top-100 offensive season, then where does it rank? Ben never says.

2:48-on: By ignoring era/context, Ben misleads his viewers about Wilt’s scoring rate per possession

Ben says that Wilt's PTS/poss would rank only 7th in the league in 2020.

But Ben TOTALLY IGNORES CONTEXT, the difference in league scoring efficiency (ORTG) between 1962 & 2020

CONTEXT: PTS/100 possessions (ORtg/DRtg) were 17% higher per possession in 2020 vs. 1962.

Adjusted to 2020 ORtg from 1962, Wilt’s 1962 would be: 45.0 PTS/100 poss, or 33.8/75.

That's not "7th in 2020"; that's 2nd after adjusting!

And it's 4th HIGHEST ALL TIME!

Ben focuses on Wilt’s scoring volume (without adjusting for era). Ben mentions Iverson as another volume scorer.

But Ben ignores that Wilt--unlike Iverson--combined very high efficiency with volume: 113 career TS+, including 110 TS+ in his high-scoring Warrior years.

3:21-on: Ben’s focuses on Wilt's unadjusted PTS/poss numbers.

But he never mentions that other great players of Wilt's era--Baylor, Oscar, and West--had lower numbers unadjusted for context than Wilt’s.

Thus, Ben never mentions that young Wilt was THE GREATEST SCORER OF HIS ERA

3:21-on: Ben claims that Wilt was a "black hole." To support this, he shows a graph of TSA/poss and AST/poss.

This graph is misleading bc--once again--Ben does NOT adjust for context: League average AST/poss were 28% LOWER in 1962 compared to 2020, so Wilt's AST should be adjusted up 28% to make 1962 equivalent with 2020.

Thus, by not adjusting for era, Ben is underestimating Wilt's AST/TSA by 28% in his misleading graph.

Ben also does not supply context by comparing Wilt to other "finishers," as Wilt was early in his career.

Wilt's best comparison is Shaq.

Adjusted for context and MP/G, Wilt’s first 7 years and Shaq’s first 7 are almost identical in TS%, TSA/AST, PTS/36, AST/36, and REB/36.

Regarding AST/TSA, Ben ignores most of Wilt's career.

Wilt was a “black hole” for his first 3 years.

But for 8 straight years afterwards, he was in the TOP-3 among all NBA centers in AST/MP (note: his high MP didn’t help him in this stat). And he was in the top-6 all 11 years.

Ben claims that Wilt was “an outlier of outliers” when it comes to being a “black hole.”

The reality: Wilt had 3 "black hole years, first 3. He had 4 years that were high scoring and higher than average AST for a center (next 4). He had 7 other years that were HIGH AST/LOW TSA

In fact, adjusted for era, Wilt—even during his high TSA first 7 years—was LESS of a “black hole” (based on AST/TSA) than:

Moses Malone Mourning Stoudemire Hayes Ewing Parish Howard McAdoo McHale Aldridge (among the top 40 or so big men)

Plus, Wilt’s adjusted TSA/AST for his first 7 high TSA years is not much worse than Hakeem's, Reed's, or Shaq's.

Furthermore, when we examine his WHOLE 14-YEAR CAREER, Wilt was one of the LEAST “black holes” (LOWEST TSA/AST) of top 40 big men (all stats adjusted for era):

5:10-on: Ben criticizes Wilt for his teams’ average/slightly-above-average ORtg.

But Ben never examines Wilt’s teammates. If he had, he would have discovered that Wilt had poor offensive teammates his first 6 years with the Warriors.

5:28: Ben criticizes Wilt’s 1965 Warriors for being last in ORtg.

Yet he never mentions that Wilt was trade mid-1965.

Warriors went from 108.0 P/G with Wilt to 103.1 (4.9 FEWER) without Wilt.

Similarly, 76ers went from 111.4 P/G without Wilt to 113.9 (2.5 MORE) with Wilt.

6:21-on: Ben reverses causation by claiming that Wilt’s increased passing improved his teams’ ORtg by allowing his teammates to score more.

The causation is the reverse: Once Wilt got better teammates with the 76ers and Lakers, Wilt had good offensive players he could pass to.

Ben concedes that the 1967 76ers had a high ORTg. (In fact, it was the highest in NBA history to that point--not mentioned by Ben, of course.)

But Ben omits that Wilt’s increased efficiency in 1967 (129 TS+ !!) was the main factor that led to his teams’ improved ORtg that year.

7:36-on: Ben misleads by focusing on Bill Russell’s All-Star teammates from 1959-66.

In the early NBA, All-Stars are VERY MISLEADING. In an 8-team league, each team typically got an average of 3 players per year.

Ben never mentions Hall of Fame or All-NBAs. Thus, he omits that Russell played with TWICE as many top players per yr.

Russell played with: 67 HOF player-seasons (5.2/yr) 22 All-NBAs (1.7/yr)

Wilt with: 36 HOF seasons (2.6/yr, HALF as many) 10 All-NBAs (0.7/yr, LESS than HALF)

8:46-on: Ben focuses on the Celtics improvement in DRtg with Russell beginning in his rookie year.

Ben is (mostly) right about Russell's great defensive impact.

But Ben never mentions that in Russell's rookie year, 1956-57, Celtics’ opponents averaged: 100.6 PTS without Russell (in 24 games) 100.0 PTS with him his rookie year (in 48 games)

Thus, getting rid of Macauley at center helped Celtics’ D before Russell even played one game.

Also, Ben never mentions that Celtics averaged: 54 wins and 5.6 PTS/100 better than average in DRtg his Russell's last four years.

In 1973, after Russell had retired, Celtics had: 68 wins and 5.8 PTS/100 better than average DRtg.

11:04-on: Ben talks about Russell impact on Wilt’s regular-season stats.

But Ben never informs viewers of the following: Head-to-head in the playoffs (8 POS, 1960-69), Wilt’s stats were nearly the same vs. Russell as vs. other playoff centers. Russell’s were considerably worse.

Ben claims to be "comparing" Wilt and Russell, yet he never analyzes Russell’s offence or Wilt’s defence.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#2 » by coastalmarker99 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 2:33 am

Advanced analytics, such as the PER, is the most accurate indication of a players performance. It always coincides with who the best player is at that time. Historically, it showed that Mikan, Petit, Chamberlain, Kareem, Jordan, Shaq and Lebron were the best players of their era.

And most who know basketball will acknowledge that these guys are, in fact, the best of their time. Different eras are different, and you can argue all day about that, but if guys were playing against each other, then the PER indicates who is better.

Number of seasons where a player-led the league in PER in both the regular season and playoffs: Wilt 6/ KAJ 6/ Jordan 5/ Shaq 3/ Lebron 2/ Mikan 3(maybe more)

Win Shares. How many times a player led the league. Jordan/9, KAJ/9, Wilt/8, Lebron/5. It's a valid statistic for everyone except Wilt it seems

Wilt and Bill played against each other for 10 seasons. I took their ranking in different categories and produced an average ranking for that year. For example: if you came in first each season your ranking would be 1.0.

Defensive Win Shares: Bill(1.1) Wilt(2.9) Total Win Shares: Bill(5.3) Wilt(1.4) PER: Bill(10+) Wilt(1.2)

Bill didn't crack the Top 10 enough for me to calculate a proper total. He did finish 9th or 10th a few times, though

So, over the 10 years they played against each other, Wilt was a much better defensive player than Bill was an offensive player.

Bill is an all-time great, but Wilt was far superior to him as a player based upon advanced analytics. He had the best Total Win Shares and PER, 8 out of the 10 years and even beat out Bill one year for most Defensive Win Shares. Bill did win every other year in that 10 year period, which is quite amazing in itself.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#3 » by 70sFan » Wed Apr 7, 2021 7:54 am

This video is clearly the weakest one among Ben's videos from The Greatest Peaks Project.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#4 » by Dutchball97 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 8:16 am

Wilt shot the ball 40 times per game in 1962. Maybe it's worth looking at PER or WS per FGA instead of in absolutes when we have one guy taking half the shots for his team.

I've got to say these threads are starting to get a bit annoying to me. Russell was a better player than Wilt imo and these topics are starting to look a bit like Russell bashing.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#5 » by AdagioPace » Wed Apr 7, 2021 8:24 am

Ben' biases and project weaknesses are well known and discussed here (including players he likes more and obsession with his personal concepts); finishing with pro-PER argument doens't help your case though. Ok, everybody knows there's usually a correlation between PER and player goodness...that doesn't mean there aren't better tools to judge a player in 2021
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#6 » by 70sFan » Wed Apr 7, 2021 9:36 am

Dutchball97 wrote:I've got to say these threads are starting to get a bit annoying to me. Russell was a better player than Wilt imo and these topics are starting to look a bit like Russell bashing.

100% agree - I also have Russell higher on the all-time list and I don't understand why Wilt fans (I am the one by the way) try to make him look worse. I also don't like these hypothetical threads that make Wilt look like God or something - we know his strengths and weaknesses and he had amazing career as it was. No need to make him look better in my opinion.
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My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#7 » by Max123 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 10:05 am

70sFan wrote:This video is clearly the weakest one among Ben's videos from The Greatest Peaks Project.

I agree but I also think that this video was supposed to be different from the others insofar as it wasn’t really to be a conclusive in-deptj breakdown of Chamberlain and Russell but rather an introduction to the rest of the series and Taylor’s way of thinking about basketball (pun not intended).

Edit: I think he stated on his podcast that he initially planned on only releasing the last part of the video where he talks about his approach but he ended up feeling that the video was short and lackluster. This is why he decided to add the Chamberlain-Russell portion, which now is most of the video, to illustrate he’s general tendencies of analysis whilst looking at an all time example.

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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#8 » by colts18 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 1:02 pm

It's well known that Ben has biases against certain players like Wilt and Stockton and has an affinity for Russell, KG, and Malone. Because of that, he has to downplay Wilt/Stockton so he can prop up Russell/Malone.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#9 » by Max123 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 1:05 pm

colts18 wrote:It's well known that Ben has biases against certain players like Wilt and Stockton and has an affinity for Russell, KG, and Malone. Because of that, he has to downplay Wilt/Stockton so he can prop up Russell/Malone.

Curious, how do these biases manifest themselves in his work? I am sure that a person who disagrees your statement would just say that he is looking at film and data to draw his conclusions and these just happen to suggest that Wilt/Stockton are maybe a little worse than people generally think.


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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#10 » by colts18 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 2:07 pm

Max123 wrote:
colts18 wrote:It's well known that Ben has biases against certain players like Wilt and Stockton and has an affinity for Russell, KG, and Malone. Because of that, he has to downplay Wilt/Stockton so he can prop up Russell/Malone.

Curious, how do these biases manifest themselves in his work? I am sure that a person who disagrees your statement would just say that he is looking at film and data to draw his conclusions and these just happen to suggest that Wilt/Stockton are maybe a little worse than people generally think.


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You can see it clearly in his posts about John Stockton. For years on this board he always downplayed Stockton's contribution. He ranks Karl Malone highly so he has to put down Stockton to justify Malone's ranking. There are a few examples where you could see it:

1. Ben had a blog post trashing John Stockton's elimination game performances. An astute poster here noticed that Ben's post covered the 1991-1998 seasons. That was an odd choice considering Stockton's prime started in 1988 and he was breaking assist records in the 1988-1990 span. To top it off he includes 1998 which was clearly post-prime Stockton. One look at Stockton's 88-90 playoff numbers shows why he didn't include those years. That span included games of 29 points/20 Assists, 34 points/16 Assists. Stockton averaged 17 Assists per game over 5 elimination games in that span. It's obvious why he didn't include those years.

2. Ben ignores his own stats when it comes to Stockton. In his profile of Stockton on his website, he said a lot of Stockton's assists were "Rondo Assists." Kinda true, but when you are averaging 15 assists, some of them are going to be basic assists. Ben likes to tout High leverage passes (Layup Assists) as an indicator for good passing. He completely ignores the fact that Stockton leads in the high leverage stat. Stockton was consistently among the league leaders in layup assists.

Go read Ben's profile and check out the part where he mentions Stockton's outstanding WOWY numbers in the games he missed. He added an explanation in that section to downplay Stockton's number in that stat. I guarantee he didn't add that "context" to other players WOWY stat. He had to do that or else explain why the Jazz went from a +2 offense w/o Stockton to an all-time +10 offense with him.

Ben had a WOWYr post where he created a metric showing the most impactful players of the past 60 years based on WOWY. Who showed up at #2 in the ranking? John Stockton. His own unbiased stats show Stockton ranked highly.

You can see the same trends with his Wilt's post. On the other end you can see how much positive context he adds to his Karl Malone or Steve Nash posts.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#11 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Apr 7, 2021 4:38 pm

colts18 wrote:It's well known that Ben has biases against certain players like Wilt and Stockton and has an affinity for Russell, KG, and Malone. Because of that, he has to downplay Wilt/Stockton so he can prop up Russell/Malone.


Gotta say, really disturbs me the way people who think they are being analytical have come to rely on "Oh well he's just biased so...". Serious analysts don't look to downplay/prop up guys just for the hell of it. What Ben wants to be someone without a bias, because bias hurts his credibility.

Fine to say "Everyone has quirks in their approach that result in effective biases, here's what Ben's are...", but the allegation of bias basically looks to end productive discussion with the assumption that the other person has less credibility than you...which frankly is problematic for literally everyone on these boards in a comparison with Ben, myself included.

To be clear: I don't see eye to eye with Ben on everything. I disagree with him in places...but where we disagree I can generally point to what is causing us to diverge without damning either one of us as simply being wrong to do bias.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#12 » by Cavsfansince84 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 5:11 pm

I feel like Wilt's 50/25 and 45/25 seasons are as much a basis for criticism of him as they are to put him on a semi ridiculous pedestal. I think he would have been better off historically speaking to only play 42-45mpg and have averaged more like 40/22 than what he did because the tendency for a lot of bb fans is to either try and justify his place in history based on those numbers or tear him down by saying that they were semi empty stats. That seems to be the most common theme in any Wilt type of discussion on message boards.
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My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#13 » by Max123 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 5:18 pm

Cavsfansince84 wrote:I feel like Wilt's 50/25 and 45/25 seasons are as much a basis for criticism of him as they are to put him on a semi ridiculous pedestal. I think he would have been better off historically speaking to only play 42-45mpg and have averaged more like 40/22 than what he did because the tendency for a lot of bb fans is to either try and justify his place in history based on those numbers or tear him down by saying that they were semi empty stats. That seems to be the most common theme in any Wilt type of discussion on message boards.

I think there’s some truth to this and funny enough, I think Clayton Crowley pointed this out in his video on Russell, the same applies for Russell and his 11 rings. It’s just such an absurd number.


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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#14 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Apr 7, 2021 6:50 pm

Cavsfansince84 wrote:I feel like Wilt's 50/25 and 45/25 seasons are as much a basis for criticism of him as they are to put him on a semi ridiculous pedestal. I think he would have been better off historically speaking to only play 42-45mpg and have averaged more like 40/22 than what he did because the tendency for a lot of bb fans is to either try and justify his place in history based on those numbers or tear him down by saying that they were semi empty stats. That seems to be the most common theme in any Wilt type of discussion on message boards.


There's some truth in this. He's a bigger lightning rod than he would otherwise be because of amazing statistics.

I would not agree though that he'd literally be ranked higher on the average GOAT list if everything else were the same and he had less eye-popping stats. He'd just be more of an afterthought, and mostly this would cause him to sink in stature.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#15 » by Cavsfansince84 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 7:24 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
There's some truth in this. He's a bigger lightning rod than he would otherwise be because of amazing statistics.

I would not agree though that he'd literally be ranked higher on the average GOAT list if everything else were the same and he had less eye-popping stats. He'd just be more of an afterthought, and mostly this would cause him to sink in stature.


I'm not so sure. I think if his mpg had just been scaled back by 3-4 mpg and as a result his ppg/rpg came down some but his rate metrics stayed the same(and keep in mind he'd probably still be leading the league in ppg those years) would he really have fallen in the current top 100 project? I wouldn't rate him any differently if everything else stayed the same. I think there would be less talk also about how his playoff numbers dropped off relative to his rs numbers.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#16 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Apr 7, 2021 7:27 pm

Cavsfansince84 wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
There's some truth in this. He's a bigger lightning rod than he would otherwise be because of amazing statistics.

I would not agree though that he'd literally be ranked higher on the average GOAT list if everything else were the same and he had less eye-popping stats. He'd just be more of an afterthought, and mostly this would cause him to sink in stature.


I'm not so sure. I think if his mpg had just been scaled back by 3-4 mpg and as a result his ppg/rpg came down some but his rate metrics stayed the same(and keep in mind he'd probably still be leading the league in ppg those years) would he really have fallen in the current top 100 project? I wouldn't rate him any differently if everything else stayed the same. I think there would be less talk also about how his playoff numbers dropped off relative to his rs numbers.


As someone who thinks Wilt is still rated too high, I'll say just for myself that this isn't something that I think would have influenced my development significantly.

As a point in contrast: I'll fully acknowledge that Wilt winning more championships would have influenced me
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#17 » by 70sFan » Wed Apr 7, 2021 7:36 pm

I think that we simply need more footage to understand how much impact Wilt truly had. Otherwise, Ben's conclusions are as valuable as Wilt's fans.

Personally, the more footage I see the more I am impressed with Wilt's defense and rebounding - both of which were criticized by sceptics for different reasons. I'm not 100% convinced to his offensive game now, but with more footage I also find him to be more impressive than I thought at first.

I respect Ben's work more than anyone, but with available tools I can't agree with his conclusion about Wilt vs Shaq for example. I'm fully aware that I could be wrong, but this is how I see it.
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Re: My biggest problems with Ben Taylor's Wilt and Russell video 

Post#18 » by ty 4191 » Wed Apr 7, 2021 8:08 pm

70sFan wrote:I think that we simply need more footage to understand how much impact Wilt truly had. Otherwise, Ben's conclusions are as valuable as Wilt's fans.


He played 55,418 minutes in his career. I really wonder what % of those minutes we have on film.

Does anyone have any idea?

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