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--- You wrote:
Yeah, there are dumb columnists out there, but I can't really complain.
We're all Celtics fans, and hope they do well this year. Our glasses do have
a rosy tint. But I can't really dis someone who says Walker is going to have
an awful year (he might), and/or that Pop and Fort will foul out before they
get lots of boards (they might) and/or that Pierce will have a sophomore
slump (he might) and/or that Anderson will stink (he might.)
--- end of quote ---
...yes, and Shaq might turn into a Travis Knight, and Orlando or Chicago might win the championship this year. All these things are *possible*. The question is how *probable* they are. When a reasonable person wants to estimate the probability of a certain team's having a such-and-such record, he or she would do well to assume the average performance for that particular team's range of abilities. For example, if we think the Celtics can do as poorly as 20, and as well as 50, wins this season, the best statistical guess would be that they will win 35 games this season. (Obviously, a team's probable range of wins is the result of an interaction of the probable performances of its players, coaches, the probable influence of its schedule that year, even probable injury situation*, and so on)
Given that some of these so-called basketball columnists are predicting a last-, or near-last, place finish, we are left with several possible reasons for such predictions:
1) after examining the abilities of the Celtics' players, coaches, and the favorableness of the schedule, those columnists found them lacking in comparison with the likes of Orlando, NJ, Washington, Chicago etc.; and/or
2) they guessed that Orlando and other NBA flotsam will perform well above average for their particular range of ability, while the Celtics will submit a below-average performance; and/or
3) they are well aware of the true state of affairs, but dislike/hate the Celtics and/or Pitino, and are thus trying to belittle our team.
IMO, if it's #1, they don't know very much about NBA basketball; if it's #2, their statistical reasoning skills are very poor; and if it's #3, well, get a life! I suspect that it's various combinations of all three with many of these "experts". That's why I haven't bought any of these yearly guides for many years, and don't subscribe to any basketball magazines or even newspapers anymore. If the cost is being annoyed by ads on a web page, I might read it just for laughs, but I have no desire to pay money to read someone's public demonstrations of vicious idiocy.
*I know that injuries are viewed by many as a completely unpredictable factor - a wild card (sic!), if you will. While there's certainly a component of randomness to it, I don't believe it's all luck (or lack thereof). Some players have long, virtually injury-free careers, while others can be counted on to rarely get off the IL. This same belief in non-randomness of injuries was recently demonstrated by Pitino, who essentially stated that he does not seriously expect Ellison to contribute this (or any other) year, despite the latter's proclammations of good health and readiness to play.