Correcting Bill Simmons, Part 4: Bill’s not-so-unique idea and more three-point talk

In Bill Simmons’ latest mailbag, he responds to a number of different reader questions. Most of his answers are fine, but a few are puzzling…

There should be a section on eBay that allows the auctioning of enticing future bets. For instance, a few weeks before the NBA season, I placed $300 on 15-to-1 odds that Cleveland would win the 2009 NBA title. Those odds have dropped to 2-to-1. Not that I would (after all, Cleveland is going to win the 2009 NBA title), but shouldn’t I have the option to sell that $300 ticket on eBay? What if someone bid $1,200 on it (which would be a smart move because, again, Cleveland is going to win the NBA title) and I was guaranteed a $900 return on my investment? Should I take the money? This would be a fun Web site, you have to admit. And if eBay can’t do it, then why couldn’t the casinos themselves build a Web site that allows people to sell future tickets and get a second cut on the action? It all makes too much sense.

Yeah…okay…this already exists — it’s called a “long-term market” and my favorite online sportsbook, has had them for at least five years now. Go to the site, hit “Pro Basketball” on the left, hit “Pro Championship” under “Long-Term Markets” on the main screen — there’s a long-term market where gamblers can buy and sell wagers on who will win the NBA championship. They have 1-pays (where only a share in the winner is worth something) and 4-pays (where shares in the winner, runner-up, and third and fourth place teams are worth something). You can buy and sell these shares throughout the year.

How does a guy that calls himself “The Sports Guy” not know about this? Didn’t he hit up any of his colleagues/friends at ESPN in all the time that he has pondered this eBay idea of his?

As of right……..I’m not going to refer to Bill Simmons as “The Sports Guy” any longer. As far as I’m concerned, he has lost the right to have that nickname.

And then there’s this doozy…

Q: Why won’t you understand shooting percentages? 33 percent from beyond the arc is the equivalent of 50 percent from within. If a guy shot 50 percent from the field, would you be killing him for shooting? Of course not. You obviously realize how stupid that would be. Yet that’s what you’ve been doing — FOR YEARS — with your mind-boggling argument against 3-point shooting unless the guy can hit 75 percent of his 3s. Just think about it for a couple of seconds. Please … we are begging you.
— Nick, New York

SG: Dozens of readers e-mailed me Nick’s same stupid argument in a similarly condescending way, which is what makes the following so much fun: I’m not stupid, YOU’RE STUPID. That 33/50 logic only makes sense in a professional basketball league in which they aren’t calling fouls and you aren’t allowed to pass to a teammate … which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t currently exist.

Let’s say that one player attempts 12 3-pointers and makes four (for 12 points). His teammate attempts 12 2-pointers and makes six, but during that time — because he’s not standing 25 feet away jacking up 3s like an idiot — he also draws three fouls on his defender, creates two assists for teammates, makes three of four free throws, turns the ball over once, and misses one layup that gets tapped in by a teammate (we’ll call it 19 points). You’re telling me those two scenarios are equal? If I’m playing LeBron (a 31 percent 3-point shooter), ideally, I want him jacking up contested 3s because that means (A) he’s not getting to the line, (B) he’s not getting my guys in foul trouble, and (C) he’s not potentially creating shots for someone else. I can’t defend LeBron when he’s going to the basket, especially if he’s getting calls. But you know what? If he’s happy shooting 3s from 25 feet with a hand in his face, then I’m delighted. This is great. I want him to do that. And if he’s doing something that the other team WANTS him to do, then he’s doing the wrong thing. I’m fine with shooting 24-footers over 20-footers, but getting into the paint will always be more valuable than jacking up 3s. It’s just a fact.

(Note to Nick and everyone else who mailed me the 33/50 argument: I’m doing the Dikembe finger wave at you. Don’t come into my house.)

I’m happy that one (or a dozen) of his readers took him to task on this, but he didn’t really answer the question and what he did say, he said in a belligerent and deceptive manner. Here’s why:

1. He used the lowest hanging fruit — LeBron James — as an example.
As outlined in one of my previous posts, LeBron James should absolutely cut back on his three pointers, especially ones that are contested. He’s so productive when going to the hole that he should do it as much as possible, within reason. There is no other player in the league that is quite as productive when attacking the basket — okay, maybe there is, but let’s agree that LeBron is deadly when going to the hole — but Bill’s arbitrary “no three’s” rule doesn’t apply to everyone. Baron Davis was the other example in Bill’s original column and he’s not nearly as productive when attacking the basket.

2. He ignores the impact of the threat of the three.
LeBron has to take the occasional three because he needs to keep the defense honest. If he completely cuts them out of the game (and that’s what Bill wants, based on his suggestion from the original column that he should be fined anytime he takes one), then the defender will know that he doesn’t have to close out on him as hard and that’s going to close LeBron’s driving lanes down. This is going to result in a drop in productivity when he goes to the hole, especially when help defenders are able to stay home. This is doubly true for players that aren’t as quick or as strong as LeBron. They have to get their defenders out of position to get by them and it’s nearly impossible to do that without the threat of the long ball.

Again, it’s generally better to take the ball inside, but you can’t do that every single time because the defense will counter. Even if a team’s leading or second-leading scorer is only making 30% of his threes, it’s still okay to shoot a few (2-3 per game) because he’s getting three points for every make and he’s keeping the defense honest (and the driving lanes open).

It’s points like these that make it painfully obvious that Bill has never played basketball on a high level.

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