Bill Simmons vs. Wayne Winston

In last week’s column about Bill Belichick’s ill-fated decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 on his own 28, Bill Simmons took a shot at Mavs stat-man Wayne Winston.

Which brings us back to statistics. Yes, they enhance the discussion. Many times. (FYI: The “to punt or not to punt” numbers, in general, are interesting. You can make a strong case that good offenses should almost always go for it on fourth-and-short beyond their own 40.) There are also times when statistics make that same discussion dumber. For instance, a former Mavericks statistician named Wayne Winston recently debuted a complicated plus-minus statistic for basketball that included the following two revelations:

1. Kevin Durant made the 2008-09 Zombie Sonics worse.
2. Tim Thomas is underrated.

(Deep breath.)

I don’t want to get into my thoughts about plus-minus data and all the inherent problems with it. Some other time. We’ll ignore the Durant lunacy for now. But to argue, insinuate or even blink that Tim Thomas is underrated — by any metric — cannot be allowed.

He goes on to discuss Thomas’s lack of heart, and how he hurts his team spiritually and emotionally.

Winston got wind of Simmons’ shout out and responded on his blog.

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