Ranking player development

Then maybe it should be called something different. When he says it’s the top “Developers of Talent,” it is problematic if that isn’t what the results show.


It may not be quite as “obvious” as you think. There is a strong tendency for confirmation bias in evaluating Beilein’s success in developing players. People tend to focus on the hits and forget the misses. They remember a Nick Stauskas or a Moritz Wagner, but forget a Kam Chatman or a Carlton Brundidge. There is also a homer/familiarity bias whether you admit it or not.

No question that Beilein has developed a lot of players, but in measuring how well he’s done compared to other coaches, you need something less subjective than the eyeball test and gut feelings. That’s not to say that this formula is it, but saying “I just know it, and I don’t care what any numbers show” isn’t being objective.

Michigan has 16 NCAA Tournament wins since 2013, a mark tied with North Carolina for the most in that span. John Beilein’s team passed Duke and Kentucky — who each have 15 NCAA Tournament wins (Villanova also has 15).


One of these is not like the others, yet there they are at the top. Says somethin about somethin.

Then you can throw in all the NBA draft picks despite not having any McDonald’s All Americans too. And while I agree with Dylan that a lot of NBA picks are drafted on potential, virtually all of Michigan’s guys were drafted on production. They weren’t these raw, athletic players who hadn’t put up numbers yet. They won numerous accolades and JB helped them maximize and showcase their abilities.

By saying Beilein isn’t one of the top talent developers because this formula says so doesn’t make you unbiased. It means you’re ignoring the facts.


I would say two of these is not like the others but your point remains the same.

I’m not sure I understand the bench point, because Gasaway is using a per minute/rate measure. Are you saying teams with deep benches won’t play potential pros enough minutes to go pro early and therefore will reap an extra improvement year? That potential pros won’t have enough usage to rate high in the metric until it’s “their turn”?

For the purpose of measuring player development from season to season , measuring a player on a per minute basis is an improvement over measuring a player per game, or per season. It still seems like the coaches who are able to keep their players around for longer, for whatever reason, will show a larger improvement in their players, in part, simply because of time without regard for coaching. On the flip side, coaches who have players, who, for whatever reason, do not stick around as long, will not show as a large of an improvement, because the time period by which their improvement is being measured is compressed.

I don’t think any of that is too controversial. It has to raise an eyebrow, however, when we remember that one of the primary reasons development time is compressed is because in some programs players are graduating to the NBA early; whereas in other programs players with NBA potential are sticking around for 4 years.

If Gassaway does not have mechanisms to account for the penalty of early NBA departure and the award for keeping eventual NBA players inside the program then his methods are flawed. In other words, he his measuring something but the something he is measuring is not necessarily “player development”.

(I could very easily be wrong because I do not have access to Gassaways full article I am just stating my suspicions.)

I admit it is complicated though. JB is going to have an advantage over many coaches because he seems to have a penchant for recruiting late bloomers. Meaning, some of these late-bloomer types might appear to be developing quickly because of coaching but really what is happening is their potential is unfolding because their peak physical development velocity did not occur in high school…

I guess my point is just that multiple people didn’t read the article or the explanation of his methodology but want to call it ridiculous just because Michigan isn’t ranked where people would like. I think there are reasons that make sense as far as why Beilein might not over-perform in this methodology but that doesn’t make it all BS. It also doesn’t mean that John Beilein isn’t great at player development.

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As someone who has not read it, I feel comfortable saying I am not sure how his methods are flawed but his methods must be flawed. :slight_smile:

Seriously though, does he account for the penalty/ reward for early/ late departures to the NBA?

As someone who read it, understood it, thinks it’s ridiculous, and by the way, has a Michigan degree and does analysis for a living, I think you are overreaching with your assessment of the disagreement here. Reasonable people can find an analysis flawed. The difference between data mining and confirmation bias on the one hand, and an analysis that just doesn’t “work” on the other is nuanced for sure. My opinion is this one doesn’t work.

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I will grant you Chatman, but Brundige is not a fair comparative. He had already regressed each year of high school. I’m guessing Beilein would have been happy if he could have gotten out of the commitment.

How many recruits are going to choose a program based off of a pseudo-objective regression model? My guess, approximately 0.

I understand why someone would want to objectively look at player development but when selection bias impacts the populations under comparison you have issues. Selection issues are all over the place here. That’s OK and certainly not a knock on Gasaway. People are assigned projects by management or think they have a good idea that doesn’t work out all the time, but most of us don’t have publishing deadlines to the public.

UMHoopsFan, “teams with deep benches won’t play potential pros enough minutes to go pro early and therefore will reap an extra improvement year” is part of my concern. The usage is the other part of the point. Someone mentioned Langford earlier and we’re all used to seeing teams like MSU and Kentucky turn their fourth scoring option (sometimes a starter like Langford) into a point scoring machine. Langford might do well in the metric simply because Bridges and Jackson left, and not because of development. Thinking the bench/team depth through in terms of Kentucky raises obvious issues and, honestly, Calipari’s high score should make you concerned about selection bias simply because of the amount of talent he accumulates.

Coming back one year to the next is tied to a player’s potential (due to the factors that impact transfer out, transfer in, and the NBA draft). A major to mid-major transfer can be thought of as a downward correction on potential, and a mid-major to major as an upward correction (example: Duncan Robinson was special but needed development), so teams that win at transfers will look better under this metric.

Also, it’s pretty obvious that if Dylan ran a Kaggle competition and got together a team of superstars, and Voltron_Blue put together a team he assembled in a 5 Guys line, the 5 Guys team would be in trouble if both Dylan and Voltron_Blue got hit by a bus. I’m sure we can think of examples from basketball history where the bus was the NBA draft…it’s actually pretty intuitive, in fact the problem is more intuitive than you often encounter in analytics. Dylan’s team sans Dylan would probably have someone step up and take the lead, looking twice as good as they did in a supporting role.

A two-stage selection model would work best, in my opinion, because I’ve already named three factors that impact who returns from year-to-year for the teams under comparison. Too much to ask to just invite Heckman over as a neutral party?

I gave a hard take based on limited information (it’s a message board and it’s more interesting to do so), but I’m open if details become available that change my mind.


Those are just two examples. There are others, but the point was just to remind people that it has not been all successes for Beilein. That’s true of anyone, of course…even the best coaches have some well regarded recruits who fall short of expectations, or guys they take a flyer on who never develop.

And in the end, how much does it really matter? Even if there were an accepted and objective way to measure and rank how coaches compare at developing individual players, how much would we care whether Beilein was ranked 3rd, or 9th, or 22nd, or what the heck ever? It would still only be one aspect of his coaching, and when you take the whole package into account, Beilein has done about as well as we could hope for from anyone running a clean and admirable program.

FIVE GUYS… FIVE players on the basketball court at a time. Coincidence? I think not.

“Burgers and basketball…that’s what we do!”

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In the end, with something like this perception is reality. Coach is perceived to be a developer of talent. It’s also a perception that he does it with mid tier recruits, which may lead to higher guys going other places. How you rank isnt as important as the perception in this case.