Alright, Green Teamers: It’s time to put down those basketballs and pick up your calculators.
NBA Math, a website which has a very unambiguous mission statement, has been assembling G.O.A.T. rankings for every NBA franchise. Monday marked the Boston Celtics’ turn in the nerd grinder, and the results were a stat-heavy ranking of the top 10 players in Celtics history.
First, let’s look at the final rankings:
That’s a pretty fair list, if you ask us.
Now, let’s talk about those “GOAT points.”
In a nutshell, NBA Math converted “TPA scores,” which measure a player’s defensive and offensive effectiveness on a per-possession basis while factoring in playing time, into “Z scores,” which account for standard deviations above or below the TPA average for a given NBA season. There’s far more statistical mumbo-jumbo at play here, but you get the idea (hopefully).
The products, apparently, are “GOAT points.” Said points then are assembled, consumed and, ultimately, regurgitated into GOAT rankings.
NBA Math stresses that TPA scores are not perfect. In particular, the statistics don’t account for nuances and anecdotes, such as proper defensive positioning and clutch, game-winning shots. In other words: Larry Bird’s famous steal in the 1987 Eastern Conference finals awarded him zero GOAT points, and the same is true for Paul Pierce’s triumphant return from a knee “injury” during the 2008 NBA Finals.
Oh, and Bill Russell’s 11 NBA championships? Yeah, those account for nothing.
All that said, these rankings are feathers in statisticians’ caps, as biased, emotional fan rankings of the greatest Celtics of all-time likely would look very similar to NBA Math’s. Fans, too, should be proud, as they should take pride in knowing their personal hierarchies of Celtics legends largely are in accordance with those of our robot overlords.
Perhaps there’s some middle ground between the new-school number-crunchers and the old-school eye-testers after all.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images