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Pau Gasol's Infinite Sadness, by the Numbers.

Due to the crushing unpopularity of the "Gothic Ginobili" brand, we have decided to take the blog in a different direction. Welcome to "Goth Gasol", a blog whose sole purpose is to make you think about death and get sad and stuff. To start things off, we have provided a statistical assessment of Pau Gasol's infinite sadness. Required reading.

I'm gonna be honest. I used to get a little jealous sometimes. Of Zach Lowe, you see. Lowe is something of a wunderkind -- a great writer, a great guy, and generally one of the smartest guys around in the NBA writing game. He also, however, has connections. (Not conniptions, those are different.) For instance, he recently had me run a few numbers for an excellent piece he wrote on defending the corner three. It was a great piece, and I was honored to help out. But had it been the me from months prior, I wouldn't have been able to help being a bit jealous of his access to such interesting numbers. However, that all changed a few months ago. I am jealous no longer. See, I found this one guy. Or rather, he found me. His name shall remain anonymous. This is mostly because I have no idea who he is. He contacted me after my prior piece on Kobe as Stavrogin to send me a detailed spreadsheet of the number of times Kobe has invented a new cuss about wizards during each NBA game in the last four years. I have no idea how he tracked this. Not a clue.

I never asked, and I filed the numbers away for the next time I do an analysis on cusses -- a rare but ever-present option for me. Anyway, long story short, he sends me completely unsolicited spreadsheets every few weeks on things that either make no sense whatsoever numerically or make me wonder who in the world could possibly have these numbers handy. Given our new rebrand around the ongoing sadness of Pau Gasol, though, the data he sent me the other day is of the most paramount value. We now have statistics for the number of Pau Gasol frowns for each game of the 2012 season. Armed with these numbers, we may now examine the relationship between Pau's sadness, egg consumption, and the Lakers' winning ways. Anyways. This is the post you've all been waiting for. It's my big break. So, let's get to it.

 • • •

A few notes on the data. For the purpose of this analysis, we are going to simply assume that the number of times Pau frowned in a game is equivalent to how sad he was on the given date. I do realize there are a lot of problems with this approach. For one, this isn't the frown rate -- this is certainly not a per-possession statistic, and that's problematic. Just ask any of the prospectus guys. And given that Pau plays a variant number of minutes per game (though, it's a Mike Brown team, so mostly just "all of them") that means we aren't necessarily comparing apples to apples. As well, we have the issue that there was no data dictionary supplied by my informant. I don't know exactly WHEN Pau consumed said eggs. What if he ate the eggs after the game? That could hardly be expected to influence his performance. Also, what defines a frown? Are all frowns truly created equal? There's no type of intensity spectrum for the frowns.

Anyway. Despite the flaws, this data can really start to shed some light on what makes Pau sad. To help stomach it, here's a rudimentary correlation table.

What does this tell us? Quite a lot. First off, there's a very high positive correlation between the number of field goals more that Kobe took than Pau took and the number of frowns Pau had in a given game -- almost a 75% correlation. This would tend to back my general impression -- Pau exhibits his enduring Spaniard Sadness more when he's been frozen out for shots by Kobe. I beg you, watch his game. Watch as he stands at his favorite spot on the floor, staring longingly into the abyss of Kobe's 25th isolation jumper of the night. Gaze upon the sadness in his eyes, and try deeply to internalize it. Ask yourself, dear readers: were you that sad, could you truly be expected to go hard in the paint? Well, no, not you, you're not even 6 feet tall! We'd put you on Nash. But you get the idea.

Many other aspects of this correlation table piqued my curiosity. For one thing, why the hell did my informant put in "number of days since Christmas"? It has no correlation to anything interesting, and only served to remind me of the Christmas cards I never put in the mail. I still feel guilty about that. I don't get why he had to give me that information. (Clearly, Pau doesn't either.) We get some nice splits on the eggs dimension -- an insignificant 1.1% correlation with sadness, but a higher-than-expected 12.5% correlation with the outcome of each game. It appears that the more eggs Pau eats, the more wins the Lakers rack up. To some extent. This relationship becomes even more prominent when you take out March 7th, a game where Pau had a great game and ate a season-high 25 eggs... in a loss to the Wizards -- if you remove that game, the correlation jumps to 25%. Truly an outlier performance from Gasol. In short: if the Lakers really want to win more, Jim Buss needs to keep the Spaniard's stomach assuaged and the piping-hot Paella flowing.

On the subject of splits, let's look at some key performance splits that the data allows us to examine.

  • When Pau Gasol has eaten less than two eggs on a game day, the Lakers are an abysmal 5-14. When he eats 5 or more, the Lakers are 16-3. Other than the previously discussed outlier, the answer is clear. When Pau eats no eggs, the Lakers lay one. Pau absolutely needs his eggs if the Lakers intend to be a force in the west to finish the season. This, however, will have little to no impact on Pau's sadness -- on less than two eggs, Pau averages 32.4 frowns a game. On greater than 5, he averages 29.5 frowns. An incremental decrease, sure. But nothing to write home about. Expect not a happier Spaniard, Laker fans. Also: there is a game (the OKC game a few days back, actually) in which Pau Gasol consumed negative three eggs. I'm not sure what that means. I'm not sure I want to know what that means.
  • Pau Gasol's play is, surprisingly, rather unaffected by his soul-crushing sadness. When Pau frowns less than 30 times in a game, he averages a game score of 15.9. When he frowns between 30 and 40 times, he averages a game score of 14.3. When he frowns more than 40 times, he averages a game score of 13.1. These aren't wonderful numbers, but they aren't really different. They're indicative of a man who fights through the pain, and plays through his sadness. The corresponding W-L records are as follows: the Lakers are 15-6 when Pau frowns less than 30 times, 11-11 when he frowns between 30 and 40 times, and 5-2 when he frowns more than 40 times. To a man of my statistical background, this would seem to indicate that the Lakers really need to keep close tabs on Pau's frown production in any given game. If he's having a "happy" game, then just stay cool. But if he's in that danger zone between 30 and 40 frowns? Turn up the taunting. Release the Kobe. The more Pau frowns, the more likely you'll get to that sweet spot of 40+ frowns a game, where the Lakers are (albeit on limited data) producing wins at a 71% clip!
  • Expectedly, as Christmas gets farther away, Pau Gasol gets more and more sad. His season low for frowns was on Valentine's Day, indicating that the Spaniard was on his best behavior for his lady-friend. I mean, don't want to harsh the mood, right? Much respect to the big Spaniard. Regardless. His 2nd lowest total was on Christmas, and that makes sense to me. After all. I'm Jewish (though my father is Christian and we celebrated Christmas as well as Hannukah in my youth), and even I can't help but be happy on Christmas. It's a time of joy, if you let the commercialized dead-eye Santa dolls into your heart. As Christmas gets farther and farther away, his sadness seems to be increasing -- and given that the Lakers have a 5-2 record when Pau is at his most depressed, that's bad news for every Western team hoping they'll collapse down the stretch.

When I saw this data originally I was going to create a model of Laker wins based on Pau's sadness and the exogenous factors in the data. I chose not to, because the data is relatively limited and I didn't feel confident that a model would really do better than just a straight analysis of the data. Regardless. I hope this post has helped shed some light on Pau's sadness for the uninitiated. Pau is a sad man, and it distresses me to no end to see him this way. Please send your regards. And if you have any idea who the hell sends me this data, tell him to stop reminding me about those Christmas cards.

... Also, perhaps more importantly, tell him to stop stalking Pau Gasol.

Aaron McGuire on EmailAaron McGuire on FacebookAaron McGuire on GithubAaron McGuire on LinkedinAaron McGuire on TumblrAaron McGuire on Twitter
Aaron McGuire
Editor in Chief at Gothic Ginobili
Aaron McGuire works as the lead mathematician and CTO for a small financial consulting firm in Richmond, VA. As a basketball writer, he's primarily known for Gothic Ginobili's 2012 Player Capsule series, where he wrote the equivalent of 1.5 Russian novels about every NBA player around. Nowadays, he writes a weekly column on whatever he damn well feels like.

24 thoughts on “Pau Gasol's Infinite Sadness, by the Numbers.

  1. No wonder I have such trouble reading this blog ... Even as a basketball, NBA fiend who can appreciate a good piece on basketball I couldn't quite put my finger on it until now.

    It isn't the awkward, un-funny humor ... It isn't even the "I love to hear myself talk" pretentious drivel vibe and absurd venacular that fluffs everyone of these blogs related to something as straight foward as basketball.

    Now I know why I hate. You're a stat geek. You're the fat dork from Moneyball. No wonder you have such abnormal disdain for a player (Kobe) who to anyone that has actually played the game, can marvel in his poetic athletic talents with a basketball, his graceful maneuvers with his handle and his jumper. Something no calculator in hand, revenge of the nerd type would ever understand.

    No wonder you prop up and and play with the mushroom tip of statistical padders, who play like ass when the context rich enviornments of a basketball game are in effect (LeBron)

    If you just like numbers and stats, stick to baseball. Basketball just isn't your Will Forte.

    How is that for some sadness ratio.

  2. ¡Que basura, este blog está publicando mentiras y babosadas! No puedo creer lo que haz escrito aquí, espero que en el futuro esto no pasará otra vez. ¡Tengo abogados para casos de la difamación!

  3. You should be sorry as a "student of the game." I got directed here by a really cool photoshop picture of MJ guarding LeBitch, and then went on to read two seperate ridiculous articles with subtext, insinuating LeFail Shames is the best basketball player of all-time. And then went onto defend the AAU team up in Miami, all the playoff quit jobs, and was hyping up his 2012 season due to his stats (which never tell the actual story) ... LeBron has an absurd FG percentage because of easy transition buckets created by Miami's suffocating defense.

    If you actually knew what you were watching, you'd understand why LeBron has had so many playoff failures, and has seemingly lacked so much confidence in the half court set since coming to Miami. Post 2010 his ridiculously explosive first step has fallen off a cliff. And he has no true post game or go to moves to free himself up. He lost his explosion thats why he can't get easy buckets when the game slows down. He's now been reduced by his 8th and 9th season in the league, with all those minutes and explosive athleticism on a huge frame ... To basically being a lumbering power forward who has slow feet, trying to face people up and be a SF. He once again hasn't adapted.

    If your blog wasn't all about blind stats without context, you'd understand that from an ability perspective, LeBron peaked in 2009 and 2010 and has been declining as a player ever since, and has yet to add significant changes to his game to slow down father time.

  4. I wish Scottie Pimpin would start a blog because I'd subscribe to that as quickly as LeBron's athleticism is declining

    It's too bad you statnerds can't come up with a statnerd stat "advanced" enough to put a ring on LeBron's sprained ass finger, then maybe he wouldn't have to shoot with his off hand while quitting on his hometown in the fourth quarter. That could be the Genesis to the Prince James Bible written by John Hollinger that you LeHova's Witnesses won't stop quoting from. Also, The Decision.

    Kiss the rings!

  5. Nah, not even ... Cause dude proceeded to have the biggest choke job imaginable for a superstar player in the Finals.

    Choked like a rookie porn star in the bright lights, per usual with LeBron. Was totally shook, had the impact of Patrick Swyaze in the critical stretches of games, and was getting blasted by resident 6th man Jason Terry.

    You know ... Because unlike v.s. The Bulls the team defense couldn't zone up on Rose. They were too busy having to keep an eye on Dirk, Marion, and JJ Barea's penetration.

    All that talent LeBron begged for and he still couldn't get it done.

    How can I ever be mad when the guy continues to be a running punch line with each season that passes, pissing on his own worth and legacy.

    Guy won't even shoot a game winner in an all star game cause he lacks so much confidence. Even when it is the right basketball play.

    Foolishly dumping end of quarter / half shots to lesser players to pad his FG percentage.

    Everyone I know laughs at this guy. Never did I see MJ, Bird, Magic, Dr J, Moses get put in a spin cycle by Shawn Marion, get a hook shot dropped on him and then get called a BITCH on national television haha

    His peers do not fear him. And it is quite obvious. He's a clown. Dancing at games like a ghetto eight year old, hopped up on Mountain Dew.

      1. I wasn't saying Swyaze was a bad actor bud. I just meant LeBron was "Ghost" in the NBA Finals, and all of their 4th quarters.


    1. AJ,

      I take it you're quite mad given the fact you abused the cap lock button.

      I'm not mad, though. LeBron should be beating my Bullies EVERY YEAR when he's front running with a fellow top three talent, and a top five player in the league. No excuse for him not to win.

      Rose doesn't have that luxury of playing with that caliber of teammates. There is no excuses left for this sack-less wonder kid. No more excuse for LeBron not to be dominating opponents given the ridiculous talent on that Miami team. And beyond the big three, it's filled to the brim with top notch, championship quality role players.

      I've never seen a superstar choke away a done deal championship series the way I saw LeBron shrink to the moment, last year. It was embarrassing as a basketball fan. And then blamed it on god, fans not being millionaires like him at the end of the day. The guy is a pathetic waist of god given ability and talents. Quite clearly has no self accountability, either. Thus, he's a loser. No matter how many rings he wins in South Beach. No spirit de combat.

      I'm not HUGE Kobe fan, but between him and the pussy that is LeBron James, and the way his influence is taking the league into buddy-buddy, AAU faggotry ... Kobe is the lesser of two evils.

      All that size, skill, athleticism ... LeBron was blessed with and no heart. Such a shame.

      But hey, Derrick Rose in just 4 years has half of LeBron's resume. 1 MVP, ECF appearance, and NO RINGS. Congrats LeTard fans who circle jerk to meaningless and context-less STATS on "Gothic Gasol"

      Put your calculators down nerds, pick up a ball and learn the game. MJ's my favorite player of all-time, and easily the greatest player of all-time. Do I jerk off to his stats? No ... I actually like sports. Not fantasy sports. What gives me a chubby as a fan of the game is moments, purity of game, rising to expectations and overcoming pressure.

      None of those define LeFail Shames. The guy always needs to get bailed out. Feel the pressure of needing an NBA Ring? Run to D-Wade. Claims to be Team USA leader? Begs Kobe and Wade to save him from ANOTHER bronze medal in gold medal game v.s. Spain.

      LeFail Shames, yet again. And the nerve of the Gothic Gasol dorks who only know numbers and stats sheets, even insinuating the guy who dribbles out shot clocks and dominates the ball to get his numbers is the greatest of all-time. Disgusting display from "basketball fans."

  7. Also, on a more serious note.. If you don't enjoy the stuff being posted here, then stop reading it? No one is forcing you to come here, some of us actually enjoy reading what these guys are putting up. You're such a bitter person. I guess I would be too if my regular season champion/most valuable player/coach of the year'd team lost to a guy with no heart. Bye

    1. I like reading their delusions, that's all. Even if it's hot garbage most of the time. Not bitter at all, my dude. I got to watch basketball's greatest ever lace up a pair of Nike's and win 6 of those THANGS, while retiring in his absolute prime ... where he probably could've got 2 more MVPs and at least one other ring if he didn't want to swing a bat and mourn his deceased pops.

      Believe it or not I liked LeBron and rooted for him, before he peeled back the curtain in consecutive years and showed the total lack of internal fortitude or testicles it takes to be a great one.

      Quitting on entire playoff series, choking away games, not even having scored 25+ points in 10 NBA Finals appearances. The guy is a pathetic waist of top five natural talent, ever. He's just a stat padding loser. And his game reflects that ... his production is perfect for the late 2000's casual fan's obsession with fantasy sports.

      I understand your hurt when you see what was once an amazing player, get his game shackled by a team he felt he needed in order to quickly win rings and get the monkey off his back ... because he's such a pussy. Claiming it would be easy.

      Ever being the father less punk. Not realizing the joy is in the struggle, overcoming the obstacles using the tools you're given, and not the ones you cherry pick. It's not about WINNING, it's about SUCCEEDING. Jordan struggling with this Pistons for 3 straight years. I could never imagine him pussy-ing out, and saying "fuck it, I'm going to go play with Magic in L.A." ... nah, champions aren't bitch made like that. Karma served him quite nicely last year, and maybe it will again this year too.

      If not by my Bulls, by maybe some team out West that was forged through failure, loyalty, and heart. Like say ummm ... Kevin Durant's OKC Thunder squad.

  8. Excellent piece. I wouldn't be surprised if the data was given to you by Pau's gf. They haven't had the steadiest ship. Seems like a weird way to get back at him, but I don't know how they do it in Spain.

  9. Through all of pimpin's garbage, he does make some good pts. The chosen one truly becomes the frozen one often in high-pressure situations.

    It is kind of funny about this article that the author is implying that Pau should be more FGAs. If Pau wants them, then play more aggressively, and stop hanging out by the 3-pt. line. And Pau wasn't an AS this year. Why would the lakers want to give a non-aggressive non-AS more shots than the most skilled offensive player in the game? Makes no sense. And most of Pau's looks, which are often wide open, come directly from Kobe being double teamed or drawing a lot of defensive attention. It's not a coincidence that Pau's stats improved immediately since joining the lakers.

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