Announcing the latest addition to Cleaning the Glass Stats: a daily game summary email. Starting tomorrow, all subscribers to CTG Stats will receive an easy-to-read, no-frills email each morning with a quick rundown of the previous night’s most surprising results and player performances.
Why a game summary email? As with most of what exists on Cleaning the Glass, it’s something I found useful for myself and felt others might also enjoy it.
Each morning, when I wanted to get a quick overview of all of the games the night before to get a sense of what happened around the league, I’d go to a score site or app and read through the results. But as I followed that routine I found that I wasn’t interested in all of the games equally. Milwaukee beating New Orleans by double digits? I expected that, that’s not really news. Cleveland beating Toronto by 25? OK, now you’ve got my attention.
What I noticed was that I was interested in the most surprising results. And that was true for players performances as well. Harden put up 35 points? OK, well he averages that. Lou Williams scored 34 in 23 minutes? That’s what I want to know.
So I decided to build exactly that — a review based on surprisingness — delivered to my inbox each morning so that it was there for me to quickly scroll through as I woke up. I’ve been testing it out for the last week or so, and already found it very helpful. As just one example, I noticed that Collin Sexton has been playing better of late because he has appeared on the “surprisingly good performances” list for three straight games.
This email is still in its early stages, so bear with me through any hiccups. But I pushed hard to get this out now so we could test it out over the rest of the season and I could get feedback from all of you. I already think it’s helpful, and think there’s even more that could be done with it. With your help, I’m sure we can develop something great.
(And if this email is not your cup of tea, I made an easy way to toggle your subscription to the game summary email list.)
How are the games ordered to show “surprisingness”?
First the email shows all of the upsets from the night before, those games where a team was favored according to the betting spread (as found on public websites) but lost. Within the upsets, the games are ordered by the distance of the result from the spread. So when the Raptors were favored by 8.5 points over the Cavs and lost by 25, that was a difference of 33.5 points from the expected result. That was the most surprising game of the night so it was listed first. That same night, the Thunder upset the Jazz, but they won by 9 in a game where they were 3.5 point underdogs, so that was a difference of only 12.5 points and was the least surprising upset of those that evening.
Then there’s a section with all of the games that ended as expected, ordered the same way. Put together, you get a list of the games the night before, roughly ordered by how surprising they were.
How are player performances calculated for surprisingness?
This is not an easy task, but I settled on something that I think is fairly straightforward and, while not perfect, mostly does the job. It certainly is an area to consider for future improvement.
Right now I calculate John Hollinger’s Game Score for each player in each game that night. I compare that performance to the player’s median game for this season. If the performance in that night’s game is significantly better or worse than their median performance, it will appear in the email.
So what we’re measuring is their overall box score production relative to a normal game for them. That has some holes in it, of course. It’s only measuring box score production, so it will miss anything that box score stats miss. And it is just based on total production, so a good player who plays fewer minutes in a game due to injury, foul trouble, or a blowout might appear as having a bad performance.
Notably, players whose roles have changed midseason (e.g. Marc Gasol, Enes Kanter, Anthony Davis) will often appear because they’re playing many fewer minutes than in the past.
OK, that sounds cool, but I’m not sure I want it to clutter up my inbox.
Not a problem. Give it a shot, see how useful it is, and if at any time you don’t want to receive the email anymore there’s a link you can click in the email that lets you toggle your subscription to the email on or off. The last thing I want to do is annoy you!