Both O'Neal and Van Exel are, well, human, unlike Mr. Jordan who comes from the air out there. Both players have strengths and weaknesses to their game that are striking enough that those who evaluate their overall games form very different opinions. This is a terrible problem for GM's trying to build a team and for a coach trying to decide upon a lineup for various periods of a game. I'm going to shed some light on this question by looking at the characteristics of these two players and how they influence their teams' success.

There are two principal ways for evaluating the offensive abilities of individual players. One of them, floor percentage, is an estimate of the percentage of times a player contributes to his team scoring. The other, his offensive rating, is an estimate of the number of points created by that player per 100 possessions. Originally, floor percentage was developed as the principal measure of a player's offensive ability. Later, in order to maintain consistency with the predictive ability of a team's offensive rating, the individual offensive rating became the principal measure of offensive ability. Formally, this is still true, but I have come to the reailization that both numbers are actually quite important in evaluating the offensive contribution of an individual, especially with individuals like Van Exel and O'Neal.

Specifically, when one looks at the floor percentage and
offensive rating for O'Neal and Van Exel, one gets a conflicting picture
of the relative offensive abilities of the two. O'Neal dominates
Van Exel in floor percentage, 0.608 to 0.506 in '95, indicating
a tremendously superior offensive player, one who can score with
much more regularity. On the other hand, Van Exel and O'Neal have
very similar offensive ratings, with O'Neal edging Van Exel 115.0
to 114.1 in '95. Since offensive rating looks at *points* and
floor percentage looks at the number of scores per possessions, something
not as "bottom line" as points, it is natural to use offensive ratings
as a better evaluator of talent than floor percentage .... but that would
indicate that Van Exel and O'Neal are similarly offensively skilled.
I almost convinced myself of this at one time, but ultimately this
conclusion didn't make sense to me.

Floor percentage and offensive ratings are *not ratings*, despite
the unfortunate name on points per 100 possesssions. By this, I mean
that they are not designed to evaluate the player's offense entirely;
rather they are meant to be estimates of measurable quantities, ones that
I see on the court. What percentage of the time a player wants to score
does he actually score? That is his floor percentage. How many points does
he create with those possessions? That is his offensive rating. For teams,
these are clearly measurable using the
and I have developed the theory for players as well. By having statistically
measurable quantities (and not subjective ratings), we can
perform realistic statistical studies. This is the basis of the
comparison I will make here.

- Floor Percentage: the percentage of possessions on which there is a score
- Offensive Rating: the number of points produced per 100 possessions
- Possessions Per Game: Possessions used per game
- Spread of Possessions Per Game: I don't have measurements or estimates how much a player's possessions vary from game to game, so this number represents a guesstimate of how much above or below the player's average possessions per game they normally go. For example, a value of 20 possessions per game with a value of 8 for this indicates that player's possessions used in a game vary uniformly between 20-8=12 and 20+8=28.
- Number of Simulated Games: Number of games to simulate (recommended 1000+ for stable stats)
- Opponent's Rating: Opponents points produced per 100 possessions

**Please report back to me
with your results, including both your input parameters and the final winning
percentage.** If the input data came from a specific player, please
mention their name, too. (Note: if you used this before 3/13, a slight
change was made to fix a small error in varying the possessions per game.
The program is now faster and more accurate ... how often does that happen?)

Again, I do not want to bias people too much as I wait for some of their research reports.

Note that I use the random number generator to get a uniform distribution. I use the uniform to determine when a player with a given floor percentage scores. I also use a uniform distribution to represent how many possessions a player uses in a game, which probably isn't a great approximation, but makes the point here. Again, for more details on the program, feel free to view the source code or contact me.