Introducing Hypo Hoops
Welcome to Hypo Hoops — a hypothetical history of basketball.
Professional basketball is vast and rich in lore, yet our appreciation of the game is often narrow and restricted to recent memory. The sport offers an unrivaled catalog of entertaining characters, though many of them are relegated to the dreary corners of our memories or inadequate indices in history books due to the passage of time, ho-hum stats, or ringless fingers. Simply put, basketball history is too interesting to condense. Consider Hypo Hoops as a tool to aid in unmooring ourselves from the restrictive methods to which we’ve grown accustomed for analyzing basketball legacies.
I aim to use this blog as a way to commemorate the good, the mediocre, and the plain old interesting players, teams, and coaches of basketball mythos. In order to do this, each post will propose a hypothetical scenario, query, or classification that forces us to observe history from a different angle. This will allow us to find new ways to appreciate the greatness of the game’s legends, to shine a light on ordinary role players of the past, and to illustrate how differently legacies may have been remembered if our methods of analyzing or recording history were slightly altered. Ideally, these hypothetical hoops histories will broaden many basketball legacies to a more general audience and will help us to better appreciate the game’s figures.
A few notes:
- This blog will focus (with occasional divergences) on the history of the NBA and its predecessors (BAA and NBL) and its competitive contemporary (ABA). Basketball history is tremendously expansive and it will have to be pared down to a more manageable scope in order for our hypotheticals to work. As such, college hoops, the WNBA, the Globetrotters, international leagues, Olympic basketball, pre-NBA pro leagues, non-ABA contemporary pro leagues, the G League, and pre-NBA barnstorming teams such as the Original Celtics, the Rens, and SPHAs will not always get the love and attention they deserve, but I’ll certainly try to highlight them when possible.
- This site will never intentionally aim to denigrate a player’s legacy. This is a celebration of all players regardless of era, position, stats, advanced metrics, awards, or number of rings. As such, hypotheticals won’t be used to highlight a player’s shortcomings or to argue that a player is overrated. Occasionally, a hypothetical may highlight one player at the expense of another. This is not intended to disparage the latter player, but to illustrate the value of the former if history had slightly deviated.
- This site will utilize all available statistical data. Essentially, if the stat is listed in the database at basketball-reference.com, then it will be taken into consideration. This includes both traditional statistical indicators like per game numbers and team wins, as well as advanced indicators like win shares, per possession data, PER, BPM, and VORP, among others. While advanced numbers are getting better by the day and likely do a better job encompassing a player’s overall value than the traditional tallies, those numbers were not available to key players and media figures until recently and, even if they were, they may have been valued differently at the time. As such, non-statistical indicators like awards voting, All-NBA and All-Defensive teams, and even highlight reels and contemporary print media will be given strong preference since they will be the best reflections of what was valued at the time. Altogether, the blog will try to refrain from leaning too heavily on any one statistical resource or style of data.
- There is no limit to the craziness or outlandishness of these hypotheticals.
Lastly, it’s important to note that I’m no expert. I don’t have a scout’s eye for analyzing game footage, I can’t say I have a strong grasp on the analytic side of the game, and I certainly can’t claim to have ever been very good at playing the sport! I just love watching the game, I find its history particularly fascinating, and I’d like to broaden the exposure of past players. Overall, I have fun doing these deep dive hypotheticals and hopefully they make for an enjoyable read.