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View Full Version : When ranking players, how do you resolve paradoxes ?



Chronz
02-19-2013, 03:22 PM
Not sure how many of you actually put forth effort when attempting to rank the pantheon of the NBA. But every so often I come across these rock, paper, scissors comparisons, where I struggle making sense of how a player can be better than another, but arguably inferior to a guy you've already established as a tier below.

Its impossible to rank players if you cant come to a decision on what to do with these examples.

blahblahyoutoo
02-19-2013, 04:00 PM
using big words like "paradox" on PSD will net you zero replies.
at least include the definition to help some of these folks out, naw what I'm sayin'.
peace out homes.

king4day
02-19-2013, 04:42 PM
Can you provide examples? I'm pretty lost as to what you're asking.
I'd understand it as, players at one position being ranked against players at another position.

mightybosstone
02-19-2013, 04:48 PM
One example which I think fits is the Wilt vs. Russell, Kobe vs. Lebron argument. I take Russell over Wilt and Lebron over Kobe, which almost seems like a paradox. Statistically, Wilt and Lebron are clearly better players, but Russell and Kobe have the rings to prove otherwise. My sole reasoning for Russell over Wilt is that the two men played the same position and Russell dominated Wilt on a regular basis in the postseason and went on to produce the greatest string of success in the history of professional sports. In Kobe and Lebron's case, there was no team even close to the talent level of those early 2000s Lakers, while Lebron never had anything resembling a talented supporting cast until he came to Miami.

The rings vs. stats argument is a tough one, but I try to use context as much as possible, because every situation is different.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 05:36 PM
Can you provide examples? I'm pretty lost as to what you're asking.
I'd understand it as, players at one position being ranked against players at another position.

In a nutshell, sure.

Say you have Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem. You can see an argument for either side claiming the superior case in any combination of these "head 2 head" arguments. What you cant do is have conflicting rankings, if Shaq is better than Hakeem, and Hakeem is better than Duncan, then Shaq MUST be better than Duncan. But lets say you honestly didn't feel that way. In your book, Duncan is better than Shaq but not better than Hakeem. Somehow... hope that makes sense.



My personal comparison would be the Kareem-Shaq-Wilt debate I usually struggle with.

Kareem > Shaq in my book.
Shaq > Wilt in my book.
BUT Wilt is also > Kareem in my book.

Im a big Wilt fan so acknowledging my bias is usually how I resolve the issue, by placing him a tier below those.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 05:38 PM
One example which I think fits is the Wilt vs. Russell, Kobe vs. Lebron argument. I take Russell over Wilt and Lebron over Kobe, which almost seems like a paradox. Statistically, Wilt and Lebron are clearly better players, but Russell and Kobe have the rings to prove otherwise. My sole reasoning for Russell over Wilt is that .....In Kobe and Lebron's case, there was no team even close to the talent level of those early 2000s Lakers, while Lebron never had anything resembling a talented supporting cast until he came to Miami.
Im not seeing what makes it different from Wilt-Russ.

JNoel
02-19-2013, 05:55 PM
Engleesh Pleeze.

mightybosstone
02-19-2013, 06:03 PM
Im not seeing what makes it different from Wilt-Russ.

I just explained it, but there are essentially two main differences:

1. Wilt and Russell played the same position and Russell's teams dominated Wilt's in every single postseason counter with the exception of one. Russell's squad even won the title in 69 when he was coaching and they were facing a superior Lakers team. Lebron has never once faced Kobe in the postseason, so there's no real argument to be made that Kobe ever dominated Lebron in the playoffs.

2. Prior to coming to Miami, Lebron had never had anything close to a competent supporting cast. Wilt played with multiple Hall of Fame guys in Philly (Hal Green, Billy Cunningham) and a stacked team in LA (Jerry West, Elgin Baylor), but only beat Russell once. Also, Wilt's second title came as a third or fourth option on that Goodrich, West Lakers squad. Were the Celtics teams genuinely better than Wilt's teams? Probably, but not by a wide margin, and I wouldn't argue that for the 68-69 team.

mightybosstone
02-19-2013, 06:10 PM
Say you have Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem. You can see an argument for either side claiming the superior case in any combination of these "head 2 head" arguments. What you cant do is have conflicting rankings, if Shaq is better than Hakeem, and Hakeem is better than Duncan, then Shaq MUST be better than Duncan. But lets say you honestly didn't feel that way. In your book, Duncan is better than Shaq but not better than Hakeem. Somehow... hope that makes sense.

My personal comparison would be the Kareem-Shaq-Wilt debate I usually struggle with.

Kareem > Shaq in my book.
Shaq > Wilt in my book.
BUT Wilt is also > Kareem in my book.

Im a big Wilt fan so acknowledging my bias is usually how I resolve the issue, by placing him a tier below those.

I guess I sort of understand what you're trying to say, but I'm also very confused. If Shaq is clearly better than Wilt and Kareem is clearly better than Shaq, than Kareem is clearly better than Wilt. In fact, I don't even think it's debatable that Wilt was better than Kareem, so I wouldn't even try to make that argument.

The Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem argument is a little easier to play with, because they were three relatively different players from essentially the same era. If you valued defense, you could take Hakeem or Duncan first. If you valued sheer offensive dominance, you might take Shaq first. If you argued rings, you could take Duncan or Shaq first. If you valued sheer talent or the ability to win with no help, you might take Hakeem first. There are multiple arguments to be made for each one of the three. But I still don't know that there is necessarily a "paradox" with these guys.

NoahH
02-19-2013, 06:11 PM
I'VE HONESTLY NEVER HAD THIS ISSUE BEFORE.. so idk

mightybosstone
02-19-2013, 06:20 PM
I'VE HONESTLY NEVER HAD THIS ISSUE BEFORE.. so idk
Was all caps really necessary here? Are you really that passionate about something that clearly isn't a problem for you?

Nick O
02-19-2013, 06:33 PM
it's simple ... are they better than aaron gray? ANSWER: No .... Aaron Gray = the Goat the end

DreamShaker
02-19-2013, 07:26 PM
Interesting thoughts. I think, like you said, bias has to be taken out first of all. I used to rank Hakeem much higher than I do now because he's my childhood hero when it comes to basketball. I used to spend hours as a 10 year old practicing Dream Shakes at the bball court at the church across my house. I spent years defending him blindly when people said Shaq was better, or Robinson was better. There is a sentimental quality in ranking him. I don't dwell on his flaws as much as I do a guy like Kobe, Nash, or other guys I always rooted against. So first off, I check myself and realize that.

Sactown
02-19-2013, 07:49 PM
In a nutshell, sure.

Say you have Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem. You can see an argument for either side claiming the superior case in any combination of these "head 2 head" arguments. What you cant do is have conflicting rankings, if Shaq is better than Hakeem, and Hakeem is better than Duncan, then Shaq MUST be better than Duncan. But lets say you honestly didn't feel that way. In your book, Duncan is better than Shaq but not better than Hakeem. Somehow... hope that makes sense.



My personal comparison would be the Kareem-Shaq-Wilt debate I usually struggle with.

Kareem > Shaq in my book.
Shaq > Wilt in my book.
BUT Wilt is also > Kareem in my book.

Im a big Wilt fan so acknowledging my bias is usually how I resolve the issue, by placing him a tier below those.

Head to head arguments are flawed arguments. Because a player matches up well against another player doesn't mean he's a better player and should be valued more, It just means said player has a hard time matching up with that player. Example

CP3 and D-Will

D-Will seems to out play Chris Paul more often than not. Is Deron a better player? Absolutely not, but it's clear the Deron's strength and size and set of skills are affecting CP3. But I wouldn't rank Williams above him.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 09:41 PM
In a nutshell, sure.

Say you have Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem. You can see an argument for either side claiming the superior case in any combination of these "head 2 head" arguments. What you cant do is have conflicting rankings, if Shaq is better than Hakeem, and Hakeem is better than Duncan, then Shaq MUST be better than Duncan. But lets say you honestly didn't feel that way. In your book, Duncan is better than Shaq but not better than Hakeem. Somehow... hope that makes sense.



My personal comparison would be the Kareem-Shaq-Wilt debate I usually struggle with.

Kareem > Shaq in my book.
Shaq > Wilt in my book.
BUT Wilt is also > Kareem in my book.

Im a big Wilt fan so acknowledging my bias is usually how I resolve the issue, by placing him a tier below those.

Head to head arguments are flawed arguments. Because a player matches up well against another player doesn't mean he's a better player and should be valued more, It just means said player has a hard time matching up with that player. Example

CP3 and D-Will

D-Will seems to out play Chris Paul more often than not. Is Deron a better player? Absolutely not, but it's clear the Deron's strength and size and set of skills are affecting CP3. But I wouldn't rank Williams above him.
Not that kind of head 2 head

Ps I don't agree that he gives him trouble either

RLundi
02-19-2013, 09:54 PM
God, people on PSD are freaking dumb.

D-Leethal
02-19-2013, 09:57 PM
Not that kind of head 2 head

I don't think this would ever become an issue without factoring in how they would fare head to head. If your going to by stats and accolades only there should be no paradox in your list. If you factor how they fare head to head, thats where you would find a paradox. The only other way is if your homer glasses skew your opinion. The only way this becomes an issue is when your devoid of unbiased logic and using head to head matchups. Its tough though, because basketball has always been all about matchups.

But if you have a certain criteria you stick by and don't factor how they would fare head to head, there shouldn't be a paradox.

ThaDubs
02-19-2013, 09:58 PM
Okay I understand your points but in the end the best big man in the league is still Hamed Haddadi. He averages over 7 personal fouls per 36 for his career. I'll give 15 imaginary cents to anybody who can find a big man more efficient than THAT.

Sactown
02-19-2013, 10:01 PM
I don't think this would ever become an issue without factoring in how they would fare head to head. If your going to by stats and accolades only there should be no paradox in your list. If you factor how they fare head to head, thats where you would find a paradox. The only other way is if your homer glasses skew your opinion. The only way this becomes an issue is when your devoid of unbiased logic and using head to head matchups. Its tough though, because basketball has always been all about matchups.

But if you have a certain criteria you stick by and don't factor how they would fare head to head, there shouldn't be a paradox.

This

Also CP3 posts below career averages in about every category when playing D-Will... so I'd say he gives him some trouble....

D-Leethal
02-19-2013, 10:05 PM
I'm not big into these lists but I would say the Wilt-Russell situation causes issues with a lot of people's lists. There are many guys I think who put Russell > Wilt due to head to head dominance, but have a lot of guys who they would pick Wilt over but not Russell. Off the top of my head I could see someone picking Russell over Wilt, Wilt over Magic, Magic over Russell.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 10:38 PM
Im not seeing what makes it different from Wilt-Russ.

I just explained it, but there are essentially two main differences:

1. Wilt and Russell played the same position and Russell's teams dominated Wilt's in every single postseason counter with the exception of one. Russell's squad even won the title in 69 when he was coaching and they were facing a superior Lakers team. Lebron has never once faced Kobe in the postseason, so there's no real argument to be made that Kobe ever dominated Lebron in the playoffs.

2. Prior to coming to Miami, Lebron had never had anything close to a competent supporting cast. Wilt played with multiple Hall of Fame guys in Philly (Hal Green, Billy Cunningham) and a stacked team in LA (Jerry West, Elgin Baylor), but only beat Russell once. Also, Wilt's second title came as a third or fourth option on that Goodrich, West Lakers squad. Were the Celtics teams genuinely better than Wilt's teams? Probably, but not by a wide margin, and I wouldn't argue that for the 68-69 team.
Only meant with regards to the bolded, the bit about having championship caliber support.

Both Wilt/Bron spent their early years carrying inferior squads. Yeah he had HOF, pretty sure every team had one back then. Like West had a PRIME Baylor (HOF doesn't do him justice) but I would NEVER claim West had the support to win. What good are those players when the other team has more of them and are healthier? In most cases Russ had FAR superior teams, the one time Wilt had the squad he obliterated them.

Not sure why your mentioning Wilt being a 3rd/4th option when thats how Russ won the majority of his titles.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 10:40 PM
I'm not big into these lists but I would say the Wilt-Russell situation causes issues with a lot of people's lists. There are many guys I think who put Russell > Wilt due to head to head dominance, but have a lot of guys who they would pick Wilt over but not Russell. Off the top of my head I could see someone picking Russell over Wilt, Wilt over Magic, Magic over Russell.
Yup.

If you have Russ ahead of Wilt, then shouldn't alot of your other listings follow a championship standard as opposed to an individual impact standard

bagwell368
02-19-2013, 10:43 PM
Not sure how many of you actually put forth effort when attempting to rank the pantheon of the NBA. But every so often I come across these rock, paper, scissors comparisons, where I struggle making sense of how a player can be better than another, but arguably inferior to a guy you've already established as a tier below.

Its impossible to rank players if you cant come to a decision on what to do with these examples.

Basketball and basketball players are too complex to fit into a schema where every rank is hierarchical. The relationship in some cases is more of a matrix. For example if you know heavyweight boxers of the 1970's:

Frazier and Ali were very close
Ali and Ken Norton were very close
Ali beat Foreman
Foreman destroyed Frazier twice
Foreman beat Norton

No linear list is going to properly display what happened.

Back the NBA, we have age, long road trips, injuries, bad chemistry on teams, etc.

If you want to get historic, before 1973 Win Shares - in particular defensive win shares are a joke, basically giving value for just being on the floor a lot and grabbing some rebounds, and being on a winning team.

Modern win shares are questionable in another way. They look at whom McHale covered and who Bird covered and awarded value based on how the opposing starters did in terms of scoring. Problem is McHale ALWAYS got the tougher offensive player, be he a 3 or a 4 (or a 5 sometimes here and there). So Caldwell Jones would get 5 points on Bird and McHale would hold Barkley to 15. Which was harder? Who gets more credit?

Of course we can also take the case of players with erratic play, and a mix of stunning abilities mixed in with serious weaknesses. Look at Rondo. Because many outside of Boston see his TNT games (a huge % of which are triple doubles) many say he's the best, or top 3, or top 5 PG in the league. Well, I watch the guy on local TV where he hardly ever gets a triple double, and watch his shooting, and this year he hardly ever played on man D, and his stat padding with assists, and I'm here to say he wasn't even top 10 this year the day he went out - and the numbers back me up.

There are lots of other people that want to name Bill Russell the GOAT of the pre 1975 NBA, and top 10 all time. Great - but:

there were 3 other players in his time that did more to help their teams win than he helped his team.

he played for the best team, coach, and GM, and in 9 of his 13 years his team was #1 in SRS (3 2nd place finishes, and one 4th). No other team ever had this situation. Two HOF players joined/rejoined the Celts the year Russell was a rookie, to go with two already there, the next year the best offensive Celt of the era joined the team - another HOF. Russell often played on teams with 5 other HOF'ers.

When Russell joined the Celts there were only 3 other players in the NBA 6' 8" or above.

Russell was a defensive stud, and poor shooter (even for his time) joined to a fine offensive team. He had on average only 8.3 other teams in the league to play against, only two rounds of playoffs, less games per season than later players faced.

In context he's no GOAT. He's the single key player on the greatest dynasty in basketball history - at a time when the state of the game was much worse than it was by say 1985.

Most people just shrug, figure the Celt dynasty was all to do with Red and Russell and leave it at that - name him in the top 10 for winning 11 titles, 9 of which were virtual gimmies.

The task can't be completed, not now, not ever. But it doesn't mean that parts of it (say best power forwards since 1970) can't be discussed.

Chronz
02-19-2013, 10:49 PM
I guess I sort of understand what you're trying to say, but I'm also very confused. If Shaq is clearly better than Wilt and Kareem is clearly better than Shaq, than Kareem is clearly better than Wilt. In fact, I don't even think it's debatable that Wilt was better than Kareem, so I wouldn't even try to make that argument.
Thats usually what I end up admitting but it is debatable if you care about how they matched up despite where they were in their careers, and if you value elite 2 way dominance vs any comp. KAJ got dominated far too often for my liking.



The Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem argument is a little easier to play with, because they were three relatively different players from essentially the same era. If you valued defense, you could take Hakeem or Duncan first. If you valued sheer offensive dominance, you might take Shaq first. If you argued rings, you could take Duncan or Shaq first. If you valued sheer talent or the ability to win with no help, you might take Hakeem first. There are multiple arguments to be made for each one of the three. But I still don't know that there is necessarily a "paradox" with these guys.
See I find all the comps the same. But the paradox comes when ranking them. If you have Duncan ahead of Dream but behind Shaq, then you have to have Shaq ahead of both by virtue of transitive property (i hope thats the right term), but thats where the rock, paper, scissors thing comes in.

bagwell368
02-19-2013, 10:50 PM
Speaking of Wilt v Russell - Wilt played for 2 teams #1 in SRS, and won two titles on them.

Also in all their ~140 games played against each other - Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds. Doesn't seem like Bill got the best of that when we extract the teams out of the mix.

iam brett favre
02-19-2013, 11:11 PM
So you mean asking who would you rather have...Michael Jordan if he played on the 76ers instead of the Bulls or LeBron if he played in Wilt chamberlains era aren't good questions?

Chronz
02-19-2013, 11:37 PM
Speaking of Wilt v Russell - Wilt played for 2 teams #1 in SRS, and won two titles on them.

Also in all their ~140 games played against each other - Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds. Doesn't seem like Bill got the best of that when we extract the teams out of the mix.
I've always wanted to look into it but I'm fairly certain without doing so , that Russ has been on teams with the greatest gap between the first and 2nd best team in the league by that measure. Often times by ridiculously lopsided levels, yet on occasion, Wilt would push his inferior squads to the brink of greatness. I respect playoff runs like that more than KAJ getting bounced early by inferior teams

blahblahyoutoo
02-19-2013, 11:41 PM
God, people on PSD are freaking dumb.

lemme axe you somethin'.
what do you think the demographics of this site are?
look at the consistent grammar and spelling mistakes.
this isn't the math or the chess club. it's jocks.

that answer your question?

Chronz
02-19-2013, 11:48 PM
So you mean asking who would you rather have...Michael Jordan if he played on the 76ers instead of the Bulls or LeBron if he played in Wilt chamberlains era aren't good questions?
Who are the top3 players in the game.

lol, please
02-20-2013, 12:48 AM
Not sure how many of you actually put forth effort when attempting to rank the pantheon of the NBA. But every so often I come across these rock, paper, scissors comparisons, where I struggle making sense of how a player can be better than another, but arguably inferior to a guy you've already established as a tier below.

Its impossible to rank players if you cant come to a decision on what to do with these examples.
Same as you would rank fighters in boxing. It's all about the matchups, strengths and weaknesses and such. Just remember that triangle theories are false.

JasonJohnHorn
02-20-2013, 05:08 AM
My sole reasoning for Russell over Wilt is that the two men played the same position and Russell dominated Wilt on a regular basis in the postseason and went on to produce the greatest string of success in the history of professional sports.

Russell didn't really dominate Wilt. Russell just always had the better team. I think if you put their head-2-head numbers next to each other, it would be clear that Wilt put up better numbers than Russell, even if he wasn't putting up numbers as good as he did against other centers.


I'm not really sure I understand. If I rank player A over player B, and player B over player C, then clearly I will rank player A over player C. Now, if you are talking match ups, it could be different. Power forwards are great for comparison here I think. Take Karl Malone... most people will say Barkley was better than Malone, but when they played against each other, Malone (and I'm guessing here without looking at numbers) likely got the better numbers those games in many instances, simply because Barkley was not a great defender. So while Barkley would clearly rank ahead of pretty much every power forward he played again, some might suggest that Malone was better because he matched up better again Barkley. One could then say, since they really didn't play each other much, that Barkley is better than Garnett, and that Garnett is better than Malone, and still suggest that Malone could post better numbers than Barkley.

I think it works with teams better. There are certain teams who match up well against other teams. So let us take the Memphis... they matched up well against the Spurs a couple years ago, as did the Suns, but both teams lost after they beat the Spurs to teams the Spurs would have likely destroyed. I think the same could be said of last season, when the Thunder beat the Spurs, but lost to the Heat. It is very likely that had the Spurs played the Heat, they could have won (or certainly won more games in the series than did OKC). So A > B > C >A can make sense there. But with player vs. player... I don't see it making as much sense.

RLundi
02-20-2013, 06:00 AM
lemme axe you somethin'.
what do you think the demographics of this site are?
look at the consistent grammar and spelling mistakes.
this isn't the math or the chess club. it's jocks.

that answer your question?

Look at my original post; I don't see any question marks, do you?

I'd imagine the majority of this site is high schoolers. Dumb high schoolers.

thenaj17
02-20-2013, 07:24 AM
One example which I think fits is the Wilt vs. Russell, Kobe vs. Lebron argument. I take Russell over Wilt and Lebron over Kobe, which almost seems like a paradox. Statistically, Wilt and Lebron are clearly better players, but Russell and Kobe have the rings to prove otherwise. My sole reasoning for Russell over Wilt is that the two men played the same position and Russell dominated Wilt on a regular basis in the postseason and went on to produce the greatest string of success in the history of professional sports. In Kobe and Lebron's case, there was no team even close to the talent level of those early 2000s Lakers, while Lebron never had anything resembling a talented supporting cast until he came to Miami.

The rings vs. stats argument is a tough one, but I try to use context as much as possible, because every situation is different.

The bolded is completely untrue. Russell did better against Wilt than other Centres did, but he never outplayed him. He had the better all around team.

bagwell368
02-20-2013, 09:10 AM
More on Wilt vs. Russell.

If you look at Wilt's percentage of team Win Shares in his best 10 years vs Russell's (they didn't totally overlap). Wilt dominated Russell, and two other players showed up ahead of Russell too - from that era:

Player - WS WS/yr Team Wins - % of WS to Team Wins


Wilt 202.5 20.3 537 37.7%

Oscar 155.2 15.5 451 34.4%

Russell 138.1 13.8 560 24.7%

Pettit makes 3, but I didn't run his numbers.

Interestingly Oscar got his title when he played for a SRS #1 team, as did Petit, and Wilt. But combined they played on half as many as Russell. So, Russell is a happy accident of place and time, not supreme skill, or this mythic "winner" thing. He had lots of opportunities, and he cashed them in. That's very key obviously, but he's no GOAT, and he had less of an impact for his teams than those other 3 did for theirs. Bill ended up in the best situation any NBA player has ever had. It's that simple. Red dealt two future HOF's for him (one on the wrong side of the mountain and the other a pick that became Cliff Hagan) because he knew what he needed, then kept stocking the team with Sam Jones, Havlicek, Nelson, and others as long as he could.

Chronz
02-20-2013, 05:40 PM
For the record, everyone should have heard the word paradox by now. It might be a rare/fancy term but just the other day it was used in a yugioh episode.

You telling me kids can get it but but grown men?

JasonJohnHorn
02-20-2013, 07:29 PM
For the record, everyone should have heard the word paradox by now. It might be a rare/fancy term but just the other day it was used in a yugioh episode.

You telling me kids can get it but but grown men?

It's like a paradox. An adult is smarter than a kid, but a kid knows stuff an adult doesn't? WHOA!!!

crewfan13
02-20-2013, 07:58 PM
Russell didn't really dominate Wilt. Russell just always had the better team. I think if you put their head-2-head numbers next to each other, it would be clear that Wilt put up better numbers than Russell, even if he wasn't putting up numbers as good as he did against other centers.


I'm not really sure I understand. If I rank player A over player B, and player B over player C, then clearly I will rank player A over player C. Now, if you are talking match ups, it could be different. Power forwards are great for comparison here I think. Take Karl Malone... most people will say Barkley was better than Malone, but when they played against each other, Malone (and I'm guessing here without looking at numbers) likely got the better numbers those games in many instances, simply because Barkley was not a great defender. So while Barkley would clearly rank ahead of pretty much every power forward he played again, some might suggest that Malone was better because he matched up better again Barkley. One could then say, since they really didn't play each other much, that Barkley is better than Garnett, and that Garnett is better than Malone, and still suggest that Malone could post better numbers than Barkley.

I think it works with teams better. There are certain teams who match up well against other teams. So let us take the Memphis... they matched up well against the Spurs a couple years ago, as did the Suns, but both teams lost after they beat the Spurs to teams the Spurs would have likely destroyed. I think the same could be said of last season, when the Thunder beat the Spurs, but lost to the Heat. It is very likely that had the Spurs played the Heat, they could have won (or certainly won more games in the series than did OKC). So A > B > C >A can make sense there. But with player vs. player... I don't see it making as much sense.

When you take it on the face of things, it seems obvious that you would do that. But I think you'd find something completely different if you actually did a different exercise. Let's say you and I were to go through lists of a whole bunch of nba players. It seems easy if you're only asked Shaq vs Hakeem vs Duncan, but lets say we did it a different way. First I ask you about Shaq vs Hakeem. Then I ask you about Kobe vs Lebron. Then its Deron Williams vs Chris Paul. And so on and so forth. Lets say you space out the times when you compare Shaq vs Hakeem vs Duncan so they aren't asked back to back. I bet if someone were to do it that way with lets say something like 100s of different combinations, you'd find yourself coming up with the Player A > Player B, Player B > Player C but Player A< Player C more often that you'd think, especially when you start comparing players across positions, like a pg compared to a sf compared to a c.