User Interview: Qistat

Q&A with noted WhatIfSports user Qistat

An exciting Finals is upon us, but a tumultuous NBA off-season awaits. The draft could provide intrigue, yet it may be all for naught if basketball follows hockey into lockout calamity. As with hockey though, we at WhatIfSports.com refuse to let the games wane. In fact, SimLeague Basketball allows users to play a fun, competitive game with greats like Russell, Wilt, Dr. J, the Iceman, 'Nique, Sir Charles and MJ. Long for the fluidity of the 80s? Missing the genius of basketball pioneers in the 50s and 60s? Looking for the flair of the 70s? Find them all here. Who's on your team?

In respect of this topic, WhatIfSports recently contacted esteemed SimLeagues Basketball user Qistat to discuss Magic (and his baby hook), the Best of WIS, double-teaming, drafting teams, Tai Chi, Sportscenter, Bobby Knight and Ghandi.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Qistat

My pleasure, thanks for asking.

WIS

Who is Qistat?

Qistat

Just a guy who has always loved the game of basketball. I've always had certain acumen for working with numbers as well. As a kid I actually created a simple game that my friends and I would play with dice before I knew there was such a thing as strat-o-matic. I work as a data analyst for an educational research think tank at a large university. I'm also a licensed acupuncturist (not currently practicing) and teach tai chi classes (thus the Qi in Qistat).

WIS

How did you learn about WhatIfSports.com?

Qistat

Just by browsing the Net.

WIS

Who are some of your favorite coaches, players and teams of all-time?

Qistat

As a teen my favorite player was Magic Johnson. His creativity and ability to see the court inspired me from the first time I saw him play at Michigan State. He remains my all-time favorite player. I liked the Lakers during that period and have never seen a better team. I don't really have a favorite team anymore. I just enjoy watching teams that play the game well.

WIS

Did you play much basketball (or other sports) growing up?

Qistat

For me growing up in an inner city neighborhood basketball was a way of life. I played nearly every day, unless injured, from age 14 through college. I also played other sports (football, rugby after college) but basketball was always my favorite.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Qistat

Magic, Bird, Kareem. Bird was incredible with his all-around game. I really liked Kareem's' mental approach to the game. He was so smooth, almost always under control (barring the occasional thug punch-out-Dennis Awtry, Kurt Benson). The skyhook was truly a thing of beauty. I admired Stockton for his consistent excellence game after game. Later of course there was MJ and how could any basketball fan not admire him.

WIS

What is your favorite sports moment?

Qistat

I would probably say Magic's' baby hook to beat the Celts in 1987.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Qistat

Juggling, Jazz music, Eastern philosophy. I found a web site that simulates the stock market that has been taking up a lot of my time as well.

WIS

What is your favorite WIS moment?

Qistat

I was in a multi-season decade draft league and overcame an 0-3 deficit in the finals to win 4 straight and take the overall title. Either that or winning the hoops-baseball 6-season crossover challenge. That was nice because it helped the hoopsters to crush the baseball guys.

WIS

You have played baseball and basketball SimLeagues. Which do you prefer and why?

Qistat

I prefer basketball. I think the basketball sim provides a greater challenge. Baseball teams are pretty much the sum of their individual parts. In basketball the various stat categories have a much more complex interaction so team chemistry should play a greater role. How much should scoring and fg% be valued? What is an assist worth? How should blocks affect opponents FG%. Could a great rebounding team do well if it lacked good shooters? I think this is one of the reasons why there is so much controversy over finding the best modeling approach to the basketball sim. It is a challenge to figure out how a given version of the sim is operating so that you can build successful teams

WIS

As a fan of basketball, what are your thoughts on the current state of the game?

Qistat

I actually really enjoyed this past season, but it is still a far cry from the golden era of the 80's. The number one problem I have is the lack of great PG play. This improved a little this season as some coaches moved more to a running style. Phoenix proved how successful this approach can be if you have a skilled PG. They won 62 games in the West with a very poor bench. I think there are currently some great young players (James, Wade, Amare....) that will carry the league for years. The beauty of the flowing team game of the 80's will not return however as long as all we see on Sportscenter is dunks and 3 pointers.

WIS

If you had the power to replace David Stern as commissioner, what is the first thing you would try to change?

Qistat

I really don't follow the politics of the league that closely. Stern does strike me as a bit of an arrogant egomaniac though.

WIS

Build your all-time dream basketball team:

Qistat

PG Magic
SG MJ
SF Bird
PF Duncan
C Wilt (to me this was the toughest selection - I like Kareem #2)

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Qistat

I'm 42 so my best sports playing days have past. I'm not real big on attending live events either. Juggling isn't a sport but is a physical achievement. I'm working on mastering a 7 ball pattern so that is the current goal that's sort of somewhat kind of sports related.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion (do not have to be sports related)?

Qistat

Hmm...John Wooden, Ghandi, Lao Tsu, Vince Lombardi, and Bobby Knight. That would be interesting.

WIS

SimLeague basketball is not, at this time, as popular as baseball, hockey or the dynasty games. What can you tell users who may be unfamiliar with the game about the merits of SimLeague basketball?

Qistat

As I mentioned above I think the nature of the game of basketball presents quite a challenge both to 'whatif' in modeling a semi-accurate sim and to the users in figuring out how to build successful teams. I think this web site is the only place where you can play around with constructing teams from players from any era and compete in a full 82 game season with playoffs. I would think that that alone would draw a lot of users.

WIS

In SimLeague basketball, what is your general strategy for building teams?

Qistat

I'm a numbers guy so I will analyze a completed league that was run under the same sim I'm building a team for. Then I will place values on the various stat categories based on the results of that completed league(s). This allows me to generate a rough overall player rating without taking into account team chemistry. When drafting players I look at the rough rating relative to salary, but also try to build a certain balance within the team. This approach is very successful until the sim changes and then I have start all over. It is also important to draft enough minutes at each position and use close to all of your available salary of course.

I got into trouble in the current Best-of-WIS because the sim changed pretty dramatically after teams had been constructed and entered based on the prior sim version.

WIS

What is the most important thing to keep in mind while drafting?

Qistat

Value, Value, Value - Get the most stats for the least price.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams, or that you feel consistently under or overachieve?

Qistat

This is very much dependent on the sim version. At one point Ken Sears was golden, not so much anymore. There was a time when the high assist per minute guys like Muggsy and John Lucas were very valuable. Then later it was the big rebounders. Magic has pretty much always been a good deal though.

WIS

How do you go about setting your depth chart and allocating minutes?

Qistat

Ever since position penalties have existed I usually simply draft enough minutes to cover each of the 5 positions. I then set their minutes based on their total prorated minutes per 82 game season (pretty basic approach).

Again I deviated from this in the current Best-of-WIS. Big Wilt/Russell combo front lines were extremely effective in the most recent sim prior to the current one. Unfortunately using a C at PF will kill you in the current version.

WIS

Do your game plans for offense and defense differ based on the team you have? What do you normally do with these settings?

Qistat

Yes they differ both based on the team composition and the opponent. If a team is efficient with turnovers and has a lot of scoring I like the up-tempo setting. I usually prefer the slowdown setting when I have dominant rebounding teams.

WIS

How much emphasis do you put on scouting future opponents and double-teaming?

Qistat

I feel that double-teaming is effective when playing an unbalanced opponents lineup. Not so if the opponent has good balance. I also like to double sometimes when my best player is facing a high scorer to keep my best player out of foul trouble.

WIS

Do you make transactions (call-ups/demotions, trades, waiver wire, etc.) during the season? Why or why not?

Qistat

I almost exclusively play in theme leagues where these transactions are not an option.

WIS

What do you do during the season to try and separate yourself from other teams?

Qistat

The draft is the key. If I have analyzed the current sim well I can just about always create separation through the draft. Changing settings based on the opponent can have some effect but not enough to overcome a poor draft.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and who challenge you the most?

Qistat

There are many excellent owners in the hoops sim. Platypus is another stat junkie type who finished first to my second in Best-of-Wis #1. UVAsooner always puts out formidable teams and he edged me out in similar fashion in Best-of-Wis 2.

Emonk in my opinion was the king when I joined and he has again re-emerged in Best-of-Wis #3. I admire Emonk for his ability to build excellent teams without using stat based formulas (no easy task).

I also have had great battles with fine owners like Cpgecko, Kmackice, Kfunk, 98average and others.

Davkarball is easily the king of running theme leagues and an excellent competitor as well.

Naismith is the king of forum humor and also builds solid teams. Sorry for those I'm leaving out. You get the picture there is a lot of great competition in the hoops theme leagues.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague basketball?

Qistat

The challenge of 'figuring out' each sim version, the competition and the memories of all those great players.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect of SimLeague basketball? If you could change one thing about the game, what would it be?

Qistat

If I were creating the sim myself there are some things I would change. I think that players who excel in certain area's (FT's-PF's_Tov's) do not always get their due. I think I would change the way the double-team works since it penalizes players who achieved despite being doubled in real-life. The current sim was a pretty big change so it may take a bit for the new kinks to get worked out.

WIS

How has the site changed for the good over the last three years?

Qistat

When I first joined there were many more 'glitches' and bench players were used very infrequently. The pricing structure was also way out of whack which actually made it easier to build dominant teams. The injury/fatigue system has improved a lot as well.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, how much would you be worth?

Qistat

I'd be a PG in the hoops sim of course. If you were putting me on the floor with NBA players we would need to introduce a negative salary to gauge my worth. If you put me on the floor with YMCA league guys I'd play something like Marc Jackson.

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