PER, offensive ratings, effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage.
If you are an NBA fan or blogger, I am sure you know what the above vernacular is in reference to — advanced stats.
They swim around your mind making you feel real smart or thinking you might need to enroll into college and earn yourself a degree in mathematics. However, these advanced stats are here to stay as NBA teams look for any advantage they can find during games. Teams such as the Dallas Mavericks delve deep into these type of stats but Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale feels these type of numbers aren’t that big of a deal and reflect what is already known.
I didn’t know much about it [before coming to Houston] and, you know, I think all that analytics says is, “If you score in the paint, it’s good.” Well, I could have told you that. “If you block shots and rebound, it’s good.” Well, I kind of knew that. “If you make a bunch of threes, that’s good.”
It reinforces a lot of stuff you think. I mean, look, you want to shoot free throws … you want to shoot in the paint. Defenses are trying not to foul you and trying to keep you out of the paint, so believe me, it’s … it’s the yin and the yang. But I didn’t all of a sudden look at the analytics and all these numbers and go, “Oh, my goodness.” It was, “Yeah, I pretty much knew that.”
McHale’s team is known for its stat-loving ways (though it hasn’t brought Houston and Darrell Morey a title) but while I agree some advanced stats serve their purpose, at times it can be overkill.
In my opinion, these numbers are just a long-winded way to confirm the obvious. And while some stat-geeks find pride in confirming the obvious, it just seems like a drawn-out way just for confirmation.
It’s not uncommon to read a bunch of advanced stats only to read the conclusion, for example, that if a player releases the ball at a higher arch, the increased likelihood the ball will go into the basket. OK? Thanks for stating the obvious.
I have always likened advanced stats and stat geeks to the Family Guy character Buzz Killington.
Fans can be celebrating their team capturing an NBA title, enjoying the moment and in walks the stat geek to bore everyone with math and stats just killing the festive mood and bringing everyone down. Yup, a buzzkill or as Peter Griffin would react, “Ahhhhhhh!”
Before advanced stats came to the forefront, team were able to do some scouting, put together a game plan, and still win without a deluge of stats flying about. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Whatever happened to just enjoying the game? Do some have to nit-pick every nuance of the game? Do you have to take the proverbial “scenic route” to confirm the obvious? It seems stat geeks would think so, and if that makes them feel good, then more power to them.
For me, I’d rather enjoy a game.