Hoop Coach Newsletter
Interesting article on College Basketball Talk about whether or not advanced statistics are useful in basketball. The article centers around Oklahoma State's freshman point guard Marcus Smart and whether he is truly the difference maker for his OSU team. What are your thoughts on the matter, coaches?
I know for my high school team we track all of our shooting percentages, overall shots, where those shots occur, rebounds, steals, tips, etc. I know that it definitely exposes the weakest parts of our games and it gives me a good idea of how excelling in certain areas leads to wins.
Absolutely. Our Varsity team from players 1 to 12 are all about even skill, no standouts. It is very hard to determine who to give the minutes to. If we had individual +/-, lineup +/- analysis, per minute stats, and efficiency stats we would be able to make more objective determinations. We do not have these statistics available at this time but are working towards them. I am a firm believer that often our eyes lie to us when watching a game and evaluating individual performance.
Advanced stats are an interesting subject mainly because they are hardly used by people who need them or the way they are supposed to
Personally I view them as an important tool for improvement for players. A measure of their progresses or potential for progresses. That's why I consider that teaching players to understand stats can help them tremendously. Many focus on the amount of points and other strange ratio and are no more capable of just ... PLAYING! Stats plus videos make a potent combo that you can use to help a player SEE and UNDERSTAND what he/she is doing well, what he/she is NOT doing well and from there direct them to way to improve or consolidate a skill or aptitude.
We all know or have seen players compiling impressive stats day in and day out while their teams were consistently loosing. The easy answer was that they were too good for their level but with the idea of intangibles (ball screens, screens away, communication, leadership) that concept has fallen back for me.
Some players impact the game and their teams tremendously without even scoring a lot. All their passes are on point, on time and in shooting pockets... every time! They have a very low TO rate and do all those things that are not accounted for in stats but are vital to basketball. They are focused and make other focus during warm up and game, chearing for teamates, incredible screeners both on and off ball, boards crashers, never miss a help defense, constantly talk on Off and Def, coordinate the defensive rotation and teamates lost and are on the court most of the time. The nitty gritty that allows teams to be effective.
Face it: I can have my best scorer on the bench and we can still win a lot of games but if my 3 players that exhibit those aforementioned qualities are not there or in during crunch time we are sure to loose the game.
The other point is people dealing wrongly with stats. Stats are used as a magical tool for trying to understand or getting a grasp on the game. A lot of people in the coaching community are seeing them and using them as a magical aid that are going to unveil the hidden secrets and powers of their teams.
As coaches we all know that there is nothing more volatile and subject to fluctuation than a packed 40mn game(I coach in Belgium). Everything is reset with every possession and as the end get near the stress and sense of urgency increase making for an interesting cocktail in term of stress and decision making.
In that situation, stats represent an illusion of sanity in an otherwise strange landscape. It's easy to focus on APPG, TO percentage, Blocks because most fans won't be able to read and account for intangibles that are happening right in front of them. I refer to this as the "Mutombo effect": Dikembe Mutombo didn't score much but players attacking his basket thought twice before doing so which in turn allowed his teamates ample time to rotate any way they had to.
Stat are easy to get your head around especially if you compare them to understanding complex offensive sets and systems or defensive configurations. Nevertheless stats are an illusion, an incomplete account of what happened in a game that is 90% mental and 10% physical. Even at their best they cannot fully depict the 10% of what happen but if you need a subject of discussion in the street or at the bar then Lebron FG%, Russell Westrbrook TO% are as good subjects as it gets.
Thank you Coach: My attitude has always been that, to rely on stats, is to believe in fairy tales. Some stats can be helpful, but most are misleading at best. I've been a coach for 40 years and am still amazed at the dependency on the statistics. I had a young coach telling me that he was so proud of his team, they were such good offensive rebounders, and he was sure more wins were on the way---- until I told him he better work on his shooting, because that's where those offensive rebounds start!
That attitude will get you blown out in this day and age in advanced basketball competition. How do the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Rays take down the mighty Yankees and Red Sox with 1/2 the payroll? How do the Oakland A's beat out the Rangers and Angels? How does Butler go the finals? How do some NBA teams draft so well and some don't (Bobcats)? I guarantee you advanced stats (or lack there of) are a big part of it.
The example is precisely why counting statistics lie and more advanced statistics are needed. Yes, looking at a high number of offensive rebounds could erroneously lead to the conclusion that a team is a good offensive rebounding team, but it may be more of a function of poor shooting (or lots of possessions because of a fast paced game, a slighly more advanced analysis). You really need to look at the percentage of succesful offensive rebounds over every opportunity OffR/[(FGA-FGM) + ((0.44*FTA)(1 - FTM/FTA))]. Look at that over the season, vs the opponent, et.
Team A gets 15 OffR, effectively shoots 50% from the floor over 50 possessions; 15/25 = 60%
Team B gets 15 OffR, effectively shoots 50% from the floor over 100 possession; 15/50 = 30%
Both teams shot well (50%), but Team A is the far superior team. Can't just look at FG% to say whether a team got there rebounds because of how well they shot.
We'll just agree to disagree. As i stated, and Coach Wooden and i used to argue about this too, on the way to his camp at Cal Lutheran, stats give a mathamatical, version of the game. It's not a game of numbers, it's a game of people, passion, integrity and focus. Coach agreed with much of what I said, but he still used the stat system developed by an old Ohio High school coach, also used at Ohio State in the late '60s and still used all over the country today. It was very intricate and detailed and required 3 people as stat people, of course today they use the computer. More beneficial, at least to me, is the play by play taken during the game. A good look at this at half time can give a huge insight as to what is going on in the game, then a study after the game really helps. Your baseball comparison was nice. Going by the stats, the Rangers continued to put their all star center fielder in the cleanup spot in the playoffs. He bombed, they lost, mostly becaused Coach Washington followed the stats. He will go with his gut feelings next time.