Finally … a stats guru speaks who is at least on the right track.
How stats apply to individual match-ups for elite level NBA coaches
WW: Tracy McGrady is a player who has never helped his team as much as people thought. Allen Iverson — for one or two years he was really good.
The best player of the decade, though, I’d say, was Kevin Garnett. We have a rating over the last eight or nine years, and Garnett comes out number one. And I think everybody else [other stat experts] has that too, so that’s nice.
Although I don’t like Garnett. When I watch on TV, he’s turning too edgy. Chippy attitude.
Another guy who is totally overrated is Amare Stoudemire. I mean, he’s a stat stuffer. Troy Murphy gets great stats, but never does much for the team.
(UPDATE: Winston amends this statement: “With Golden State Troy Murphy was a stat stuffer who did little to help the team but with Indiana the last two years he has improved to where he is an above average NBA player.”)
There’s a bunch of guys like that.
Andre Iguodala, though. Whenever he’s on the court for Philadelphia, they’re great. Whenever he’s off, they suck. God knows why he’s a good player. I watch him play, and I don’t know. (More on Iguodala.)
Jason Kidd is a little like that, but you can see why he makes guys better. But not Iguodala.
HA: Sometimes I feel like I can see Kidd’s greatness, but other times, at this stage of his career, I can’t.
WW: Kidd can’t guard a fast guard. They go right by him like he’s standing still. They always did. Against Chris Paul … Jason Kidd might as well be standing still on defense.
But the interesting thing: Devin Harris can nail Tony Parker. But Steve Nash can beat Devin Harris. But Parker can beat Nash.
It’s not transitive. We can show that. That’s really interesting. That shouldn’t be. But it is. There are probably a lot of other things like that.
If coaches see other examples of things like that, we can back them up with data. Del Harris really got to like us, I think, because a lot of times our numbers confirmed what he thought. It’s hard to argue with the numbers when you’ve got a full amount of data on it.
Last year [Maverick assistant] Terry Stotts did a really great job asking us questions. Before the Spurs series, they asked us about Antoine Wright. He’s not on the team anymore, thank god. OK, he had a bad rating in our system. But the fascinating thing was, when he played small forward, he was good. When he played shooting guard, he was terrible. So we can break that down. I can find every combination where he was small forward and he was good. Every combination where he was shooting guard he was terrible.
Against the Spurs, they used him as a small forward and he was great. Every time he played for Howard at small forward, they killed the Spurs.
Things like this … I needed the coach to ask me the question because I would have never thought of it. You don’t just throw the numbers at the coach, because, I mean, 500,000 numbers! But if the coach understands what he’s doing, and says “I think Antoine Wright can play small forward can you tell me if that’s true?” That’s how you use the stuff.
THIS is the direction in which basketball analysis NEEDS to go.
Sincere thanks to you … Wayne Winston!
PS. It’s the job of an elite level basketball coach to answer correctly the questions which Wayne Winston doesn’t happen to have the specific training, knowledge base and experience to discern properly on his own … e.g. What really makes Andre Iguodala as good as he is given what the “average” stats/numbers have to say about his level of play? Those who can DO THAT are the ones with the type of Basketball Analysis/Acumen you SHOULD BE listening to in order to better understand, How The NBA Game Actually Works, Based On Individual Match-ups.
PPS. Class for NBA 101 is now finished for today … or, in fact, for some of you, at least, it may just be starting … from scratch.
PPPS. Btw … What Wayne Winston had to say in this piece about there being no distinction necessary between the use of players like Brandon Bass [#4/PF] and Dirk Nowitzki [#5/C], on the court together, regardless of their position, and the effect/thinking of Mike D’Antoni, just happens to be wrong.