My research topic is the proliferation of analytical thinking throughout the NBA and any changes that may have been made with efficiency in mind. Most teams in the NBA have recently hired entire division dedicated to analyzing every move and how that can change the outcome of the game. They are all searching for the same thing: any advantage available to help the team.
The main thing I found in my research is the movement by a majority of teams to try and shoot more threes and less midrange jump shots. This is a trend away from the basketball from the post dominant 1980s and 90s. The midrange game of the late 90s and 00s pioneered by Michael Jordan and carried by Kobe Bryant is now going out of style.
This is a big deal as the game of basketball has fundamentally changed from the lumbering big men in the post and now the offenses are based around small guards who can shoot.
Many sports news websites have adopted advanced statistics to give fans the same insight as for the teams. The most prominent one is FiveThirtyEight. Their entire website is built around the idea of data-driven decisions. They believe that efficiency should determine shot selection no matter what.
Other outlets have stuck to the gut feelings of their reporters and columnists to determine how a team is doing. A prime example of this would be the season Demar Derozan is having currently. He takes the highest percentage of his shots from the midrange area in the league. He leads by almost 20% compared to the second highest on the list. However, he also is third in the league in scoring at over 30 points per game.
There is a split that I can see between more traditional basketball minds and the new age data-driven number crunchers. The other thing that I believe a lot of outlets fail to mention is the changing defense in the NBA.
Most teams now try to induce drives towards the hoop where they have shot blockers. Compare this to even ten years ago the main goal then was to prevent penetration and maybe give up more shots. This trend of three-pointers as a primary weapon instead of a complementary one will continue as long as teams like the Warriors and Rockets win games and stay at the top of their conferences. The only hope for traditionalists is for a resurgence in smash mouth basketball that is particularly effective against the smaller teams of today.Tags: analytics GM NBA professional sports
Analytics in Basketball by Luke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.