Isiah Thomas explains why advanced analytics have done more harm than good in today’s NBA – Basketball Network


Thomas shares what he doesn’t like about today’s advanced NBA analytics

Isiah Thomas believes advanced analytics have done more harm than good and often limit players on the pitch, undermining their abilities.

It’s maddening to watch

Over the past decade, advanced analytics has made its way to the NBA, and its impact is more apparent than ever. Every NBA team has adopted strategies on what style of play they will implement, which players they will draft/sign, and even run their entire organization based on different advanced data. The global digitization that has now made its way into every aspect of our lives has done the same to basketball, especially the NBA.

While some would say it brought different benefits to the game, former NBA player Isiah Thomas thinks it limits players and their natural abilities on the court. During an appearance on the Boardrooms podcast with Kevin Durant, he broke down the major issues surrounding the impact of advanced analytics on gaming today.

“It’s infuriating to watch it because I see so many players could be so much better than they’re allowed to be in this confined gaming system that analysis has convinced everyone to play the same way. All GMs think the same way, they all read the same script, they all read the same material, they all play the same plays, they all eat at the same time, they all shoot at the same time, they all fly at the same time. time, and they’re all the same size.”

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Too much conformism in the NBA

Thomas makes an interesting point about how everything is uniformed these days, and most teams have adopted a system where three-man shooting is a priority and a necessity. This comes from numbers provided by Advanced Analytics, implying that shooting threes is the best way for a team to win games. In this case, you have players who can do something else, maybe even better, and help their team in this way, but the coaches limit their abilities for the good of the system even though it can be counterproductive.

“Analytics may be good in society, but analytics in sports forces everyone to conform to act and think the same way. What makes champions, champions is when they have a different style playing against a different style. If Kevin Durant was just a guy who shot three-pointers and a guy who made lay-ups, he would be fine. The fact that he uses all five zones of scoring makes him one of the most effective scorers we have seen in the history of your game. His ability to not conform is what made him great throughout his life.”

Thomas isn’t the first former player to speak out against advanced analytics, saying it doesn’t tell the whole story. Jamal Crawford said mid-range play was not recognized enough, even though it was a more effective shot than a three-point shot. Josh Smith thinks numbers don’t show certain things players can do on the pitch, but ultimately help your team win the game. All of those points are valid, and it’s obvious that everyone is trying to play the same way, as that’s the trend the Warriors initially started after winning their first championship in 2015.

Whether or not that will change remains to be seen, but there is an obvious distance in how the game is perceived by GMs and scouts, even some coaches and players who actually play the game and have that real-time experience. If they find common ground and players are given the opportunity to use their skills more frequently and more naturally, we may see a change in the overall style of play in the NBA.


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