There are very few absolutes in basketball. (To be honest, the only one that I can think of is: High score wins!)
One of the dangers or blind spots we all have is that our perspective is influenced by our experiences—and the story we tell ourselves about those experiences. It’s like being a frog at the bottom of a well. Perspective is tied to the confines of the well.
The frog at the bottom of the well starts to make conclusions about how the world works based on what they’ve been exposed to. Yet, for any frog that manages to get to the top of the well, they come to realize that the world is far bigger than the confines of the well. It’s more nuanced. Their ‘well thinking’ doesn’t necessarily hold up in different domains.
Some things do. Other things do not. It depends.
It started with a tweet…
Very dangerous to try to use NBA analytics at the HS level – there may be a place for some crossover. I once had a coach break down analytics if his team shot X from three & X from FT – forced tunrnovers & box out % – he determined they win 80% of their games. They lost 80%.
— Coach M. Smith (@coach_mwsmith) August 6, 2018
And then, that tweet was chased by another…
If you run the numbers from NBA to High School – there is a lot of stats that directly translate. I don’t think you need to get fancy with advanced at the high school level, but some key stats directly translate. https://t.co/n3u7ndKvEh
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) August 6, 2018
As I shared in my Twitter response, I agree… There is a trickle-down effect in tendencies and trends from the NBA to other contexts. I think this is especially true as the game has evolved, players have become more multi-skilled at each position; and, style of play and what’s deemed ‘beautiful basketball’ (read: efficient) has shifted. Recognizing that, it’s also important to note that so much of the trends we see in the game today are being driven by deeper insights from analytics.
A good example of this can be seen in the work of Dean Oliver. Considered by many to be one of the forefathers of modern day basketball analytics, Oliver developed the Four Factors – to help coaches go deeper than traditional stats. Adopted by most analytics departments in the NBA and WNBA, the Four Factors adjusts for pace and gives teams a clearer picture of the impact of how efficiently they score the ball, control the ball, rebound the ball and the impact of free throws on winning.
That statement is incomplete. It’s overly reductionist and lacks specificity. Dare I say it’s a bit dangerous – because it could lead a less discerning mind to believe that what they see at the bottom of their well will translate into other contexts.
Somethings will. Somethings won’t.
Knowing versus believing what tendencies and strategies transfer – and how much – is the next step we as a coaching community need to make in order for us to go deeper in our coaching analysis.
I share all this to say that I’m confident that there are ‘performance indicators’ from the NBA that are transferable; and yet, which ones will, I nor anyone else IMO, can be certain – until they measure it.
Context is 👑. Everything requires context. (Oops! Guess that’s an absolute too. 🤦🏾♂️)
I love how Annie Duke puts it: “Confidence and certainty shouldn’t be confused” .
"If you divide the world into shit that you know and shit that you don't know, and you study the stuff that you know, then you're not going to learn very much." — Bill James
— Shane Parrish (@farnamstreet) August 7, 2018