Charles Barkley: “I Don’t Believe In That Analytical Crap”

  • Ben Parker
image from biography.com

image from biography.com

Charles Barkley isn’t known to be the most sophisticated of all basketball analysts and certainly not one to critically think and evaluate things. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Charles Barkley isn’t a fan of teams using analytics (a system developed by stat geeks) to build their teams.

From CBS Philly (via True Hoop):

I have a problem with the way the Sixers are running their organization right now. Listen, Howard, you know I don’t believe in that analytical crap. If LeBron James couldn’t spell cat, I want him on my team. I always tell people, give me a dumb guy that can really play. Don’t give me no smart guy.

The guy [Hinkie], he came from Houston. When did Houston get good? When they went out and paid James Harden all that money and [Omer] Asik, and now they went out and gotDwight Howard. That’s got nothing to do with analytics, that’s got to do with paying really good players to come to town.

Charles Barkley’s point is pretty simple: Don’t get carried away with statistics to the point that you don’t see the forest for the trees. In that vein, I do agree with “Sir Charles”. The bottom line is whether or not a guy can play and the way you can tell that isn’t through statistical analysis, but rather through simply watching the player  play. Analytics is up the same alley as “Moneyball” designed by Oakland A’s GM Billy Bean in that it tries to come up with a creative way of finding talent. However, “Moneyball” never produced a championship in Oakland, and so far analytics hasn’t produced a title for any NBA teams.

Teams with the best players win championships, not teams with the best analytical rosters. As a matter of fact, I bet those two things go hand in hand. You want to talk about something for stat geeks to drool over, how about LeBron James? The guy is a walking triple-double machine with a high field goal percentage. What more can they be asking for? However, the reason why LeBron James has been the most prized player in the NBA over the past decade has nothing to do with analytics, but rather the fact that he’s got the same body frame as Karl Malone and the skills of John Stockton. I do think that analytics has a place when it comes to evaluating talent, but Barkley is correct that nothing can replace the eye test.

—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord 

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Ben Parker

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2 Responses to Charles Barkley: “I Don’t Believe In That Analytical Crap”

  • You make some good points but ultimately are incorrect….Saying “analytics never produced a championship” is just not true. The statement is too broad.

    Many teams in many sports over the past decade or so have been able to win championships with the help of ‘analytics.’ In fact, only a few teams in each sport still shun ‘analytics.’ (Again, the term is so broad…)

    You say ‘teams with the best players win championships.’ The fact is, many teams each year, in any league, have the ‘best players’ and more often than not, strategy plays a major role in determining who comes out on top. Analytics informs strategy.

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