Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted:
Charles Barkley proceeded to prove him correct:
- “Just because you’ve got good stats doesn’t mean you’re a good team defensively. They’re not a good defensive team. Give up 118 points – no good team gives up 118 points.”
- “I’m not worried about Daryl Morey. He’s one of those idiots who believe in analytics.”
- “I’ve always believed analytics was crap, and you know I never mention the Rockets as a legitimate contender, because they’re not. Listen, I wouldn’t know Daryl Morey if he walked in this room right now.”
- “Analytics don’t work at all. It’s just some crap some people who are really smart made up to try to get in the game because they had no talent.”
- “Analytics don’t work. What analytics did the Miami Heat? What analytics did the Bulls have? What analytics do the Spurs have? They have the best players. They have coaching staffs who make players better.”
- “The Rockets sucked for a long. So, they went out and paid James Harden a lot of money. They got better. Then, they went out and got Dwight Howard. They get better.”
- “The NBA is about talent. All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common. They’re a bunch of guys who ain’t never played the game, and they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game.”
- “Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen; Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard – it has nothing to do with analytics. And I think when they put Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James together, it had nothing to do with analytics. Give me a break”
Barkley really beat up that straw man.
Of course, basketball is about talent and coaching. Nobody denies this.
Statistics are one tool general managers use to assess talent and coaches use to manage it.
On a fundamental level, it’s not really any more complicated than that, which I think Barkley knows. Sure, there are other smaller flaws in his argument – e.g., the Spurs almost certainly used analytics to identify Kawhi Leonard, who was drafted No. 15 – but I’m not going to nitpick.
Barkley’s rant was way more entertaining than a reasoned argument.