TNT’s NBA analyst Charles Barkley created a bit of firestorm on Tuesday and in essence started a war against maths when he went on a rant against using advanced stats in the NBA.
Barkley’s argument was quickly shot down in many circles. However, one prominent NBA owner, Mark Cuban, came to Barkley’s defence declaring the former NBA MVP to be “half-right” during an interview for 105.3 the Fan in Dallas.
Barkley’s rant started as a response to criticism from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.
Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) February 11, 2015
Morey and the Rockets are widely regarded as the most progressive team in the NBA, fully embracing advanced stats and in some respects, reinventing the way the game of basketball is being played at the NBA level.
Barkley fired back during TNT’s NBA studio show, saying Morey is “one of those idiots who believe in analytics.” Barkley went on to say that analytics don’t work and that they are “just some crap some people who are really smart made up to try to get in the game because they had no talent.”
While Barkley has certainly gone too far in his criticism, Cuban explained why Barkley is not as far off as many believe. Cuban explained that you can learn things through the use of advanced stats, but that there is no longer much of an advantage to it.
“When a couple of teams are using [advanced stats], you can get an advantage,” Cuban told 105.3 the Fan. “When everybody is using it, your advantage is pretty much gone. That’s where analytics has gotten to now, where pretty much every NBA team uses analytics — at least some degree.”
This is the same problem the Oakland A’s ran into with “Moneyball” in Major League Baseball.
Despite the misunderstandings of many, “Moneyball” at its core is simply looking for market inefficiencies. That is, looking for positive traits in players that other teams overlooking and hence are undervaluing and often advanced stats are used to reach that goal.
The problem for the A’s, which general manager Billy Beane has acknowledged, is that now the cat is out of the bag and all teams in Major League Baseball are using advanced stats to some degree. So it is not that “Moneyball” didn’t work or has stopped working. Rather, it is that it has become much harder to find something that other teams have missed.
Basketball has the added element of being more of a team sport as opposed to baseball which is often a one-on-one battle between a pitcher and a batter. This is something that Cuban also touched on.
Cuban points out that the Mavs have signed players who don’t grade well under advanced stats, such as Monta Ellis, because he “knew that [the Mavs] could make him better.” The feeling was that he had never played with the same level of players or coaches.
So when Barkley says analytics don’t work at all and that successful teams don’t use them, he is wrong. But instead of using them for an advantage, now teams have to use them to keep from falling behind.
NOW WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo, wearing a wig and glasses, surprised a young fan on the streets of Madrid
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.