Mark Cuban Explains Why Moneyball Doesn't Work In The NBA

Baseball has been revolutionised by Moneyball insights about the importance of on-base percentage and other advanced statistical measures in evaluating players.

Basketball isn’t there yet.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says the complex team dynamics of basketball make it much more complicated, as he explains to Professor Kirk Goldsberry at Grantland:

“It’s not like Moneyball in baseball, where analytics are a good way to determine who to sign or who not to sign, unless where they were is analogous to where you’re trying to bring them. [A basketball player] might have X number of win shares on a team that likes to push the ball, and a team that slows it down is a different beast. A guy might be a great rebounder if a team keeps him close to the basket, but if we show on pick-and-rolls or play zone, those numbers are going to be very different,” Cuban says.

Statistics do matter in basketball, including the advanced metrics teams hope to get with expensive new camera systems, but they aren’t that effective yet.

Case in point is Monta Ellis, the guard who signed with the Mavericks last summer. Ellis used to be notorious among stat geeks for taking lots of bad shots, but since coming to Dallas he has been reborn as a powerful and surprisingly effective offensive force.

About the haters, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle tells Goldsberry: “Those guys are idiots.”

Read a full analysis of Ellis’s turnaround and the Mavericks’ playoff run at Grantland »

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