Just when you thought the War on Analytics had reached its tipping point, Paul George had to go and resurrect it. A noted midrange enthusiast, he’s using his stellar play of late, and the Pacers’ winning ways, as an indictment on the league’s preoccupation with statistics. Via Candace Buckner of the Indy Star:
“I’m not a fan of analytics,” said George, who takes 4.9 shots per game from 15-19 feet, second only to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin for most in the NBA.
“The greatest player to ever play this game was a midrange jump shooter in Michael Jordan,” George continued. “At that time no one had nothing to say. It’s about what’s best for that player and what’s the skill set of that player. We have a lot of guys who are more than capable at shooting well from the midrange. So I don’t know what to say about analytics. It works for some systems. I’m not a believer of analytics. That’s just how it is.”
The only problem is that the Pacers, as an organization, wanted to plant their foot firmly in the analytics camp going into this season. But instead, what happened is that they still have one foot in the grave. Everything they did in the offseason was geared toward playing smaller and pushing the pace, two of the hallmarks of the basketball analytics movement. But a closer inspection of what they’ve actually been doing tells a more complicated story.
So far this season, they rank in the top ten in three-point field goal percentage, but they also still rank in the bottom third in terms of number of attempts per game. Last year, they also ranked around the bottom third in attempts (18th), and ranked 11th overall in their percentage from downtown, so not much has changed in that department.