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Mark Cuban On Quantitative Analysis In Basketball

Mark Cuban has written a blog post suggesting that two factors limit basketball 'sabermetrics' to side tools, rather than keys to building a team.

You can take all the PER, WS48, WP48, Adv plus/minus and the rest and when you add them together the day before the season starts you still know nothing more than the minute before you added them all together. They are meaningless when it comes to putting together a team.

Why is this the case ? Two reasons: coaching and chemistry.

Instinctively, I think that most of us suspected that basketball would never be able to mirror baseball statistical analysis, simply because of the nature of the games. Baseball - and particularly offensive baseball - is largely an individual game, while only one basketball player can shoot or handle the ball, and team defense is even more complicated than in basball.

Cuban now recognizes this.

You can use them as partial input along with scouting and other elements, but there ain't no Moneyball solution or the NBA and I don't see Bill James walking through that door with a solution. Stats will continue to play a role in lineups, matchups and trends, but teambuilding, not so much.

It's interesting to hear Cuban talk about this issue because he's inside the sport and because he had been a proponent of using data as much as possible. I wonder what kind of impact Rick Carlisle has had on his thinking, as Cuban's shift has occurred during Carlisle's tenure.

He tosses in this warning in conclusion:

Of course there are other elements that we are rapidly expanding at the Mavs that go into our team-building methodology, but I'm keeping all that to myself

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.