The Toronto Raptors and the Stats Revolution

Posted on October 23, 2009 by


Here’s something I wish I would have seen before posting yesterday’s comment on the Toronto Raptors.

Much has been made of NBA teams employing more and more statistical analysis in their decision-making process. It’s important to remember, though, that such analysis isn’t used by all teams (and even teams where this analysis happens, it’s not clear that the stats trump the other information teams employ).  To see this point, consider the following comment from Malcolm Gladwell. (HT: RaptorsHQ)

I remember once having a conversation with a top executive with the Toronto Raptors. I asked her about the stats revolution in basketball and she just kind of shrugged and said, “It’s interesting, and we look at those things, but you have to understand that for our purposes, it’s all [about] character.” The thing that separates players is that some have a work ethic, some don’t; some are coachable, some aren’t; some party all night, some go to bed early. From her standpoint, it’s all those intangibles.

In reading this quote we have to remember… the Raptors have never won more than 47 games in a season, and have only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once.  Perhaps (just perhaps) there is more to player analysis than focusing on the “intangibles.”

One last observation… once upon a time I noted that the owner of the Raptors tried to get his general manager in basketball to read The Wages of Wins.  Maybe he will have more luck assigning our second book (am I being too snarky?  Sorry about that).

– DJ

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