This is a piece that is more aimed at being insight more than anything else. As a former analyst and current business owner in Europe trying to expand the understanding of analytics, sharing know-how, film, and data I hope this is useful to those that are seeking detail.
Work within the league (NBA) is working in closed out, shut out and more of a silo basis more than anything else. Recently Ben Falk and Ben Taylor had taken to the internet airwaves doing a podcast where they discussed this.
I had to chime in and share a tiny bit more. Life as an analyst has changed from what it was when I was in the league (it’s been more than 6 years now).
It is critical to know the game, to really appreciate the basic box score, the more advanced analytics and data and statistics that you can track yourself.
Yes, Synergy data, the alternative data that is captured by other 3rd party service providers through the film is enormous and has been so critically quantified that it needs commentary.
The offense is easy to track. Yet think of defense, it’s been hard to track both on and off-ball defense. Like my peers, I agree that OFF BALL defense is important. So much so that scouting reports will really differ and CANNOT be standardized.
Defensive data is overall hard to collect too. Help defense is one aspect that is barely collectible unless you really watch game footage and manage to note down each time.
The contextual aspect that all of us that do work as an analyst across the globe is again silo work. Everyone is very cut of unless there is an opportunity to share insight in a round table situation.
In terms of top-down or bottom up the film, the analytics or even the data that is brought out, one thing in Europe that is different is the strategy of play in comparison to that in the league. The intricacies honestly are much more in-depth and DETERRENCE that Ben Taylor has been trying to chart, note or even measure is one set of data that we have been trying dig more into.
Weakside help, off-ball defense, valuation of rim protectors, overall defense of the five guys on the court and how it in effect deters players on the offensive end to pass up a shot versus take a shot under pressure becomes a quantifiable measure yet it is so much tougher to really place a scalable measure on it. We do not measure with opinion but to the point that we try to assess situations of plays as analysts the way a coach would but just place in measurement and not weigh in.
A single metric to cover an assortment of metrics should not be the way that you look at a player or a team. It’s OK to maybe align a group of players, teams across a league or a circumstance but the impact either a player has or a team should play towards comes from placing context in the right place.
Basketball is about playing with the most minimal mistakes and retrospectively as well as predictive with film, analytics and data help in this overall.
There also is a school that looks at the good/bad foul cases.
A prime example of Jokic, being a solid defender and is a better deterrent for the Nuggets can sound crazy but it’s all too understandable. He is a big frame, yet he is not a shot blocker, yet he gets his opponent to make bad decisions many times a matchup occurs.
In and around the Euroleague, a major number of players that similarly deter offensive matchups tend to rather than shot block really act and be the type of defender that “I’ll go really old school” Mirko Milićević type player, not really fast but smart yet so effective that allowing their opponent to get to the rim that its really so much so more the deterrent element.
Again another old school type player that used to flat out shut off the key used to be Tamer Oyguc – of Efes Pilsen, all way before any analytics or data were available these two type of players really to us at Advance Pro Basketball were the type of baseline player type that we initially managed to figure things out on.
Watching a lot of film or game footage comes with the territory of recognizing the fallacies that data is cut off from analytics overall.
Almost all good analysts to analyze things and asking questions the best way is to watch, watch, watch!
To be able to talk with coaching staff or executives in Europe that really understand means to be able to question what the game and the film eventually informs and tells you.
Basketball is a game where at levels we work within means that there is a product of the outcome, where the film comes out. This is not a common cause. Many other jobs do not have this luxury nor insight impact that they can rely on. But that also means working towards minimal mistakes is also that much harder. Decision making can change at the toss of a coin. A player can decide to do a pivot move or react differently to defense even though they know better or should have known to slide into a better defensive stance in any case.
On another note, ISO play versus team strategy that means possessions are over established are always cases that will differentiate the philosophy of how Dr. Naismith envisioned the growth of the game.
Again I’ll be brutal and piss people off but the fact to me is that in Europe coaches, teams and players really are over-critical and yet that much more versatile in thinking of more than 3-4 options on both ends of the floor compared to their U.S. peers.
So overall, I hope that this piece has given some, the perspective of how we really look at things within our organization. We think deep, talk deep and we really dissect even deeper when it comes to our work, product and deliverables we share with clients and friends.
To us, everything starts with watching the FILM, then analyzing the game for the ANALYTICS and eventually completing collecting the DATA to have the most optimal result of deliverables.