Paul George: I'm not a believer in analytics
By Darryn Albert
“I’m not a fan of analytics,” the two-time All-Star told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star in an interview over the weekend. “The greatest player to ever play this game was a midrange jump shooter in Michael Jordan. 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.”
George’s skepticism likely stems from that midrange jumper -- the one shot the movement is allergic to for its inefficiency and for presenting the lowest possible payoff for the furthest possible shot -- being a centerpiece of his offensive arsenal. 29.8 percent of all of the shots that George has ever taken in his career have been two-pointers from 10-plus feet out (per Basketball Reference). Buckner also notes that George is taking a whopping 4.9 shots per game from 15-19 feet this season -- second in the league and part of a Pacers’ offense that leads the NBA with 19.3 of them per game.
The Fresno State product, who has grudgingly been playing mostly out of position this season, has a point in that he and the Pacers have a skill from the midrange area and should take advantage of it. Ignoring such a large chunk of the hardwood completely can stagnate an offense and clog up passing, cutting, and driving lanes, particularly if it’s the only shot the defense is giving you and the only way you can make them pay.
But what George fails to account for is the way basketball has evolved from an inside-out game based around physicality and one-man offenses in Jordan’s era to an outside-in game based around finesse and ball movement.
It’s simply a different game than it was then, and failing to adapt with the times is going to get you killed in today’s NBA where the talent pool is deeper than ever before, as is the treasure chest of advanced statistical resources/strategies available for teams to utilize.
So keep firing those midrange jumpers so long as you can convert them at a high rate, Mr. George. But maybe it’s time to consider what taking a step back and trading some of those long-twos for threes or working harder to get a clean look at the rim might do for a Pacers attack that ranks just 20th in offensive efficiency this year.
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