Feb 17, 2009

the Maddux of the hardwood

A little hagiography never hurts. Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, explains why the Rockets' Shane Battier is perhaps the smartest, if not the best, basketballer in the NBA.
People often say that Kobe Bryant has no weaknesses to his game, but that’s not really true. Before the game, Battier was given his special package of information. “He’s the only player we give it to,” [Rockets GM Daryl] Morey says. “We can give him this fire hose of data and let him sift. Most players are like golfers. You don’t want them swinging while they’re thinking.” The data essentially broke down the floor into many discrete zones and calculated the odds of Bryant making shots from different places on the court, under different degrees of defensive pressure, in different relationships to other players — how well he scored off screens, off pick-and-rolls, off catch-and-shoots and so on. Battier learns a lot from studying the data on the superstars he is usually assigned to guard. For instance, the numbers show him that Allen Iverson is one of the most efficient scorers in the N.B.A. when he goes to his right; when he goes to his left he kills his team. The Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson is an even stranger case. “Steve Jackson,” Battier says, “is statistically better going to his right, but he loves to go to his left — and goes to his left almost twice as often.”
Read the whole thing.

[via ALDaily]


Matthew Anderson said...

Awesome, awesome article. I remember watching Battier back in the Duke days--I always liked him, but could never really figure out why. Thanks for the link.

Ched said...

Ah, good article. Battier is a defensive wizard, and one of my favorite Houston players.

The article was long, but v. interesting. Here's to hoping Battier gives the Rockets enough defensive tenacity to make it out of the first round.