Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On basketball statistics

The NBA Finals is coming to a conclusion this week with the Golden State Warriors having two chances of winning their first title in 40 years. That is, of course, if they are able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers one more time. I was watching the NBA Premium Channel, which featured a show with analysts (including former NBA players) discussing the performances of the two teams and their major players. One statistic that was often mentioned was the number of triple double performances of the Cavs superstar player Lebron James.

I have nothing againts Lebron James and not to take away anything from his really splendid performance in the Finals but his 6 triple doubles are really a matter of necessity considering he doesn't have a good supporting cast in the Cavs. To be compared to Magic Johnson (8 triple doubles) and Larry Bird (2 triple doubles) is misleading. This is because those two had superb players in their teams. Magic didn't need to score and rebound a lot because he had players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Jamaal Wilkes, AC Green, Kurt Rambis and others in his team. The same goes with Bird since he shared the scoring, rebounding and assisting with the likes of Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge. And we aren't even talking about Michael Jordan and his teammates with the Chicago Bulls (e.g., Dennis Rodman was averaging above 15 rebounds per game. Did James have to do what he's doing if Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were playing and 100% healthy?

Stats really have to be placed in the proper context especially when people compare players. One player can appear to be dominating but that maybe because of the circumstances rather than because he really is a dominating player. It's been shown before that players with such stats would not necessarily translate into titles. Lebron learned that the hard way with the Cavs when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs and their team ball many years ago.


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