How Analytics Made Me a Better Basketball Player, with Shane Battier


Sports are about gaining the competitive advantage
and for so long the traditional ways of gaining the advantage is through harder training.
You know basketball which I played it was honing your jump shot. It was working harder
in the weight room to become faster, jump a little higher. I was lucky to sort of grow
up in sort of the golden age of analytics as it pertains to basketball in the age of
really the emergence of big data and sports. The way I look at it is it’s just another
way like honing your jump shot or honing your jump hook or getting faster or stronger to
gain a competitive advantage on the basketball court, this time using numbers and data. Before I really learned analytics I tried
to guard a guy, Kobe Bryant, who in my estimation was the toughest competitor that I ever played
against. And all I had to rely on was the old eyeball test scouting report. Kobe’s
got a really good right hand. You have to keep him out of the painted area. He’s a
great finisher. So yeah, any Joe Schmo fan could tell you those things. But after studying
and going through the school of analytics I knew exactly to a tee who Kobe Bryant was.
And I knew as a defender trying to stop him Kobe’s worst case scenario and my best case
scenario was to make him shoot a pull up jumper going to his left hand, all right. The average
possession of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 was generated .98 points per possession, .98.
So you took the average possession of the Lakers. They were going to score .98 points
every time they had a possession. And so Kobe Bryant only shot the left handed pull up jumper
at a 44 percent clip. So every time that he went left and shot that pull up jumper he
was generating .88 points per possession. Well that’s a tenth of a point less than
the average Laker possession. And so if I could make him do that time and time again
which is a lot tougher to do than to say, I’m shaving off a tenth of a point every
single time. I’m actually making him detrimental to his team. And the way you have to look
at it is all these tenths of points, all right, add up. They add up here, they add up here,
they add up there. And all of a sudden those tenths of a point become points. And in the
NBA as we all know the margin between wins and loses is very, very thin. So those tenths
of points matter. And that’s all it really is. It’s no different than playing the stock
market. You’re trying to shave percentage points off your risk. And if you can accumulate
enough, guess what? You’re going to do very well. And so guarding a guy like Kobe Bryant,
understanding exactly who he is, what his weakness is, made me a much better defender
and allowed me to stick around the NBA for 13 years.

32 thoughts on “How Analytics Made Me a Better Basketball Player, with Shane Battier

  • February 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm
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    Big fan of Shane Battier. Great surprise to see him on this channel!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:01 pm
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    Hey look, they're allowing comments again!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm
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    So, "analytics" told you that making Bryant shoot a pullup jumper going left was, your best option?

    Any Joe Schmo could have told you that making right handed people pullup while going left was likely your best option too.

    Best case, "analytics" could help confirm that common basketball truism which you knew from direct experience.

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:11 pm
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    You could say analytics made him a battier player.

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:22 pm
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    Someone send this video to Charles Barkley ASAP!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:27 pm
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    Not hard to make Kobe detrimental to his team :>

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:34 pm
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    Love it!  And if you think of expanding this (since Kobe's pull-up jumpshot going to his left is not the only thing happening in a game of basketball), these little percentages of points add up when you're able to change other aspects of the game.  If each of 5 players do this on the people they're guarding, it can make a big difference!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:41 pm
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    very interesting

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  • February 25, 2015 at 8:47 pm
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    I love how they deactivated comments and ratings on the last video xD

    We managed to break Big Think!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 9:11 pm
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    Great Vid!

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  • February 25, 2015 at 9:17 pm
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    Analytics is useless. Its just a waybto ensure something we already know.

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  • February 25, 2015 at 11:18 pm
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    Everyone, who plays basketball knows this fact: try to force your opponent to his weak side. http://www.wikihow.com/Play-Defense-in-Basketball It's obvious stuff. No big data needed. 

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  • February 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm
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    Dear Big Think,

    Limiting freedom of discourse and argumentation by deactivating comments and likes, such as in your last video, makes you lose your credibility of being a Youtube channel dedicated towards critical thinking and the expansion of truth and rational thought. Please refrain from banning alternative views on any topic from being vocalized by people in the comments section, as this leads to less debate, less accountability, and a less thoughtful experience. 

    Sincerely,

    Your Freethinking Subscribers

    Reply
  • February 26, 2015 at 1:38 am
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    nothing like talking about confidence and disabling comments and ratings at the same time…..

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  • February 26, 2015 at 3:38 am
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    This was really cool

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  • February 26, 2015 at 7:25 am
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    Basically…make Kobe go left, don't give him layups or easy buckets and contest his jump shot in so many words to the uninitiated

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  • February 26, 2015 at 11:34 am
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    Yeah, disabling comments and ratings is really the way to think big…

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  • February 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    OFF TOPIC: Disabling the Comments on your previous video titled it takes confidence to instill confidence was a very poor move for a channel that is supposed to promote Ideas. It speaks volumes about the confidence you had in the message as well, I have no issue with channels that choose to disable comments as a blanket policy but doing so selectively is disingenuous and morally questionable. 

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  • February 26, 2015 at 3:28 pm
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    he min-maxed his NBA

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  • February 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm
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    Unlike others I don't mind that they disabled comments on the last video. Every time Big Think posts something about helping women there is zero discussion to be found in the comments. Instead you get people mindlessly complaining about "propaganda".

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  • February 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm
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    this is awesome

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  • February 26, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    Think big, by disabling the comments and like bar. its the future of youtube.

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  • February 26, 2015 at 7:24 pm
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    I feel sorry for this guy, all he wanted was to talk about basketball. But Big Think made this the only way to talk about their shit agenda videos.

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  • February 28, 2015 at 7:01 am
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    I wish Charles Barkley had a YouTube accout…

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  • March 11, 2015 at 7:30 pm
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    Because Analytics are basketball.

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  • July 20, 2015 at 8:25 pm
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    Battier tried real hard to stop Kobe….hand in the face, lots of illegal handchecking…still couldn't stop him. When it came down to it, with the game on the line, there was Kobe draining a left hand side jumper with Battier's hand covering his face. Eventually Kobe figured out what shots Battier was giving him, and practiced those to the point that they became a simple function of muscle memory. He didn't even need to see the basket to make the shot. That's why analytics doesn't work on players like Kobe.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 8:36 pm
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    great speech

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  • June 23, 2017 at 9:58 pm
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    Barrack Obama headass

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  • December 24, 2017 at 7:01 pm
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    Except for Oreb

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  • April 24, 2018 at 10:25 am
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    wouldn't his % be subjective to the defender guarding him? what if he makes that bucket 50% of the time with you guarding him, then you'd be giving up 0.02more points per possession.

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  • January 13, 2019 at 3:08 pm
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    I always thought Battier was nerdy but now he's a full fledged geek. Lmao

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  • May 7, 2019 at 1:22 am
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    Shout-out big think and shane Battier. My fantasy team in 06 had barbosa scola and battier.

    Reply

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