In recent years sports statistics have become more valued by professional teams, although this change has been a slow process. Hall of Fame baseball general manager Branch Rickey hired the first full time statistician in 1947, and made numerous statistical formulas to enhance his performance. Yet despite his decades of success, most sports owners did not value advancing statistical methods of evaluating players. For instance, noted statistician Bill James did his research as an outsider to baseball front offices in the 1980s and 1990s, until he was hired in 2003 by the Boston Red Sox. Undoubtedly it was the success of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and the popularity of the book (and now movie) Moneyball that made it acceptable to use modern statistics as a primary method of talent evaluation.
Although statistical analysis is more common in front offices of sports franchises today, many fans and media pundits tend to paint number crunchers by the same wide brush. The most common stereotype of the sports statistician is the computer nerd who spends most of his time dealing with spreadsheets and little time actually watching the game. By placing them in an "outgroup", those ignorant or hostile to statistical analysis can attribute what one says or thinks to all members of the group. That is if one statistician thinks David Lee is better than Kobe Bryant, then those who stereotype statisticians can claim all numerical based findings are ludicrous.
Stereotypes aside, the reality is that most statisticians, specifically in basketball, watch more games than the casual fan. They tend to use their numerical knowledge to augment their observational perspective. Additionally, statistical analysts vary in how they evaluate the game, and are not in agreement on a multitude of issues. Perhaps the most divisive issue is the value of shot creation.
In the NBA, a team has 24 seconds from gaining possession to take a shot. Should the team fail to do so,...
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