How analytics ruined traditional big men
"Not an effective shot"

How analytics ruined traditional big men

Post up game is becoming a lost art, and Tyrone Ellis – current head coach of the G-League Stockton Kings – blames the analytics.

I think the analytics have a big part to do with that because the post up is one of the worst analytical shots you can take. You have your outliers – Shaq, Hakeem, Duncan – the greats. But for the rest of the people, that’s not an effective shot.

Tyrone Ellis, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

Analytics changed how we view basketball. The game is heavily three-point oriented, emphasizing the players’ all-around ability, refusing to put players in boxes solely based on their frame.

One can argue that led to the all-time high skill level in the association and an unprecedented number of individuals who can do it all on the floor. The only problem is the go-to playstyle became standardized across the entire association, or at least at the top of the NBA player pyramid.

It led to post up game becoming a deviation and something not a lot of teams experiment with, despite having players who have shown the ability to become great back to the basket players. The analytics say that’s not an efficient way to play, and teams stay away from it.

There’s too much traffic. You can double team; you can do so much to take away a big’s scoring opportunities on the block, so coaches have to be more strategic.

Tyrone Ellis, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

Camping their bigs down low is something no coach uses in today’s NBA. Tall, slender guys like Christian Wood or DeAndre Ayton roll hard to the rim, forcing defensive rotations, and players like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić combine the inside-outside dynamic, utilizing their abilities to put the ball on the floor and create plays for others. But none of them stay down low, despite having an indisputable skillset to do so — especially the Sixers‘ superstar.

At this rate, none of them ever will. The term NBA big man has been redefined, and it’s far from your archetypal big from, let’s say, the ’90s. Such change led to unprecedented scoring performances, and that’s exciting. But occasional hook shot, up and under, and bully back down is something we all want to see more of.