Hey, guess what Paul George, Charles Barkley and Larry Brown have in common. It turns out they are all non-believers when it comes to basketball analytics. While the latter two have been on the record for some time about their distaste for advanced statistics, the Indiana Pacers star just recently let his feelings be known, via the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner:
“I’m not a fan of analytics,” said George, who takes 4.9 shots per game from 15-19 feet, second only to Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin for most in the NBA.
“The greatest player to ever play this game was a midrange jump shooter in Michael Jordan,” George continued. “At that time no one had nothing to say. It’s about what’s best for that player and what’s the skill set of that player. We have a lot of guys who are more than capable at shooting well from the midrange. So I don’t know what to say about analytics. It works for some systems. I’m not a believer of analytics. That’s just how it is.”
In my estimation, this only registers as a 3 out of 10 on the Barkley Meter, which should be how we judge extremism on this subject. George didn't attack "nerds" or claim that analytics "don't work." He just pointed out, quite forcefully, that midrange shots can be useful, and he's not going to stop taking them.
Ironically, advanced stats are very helpful in understanding just how great George has been for the Pacers. In 2014, he was profiled for ESPN The Magazine's analytics issue. This season, he has career highs in PER (23.6), true shooting percentage (56.6 percent), rebounding percentage (13.5 percent), free throw rate (.407) and assist percentage (24 percent), according to Basketball-Reference. While this version of George is obviously a superstar, analytics helped demonstrate his value around the league when he was younger and more of a 3-and-D type.
George probably wouldn't disagree with, say, what Shane Battier says about analytics. He likely just doesn't love hearing about the inefficiency of the midrange jumper, as having that in your arsenal can be beneficial. George grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, pestered Indiana color commentator Quinn Buckner for information about Michael Jordan's habits and has been learning from Larry Bird since the Hall of Famer drafted him. Those players all lived in the midrange, and George has worked extremely hard to develop that part of his game. That's part of what makes him effective, though analytics-inclined people would suggest that it's much less important than his all-around defense and 3-point shooting.