This is a big debate lately. The common, "Well stats don't lie" or "Open your eyes stat geeks" phrases have been used by both sides. And since we are all Magic fans, we watch the Magic every game, I think I am going to use a team not named Orlando as an example of why it is wrong to do either side. We all have emotion invested in the Magic so it may blind us one way or the other. So I am going to look at two teams, the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
First let us tackle the Boston Celtics, specifically the Kendrick Perkins trade. "Statheads" will say, well he does not even average a double double. Not even 10+ rebounds. "Use your eyes nerds" people say that Celtics chemistry was messed up, Rajon Rondo lost his best friend, and Perkins gives them "toughness", "ruggedness", "junk yard dog mentality" is now gone. Basically the "intangibles" that, their favorite phrase: "Stats just don't tell what the player does." I was listening to the Scott Van Pelt show earlier today, and co-host Ryen Russillo has been steadfast in his belief that Kendrick Perkins does not help the Celtics in this series at all. Many times he has said that Perkins would not make a big difference. He has stated that Nate Robinson being good friends with Glen "Big Baby" Davis play better offensively.
However Jalen Rose, a much better analyst than given credit for, rebutted Russillo in a very convincing manner. Perkins may not make a difference offensively, but he would make a big difference in their current series with Miami(which seems it will be over in 4 or 5 very quick, uncompetative games). His precense would not allow Wade and LeBron to run wild at the rim, something both do not do when playing against our very own Dwight Howard. Knowing that if you go and attack the rim and there will be somebody who meets you and will plant you on your backside does make a player hesitate to attack the rim. The Heat are destroying the Celtics at the FT line. Maybe Perkins would just add 6 more fouls, but the fact that he would take a hard foul for the team and plant either James or Wade on the ground would make a huge difference. Also another big difference he said was that Miami can play Bosh at the 5 and LeBron at 4, causing more mismatches and allowing the Heat to play the way they want to.
Looking at the OKC Thunder, I have read noted "stathead" John Hollinger say that he believes that if you were to swap Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook the Bulls would be the same. Their stats are very, very comparable. You could argue that Westbrook has better numbers. However, if you watch his 4th quarter game management it is terrible. While Derrick Rose may take tough shots it does seem like he makes the right decision. Westbrook has shot way too much, turns the ball over way too much, and when he does pass it is the wrong pass. What makes his game management even more baffling is the fact that Kevin Durant, two time defending leading scorer of the NBA, never receives the ball from him. Kevin Durant had a season that did not meet "expectations" to some. Why is that? Westbrook took the ball out of his hands. Here is a link to a fantastic article by Truehoops Zach Harper
The point of this fanpost?? Don't be so quick to use stats as your only basis for how a player performs. Don't be so quick to trust your eyes either, as they can deceive you. Boxscore will tell you that Russell Westbrook is the same player as Derrick Rose, the MVP. Your eyes will tell you that Derrick Rose deserves the MVP and title as best Point Guard in the league. Boxscore will say that Kendrck Perkins is a mediocre player. Your eyes will say that Perkins is the reason the Celtics will lose in the second round this year. The truth of the matter? None of those four statments are true.