Rockets GM Daryl Morey, an avid chess player, joined the Chess.com Twitch live stream to discuss strategy, analytics, and dive briefly into how those apply to basketball.
Meandering down one of NBA history’s more familiar roads, Morey posited that analytics say a lot about how great the greats really were, compared across eras. Notably, that some of the league’s Rushmore guards were perhaps less impressive than assumed in basketball mythology.
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If you apply the analytics that sort of are able to tease out how much a player can impact the win probability of a game, it does come out and say things like Kobe [Bryant] are not as good a player as people think. Or Allen Iverson … what it does is it really does make some of the old guard upset.
To be fair, like, people who were fans of Kobe or fans of Allen Iverson or a lot of great players in the past, a lot of the data actually that you need to really know how good they were, which we have now, was not available.
Especially if you go back, even to Allen Iverson or if you go back even farther back from that, some of the great mid-ranged players of the past. So, it’s very interesting, and yeah, I do upset a lot of people when I say things like, ‘LeBron is significantly better than Jordan.’ Actually, it’s like overwhelmingly true.
This statement is nothing new from Morey, who is at the tip of the analytical spear as far as general managers go. He has previously asserted that James is the best NBA player of all time, and that the analytics prove it.
“You just look at his ability to generate wins and championship probability over time, and you basically break that down—and obviously, you don’t need all the numbers, you can watch as well and see that—but if you basically isolate that and also look at the career he’s had, frankly, I think at this point, it’s become a bit of a big margin frankly, where he’s come out ahead.”