“While that was not definitive, it was a piece of evidence to suggest that look, given the time and experience of doing this, he does have this ability. He can do this. One more piece of the puzzle to say yes, this is the guy we want.”
* Analytics is not bedrock science. It’s ever-evolving. Some of the sharpest stat geeks remain some of the most vibrant learners.
Alamar said his analytics showed Lopez to be a “fine” pick as well. But Alamar argued for Westbrook.
“With all the analytic work I had done on Russell Westbrook, I argued probably more vehemently than the number allowed me to in that situation, that Russell Westbrook was the guy,” Alamar said. “Which eventually comes back to haunt you, because Brook Lopez was a good player. We made the right choice, but in terms of my discussion of the two, I overstated my case. It was a learning process for me in that draft, as an analyst, in how far you can go, and the truth is, you should never go further than the data allows.”
* Part of the Westbrook/Lopez debate concerned position. NBA tradition says, it’s hard to find a center.
Analytics sometime search for which position is more central to success – point guard or center. But analytics go deeper than that.
“Little more specific, given where we thought we were going to go,” Alamar said. “We had Kevin Durant on the team. There was a plan where he was headed. It was pretty clear what was going to happen.
Given that we had that piece, what pieces do we want to add to that?
Given the analysis I had done, which player would have a bigger impact on you being an elite team, it was the point guard position.”
Good big men are the league’s most scarce resource, NBA people always say, but “but the truth is, that’s not necessarily the case,” Alamar said. “But even if they were the scarcest resource, that doesn’t mean they have the biggest impact.”
* Analytics have their limits and sometimes mean squat. The drafting of Serge Ibaka, for instance, from that same 2008 draft.
“At that point, the international data was so shaky, we weren’t utilizing any of the international data,” Alamar said. “Now, the data has become a little better. We have a little better track record of players, too, coming from the international game to the NBA and how they perform at different areas. But the international data is tough because the levels of competition vary so much, and how they move from team to team, league to league.”
Alamar says he doesn’t even know what went into the Thunder selecting Ibaka 24th overall in 2008.
“To be honest, what went into that pick, was not part of me,” Alamar said. “It wasn’t part of analytics.”