After a game against the Washington at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2022, coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about the Knick defense on the season vs the game just finished where NY beat the Wizards and outrebounded them 60-38.
In his response, Thibodeau commented on “advanced statistics” vs the power of the “eye test” of an experienced NBA coach:
“I think we’ve been pretty good most of the year. There’s all these different metrics that people use to measure things. My eyes tell me things too. I know if a guy is guarding the ball well; I know if a team is in the gaps; I know if a team is keeping the ball out of the paint; I know if a team is challenging shots; I know if a team is rebounding.”
“Sometimes they’ll say that defensive field goal percentage is a pretty good yardstick; points in the paint is a pretty good yardstick; rebounding margin is a pretty good yardstick.”
But “some people will say, well, according to this, you were lucky.”
“Well they’re using cameras that.. they don’t know what your game plan is; they don’t know if you’re closing short to a driver, you’re taking airspace away; they don’t know if your game plan is to not leave your feet to stay down on a shot on a guy (so he doesn’t) get to the free throw line.
So, I think we have played good defense and we have rebounded the ball well.”
The Game vs the Season = Representative Example
In the game Julius Randle got 17 rebounds, Mitchell Robinson got 12 rebounds, and RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Alec Burks, and Jericho Sims got 6 apiece — following Thibodeau’s often-stated mantra that Everyone Rebound.
Wider Conversation of “Advanced Analytics” vs “Eye Test”
But Thibodeau’s take talks to the wider conversation of ‘advanced statistics’ which by their nature are rudimentary because they are not Big Data — vs the analysis done by the human brain.