Graphic courtesy of MCT Campus..
Anyone who has played any sport for a long period of time knows there are certain nuances in the game that begin to come naturally. It’s what makes sports amazing to watch, because at a certain point the mind quits thinking and starts reacting. Hours upon hours of practice and training have allowed the players to play their game seamlessly, without hesitation, moving from one moment to the next almost as easily as they draw breath. It’s at that moments such as these that sports become more than just an athletic competition and become an art form.
The beauty that sports hold when it comes to how they are played and the skills athletes possess are the same reason that those who love them have hated the most recent turn they have taken when it comes to advancements in stats and data, or to put it simply advanced statistics.
Advanced statistics have begun to take hold when it comes to not only in how the sports are played but how the athletes are being taught to play them.
The fear is that as the younger generations are raised in this new generation of advanced metrics that they will quit relying on the fundamentals of the sport and come to rely on what the advanced metrics are telling them to do, they’ll begin to ignore and neglect the natural instincts they should be gaining from practicing the sport.
With advanced metrics on the rise the growing fear is that fundamentals will disappear from various sports and none is more of threat than succumbing to the damages than the rise of advanced metrics can bring than that of basketball. With the rise of the three pointers in this current era of the sport other aspects of the game are being left significantly less unpolished. But who could blame them, Steph Curry has back to back MVPs, one of them being unanimous, with his ability to shoot the three at an alarming and efficient rate.
Teams, on both the college and pro level, are being built around the ability to shoot the three over all other abilities.
Things such as a mid-range game and post moves are becoming harder and harder to find not only on the pro and collegiate level, but in the ranks of younger players along with children having more emphasis put on their ability to shoot from distance than other more important skills.
It is this tendency that many believe will lead to a complete and utter dilution in skill when it comes of the game of basketball simply because players aren’t having these skills are being instilled in them at an early age.
To some this sounds absurd. From the outside looking in the game of basketball is in a better place than it has ever been. There are big men playing the game right now who have more skill than some guards, which is astonishing, and there are some guards who have become such great volume three point shooters that they are dominating the game like no one ever ounce thought was possible.
The problem with this is that all of these players are displaying the abilities of guards whose skill set relies on either finishing at the rim or shooting a three and nothing else. There are nearly seven foot giants who aren’t great rebounders, there are guards who can connect on threes from nearly five feet from behind the three point line but can’t manage to connect on a jump shot from fifteen feet.
Even worse is the lack of emphasis being put on proper defense with younger players being brought up by coaches who more often prioritize pace and space over any other sort of offensive sets leading to more and more lacking the defensive instincts or mindset to lock in and really stop opposing players from scoring.
Now there will always be stars when it comes to any sport and basketball is most certainly not the exception.
There will always be players who can seemingly do it all when it comes to the game of basketball, but what about those who aren’t?
Are we simply telling these young players that if you’re not great it’s okay to try to excel and succeed in the game of basketball while only having one polished skill and nothing else? Are we telling them that they should mold their game to match the ever growing world of advanced statistics or the should players be taught to play the game as they always have for decades prior?