HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The nature versus nurture theory has always generated great debates in basketball.
It’s been that way since Dr. James Naismith invented the game and it exploded in popularity around the globe. How much of what an individual player does on the court is the product of what’s in his heart and soul and how much of it is a product of what he’s learned and coached to do?
In the age of analytics that debate is raging more than it ever has. Simply studying a box score and then trying to match up those numbers to whatever your own eye test tells you is no longer sufficient. You have to dig deeper, you have to not only study the numbers but also comprehend what they mean within the context of the game.
It makes for an intriguing conversation about what you’ve seen out of youngsters like Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller and some of the other fresh rookie faces on the scene. And yet it also gives us a new perspective on established superstars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and so many others.
Any time we talk numbers around here we enlist the services of our resident stat man extraordinaire, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann, whose work in the field has earned him cult hero status among the analytics crowd. He’s been busy providing a statistical nugget a day leading up to the start of the regular season with his One Team: On Stat project.
Is the mid-range jumper a better shot for an average shooter than if they were to back up a couple of steps and try to knock down a 3-pointer? The Schuhmann Stat tells us yes, in most instances, mostly because, as Schuh put it, “three is better than two.”
That’s the word freelance specialists like J.R. Smith and Russell Westbrook often live by during the course of a game. It’s also the word that can render a great talent a disastrous teammate when he can’t figure out which urge to give in to … nature or nurture?
We debated that and a whole lot more on Episode 133 of the Hang Time Podcast … The Schuhmann Stat!
As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com, Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.