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My personal journey through analytics

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How a crushing migraine left one writer thinking "Live and let live" when it comes to basketball analytics.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Two seasons ago, during the Denver Nuggets 57 win campaign I attempted to sit through an entire weeks worth of games using what I deemed to be "analytic thought". I attempted to gauge shot efficiency and defensive metrics while hand writing a chart of made and missed shots relative to offensive flow and pace. It was just basic analytics and I failed spectacularly.

I ended up with one of the worst migraines I've ever had.

I came to the conclusion that my mind, for whatever it's worth, doesn't work that way. Not only did I have a headache I stopped enjoying the games I was watching which despite the throbbing head was the most important factor to me. I can't think that way without completely losing what makes basketball fun for me. Has nothing to do with the metrics and has everything to do with ME. Thus began my live and let live policy on basketball analytics.

Let me also say this. The debate on analytics vs "eye test" is settled and analytics won handily years ago. For me I have zero issue with teams applying the use of analytics to the game, in fact I encourage it. You can't be stuck in an era that didn't use them because the ENTIRE game has moved that direction. That's like complaining no one likes your BMW when everyone is driving a Ferrari.

You don't need a degree in hyperbolic topology to understand where the NBA has been heading for years now. The key is to enjoy what you are watching (at least in my view) while understanding WHERE the NBA is. You don't have to rail against the oncoming storm when your basement is already flooded. Time to accept where the NBA is now and learn how you can apply your own knowledge to the knowledge stew that is already brewing.

Yes, there are some analytics people who cover the NBA that can be overbearing and condescending. Lord knows there are plenty of old school reporters who will have the same attitude about bloggers who cover the League. I think more people need to take a laissez faire attitude about the use of analytics and understand they are part of the game and ALSO understand that their own input is JUST as valuable as that the use of metric numbers.

A perfect example of this is very simple. One thing that metrics cannot account for is chemistry/feel an momentum. It can tell you certain lineups are more efficient than others, but it can't tell you why. It can present the answer without the context. Also there are certain on the floor lineups that may seem less efficient but produce a better plus/minus or presents a matchup against a certain team that they wouldn't against others. Feel is just as important now as it was when the game first started and that will not go away.

I don't choose to use analytic metrics in my own analysis, but it doesn't mean that I don't understand and appreciate their use. I value my own enjoyment of the game and how I SEE it more than learning about how the hot dog is made. However, some others gather their enjoyment from looking at the game of basketball from a metric prism. The application and presentation of both feel (which is a better description than "eye test) and analytics will only move the NBA forward.

It doesn't have to be a war, when it can be about making each other and the game we love better as we go forward. Now, lets all join hands and sing the chorus of Share the Land by the Guess Who.