Those who claim that “stats can show anything you want” have a new case in point on their hands thanks to Fox Sports Indiana, which decided to put Pacers’ forward Thaddeus Young on a graphic with several NBA legends:
??? #Pacers pic.twitter.com/KJa7Rlw23u
— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) March 1, 2018
Hoo boy. Is that graphic for a NBA broadcast, or for a Sesame Street game of “One of these things is not like the other?” Okay, yes, it’s true that Young and those other players have averaged those totals, so this is at least better than some inaccurate graphics. And it is over a decent sample size (at least 800 games), so this isn’t like the graphics that put one season from a rookie up there with all-stars. But Young is not usually mentioned in conversation with those NBA legends; he’s been a good NBA player for a long time, but has never even been an all-star, with his career-best award being a pick to the second all-rookie team back in 2008.
And this stat is perhaps misleading because of the very specific benchmarks it sets. For example, the 1.4 steals per game knocks out a whole lot of better scorers and rebounders, while the 30 per cent three point percentage requirement knocks out a lot of great post players. There’s a whole lot of players who have contributed more to NBA games across their career than Young, but aren’t included here just because they didn’t post acceptable numbers in one of these categories.
Which is really the crazy thing here; none of these numbers are all that remarkable in a vacuum. No one’s going “Oh my god, he’s averaging 1.4 steals per game for his career! And 5.9 rebounds!” All of this is more acceptable than great, and it only stands out because few have done all of these things. And that’s before you get to the specific non-round thresholds here, all of which were selected because of Young’s career averages. We should note that all the other players here are well above Young in just about all of these categories, too. That’s definitely finding a way to shoehorn this comparison in.
Still, this might have been an okay thing for an analyst to toss out there during a game, something to make the audience briefly go “Huh. That’s interesting.” before everyone involved moved on, with no explicit suggestion that this put Young anywhere close to the level of those other players. (Which it doesn’t.) Creating a graphic like this comes with a lot more permanence, and while it doesn’t specifically say “Thaddeus Young is as good as Magic, Bird, Jordan and LeBron,” having his picture next to theirs somewhat implies that. And that’s what led to an absolute roasting of the Fox Sports Indiana account:
I was just discussing the 13.5/5.9/1.4/49%/30%3poimt club with my boys the other day
— The Monday Morning QuarterBLACK (@TheMMQBL) March 1, 2018
Every young basketball player dreams about joining the elusive 13.5/5.9/1.4/49/30 club one day. pic.twitter.com/c9QTpOs8YC
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) March 1, 2018
I really can’t get over how ridiculous this chart is. pic.twitter.com/PMgYpyGQa1
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 1, 2018
This seems like a statistic Thaddeus Young spent hours crafting to impress women at the bar.
— cfenton23 (@cfenton23) March 1, 2018
Here’s your next great Pacers stat
Players with at least one J in their name
— Will Applebee (@NOTSCWill) March 1, 2018
Wow! This stat cherry pick belongs in baseball next to the best average batting lefty on a Tuesday during a full moon night game.
— Hendu0520 (@Hendu0520) March 1, 2018
I feel like @JPosnanski would appreciate this first ballot arbitrary endpoint Hall of Famer.
— dustin (@dustintoronto) March 1, 2018
To top off a bad night for the Pacers, they lost 107-102 to the 18-43 Atlanta Hawks. That was the Hawks’ first win since a team over .500 (the Pacers were 34-26 heading in to Wednesday’s game) since January 29. See, Fox Sports Indiana, we can use stats too.
[Fox Sports Indiana on Twitter]