Kevin McHale on Rockets analytics: “Numbers don’t win games”

Kevin McHale (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Kevin McHale (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Kevin McHale (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Do the Houston Rockets’ brainpower rely too much on advanced analytics? Former Rockets coach Kevin McHale says yes.

It’s well known that the Houston Rockets rely on advanced analytics, which is predicated on taking the most efficient shots. This has meant taking the mid-range shot out of the offensive gameplan entirely, and shooting an exorbitant amount of 3-pointers, particularly corner threes.

The corner three is 22 feet in distance, which is the shortest 3-point shot on the floor, as the others are 23 feet and nine inches. The Rockets signed P.J. Tucker prior to the 2017-18 season, and it makes perfect sense why they coveted him: he’s the best corner 3-point shooter in the league.

Tucker being behind the corner has made for a great safety net for James Harden and Russell Westbrook this season, and it’s easy to understand why. The Beard and the Brodie are both adept at getting to the basket, so it’s not uncommon for them to reel in a second defender, which generally means Tucker is wide open in the corner.

But aside from shooting out of the corner, the Rockets shoot a frenetic amount of treys all over the court. Year after year the Rockets fire away from long range at a historic pace. This approach is consistent with the efficiency and analytical formula, as it allows them to theoretically score more points on fewer shots.

But is this the best approach?

Next: McHale speaks