The Memphis Grizzlies have been cited as a team ready to head full force into the analytic stage with the recent hiring of former ESPN writer John Hollinger.

Hollinger, one of the foremost basketball sabermetricians during his eight years at ESPN, was hired in December as a vice president of basketball operations.

With the hiring, the Grizzlies have been lauded in some quarters for their advanced thinking and questioned in others for entering a new stage in analyzing players. While this story makes good copy, it’s not completely accurate.

That’s because even before Hollinger’s hiring, the Grizzlies constantly used advanced statistical analysis as part of the process of assessing players and scouting opponents. It’s just that the Grizzlies didn’t receive the attention because there wasn’t a person whose full-time job dealt in the subject.

From April of 2009, until he was hired full-time as director of analytics for the Philadelphia 76ers in November, Aaron Barzilai served as a consultant to Chris Wallace and the Grizzlies.

Wallace said that analytics are a part of putting together a scouting report on a prospect or a team, but just a piece of the overall big puzzle. Still, he said the importance can’t be understated.

“There was no transaction we made whether it was a draft choice or free agency that we didn’t consult Aaron,” Wallace said. “We didn’t go lockstep with all the numbers but at least we let him present his case.”

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins says there is a long history in the NBA for advanced statistics, although he concedes not as in-depth as today.

“Advanced stats have been around when I was playing and it is just they get more notoriety now that so many people outside the game use them,” said Hollins, who played from 1975-1985. “When people in the media use them, it becomes more important than when the players and coaches use them.”

Hollins says that he benefits most from keeping advanced stats simple when making a point to his players.

“When you talk about points per possession, players don’t understand it,” he said. “People who create it understand it and sell it and people believe that it is better than old stats.”

That doesn’t mean Hollins scoffs at using advanced statistical information. In fact he says that when talking to a player who has been slumping, he backs up anything he says with statistical analysis.

“I don’t like going to talk to a player unless I have something to show them,” Hollins said. “You always want to quantify something when you talk to the players.”