A Plea to Look Beyond the Stats

A Plea to Look Beyond the Stats

by September 20, 2020 0 comments

Statistics have given every professional sport an edge, from scouting to building a team. Stats have been a part of sports for as long as they have become organized. But what many overlook are the players and moments that do have a statistical category. Thus throwing players into the category of underrated or bad players. Such can be the same for players who only have good qualities in their game that reflect the stats. 

The Lost Art of Non-Statistical Players

In basketball, basic stats include points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentages. Recently, teams have incorporated more dynamic stat categories such as true shooting (TS%) and effective field goal percentages (eFG%). These categories bring all the shooting of an NBA player to see if they are effective when they shoot. 

There are categories that can be found but are meaningless to the NBA. it is very rare for an analyst or scout to even mention open shot field goal percentages and contested shot field goal percentages by themselves. These stats are not mentioned because many believe that they do not matter. However, a player can benefit from the lack of knowledge. Many fans and writers love to look at stats and compare. They will see a player shoot 9-18 and think they had a good game. 


What they did not see is where they made their shots and how open they were. The true shooting percentage is a close cousin of this argument. However, that goes by their efficiency of making the shot, not the difficulty of it. The player who went 9-18 could have gone 9-9 from fast break opportunities. And 0-9 from anywhere from 15 feet out. For a shooter, hitting a wide-open shot should be easy. Those percentages should be higher, but there should be no praise to a player who struggles to hit a contested jump shot. Fans should expect a professional ballplayer to hit an open jump shot more than 70% of the time, especially if they are a known shooter. 

These kinds of stats are what you do not see, and are hard to find. Many teams and websites do not post these elevation stats. Many believe they are meaningless, but in reality, shooting 9-9 wide open and shooting 0-9 with a light contest is a huge difference-maker in the quality of a player. These non-statistical areas can be hidden from greatness. Causing players who have a high percentage from taking more open shots to overshadow those who have an average shooting percentage from contested shots. 

Marcus Smart‘s Non-Countable stats

Other stats such as hustle are not covered. Although many fans can obviously see the hustle in a player. For instance look at Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Smart is a player that throws his body to the ground to save the ball and extend the play. The veteran guard’s basic stats show that he is only a mediocre starter. Averaging 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. His field goal percentage is not even the best as Smart is respectively averaging 37% from the field and 34% from three. 

Although his stats are mediocre for a starting-caliber player, his tenacity to grab the ball and extend the play is amongst the best in the league. Smart could be a borderline all-star, but his stats do not help his case. Many fans overlook a player’s hustle to grab loose balls, their ability to switch on defense, and their movement off the ball.

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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images

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