Can Stats be empty? – How much your players really need to know…

As a part of the work that I do, may that be while watching games or just reviewing footage to look at specifics I can easily get side tracked by things. I know that it can be a part of my weakness but I also try to consider it my “dog with a bone” phase during the day. With that said, two stats I really see as stats that can turn out to be empty are blocks and steals. Not that either are important or don’t allow teams to win or lose games its just the fact that the effort and value they trigger on the court substantiate to intangibles more than clear decision making in a sense.


When I have a call or a sit down with coaches, we always get down to the boiling points of “Do you break down the team’s individual stats into various categories?” and secondarily “Do you keep it for your own consideration or share it with the team?” Both situations allow me to evaluate things to the point if coaches go through paralysis of analysis.

Here are a couple of general examples to draw from:

A team we helped ended up playing a total of 43 games domestically and across a pan-European tournament. Out of the total games 8 of them were serious blowout games (won by +25 points is what I would call this). About 17 of the games were really played to the wire and weren’t determined till late into the game yet were won by a only a difference of about 2 to 4 points.

  1. When going over scenarios during assessment, do you isolate the plays/sets of the close games not just on a possession basis but statistically too to see what defensive effort was really established?
  2. With 8 blowout games do you differentiate the pre/post blowout situation and isolate statistics?

It might seem surprising but not a lot of coaches that we talk with as potential clients or even just chat ever totally consider both these questions too often.

While the overall benefit of such an assessment or so called practice comes in handy when you can push players to individually be much more aware and pressure them vs. take the pressure away when needed. Complacency is a factor in basketball and can affect both the coaches and players negatively.

On a broader level we almost all know that “the game of basketball has two simple objectives for any team. The team wants to score points (offense) and prevent their opponent from scoring points (defense). The team that scores the most points wins the game.” Yet in the process when played out there are almost so many factors that counter in that the game becomes a complex mix of problem solving matters.

You might think that things are getting side tracked but on the whole there also is the adverse case that teams also respond very well playing to the wire and actually become so much more aware of how to preform under pressure that they consider the tight games much more dear. End result “W” than fine but in the case of the loss, learning from accumulating those “empty stats” that this post is about becomes the issue the team has to resolve. Recall that not so long ago Russell Westbrook was just crashing boards that seemingly looked like he was accumulating empty rebounds as stats… well in international basketball its been very much a case study issue in the past and present day. There are games and players that coaches drive onto the court just for the sake of once the so called blowouts occur to just supposedly gain experience but at the same time accumulate “empty stats”.

As a conclusion, I’m happy to state the following; its important to have awareness of taking statistics at face value. I cannot repeat this enough ever but STATISTICS only point out the problem after the game is played out. Its very vital therefore to learn from them and keep a high level of tracking, analyzing and sharing of stats to see how a trend that points to a clear path that will allow for decisions to be made ANALYTICALLY.


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