The NBA’s relationship with advanced statistics is light years beyond that of other professional sports leagues. A quick trip to stats.nba.com opens fans up to a treasure trove of numbers, from true shooting percentage to field goal percentage when a defender is within 2 feet. With the playoffs set to start this weekend, the NBA is adding even more statistical fun to its in-game experience.
For the first time ever in the playoffs, the NBA will release a series of what it deems “hustle stats.” These stats were previously available only to the media, but fans will now be able to dive much deeper into a statistical pool to better understand why their team won or lost. From ESPN’s Zach Lowe:
The league will track how often defenders contest 2- and 3-point shots, deflections by defensive players, charges taken, which players recover loose balls, and so-called “screen assists,” which the league defines as picks that lead directly to a made field goal attempt by a teammate. The “screen assist” category will not include picks that result in a teammate drawing a shooting foul or that free up someone for a shot one or two passes down the chain, officials said.
Now, instead of saying something along the lines of “Wow, it feels like Tristan Thompson altered a ton of shots at the rim today,” you can actually put a numerical value to that assumption. Through screen assists, you’ll also be able to infer whether a team, or individual player, is running the coach’s preferred offensive play correctly.
The possibilities for both teams and fans to glean insights from this data, and from data previously available, are endless, and it’s awesome to see the NBA not only accepting these numbers, but promoting them, too.