NBA to track, publish hustle stats during playoffs

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Eye test or analytics?

Both, of course.

But more specifically, I believe in turning as much as possible into numbers. Statistics can track much more than people realize, and numbers allow us to assess more information than our brains can handle.

Some would argue you can’t count hustle. I’d say try, and the NBA is.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

For the first time, the NBA will track a new batch of “hustle stats” in the playoffs and post them online within hours of the end of every game, league officials told ESPN.com.

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.

This is awesome.

Will these numbers perfectly record complex NBA action? Of course not. There will be gray areas, and context will make same numbers misleading.

But smart people will understand that and use the stats for what they are — another piece of information.

Someone expected has great hustle stats (or poor ones)? That’ll confirm your perception.

Someone unexpected has great hustle stats (or poor ones)? Pay a little more attention to him during games to see why.

This should only make fans smarter.