Deseret News - Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder wants to rethink which stats should be in the...

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    [​IMG] Jazz head coach Quin Snyder reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. | Colter Peterson, Deseret News

    SALT LAKE CITY — For years, sports fans have become accustomed to the statistical information presented as the way to judge a player’s performance. In the NBA, the primary stats include scoring, rebounding, steals, assists, blocked shots, along with shooting percentage and free throw percentage.

    But the advent of analytics — the systematic computational analysis of data and statistics — has changed some of the metrics used to evaluate players’ impact on the field or, in the case of basketball, on the court. Now teams track information like effective field goal percentage (eFG%) — a measurement of the effectiveness of 2-point and 3-point shots, player efficiency rating (PER) — a formula that adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system and plus-minus — net changes in score when a given player is on or off the court.

    There are numerous other metrics as well that teams use to assess player performance, and some critics argue the traditional ‘stat sheet’ has become archaic and should be updated to include new metrics that previously had been overlooked statistically speaking, but have definite impacts on the final score.

    “(As coaches) we don’t talk about points per game anymore. We talk about offensive efficiency and someone’s got to start talking about things that we preach as coaches that make winning plays. You play for each other.” — Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder

    One of those people is Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, a respected voice in the profession who believes that some ‘player hustle’ stats that definitively affect the outcome of games need to be included in the typical box score. Among the overlooked advanced stats he noted is the ‘screen assist’ — a pick set for a teammate that directly lead to a made basket by that teammate.

    Jazz center Rudy Gobert currently leads the league with an average of 8.6 screen assists per game that account for an average of 19 points a contest. While the league does track such data (which can be found on its website), the numbers do not appear in traditional box scores or stat sheets, meaning the player’s contribution goes largely unrecognized to all but the most ardent NBA fan — something Snyder wants to change.

    “We want to talk about results, we should talk about screen assists from Rudy Gobert,” he said at a team shootaround last week. “He led the league last year with five (per game). There’s plays where his screen is more impactful than the chest pass that someone has to make to a shooter.”

    “He may not average 10, but if he did, to me that’s a triple-double and our box scores need to catch up because people read a box score,” Snyder said. “(As coaches) we don’t talk about points per game anymore. We talk about offensive efficiency and someone’s got to start talking about things that we preach as coaches that make winning plays. You play for each other.”

    He also touted the usage of effective field goal percentage, which he believes also should be included in the box score. But screen assists seemed to be a particular focus on this day.

    “There’s some things that we as coaches in the league and everybody recognize,” he said. “Screen assist is one to me that hits home because we’ve got a guy that’s given himself up every night to help his team win games.”

    He said including a few more relevant stats wouldn’t be that complicated.

    “If I screen somebody and (a teammate) hits the screen and that guy gets open and hits a shot, we give an assist — hockey does it,” Snyder said. “It’s just another layer of analysis. I don’t think it’s hard. The box score shows this but it doesn’t show this. It shows the pass but it doesn’t show (the screen).”

    “So anyway, that’s my guy. I’m gonna keep talking about this,” he added. “He’s impacting the game. All his teammates know (and) they want us to run (plays) for him so we can score so he can show up in the box score.”

    He said by continuing to exclude some of the player hustle advanced metrics, the league is “selling fans short” in thinking they can’t understand new data beyond the traditional box score stats “because it’s been around for 30 years.”

    “It’s online, it’s on a bunch of sites, people report it, teams are judged by it,” he said. “It’s logical to me. We always say, ‘Well, it doesn’t show up in the box score.’ Why not? If it has such an impact on the game, it should show up in the box score.”

    He added that players need to be recognized for the things they’re doing on the court that “impact the bottom line.”

    “We’re not talking about rocket science,” Snyder said. “It’s something that’s not difficult to visibly view (but) change is hard.”

    He noted that teams keep track of contested shots on the bench and deflections because they tell a tale, whereas stats like steals often don’t.

    “You can go for steals and miss a steal and (your opponent) can score so you get things that are very results-oriented because it’s easier to record those things when the ball is in the basket,” he explained. “(However) something like deflections may give a more accurate representation of how a team is playing. Often times, deflections lead to steals but there’s times when deflections are just disruptive and impact the game.”

    “We always talk about how people impact the game when you watch it. (For instance) a guard picks up full court and makes someone work, wearing them down,” Snyder explained. “There are stats that are reported on various sites, but they’re not reported in a typical box score. The box is just antiquated.”

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