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Thursday, January 9, 2020

What Is The Single Most Important Stat On A Basketball Scoresheet?

By Harry Cummins

     What do you look for when you first pick up a basketball box score?  What do coaches first look for?  Is there a single most important stat that predicates winning results?

     Of course the answers are as varied as who's looking.  Basketball stats can be both simple and complex.  So many categories, combinations and variables will determine who will win any given game.  How important is it for each player on the floor to understand how a coach wants a final box score to look like.. and what should their individual and collective roles be against a specific opponent? 

     Realizing if you dominate one key category in the box score, but are badly outplayed in many others, your chances of winning are greatly reduced.  If your defensive rebounding is awful and you have far more turnovers than your opponent, it may be hard to win despite superior shooting statistics.  One category begets another.

    If your want complexity, turnovers themselves must be more closely examined under the light of   an opponent's defensive pressure applied during most the game. Was it intense or practically non-existent?  Was your best ball-handler not in your lineup?  Each box score comes with multiple
variables and questions that must be correctly applied and constantly adjusted by coaches during the course of a game.

     So with all that said....for the purpose of this exercise, if you must select  a single statistic, other than the final score of course, that most determines victory.  What would it be?

     Of course, ultimately I look at the inter-relationship of everything on a box score...but what do I look for first?

     Team Shots (FGA's) Attempted! 

     I would say this especially holds true at the higher levels of the game where better shooters abound. More attempts from better shooters should mean more baskets made.  Hopefully, many other categories for your team won't collapse and offset this primary stat. It goes without saying that nights when you shoot a dismal 20 for 80 from the field... most likely won't result in your desired outcome.

     No matter what category or categories you may select...look more closely at the next box score you come across, and put your own theories to the test.  It is a great way to enhance your enjoyment of this wonderful game and draw attention to the multi-skilled athletes who play it.