If Bill Shakespeare were a basketball fan then his famous quote may have come out a bit differently. Perhaps he would have mumbled, "To award an assist or not to award an assist: that is the question."
NBA statisticians can be a fickle bunch. After Chris Andersen was awarded just one block during his incredible three blocks in a row sequence in Dallas on March 27th I got to thinking how subjective stats can be.
In an article I read in the Wall Street Journal titled The NBA's Most Misleading Number it states that, "An NBA spokesman said league officials review every game to make sure statistics are credited properly."
And yet Andersen is still only credited with one block in that Dallas game. And we all witnessed him swatting at least two with the third perhaps coming after the 24-second shot clock expired.
Anyway, I really started thinking about how subjective stats can be, especially since the home teams provide the stat crews.
You wouldn't think that with a rule book that calls could be too off, but just look at how assists are determined, according to the Wall Street article:
The NBA statistician's manual says an assist should be "credited to a player tossing the last pass leading directly to a field goal, only if the player scoring the goal responds by demonstrating immediate reaction to the basket."
Yesterday during Jason Kidd's 20 assist game there was a play where he passed the ball off to Josh Howard and after a couple dribbles he pulled up and shot a jumper ... Kidd was credited with an assist. I don't think that play directly led to a field goal, but that is where the judgment of the statistician comes into play.
The Wall Street article is very interesting and worth a read. Some great nuggets about the Nuggets in there. Here is another link to the story.
Numbers and stats in basketball are not always what they seem. We don't necessarily get the whole picture with assist stats or stats at all.