The Most Advanced Stat I Can Think Of ...

With all this talk of "advanced statistics" lately with the MIT Sloan Analytics conference, and the rising use of individual basketball statistics in everyday basketball arguments, I feel I must re-emphasize my position.

The way individual basketball statistics are kept do not make sense.

What is a made basket in basketball? It can be a highly individual campaign, fully crafted by one player. Or it can be a "made" by two players, half made by the assisting player, and the other half crediting to the scorer for making the shot. So far so good. Solo points made get credited to the scorer, and an assist given to the passer. Great. But, what if there were three players involved in making that basket happen? If you know how basketball works, you know this happens pretty frequently. What if there are four players that contributed? You can have up to ten players (rarely), including the defenders, involved the making of a basket. And the same goes for a missed shot! Yet when a player makes a basket, he gets all the credit, and every one else on the court gets zero, except maybe for the passer, who gets an assist. And the allocation can change for every basket depending on how it was created. This is an allocation problem, and it's a huge problem in individual basketball statistics. The same thing goes for rebounds and steals!

Which is why I have no problem with team statistics, because you have no allocation problems. The team scores, the team rebounds, the team defends as a single unit. You only need to worry about adjusting for pace and other minor details. Clean.

Like a double rainbow, what does it all mean? See after the jump ...

So then I usually get the "Well then it's all subjective! You're just trying to take the stats out because they're facts that go against your precious Kobe!" Then I have to repeat that yes, they are facts, but the conclusions you are making off of them are completely skewed. I can deal with the outcomes if the process makes sense, but it doesn't. And yes, it is subjective, as it is dependent upon your grasp of how winning basketball is played, not upon your understanding of simple arithmetic. So poof! There go your arguments based on stats. I respect much more someone who tells me how Kobe's hands are smaller than other greats, resulting in a diminished ability to finish compared to other greats (seriously, have you seen how Dr. J could palm the ball? And the english MJ could get on a layup with a flick of his wrist?). So, we're left with these qualitative comparisons, and that's fine by me.

But then I got to thinking, what current stat can I actually believe in, one that makes sense, one that can be compared...

If you guessed FT%, that would be a really good guess, and technically right, because a FT has been taken the same way for at least the last 40 years, 15 feet from the hoop, unguarded, on a 10 foot high rim. Awesome stat to compare players with.

But that's not the stat I'm thinking of for today.

I'm thinking of minutes played. Such a simple stat. But so meaningful, because every minute you play is a validation that you are on the court doing the right things. Actually, let me qualify that: minutes played on a winning team. If you are playing minutes on a winning team, that means you are doing winning things, and if you play the most minutes on that team, it stands to reason that you have the most ability to influence that team, the team which is winning like Charlie Sheen. It makes sense that the players playing the most minutes on a winning team are most responsible for the winning-ness of that team. Tiger Blood! Of course, there can be exceptions, but if a player had that much impact in fewer minutes, but barring injuries, and foul trouble, wouldn't he be playing more? The stamp of a winning player is that he plays the bulk of the minutes for a winning team. He's out there doing winning things. Winning, winning, winning. You don't have allocation problems with minutes played, the credit goes all to the player for earning those minutes. It just makes sense. It even makes more sense in terms of "most valuable". Because your best player may not be the guys who plays the most minutes. But do you want to know your most valuable player was for a particular season? Who played the most minutes for your team? That's who. Whether it's because his backup was unreliable, or because he was that good, the coach needed him out there to play more than any other player.

So, I decided to take a look at the playoff minutes played for the every NBA champion since 1980. I limited the list to those players that played more than 15% of their team's minutes. Why 15%? No reason, it just seemed like there was a natural demarcation there, where the next player dropped off.

If it's not clear, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Of course, there are problem with just using minutes, but since people want so badly to use individual statistics, minutes seems to be the least sucky of all the individual stats. The assumption is that you want to win, and that you play because you are contributing to winning. But there are always exceptions, and other reasons for the distribution of minutes. Still, it was fun to look at the numbers.

I found out some surprising things, and some not so surprising things:

  • Only one team had 4 players play more than 15% of the minutes, the 79-80 Lakers
  • Only Magic, Dwade and Duncan have led title teams without another player playing 15% of the minutes
  • Kobe led the Lakers in 4 of 5 of their title playoff runs (Shaq was the first)
  • Tim Duncan led the Spurs in 3 of 4 of their title runs (Parker was the last)
  • Robert Horry played more than 15% of the minutes on 2 title teams
  • James Worthy played the most minutes for the 1987 champs
  • "Unsung Heroes" (in my mind, underrated when considering how minutes they played):Avery Johnson, Ron Artest, Norm Nixon, Tiny Archibald, Horace Grant)
  • Bird played the highest % of his teams minutes for the 1981 Celtics
  • Only Kobe played more than 18% of a champ's minutes in more than two seasons (2001,2002)

Playoff Minutes on a Championship Team

Year

Team

Minutes

Player (1)

Minutes (1)

%(1)

Player (2)

Minutes (2)

%(2)

Player (3)

Minutes (3)

%(3)

Player (4)

Minutes (4)

%(4)

2010

  5,519

Kobe

923

16.7%

Pau

913

16.5%

Artest

839

15.2%

 

 

 

2009

  5,570

Kobe

940

16.9%

Pau

931

16.7%

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008

  6,241

Pierce

990

15.9%

Garnett

987

15.8%

Allen

987

15.8%

 

 

 

2007

  4,800

Parker

751

15.6%

Duncan

736

15.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

2006

  5,546

Wade

959

17.3%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2005

  5,570

Duncan

869

15.6%

Parker

858

15.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

2004

  5,620

Wallace

924

16.4%

Hamilton

924

16.4%

Billups

881

15.7%

 

 

 

2003

  5,785

Duncan

1021

17.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2002

  4,585

Kobe

833

18.2%

Shaq

776

16.9%

Horry

703

15.3%

 

 

 

2001

  3,865

Kobe

694

18.0%

Shaq

676

17.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

  5,545

Shaq

1000

18.0%

Kobe

857

15.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1999

  4,080

Duncan

733

18.0%

Avery J

653

16.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1998

  5,090

Jordan

872

17.1%

Pippen

836

16.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1997

  4,560

Jordan

804

17.6%

Pippen

753

16.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1996

  4,345

Pippen

742

17.1%

Jordan

733

16.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1995

  5,330

Hakeem

929

17.4%

Clyde

849

15.9%

Horry

841

15.8%

 

 

 

1994

  5,545

Hakeem

989

17.8%

Maxwell

880

15.9%

Thorpe

854

15.4%

 

 

 

1993

  4,635

Pippen

789

17.0%

Jordan

783

16.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1992

  5,305

Jordan

920

17.3%

Pippen

889

16.8%

Grant

856

16.1%

 

 

 

1991

  4,105

Pippen

704

17.1%

Jordan

689

16.8%

Grant

666

16.2%

 

 

 

1990

  4,825

Isiah

758

15.7%

Dumars

754

15.6%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1989

  4,080

Isiah

633

15.5%

Dumars

620

15.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1988

  5,760

Magic

965

16.8%

Scott

897

15.6%

Worthy

896

15.6%

 

 

 

1987

  4,320

Worthy

681

15.8%

Magic

666

15.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1986

  4,370

Bird

770

17.6%

McHale

715

16.4%

DJ

715

16.4%

 

 

 

1985

  4,560

Magic

687

15.1%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1984

  5,595

Bird

961

17.2%

Parrish

869

15.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1983

  3,145

Moses

524

16.7%

Dr. J

493

15.7%

Cheeks

483

15.4%

 

 

 

1982

  3,360

Magic

562

16.7%

Nixon

549

16.3%

Wilkes

535

15.9%

 

 

 

1981

  4,080

Bird

750

18.4%

Tiny

630

15.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

1980

  3,865

Magic

658

17.0%

Wilkes

652

16.9%

Nixon

648

16.8%

Kareem

618

16.0%

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker