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Non-Traditional Basketball Stats that Impact the Game

Non-Traditional Basketball Stats that Impact the Game

This article was written by University of Pittsburgh assistant men’s basketball coach Kevin Sutton.

What are the stats that you look at when you first look at a stat sheet?

Traditionally everyone looks at the following stats in this order:

  1. Points
  2. Rebounds
  3. Assist
  4. Steals
  5. Turnovers
  6. Shooting percentages
  7. Points in the paint
  8. Points off transition


Then the individual will look at the opponent’s stats to make their comparisons. Looking at stats such as:

  • Assist to Turnovers
  • Rebound Margin
  • Field Goal Percentages
  • Turnover Margin

You can tell a lot about a team and the individual players by looking at a stat sheet. Some of the things that can be gleaned from reviewing a stat sheet are:

  1. Which team had more possessions than their opponent through the rebound margin and the turnover margin?
  2. Which team did not handle the ball well by looking at turnovers?
  3. Which team was dominant in the lane by looking at the points in the paint?
  4. Which team converted defensive stops into points by looking at the points off turnovers?


But there is more that can be learned…


Here are some non-traditional stats that I feel are impacting the game of basketball that are not included in the stat sheet. These stats are usually kept on the bench by assistant coaches, or they can be charted by watching tapes after the game. These stats are indicators as to what is really important to the head coaches and the success of their system.


These Non-Traditional Basketball Stats Are:


1. Fouls Drawn

This stat is a great indicator of the team and player’s ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. This is a stat that is actually kept in international games. They actually have a category for the player who leads the league in this stat.

If the team and players shoot a high percentage from the free-throw line, they will put their opponents at a disadvantage by getting them in foul trouble and increasing their lead. I learned about this stat when I was an assistant coach for USA Basketball U16 and U17 Gold Medal teams.



2. Paint Touches

This is another stat that is a clear indicator of which team is more dominant than the other. This is a stat that can be kept from both an offensive and defensive perspective. From an offensive perspective, the more that the ball touches the paint, either through dribble penetration or pass penetration, the more advantageous the offense should have.

Conversely, the more that the defense does not allow “Paint Touches,” then the more likely the defense will have the advantage. This stat is another stat I learned to appreciate during my international coaching experiences.



3. Ball Reversals

Teams that are allowed to reverse the ball easily will have an advantage vs. the defense. The reversal of the ball often puts the defense at a disadvantage because the defense is constantly in a “closeout situation,” thus forcing the defense to be in their defensive rotations.

Even with a shot clock, if the ball is moved and is allowed to be reversed from one side of the court to the other at least 2-3 times, the offense will be in control of the game. Conversely, if the defense does not allow the ball to be reversed and keeps the offense on one side of the floor, the defense then has the advantage.



4. Contested Shots vs. Non-Contested Shots

This stat can be kept from an Offensive and Defensive perspective. Offensively you want to get as many “uncontested shots” that you can get. Defensively you clearly want your opponent to shoot as many contested shot as possible.

Contested shots are much harder to make and drive down your shooting percentages. Contested shots force your opponent to either dribble more or try to make more passes – both of which increase the chances of the ball being stolen.



5. Rebounds Per Minutes Played

This is a great stat to keep. When it comes to rebounding the basketball this is a stat that truly speaks about effort. This is a stat that can be used as a motivator. This type of stat is valuable for a player who is an “energy” guy. This is also a stat that can be used to show a lack of effort.



6. Rim Runs

This is a great stat that teaches the “BIG” importance of running every time for a potential score. The “rim run” is basically the foul line to foul line race with the opponents BIG. Rim Runs also puts a great deal of pressure on defensive transition. Getting 6-8 points on Rim Runs is great.



7. Hockey Assist

The play before the direct play that leads to a basket. This can be a pass to a teammate who then makes the next pass that leads to an assist. For me, it could be a screen that gets a teammate a wide-open shot. A hockey assist is that play that appears to be small, but in actuality, it is a huge part of the team’s success. This stat needs to be acknowledged.



8. Deflections

This stat is vital to a pressing team. This stat is an indicator of the aggressiveness of the defense. Coaches will give a certain number of deflections they would like to achieve because they will lead to steals.



9. Late Shot Clock Plays

The shot clock often impacts the game from both an offensive and defensive perspective. Thus, it has to be charted. From a team defensive perspective, the more often you can put a team into a late shot clock situation, the higher percentage that you will be successful. Most teams do not execute at a high percentage late in the shot clock.



10. Bad shots that lead to points for opponents

This stat is as straight forward as it can be. In my opinion, “Bad Shots” are shots that are:

  1. Not taken within the context of the offense.
  2. Taken without rebound/floor balance.
  3. Taken late in the shot clock.
  4. Taken by the wrong shooter.
  5. Unmakeable shots. Shots that have no chance of going in. Bad shots often lead to breakaway baskets for the opponents. They are often taken at the wrong time by the wrong person at the wrong location.


The basketball stat sheet tells the obvious story about the game. The non-traditional stats tell the ACTUAL story about the game.

Read more basketball articles by Coach Kevin Sutton and checkout his Basketball Blog.




2 Responses

  1. Great article….we stat almost all of these with a couple of exceptions…it is amazing how you can read certain stats into each player’s performance. We really stat defending 3 point shots a lot because they have become such an integral part of every teams arsenal of weapons. Paint production and passes into the paint are key….we had two 6’3″ post players and we knew exactly how much it was going into the paint! Good article!

  2. Really enjoyed the article and the evolution of 2nd level stats.
    I think once the coach is receptive to this you are on a winner.
    I also think it allows the value of a player and their role to be more appreciated.

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