4th Quarter Player

“I was taught that you find out who players are just like how you find out about dogs. If you have a litter of dogs and you put them in the dark, put them in a corner, and you shake your keys, whatever dogs come to those keys, them’s the ones you want. They’re curious. They want to know what’s going on. They’re ready. They’re fighting. The ones who sit in the corner, they’re afraid. They don’t have the heart. That’s how I look at people. You put them in a situation and see how they act. Some of these great stars in the league, some of them are scared to take big shots. Some of them are scared to fail. Some of them don’t have the heart. You start seeing it and you start picking at it. Other people-like Earl Boykins, he’s a fourth-quarter player. Ben Gordon is a fourth-quarter player. The fourth-quarter player is the one you want. Me, I’m gonna shoot that shot every time. Every time.”  – Gilbert Arenas

I read this quote in a magazine 5+ years ago when Hibachi, Agent Zero, or whoever you identify Arenas as, was still relevant in the NBA. It epitomizes the way we should all approach the game. Willing to take that last shot and being able to deal with the consequences of it going in or not going in. On the biggest basketball stage, taking these shots makes or breaks your career. For most everyday players like you and me, these shots don’t have much meaning in the grand scheme of things. You miss a game winning shot, and you won’t get death threats on Twitter. You go for that killa crossover, and your move won’t end up on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for the entire nation to see.

I guess the important lesson from this quote, as are most things I talk about on this blog, is the application to other parts of your life. Taking on a new job, starting a new relationship, being rejected for a job, being rejected by a girl–these are the types of things that test your heart.

Never be scared when it comes to matters of the heart. Take the shot every time.

Meaningful stats to determine a basketball player’s value

Have you ever been told you’re a good “hustle” player? No leagues, however, keep track of how good a player “hustles.” How do you keep track of how many steals were a result of someone sprinting at full speed down the court to get in the passing lane? How do  you track good defense that disrupts an offensive play? Unfortunately, these type of stats are not tracked and, in my opinion, measure the true value a player brings to a game outside of the normal stats: hustle, heart, and creativity.

I’ve played in many games where I knew one or two guys that changed the game based on how many times they helped on weak-side defense, pushed the ball up the court with good outlet passes, or simply just hustled to get at loose balls. These stats are never tracked among the typical ppg, reb, and stl.  When the game’s over and I check out the stats for the game, I am baffled by how little these players apparently contributed to the game in terms of the stats we normally track.

I think basketball is a sport where the “subjective” stats are measured the least relative to other sports. After reading Moneyball, I realized that there are many stats in baseball that deliver more meaning that just hits and runs. OBP and slugging % are just two stats that use numbers from the game but when calculated for many players, brings new insights into the game. Where are these type of stats in basketball?