Saturday, May 26, 2007

The most important basketball stat

In basketball, statistics can be deceiving. It's a free flowing, complex game, and it's hard to quantify an individual player's performance into numbers.

An individual player's statistics are dependent on the opponents, the opposing defensive strategy, the opposing coaching, his own team's strategy, his team's coaching, his teammates, and other complex factors.

But in basketball, there is one statistic that is independent of anybody else. Teammates don't affect it; opponents don't affect it; strategies don't affect it.

That statistic is free throw percentage.

Every free throw is the same. No matter who you are, what team you're on, where you're playing, who you're playing, or what the situation is, the technical aspects of the free throw are all on the individual player.

You can't rely on any other statistic to analyze player performance; every other statistic is dependent on factors outside the individual player. But you can rely on free throw percentage; you know that the individual player is wholly responsible for his own percentage.

With this knowledge, let us rank the five best basketball players in the league.

1. Kyle Corver
2. Matt Carroll
3. Dirk Nowitzki
4. Ray Allen
5. Steve Nash

Based on the only statistic that makes each player's performance 100% independent, Kyle Corver is your 2006-2007 NBA MVP. Dirk Nowitzki really is better than Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James--but he's only the third-best player in the league.


  1. So who would be the top-five best players of all time?

    How about the all-time best PG, SG, SF, PF, and C?

  2. Anonymous2:25 PM

    ..and Mark Price, of course, is the best NBA player of all time. It's really a tragedy, though, because the top BASKETBALL player of all time never got a chance in the NBA. Check out this guy:

  3. I was looking at those statistics and now I understand why you said they were the most important basketball statistics!

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