NBA All-Star Game: What the Stats Won't Tell You

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 30, 2008

As I’m sure you know, the NBA All-Star game will be coming up in just a few weeks.

When you voted for your All-Star picks, I’m sure you looked over the stats, both for offense and defense, and then came to an educated decision of who should start in this year’s game.

While I have absolutely no problem with using statistics to analyze a player’s performance, I feel that the NBA is doing a great disservice to its fans by leaving out one of the most important statistics in the game from its records:

Charges drawn.

While blocks and steals are certainly important, they’re not what makes a player a great defender. Take San Antonio Spurs' Bruce Bowen, for example. He’s perennially considered one of the best defenders in the NBA, yet he averages very poor numbers in both steals and blocks.

So, if he’s not doing either one, does that mean he’s a poor defender?

No, it doesn’t. Bowen stays in front of his man, plays tight, and draws charges when the situation arises. Think for a second, if drawn charges per game were an official statistic just as steals and blocks are, we might be voting in a few different players to the All-Star game.

Take Anderson Varejao of the Clevland Cavaliers for another example. He puts up modest statistics as is, yet he undoubtedly contributes greatly to the defense of the team.

However, there is no way for most casual fans to know this, as they look at his stats and don’t see anything to be impressed about.

However, if you kept track of NBA players’ drawn chargers, I’d imagine that Varejao would be one of the league leaders.

Who knows, he could even be voted an All-Star if we had the stats to show just how good he is.

The same goes for David Lee of the Knicks. The kid draws tons of charges and he deserves recognition for it.

And, at the same time, having such a statistic officially recorded would allow the public and the media to recognize when certain players (cough, Eddy Curry) consistently fail to draw charges in defensive situations.

Finally, think about how it may effect the effort of NBA players. Today, too many players strive to improve their stats, but ignore the facets of their game that don’t produce stats.

However, if they knew that the number of charges drawn per game could affect their salary and even their recognition as a star player, they would jump in front of every player who tries to drive in the lane.

Face it, the sport needs it. Countless NFL greats were omitted from football stardom before the sack statistic was created. Don’t let that happen to basketball.