They obviously existed a long time before this ever happened, but ever since Michael Lewis wrote about Shane Battier for the New York Times, advanced statistics have become an increasingly important part of basketball analysis. Get the right broadcaster and you’ll hear about points per possession instead of points per game, comments about how pace can affect raw team numbers or such and such a player’s rebound rate. There’s even occasionally a ticker on ESPN that lists the league leaders in PER. My dad emailed me about it once.
And while some coaches eschew this extra information that can be used to make their teams better, the real smart coaches have bought in to this stuff. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is one of those really smart coaches and he’s totally on board with one specific statistic. From the San Antonio Express-News:
“That score at the end of the game is huge,” Popovich said. “I don’t think it’s ever been wrong. It’s proven to be the most consistent stat.”
I did a little digging and it turns out that Gregg Popovich is right about this (surprise, surprise) — every team that has been leading at the end of each basketball game has come out with a win. There is a HUGE correlation between leading at the end of a game and who wins the game.
Does it surprise anyone that it would be the Spurs that figured this out? No way. They’re such a smart team — and they have an organization that is so committed to winning and finding new ways to do things — that it only makes sense that they would be the franchise that truly cracks the code on statistics. No wonder they’ve been good for so long, they just keep trying to have the lead at the end of every game. Very smart.