Non-Traditional Stats to Motivate your Players

On the heels of our last article, NBA Hustle Stats, we’d like to offer some additional stats to consider tracking for your program-if you already don’t use some or all.  Of course, not all coaches are stat oriented but for those who are, any stats have value that can be used as teaching tools, motivators or simply additional methods to view and understand one’s team better.  Let’s take a look at a few:


  1. Second Assists- Borrowed from hockey- the pass that leads to the assist.  As with most “other” stats, this second assists can serve to reward and/or motivate role and chemistry players.
  2. Drawn Fouls- These can be lost before the bonus kicks in.  Let’s say Player A gets fouled 4 times before bonus but none after the bonus or in the act of shooting, it appears that Player A’s value is less than Player B who gets fouled after the bonus.
  3. Passes that lead to FT’s- If Player A passes to Player B who gets fouled and doesn’t score an FG, there is no credited assist.  But if Player B makes FT’s, the result is the same as an FG.  Theoretically, credit should be given.
  4. Passes that should have been assists.  If Player B doesn’t finish on Player A’s pass, that pass gets “lost”.
  5. Saves- Any time the ball is going out-of- bounds off Team A and a Team A player “saves” it.  (On defense, this might be regarded as a steal).

Defense: Also see –> “Do You Have a System for Evaluating Your Players’ Defense”


  1. Neutralize the Drive- Any time an offensive player makes an obvious aggressive attempt at driving to the hole and defender makes him pick up his dribble with no damage.
  2. Help that prevents a score- When a player steps in and the offensive player doesn’t charge and no FG or FT’s are given up.
  3. Helps for the helper- When a player rotates and prevents an interior pass or offensive rebound because of an initial threat to the basket.
  4. Altered Shots- Blocked Shots are easier to detect but altered shots might be more prevalent and just as valuable.
  5. Discouraged Shots- Difficult to detect except for the coach who knows his team.  Sneaky good stat.

Obviously all or most of these stats are difficult to track in-game but can be analyzed in film work.  A by-product of having players cognizant of these stats is that they can focus on them in practice.  If they’re not “lost” in games, they stand a lesser chance of being “lost” in practice.




  1. I’ve always altered the way traditional stats are kept, in order to capture some of these.
    For example, steals are often divided in two (I TRY not to divide into thirds); a deflection that leads to a steal is half a steal for each player.
    Rebounds are not just given to who ends up with the ball; sometimes that player only ended up with it because a teammate was in the right place to deflect it–similar to above, the rebound gets divided in two (almost never thirds).
    Regardless of arrow, a tie-up is half a steal (or half a turnover on offense).
    I don’t give the phantom assists for a missed layup, but I do give assists for passes that lead to FTs; I give half an assist for 1 made FT, just so the bookkeeping works (it’d be tough to explain a 5-point quarter with 5 assists, or anything similar).
    I don’t track hockey assists, but one could easily split an assist in two.
    The advantage to my stat-keeping is that I don’t have to add a bunch of columns (hockey assists, deflections, phantom assists, tie-ups that aren’t a change of possession, etc.) to the traditional stats. And stat-tracking is fairly fast, though I still do it all by film.
    Another “oddity” I can think of in the way I track stats, is maybe a tie-up off a missed shot. If we’re on D, I give the other team half an offensive board and our player half a defensive board–opposite if we’re on offense–regardless of possession arrow.
    Oh, and on the theory that every missed shot leads to a rebound (except end of quarter shots), an air-ball that goes out-of-bounds is a TEAM defensive rebound–if tipped by defensive player, it’s a TEAM offensive rebound.
    And perhaps most importantly, stats should always be motivating: take good shots, get rebounds, don’t turn it over, etc. With that in mind, traditional stats would punish someone who takes a desperation half-court shot at the end of the quarter–I don’t count it as a shot attempt unless it goes in! The corollary in baseball is that a sacrifice bunt isn’t an at-bat unless the batter happens to beat it out for a hit. By the way, this obviously does NOT apply when we’re running the last 15 seconds off the quarter and we get the ball to a shooter with his toes on the 3-point line for a shot. That IS a shot attempt, of course.

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