Misleading Stats vs. Misreading Stats

Ailene Voisin, today:

And in yet another example of how stats are more reflective of performance in baseball than basketball, [DeMarcus] Cousins' assist/turnover averages (2.3 for each) are totally misleading. Avoiding foul trouble and adapting to the conditioning demands of the NBA are his issues.

Me, now:
  • No one but no one grades big men exclusively on assist/turnover averages. Except maybe David Kahn.
  • If someone did grade big men exclusively on assist/turnover averages, they would see that a ratio of 1 isn't bad and that 2.3 assists a game for a big man is rather good. To wit: only six players 6'11 or taller are averaging 2.3 assists a game this year.
  • There's a pretty easy way in which stats can verify the foul trouble issue: fouls per game or fouls per minute. Cousins is fourth in fouls per game and 47th (of about 300) in fouls per minute.
  • You could actually use stats to determine whether Cousins wears down toward the end of his stints, and whether that's normal for NBA players, but that's a bit outside the scope of this complaint.
Overall, I do recommend Voisin's column. This type of "blame the numbers because I don't understand them" stuff just gets my goat.


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