A month ago, Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry published a huge piece creating a new wonky metric for evaluating different points within each individual possession. But forget the metric for a second. While coming up with it, Goldsberry rewatched a game-winning Kawhi Leonard three from last year and noted the following:
The box score reduces that sequence to a few basic integers; Kawhi Leonard is credited with one field goal attempt, one field goal made, and three points scored. Tim Duncan's screen goes undocumented, and the totality of Parker's catalytic undertakings gets recorded as one measly assist.
I thought about that piece when I watched Bradley Beal sink a dagger three with just over a minute left to allow the Wizards to survive what was nearly a disastrous collapse against the Bucks. Beal hit a huge shot, of course, which is to his credit. But if you watch the above video, you'll notice that:
- John Wall was the one that got into the lane and drew literally all five defenders to him. For this effort, he got ... one assist.
- Marcin Gortat was the one that sprung Wall into the lane by setting a pick on his own man instead of Wall's, a trick I have referenced before. He did this because he noticed the Bucks setting up to force Wall left (this is known as ICE, Blue or any number of terms, depending on the team), with Ramon Sessions jumping onto Wall's right shoulder thinking that he's funneling Wall into Zaza Pachulia. Instead of screening Sessions, Gortat blocked Pachulia's path and Wall took advantage by getting into the paint. For this effort, he was credited with nothing in the box score.
- Trevor Ariza was the one that snuck in a backscreen on Beal's man, Brandon Knight, who was watching Wall's dribble drive. As Knight turned his head, he ran right into Ariza, giving Beal all the space he needed. For this effort, Ariza was credited with nothing in the box score.
I would argue that all three of those players deserve more credit for the outcome of that play than Beal himself. And yet, Beal gets three points, Wall gets one assist and the other two get nothing.
Of course, the important thing is that they all got one win. This is the beauty of a well-choreographed play, along with some poor work by the league's worst defense. It just makes you think about how credit is doled out in our statistical systems.
A sidenote: If you're wondering why that play might look familiar, it's because it's the exact same one as this.