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How the Thunder hustle will tip the scales vs the Spurs

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We explain what the new Hustle stats mean, and why they scare the life out of the Spurs. Plus, Game 1 & 2 picks.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, nerds - including, but not limited to myself - received a few new toys to play with, courtesy of NBA.com. They're called "hustle stats," and although that might mean less to you than a glass of Boris Diaw's merlot, here's 12 hours of hustle analysis in two user-friendly graphs:

Colors and lines are always appealing to the eye, but the numbers should appeal to your brain (and your heart), too. Why? This Thunder franchise has seen it all happen internally - injuries, trades, bad officiating, etc. This Thunder core has seen defeat at every level, in the first, second, third, and final round, where four years ago they snagged a win against an all-time great. And now, just a year removed from missing the playoffs and their own all-time player, they might finally get their due with foes crumbling left and right. But it doesn't happen without hustle (and Russell).

Now that the rhetoric has reeled you into my web of stats, prepare to be amazed. Picture a world where every trivial hustle stat translates into a real box score item. (Maybe the 99 percent of you with a seventh grade reading level will understand it then.)[1] To simplify it all, imagine that all of these hustle stats have statistical "cousins" in the more traditional stats world. The translation  would look something like this:

Screen Ast = Assist

Deflection = Steal

Charge = Block plus foul drawn

Loose ball recovered = Offensive or defensive rebound

Contested shots = Field Goals Attempted

Notice that a charge counts as a block and a foul drawn; usually, personal fouls count against you, but since a charge causes a foul for the other team, we now view it as a positive personal foul for each player. A deflection represents a steal, as it usually has a 50/50 chance of resulting in a change of possession. A loose ball recovered is essentially a rebound, but can be recovered either on offense or on defense, and therefore will be calculated as the average of such. We analyzed contested shots during the first round of the playoffs, and those neat little graphs you just showed to all of your friends depict the decrease in players' scoring on two- and three-point shots when defenders contest their shots.

If the stats gods like John Hollinger use GameScore to appropriate performances game by game (which is crucial in the ‘offs) then wouldn't the HustleScore, or the "hScore,"[2] show us which players truly care? Come along with me on this crazy adventure:

Hollinger Game Score

Rustybrooks' Hustle Score

(Points x 1.0) + (FGM x 0.4) + (FGA x -0.7) + ((FTA-FTM) x -0.4) + (OREB x 0.7) + (DREB x 0.3) + (STL x 1.0) + (AST x 0.7) + (BLK x 0.7) + (PF x -0.4) + (TO x -1.0).

0.7(Contested 2s + Contested 3s) - 0.4[(Delta2FG%)(Contested 2s) + (Delta3FG%)(Contested 3s)] + [2(Delta2FG%)(Contested 2s) + 3(Delta3FG%)(Contested 3s)] + screenAST + LBR + DEFL + 1.7 CD

Now take a look at the best hustlers in the league:

Player

HustleScore

Draymond Green

35.3

Al Horford

28.7

Kawhi Leonard

27.9

No surprise: it's Draymond and Al Horford at the top (yuck).

But taking a closer look it appears that...ah yes, I thought so...

Player

HustleScore

Kevin Durant

20.2

Russell Westbrook

23.3

Serge Ibaka

26.5

Steven Adams

24.3

Dion Waiters

21.2

THAT'S RIGHT LOUD CITY, DPOYs can't match the frenzied Russ or the lanky Reaper, not to mention Serge Ibaka the Alpaca. We are EVERYWHERE, and while that energy has to be constant for 16 quarters to defeat the Gray People, it's a sign that we have all the tools to win. Take heart in these analytics, and place bets on the following ones:

If it's the greatest 2nd round series of all time (which it will be) then expect the last five minutes of every game to be dramatic af. These charts indicate exactly that, with a little ambiguity mixed in just for fun. Everything put into this data also says we should not have to hold a funeral for our season next week, a la Los Angeles. I'm tired of funerals. On to the Red Wedding.



[1] Just kidding I know it's 8th grade

[2] Copyright pending, patent ehhhh