We believe it's very important to keep the correct defensive statistics and constantly evaluate them. The same thing applies to any successful business. Any successful business has to keep track of key performance indicators. They monitor those things so they know if they're doing a good job or not. The same things apply to your basketball team.
How do you expect to improve your defense if you don't constantly measure their performance?
The right statistics will tell you if your defense is improving and they will also tell you which areas you really need to work on.
The right statistics also let you set smaller goals for your players and motivate them.
HOWEVER you need to be careful because most coaches, players, fans, and people in the media misunderstand statistics and focus on the WRONG thing.
Statistics might seem simple, but they can be very confusing and misleading. You must be very careful about coming to the wrong conclusions and looking at the wrong things.
For example, having a low Defensive Field Goal Percentage doesn't matter if you can't rebound.
Getting lots of blocked shots doesn't mean you have a great defensive player or team. How many easy baskets were given up because the player left their feet?
Getting lots of steals doesn't mean you have a great defensive team. How many lay ups did you give up because you were out of position?
It's important to understand that certain stats like these need to be linked to other stats.
We still firmly believe you should measure statistics because they help you set goals, motivate your players, and make strategic decisions. But you must look at the "right" statistics and understand how they relate.
Here's an explanation of the statistics that relate to defense and what we believe you should track:
- Opponents' shooting percentage vs. your own shooting percentage
- Possessions - You need to know if the other team is getting more possessions than you or if you're getting more possessions. Other statistics that help you get more possessions include defensive rebounding %, offensive rebounding %, turnovers and steals.
- Points Per Game (PPG) - Some coaches will set a goal and say, "Hey, we want to keep every team we play under 40 points." Well, that's not necessarily the best thing to focus on because if you run and gun a lot, you could have a great defense but the other team scores 50 points because there's a lot of possessions. Instead, you may want to track what's called points per possession.
- Points Per Possession (PPP) **
Points per possession is our favorite defensive statistic for a few different reasons.
As mentioned before, PPG is not always a good indicator if you're a run and gun team.
Shooting percentage is usually a good indicator of a good defense, but there are situations where it is not. One game you only gave up 33% shooting, but you still lost by 10 points. If you look closer, the opposing team did shoot (10 of 30), but they shot 55 free throws and made 40. Your PPP would show that your overall team defense was average, but they had 15 more possessions through offensive rebounds.
You may also run into a situation where your points per possession say that you're playing great defense, but you're still losing by 15 points a game. The problem may not lie within your defense. You may notice that you're turning the ball over 30 times a game and you're shooting 30% from the field. So, it isn't your defense that needs fine-tuning. It's your offense.
Related Pages & Helpful Resources
What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you have any thoughts, ideas, and suggestions?