You may have noticed, if you're any kind of Jazz fan at all, that the team got off to a bit of a rough start this season. Losing games at home, blowing leads in the fourth quarter, being smacked around by teams that have no business beating them. For the amount of talent and the (huge) amount of money wearing Jazz uniforms each night, it was hard to explain the losses. Like you, I'd imagine, I was quick to look for a scapegoat. "Who is responsible for this?!?!?" I'd scream to an empty room, flipping open the Deseret Morning News to the night prior's box score, expecting to see that Derron Williams played 43 minutes with one assist, or that Carlos Boozer played only three minutes due to injury, or that Andrei Kirilenko went 0-37 from the free throw line. But the box score didn't explain much. The stats looked okay. But do those stats really tell us everything? Well, instead of writing anything original, I'll copy/paste this bit from an excellent Bill Simmons interview from the Onion AV Club.
One of my favorite things about basketball is that you can’t break it down into some sort of science that makes total sense. And that’s why this current statistical revolution really bugs me. I think we’re figuring out ways now to use stats to try to isolate what players do, but you’re never going to be able to rate players against one another, because out of all the sports, basketball is the one that depends the most on the relationship somebody has with his teammates. And if you judged stuff by stats, you would think Wilt was better than Russell, and you’d make a kajillion mistakes that if you were making those same types of things in baseball, you probably would be right. Baseball is an individual sport that we can measure almost to a fault. In my opinion, it’s not even that fun to follow baseball anymore, because you’re not allowed to have any opinions. You have to look up every opinion you’re supposed to have. “Oh, is A-Rod clutch? Let me look that up. Yes, he’s hitting .356 in the clutch. So I guess that means he’s clutch.” What’s fun about it? It’s like algebra. And in basketball, I think so much of it depends on intuition and understanding the game, and understanding that just because somebody scored 43 points in a game doesn’t necessarily mean he had a good game. How guys affect their teammates is more important. For instance, it really would have bothered me if somebody 35 years from now thought [eight-time all-star forward] Vince Carter was a totally worthwhile player. Those are the kind of things that drive me crazy.
Go read the whole interview. It is worth your time.