By Brian Martin
How do you calculate effort? How do you calculate the little things that happen throughout a game that may not end up in the box score, but have a significant impact on determining the outcome of the game?
- Diving on the floor for a loose ball
- Sacrificing your body by taking a charge
- Getting a hand in the passing lane to cause a deflection
- Closing out on shooters to contest shots
- Setting solid screens that lead directly to made baskets
What were long deemed intangibles are now measurable thanks to the advent of hustle stats. Based on these new metrics being captured by the NBA, we are now able to recognize which players best utilize hustle to help their teams win on a nightly basis.
During Monday night’s NBA Awards Show, the first-ever NBA Hustle Award was presented to Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley.
Final Standings – 2016-17 NBA Hustle Award
How The Hustle Score Is Calculated
Here is a quick rundown on how the overall hustle score is calculated:
- Players who played minimum of 50 regular season games and at least 15 minutes per game were eligible
- The 5 Hustle Stats measured were Screen Assists, Deflections, Loose Balls Recovered, Charges Drawn, and Shot Contests
- Players were compared by position (G/F/C) within each stat on a per-minute basis
- Within each stat, a metric was calculated for each player based on his relative performance
- The 5 metrics were summed together to determine players’ aggregate scores, with Patrick Beverley earning the highest score
- Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, Gorgui Dieng, Nerlens Noel, Nene, Kenneth Faried, Tony Allen, Thaddeus Young and Paul Millsap rounded out Top 10
What Sets Beverley Apart From The Field
Let’s take a look at Beverley’s hustle profile, with his stats in the five key hustle stats and ranks among all players as well as players at his position.
Beverley’s Hustle Stats (rankings based on min. 50 games and 15 minutes/game played)
Here are some common labels to describe players that make their mark on the game by outhustling everyone on the floor: scrappy, aggressive, intense, going-all-out, blue-collar, garbageman, nuisance.
How many times have one of those terms been used to describe Patrick Beverley? He is the ultimate pest; annoying opponents by hounding them on defense and making all of the effort plays while being matched up with elite point guards like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving night after night. He is a player everyone hates to face but would love to have on their team.
And we have numbers to back up that narrative. Beverley ranked in the top five in loose balls recovered (first, narrowly edging out John Wall) and charges drawn (second among guards behind Kemba Walker), despite averaging just 31.0 minutes per game. Remember, when it comes to calculating an overall hustle score all stats are calibrated on a per minute basis, which gives an advantage to Beverley when compared to Wall’s 36.0 and Walker’s 35.0 per game.
Among guards, he ranked in the top 10 in four categories – adding deflections (9th) and screen assists (7th) to his marks in charges and 50-50 balls. In terms of contesting shots, Beverley was at his best challenging 3-point shooters with 3.4 contests per game (11th among guards and 23rd overall).
On Monday, Beverley was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for the first time in his career after being a Second Team choice back in 2013-14. Hustle stats are essential when evaluating a player like Beverley as traditional stats and even some advanced metrics do not properly illustrate his full impact on the game.
His per game ranking in the traditional defensive categories of steals (21st) and blocks (131st) would not suggest a first-team selection. His on-court/off-court numbers don’t help much either, as the Rockets had a defensive rating of 106.0 with Beverley on the court, and it rose only incrementally to 106.8 when he was on the bench.
But when we add his Hustle Rating to the equation, we get a better picture of who Patrick Beverley is and how he influences the game.