Garbage Time Player Stats
Of course, when the outcome of a game is for all intents and purposes finalized, there's a good chance that the play becomes in some cases a matter of padding one's stats. Do players look to post a few extra numbers on the stat sheet when the defenses are relaxed and the opposition may be going through the motions?
We elected to use the following definition of "garbage time" moments: 4th quarter and overtime where either team has a lead of 10 points plus one point for each minute remaining. It's easier to see this in table form --
Minimum lead to qualify as "garbage time"
It could be argued certainly that these thresholds are wrong, that teams have indeed clawed their way back from being 15 points down with six minutes to go. We're pretty comfortable thinking this is a reasonable definition when you consider that if the game tightens up it will no longer be judged as garbage time (and the starters are all rushed back into the game!)
The table below shows various accumulated stats for the current 2003-04 season, under our garbage time filter. We created a "Stats Padding" number that is Points + Rebounds + Assists + Blocks + Steals.
Now, we don't intend for these numbers to be used to denigrate players, after all there's nothing wrong with doing well in minutes that are "less than crucial" and we respect players who still play hard and give the fans their money's worth after the game is out of reach. So before you start trash talking about how Garnett is stockpiling numbers for his MVP claims, you would be wise to remember that he puts up similar levels of productivity throughout the full 48 minutes!
On the other hand, this may be a useful tool for evaluating some of the bench players -- break out their stats into "garbage time" and non-garbage time categories and then judge them by the performance in the minutes that really mattered.
Taking a similar troll through the garbage moments of the 2002-03 season comes in with the following top twenty "G-Men"
We have tons of respect for players numbered 1, 5, and 7 on this list for starters, so we don't take it as a slam on any of them that they show up as benefitting from some extra minutes that were far from crunch time. If anything, the guys padding their numbers a bit are the ones chasing the scoring title -- if you sort the numbers by field goals attempted per minute, the top three players are Bryant, McGrady, and Pierce!
Ah, but the heart of the question and the inspiration for this effort came from our friend Charlie B. who clearly has an ulterior motive in wanting to compare Garnett and Duncan's numbers since they were two of the main names in the MVP chase last year:
Go to school Charlie! At some point we'll take a pass through garbage time again, looking at things on a team by team basis.
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