Suggestion: Don’t count buzzer beaters

First off, shame on LeBron James. A superstar should make that “possible points” for “slim statistical drop” trade every time. I empathize with the selfish act, though. There is a depraved numbers nerd part of me. The demon inside leers at Kyrie Irving’s PER a few times per week, scrapes a gnarled demon claw over the refresh button on Ekpe Udoh’s plus-minus page, snarls a demon delight squeal at how LeBron is nearing 60% (!) on field goals.

When I invest in the exploits of an athlete, I want his numbers to be worthy of my investment. Pathetic as it sounds, my life will get a little better for Kyrie Irving reaching a 25 PER. Marginally better, but still. Like so many in our Fantasy Sports addled culture, my perverted sense of living vicariously through a player has come to mean deriving pride from the abstract symbols that represent his sporting value. I can’t actually live vicariously through the glamorous life of an NBA star. Such thinking is only a reminder of how pathetic my own life is. What I can do is puff up my intellectual vanity when a favored star produces better numbers in the Book of Record (Kyrie Irving is good like I said he’d be! Look at that PER! Wooo! This is livin’!).

Anyway, those are not my statistics. I do not get paid based on how they look to busy general managers. If you’re a fringe player, perhaps lobbing full court bombs just isn’t worth risking a few more hits to your field goal percentage. If you’re a superstar, perhaps it’s misguided numbers vanity. The obvious retort is, “A superstar shouldn’t care about his numbers!” but let me flip that around: Why should a selfless superstar–one who always heaves the full court attempt–be punished in his numbers and in your fantasy league? Why should a player ever have to sacrifice “numbers” for the good of his team? We should strive to make better individual numbers reflect what’s better for a team.

With that in mind, it just seems foolish to place buzzer heaves in the same bin we’d place a Hibbert hook. The solution is easy. Treat end-of-quarter buzzer beaters like fouled shots–provided the shot comes from beyond half court. If it goes in, gravy. An elevated field goal percentage to the heaver. If it misses, the shot will be recorded but not incorporated in FG%.

As fans, we will be rewarded with more full court buzzer beater attempts and makes from players who can heave guilt free.

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