Last season, to the surprise of many, OKC traded their third highest scorer Jeff Green for Boston Celtics centre Kendrick Perkins. Jeff Green averaged 15.2 points, 5.6 rebs, 1.8 assists and 0.4 blocks till that point in the season. Perkins averaged 7.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.8 blocks. Now, it is understood that a centre will pick up more blocks and rebounds than a hybrid forward. Considering that, the statistical goons would certainly laugh at OKC. Why then did OKC pull the trigger on the trade?
The answer of course is in the intangibles. What is the point of picking up wickets as quickly as anyone if you don't look like picking up a wicket on any of the other deliveries? What is the point of scoring and rebounding, if you're a leaky faucet defensively? What is the point of a football midfielder having a high pass completion rate if the majority of the passes are sideways passes that amount to nothing? What is the point of a goalkeeper making 300 saves in a season if he makes 5 howlers? That, is the problem with statistics.
The failure of statistics to truly represent a sportsman's ability and value, is sometimes dismissed as a notion of the romantics. But the problem with stats, is that a lot of things that happen on a sports field cannot be quantified. No one can state with certainty, the chances a delivery has of picking up a wicket. No can quantify the hustle and defensive leadership Kendrick Perkins brings to the basketball court. Michael Carrick's pass completion rate is quite similar to Xavi Hernandez. Yet there is no question as to who is the better player.
The intangibles in sport is what makes sport what it is. If stats could explain everything in sport, there would be no purpose of actually playing on the field would there? Long live the intangibles.