What Is Stat Padding In The NBA? (Why It’s Bad)

Why do people call good players stat-padders sometimes?

Do they just score for the stats? What exactly is stat padding in the NBA?

Stat padding is when a player cares more about his stats than the team winning. Their priority is to make themselves look good to increase their value and, subsequently, their salary.  

But can we consider all good players stat-padders if that’s the case? How do you know if a player is one? We’ll clear this out in this guide.

What is Stat Padding in the NBA?

Stat padding is a common phrase in sports. You may hear it often from commentators, players, and fans.

But what does it really mean?

When you say that a player is stat padding, it means that he’s artificially inflating his stats to look good, even if it doesn’t benefit the team.

It’s when a player cares more about pumping up his stats over his team winning.

This phenomenon is present in many basketball leagues, most notably the NBA. In this league, the competition is fierce, as only around 450 players get to play.  

Why do NBA Players Stat Pad?

You might be wondering why NBA players stat pad. First, we need to understand how players are evaluated to answer that question.

You’ll need popularity and great stats to become an all-star or a superstar in the NBA. Other factors are also involved, but we’ll focus on the stats.

Let’s take the Most Valuable Player award, for instance. To get chosen for this award, a player must show high accomplishments throughout the season.

Then, a panel of members gets to vote on who the MVP is.

Naturally, a player’s stats will become one of the deciding factors in the MVP voting. The higher your stats are, the better your chance of becoming MVP.

Aside from gunning for the MVP award, most players just stat pad to increase their overall value. This is because teams are always looking at the stat sheet when trading for players.

Lastly, players will need to stat pad to leave records in the NBA when they retire. They believe this will allow them to get to the Hall of Fame and get recognized by the fans.

How to Know If a Player is Stat Padding?

If you compare players based on their stat sheet, then it will not tell the whole story.

Stat padders will not tell you that they’re hunting for stats. Instead, their actions on the court will speak for themselves.

So, to determine if someone’s stat is padding or not, watch them play. Ask these questions:

  • Is the player prioritizing upping up his stats over winning?
  • Does the player focus more on his plays than the team plays?
  • Is the player staying until the end of the game just to get a few rebounds or points?
  • Is the team letting the player get a few stats to complete his double-double or triple double?

Generally, a stat padder is someone selfish. He prioritizes his stats more than actions that leads to the team winning.

Is Stat Padding Good or Bad?

Having high stats isn’t bad on its own. In fact, if you have great stats, it can also mean that you’re more skilled than others.

But the way you got those stats is how you’ll be judged. If you stat padded your way to glory, then you might be hated by many people.

But if you prioritize the team winning over your stats, then it can pay off down the line.

However, let’s think of the players for a second. They do this because they know that they can be traded anytime.

But as a basketball fan, it’s frustrating to watch players stat padding since you want your team to win.

So, to answer whether stat padding is good or bad – it’s generally considered harmful.

It’s as simple as that. If a player is too selfish, then it will not bring the team success. Although fans want the best for the players, they should do it naturally.

But we also can’t discount these players and say they’re just stat padders. After all, it takes TREMENDOUS talent to even stat pad in the NBA.

So, if you look at it from an individual accomplishment perspective, stat padders are extremely good. But when it comes to championships, they may not be the best players for it.

Biggest Stat Padders in the NBA

Most NBA players stat pad in one way or another. But some players consistently did it and are now named on this list.

Here are the biggest stat chasers in the NBA:

1. Russel Westbrook

Photo by Erik Drost

Arguably the biggest and most apparent stat padder in recent memory, Russel Westbrook takes the top spot.

Westbrook holds the top spot for the player with the most triple-doubles ever. He did this during his time in Oklahoma.

Since then, he’s bounced around the league, and now has played for various teams like the Rockets, Wizards, Lakers and Clippers.

But even if he was the MVP during a season and a walking triple-double machine, he didn’t win a single ring.

While you can also argue that he’s just that good, it can also be argued that he stat padded a lot.

2. James Harden

James Harden is a tremendous offensive talent that has also been named one of the NBA’s 75th greatest players.

But during his Houston Rockets days, it was evident in many games that he was stat padding. There was even a game where it was the 4th quarter of a blowout game.

Their opponent, the Nuggets, was playing with their bench players while Harden was still on the floor scoring threes.

There’s virtually no reason for him to do this but to inflate his stats.

3. Wilt Chamberlain

Photo by Fred Palumbo

Wilt Chamberlain holds many records, including the most points scored in a game and the most in a season.

Although you could argue that he was just that good, many people criticized him for being too selfish.

Then, he decided to focus more on assists, but he also stat padded in that area.

4. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is one of the best players in NBA history.

But he’s also the number one player who has missed the most shots in NBA history.

He was notorious for being a ball hog, even when the whole team guarded him.

As such, it can be said that he was stat padding many times.

5. Allen Iverson

Photo by Keith Allison

As popular as he is, Allen Iverson also stat padded many times. He was ball dominant and could never really mesh with others well.

He’s someone who’s an offensive juggernaut but can’t play defense to help his team.

Final Thoughts

Stat padding is inflating one’s stats at the expense of his team’s victory. So, while it’s not a good practice, we can’t deny that players do this to increase their value.

So long as they don’t sacrifice the team’s victory, NBA players can increase their stats for all they want.

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