Sometimes the numbers lie. A couple of lucky bounces can convert two turnovers into baskets and cloud the data on the point guard you are evaluating. The use of video—as well as common sense—can help a team check the statistics.
There are circumstances—usually involving Jordan—in which all the information in cyberspace doesn't matter. After the Nets drew the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs this season, Brown prepared a 19-minute digital video on the tendencies of the Bulls, with intricate details on the nuances of the triangle offense. Yet the comprehensive report could not compensate for the fact that Chicago was simply a better team.
SI asked a group of computer and video scouts for a few ways to diminish Jordan's productivity. Their suggestions:
?Intermittently have a single player face-guard Jordan and let that player forgo the help he would usually provide to his teammates when Jordan is without the ball. (The Pacers have used this tactic with limited success in the Eastern Conference Finals.) However, warns one scout, don't do this more than 30% of the time, or Jordan's teammates will catch on and counter by passing elsewhere, at which time Jordan will spin backdoor and set himself up for a layup.
?Run an extra defender at Jordan when he has the ball and the shot clock is ticking down. Don't do it with a full clock, because Jordan will hit Toni Kukoc or Steve Kerr for the open three.
?Try to prevent Jordan from running the "double out, step out," a play that calls for him to run down to a screen set around the block, step out to the corner and shoot. Scouts say this is Jordan's favorite place from which to stroke the jumper.
"Yet Jordan operates from so many different spots, you'd almost have to come up with a separate defense for every place on the court," says Sterner. "He's so intelligent offensively that he's already solved every conceivable scheme opposing coaches have come up with to slow him down.
"There's still really only one way to stop him. You have to break his ankle."