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Let's assume an offensive player takes a shot on the basket.

If a defensive player catches the shot in the air without goal tending, is that considered a block, a steal, or both in the statistics?

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When I first read the question, I read it as the player grabbing the ball after it missed the rim. But Coach-D pointed out that the better interpretation is that the ball is caught immediately after the shot. I've changed my answer to reflect that scenario.

The NBA rulebook does not have concrete definitions for some of these terms, so I'm going to refer to the FIBA Statisticians Manual.

Steal:

A steal is awarded to a defensive player when his action causes a turnover by an opponent. A steal must always include touching the ball, but does not necessarily have to be controlled.

  • Intercepting or deflecting a pass
  • Taking the ball away from an opponent holding or dribbling the ball
  • Picking up a loose ball after a mistake of an offensive player

Steals happen interferes with normal handling or passing of the ball, not from a shot. No steal is awarded.

Block:

A blocked shot is awarded to a player any time he appreciably makes contact with the ball to alter the flight of a FGA and the shot is missed. It recognises a clear rejection or deflection of a shot by a defensive player. The ball may or may not have left the hand of the shooter for the block to be counted.

The defensive player's catch is indeed responsible to change the shot, so a block (and a rebound) are awarded.

  • You should probably add the definition for rebound too. It may turn out not to be one of those either (or at least, not for the player who catches the ball). – Nij Nov 25 at 8:47
  • This answer is absolutely wrong. There was nothing to suggest in the question that the player threw up an air ball that missed by 10 feet. Actually the reference to "not goaltending" makes it clear that the shot was altered on the way up to the rim. – Coach-D Nov 28 at 4:30
  • Indeed, I agree. When I read the description, I did think that it was a missed shot/rebound. But your description of the play is more likely. – BowlOfRed Nov 30 at 20:54
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If it is a "shot" - a player attempting to score - then it is a block and a rebound. Period. You cannot steal a shot.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – alamoot Nov 28 at 16:25
  • @alamoot - it is the exact answer and correct. Your comment though is about as low quality as it gets because you are incorrect and you are distracting people from a correct answer with your nonsense. If you have something to add to my answer you can add citations to make it better (* in your opinion). Otherwise stay off my answers. – Coach-D Nov 30 at 17:52

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