Half-court shot totals from the 2014-15 season

Yesterday I posted the season-long non-conference record. Today I regurgitated another stat I decided to track for some reason: Heaves! I defined a heave as any shot from half-court and beyond since these shots mostly happen at the end of a quarter, and since they are low-percentage shots it’s not surprising to see a player be too cool and take one justttt after the horn sounds or take no shot at all. Whatever. I’ll address this later.

There hasn’t been a post here about those numbers since early December, though, back when the league recorded only one made heave and was approaching the least-accurate season in the fifteen tracked seasons on Basketball-Reference. Those missed shots were a really big deal! Well, not really, but made shots are pretty entertaining and good Vine or YouTube fodder, except they just weren’t happening.

Well, after starting one-for-94, the league gave us life. Over the last four months and change, they were 10-for-322 and Zach Randolph became the only player to make two heaves this season. Overall, heaves in 2015 finished with very average accuracy — a whopping 2.6 percent — and an attempt total that fit right in with previous seasons.

Below is an updated look from shots from a distance of 45 feet or longer. I gave a two-foot cushion because there were conflicting measurements with Casper Ware‘s record-breaking heave last season.

heaves

So yeah, not the most accurate shots unless you are Randolph or, in the past, like Tony Wroten who last year was a 21 percent three-point shooter but went two-for-six on heaves. Heal up, Moreyball god. It’s impressive he attempted as many heaves as he did this season in only 895 minutes. Listed below are Wroten and players to either make a heave this season or attempt the most shots without a make because they deserve to be mentioned for their efforts, unlike others who are too cool to heave:

heavers

If you looked at the post from early December, John Henson was the only player to make a half-court shot back then. He’s not listed here anymore. Not sure what happened on Basketball-Reference. He doesn’t even have a three-point attempt this season.

TANGENT: I also included the difference in three-point percentage because it took less than a minute to calculate it for all those players. Why did it take so fast? Because it’s 2015. We aren’t in the stone age anymore, when field goal percentage was looked at as a reliable way to measure shooting accuracy. Sure, missed shots from beyond half court shouldn’t count in the first place (they don’t in college), but in 2015 it’s not a big deal either way when it takes only seconds to filter them out and get a better look at a player’s shooting touch. You can do this easily because the heave totals are on any player page on Basketball-Reference or NBA.com like every other shot from a specific distance or zone. Look up any shot chart on NBA.com and it’s not just a bunch of dots with one single field goal percentage — they’re divided into several zones. We can even look at shots off the dribble, off a pass, and many other situations.

This isn’t the early-2000s, which is why it’s insulting to everybody involved when a player sees a half-court shot as harmful, as if we weren’t smart enough to account for their missed heaves and place them in their own group of attempts like we do with every other shot. We would all take notice if somebody like Stephen Curry decided to take 20 or more of them in a season, filtering them out from the rest of his threes like we’ve done with players who attempt threes most often from the corner and only occasionally take threes from above the break like Tony Parker and Shawn Marion. Knowing who might be a great three-point shooter from around the arc versus only the corners might not be the greatest example, but the bottom line is that it’s okay to take the end of quarter shot the other team can’t rebound because there are so many ways we can all look at shooting besides staring blankly at field goal and three-point attempts and percentages. Heaves are a win-win for the player and the team involved, though they do impact offensive efficiency. More on that in a bit.

There was a time when I took the side of a player padding their stats by being too cool to take heaves, but that’s in the past. It is now a lazy take, and I hate everybody who thinks otherwise. Just kidding about that second part, but in my opinion it is a lazy take in 2015.

END TANGENT…

…though if missed heaves didn’t count in the books, they wouldn’t count as possessions either. So for the heck of it, I looked at each team’s heaves, subtracted the missed ones from total possessions, and looked at what their offensive efficiency would be otherwise. I also included heave-to-3pt rate. The shot totals are from Basketball-Refence’s shot finder tool (edit: and efficiency was from Nylon Calculus):

heaveeff

A little similar to when I looked at technical fouls and their effect on offensive and defensive efficiency, the change when filtering out heaves is not huge, but we’re still moving around the rankings slightly. With about 17 points between first and last place in offensive efficiency, a 0.1-0.3-point boost isn’t…not…meaningful.

I’m also not sure the heave totals both for teams and league totals each season mean much. Less attempts could mean more 2-for-1 opportunities, or more attempts could mean that teams are willing to get off some kind of look with only a few seconds left in a quarter. Who knows?

Something that might help with that would be a new play-by-play option: Player X (or Team X) runs the clock out. Maybe it’s only used for the first three quarters since the fourth quarter is a very different situation. There’s also sometimes an awkward, multiple-second gap between the final shot and the end of a quarter, so maybe the extra play-by-play option isn’t a totally ridiculous suggestion. Oh well, but maybe it could help show when there were heave opportunities and show who isn’t taking advantage of what is a win-win situation for everybody involved, save for fantasy basketball owners and gamblers.

MOAR HEAVES.

East vs. West Final Standings

So the season has finally come to an end. While a number of solid West teams limped to the finish line, the conference still posted a record versus the East that fit right in with their dominance since 2000. Below is a look at their final few weeks versus the East, weeks where non-conference play was all but already wrapped up with only 12 games left:

And a look at each team’s record and conference splits (click to enlarge):

eastwest

And a few stats to measure this year’s non-conference battle with every season since 1971:

weststuff

The 2015 West moved down a bit since my last look at those last few statistics, fitting right in with a typical season since 2000, as mentioned earlier.

Right now, there’s too much left to be decided before taking a stab at what 2016 will look like. We have the playoffs to play out, which seems to lead to one injury that’ll decide a team’s fate. Then there’s the lottery to determine the draft order, which we know from the past can really move the needle. (Think Tim Duncan and a coin flip between which conference he’d wind up in.) And then the draft, free agency, and so on. THERE’S A LOT OF TIME LEFT BEFORE NEXT SEASON, but it should be fun to see if the East gets a boost over the next six months.

So that’s it for this year’s non-conference updates, but if there’s something I missed or you’re curious about feel free to leave a comment on here or over Twitter (my tweets should be on the right side of this blog).

I also plan to post some other silly season-ending stuff before the playoffs start, but until then enjoy the break between now and the postseason!

East vs. West Weeks 19-22: A BLOG POST

Had some laptop problems as of late. My own doesn’t quite work anymore and I’m waiting on a good time to put down some $$$ to get a new one. Meanwhile, the one I’m borrowing is a frequent visitor to the blue screen of death so it’s pretty difficult to research and write anything since I’m constantly at risk of losing that work.

BUT, it looks like I’ll be able to write up a quick post before anything bad happens. I took a look at weeks 19 through 22, which was basically the month of March, updated some splits, and since we’re nearing the end of non-conference play I also looked at how close or far away the West is at breaking some records including ones set last season:

Look at how big that table is. We’ve come so far.

So the West has been pretty strong over the past five weeks, going 70-43. The current top eight teams in that conference fed off the worst ten teams in the East, going 23-8, but also winning a bunch of games against the top five by going 17-9. That’s a bit impressive when non-conference play this season (and probably every other) has typically consisted of the best of the West beating up on the worst of the East and vice versa while the top eight in the West versus the top five out East have played fairly even.

Check out some updated splits I made, separating the playoff teams and lottos out West and the top five out East from the mediocre ten. There were also splits for home-road and rest-B2Bs. COOL:

splits330

Though I probably should include point differentials when the season is over, the playoff teams out West look to be crushing East teams not located in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, or Washington including a 63-7 record at home when they have at least one day of rest. Only one bottom-ten team out East has more than ten wins against the West, which is Boston at 12-18. That’s huge, really, as they’ve found themselves in the middle of the race for a sixth to eighth seed in the playoffs. Milwaukee, Miami, and Brooklyn, the sixth to eighth seeds right now, have 11, 12, and 13 wins against the West, respectively.

The best of the East have also beat up on the lottery squads out West, though Phoenix has played the East strong at 18-11. A little bit of cherry picking on their part, but that’s normal and not even that bad compared to past West teams who dominated the East but struggled versus the West. Among other instances, the 2001 Rockets went 25-5 against the East but missed out on the playoffs at 45-37.

As noted earlier, though, non-conference play is winding down with just 12 games over the next three weeks. Below is a look at some non-conference records I’ve looked at since 1971 and how the 2015 West stacks up against them with 97 percent of their games against the East already concluded. Stats I looked at were:

  • Point Differential: This is where 2014 separated itself from the rest of the 2000s and 2010s.
  • West PPG/East PPG: This kind of adjusts for high and low scoring games. A 70-60 victory may or may not be more dominant than 130-120. We can criss-cross eras a bit easier with this.
  • Win Percentage
  • Pythagorean Win Difference: The West’s real record is multiple games worse than their Pythagorean one. How weird is this?
  • Pythagorean Win% Difference: I don’t know. I was bored.

The 2015 West once had a margin of victory of over four against the East, but that shrunk. We’re still looking at a top-five mark, however:

pd

The 1998 East, guys. When looking at point differential percentage, it narrowly tops this year’s West:

pdpercent

The 2015 West’s win percentage isn’t too special, however. Which means, when taking margin of victory into account, their Pyth record is going to be a bit better.

winpercentage

The difference between the real and Pyth win percentage was 1.12 percent. Hardly notable compared to the biggest differences in a season, but still worth noting. Overall, it’s a five-win difference:

pythwinper pythdiff

But, while point differential can be fun to look at it can sometimes be misleading because of what happens during garbage time. Pft, like that’s ever stopped me from getting carried away. I mean…non-conference Pythagorean record…?!

Anyway, nice to see the laptop went a couple hours without bogging down. With some more luck there might be more #stuff posted.

East vs. West Week 15-18: FINALLY AN UPDATE

AFTER FOUR WEEKS OFF WE’RE BACK WITH AN UPDATE IN NON-CONFERENCE STANDINGS. My first draft was typed in all caps but I narrowed it down to one sentence. Over the four-week break from posting, I actually did post some statistics I calculated over all-star weekend regarding the two all-star games that you can find in the My Soup section.

Anyway, the East fared okay against the West just before and after the all-star break but also after the trade deadline. From weeks 15 through 18, they finished 27-34 but were 21-20 coming into last week if that makes sense. Many of those losses last week were close games, including Cleveland’s overtime loss to Houston on Sunday, and finished week 18 6-14.

Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown along with non-conference records from teams over the last four weeks.

week182

(Edit: If you compare the previous update to this one, there are slight changes in some weekly stats. I’m pretty sure I re-corrected the same errors I tried to fix in week 14, which was weird to say the least. Now, scoring margins and win totals all add up. Yay.)

So among other teams, Denver stunk, Houston played well, and Brooklyn has scored some wins that might not have been expected from them. They’re still doing that with a win last night over Golden State.

That’s all I have to say, though. WOW, GREAT ANALYSIS, but I don’t have much else to say as I have to post this ASAP and prepare for work way ahead of time than normal because SO MUCH SNOW.

Again, while I haven’t posted much at all on this here blog this season, I added some stats to the My Soup page. Otherwise, I’m writing at Nylon Calculus. In time I’ll add some different posts. I didn’t have time to post another Dream Team over all-star break like I originally planned, so I’ll save that for the season’s end. I already have a bunch of ideas for posts to write in the off-season.

As for the non-conference postings, I’ll include some more stuff next week than I did for this post. That shouldn’t be too hard since this week I just copied and pasted some statistics. Story of my writing lately, actually.

Enjoy the week.

East vs. West Week 14: The East is rolling, plus some splits

I thought I wouldn’t write any non-conference roundups until the all-star break, but check out Week 14. THE EAST. There were supposed to be 27 games, but two were postponed on Monday:

(Note: There were a couple errors in a master schedule I have in Excel. Correcting them led to some minor changes in this week’s table compared to others. Minor, but noticeable. Most notably, Week 3 changed from 12-7 to 11-8. Simple data entry mistake that I didn’t notice until now.)

Anyway, the East since Week 7 are 81-89 and last week went 14-11 last week against the West, arguably their best stretch of non-conference play this season. Some of that is a little misleading, though. Oklahoma City is clearly better than New York even though the Knicks gave the Thunder a loss that could be huge in the long run, and Phoenix was likely going to win against Chicago and Washington when both were on tail-ends of back-to-backs. I’m not saying the Suns are worse than those two teams, but rest matters and they had an advantage each game.

And I’ve been meaning to run some numbers that paint a better picture than just looking at overall wins and losses, real or Pythagorean, the latter statistic a little goofy when applied the way I’ve been using it in these posts. I mean, I like to think after 450 games there is a large enough sample size to determine just how good or bad each conference was, and it’s not like anything I do will answer all questions, but I played around with some East-West splits anyway.

So below is what I looked at. I find Oklahoma City inconsistent health-wise to the point I left them off all splits save for conference-wide ones. That sounds crazy but I separated the West into the top eight and bottom seven seeds, but the Thunder were so weird to me that I left them off both. Like, when healthy they’re a playoff team, so it’s not totally fair to put them in the bottom seven where I wanted to see how the best and worst of the East performs against the mehhhh section of the West. This all might sound ridiculous and I apologize. If I run similar splits at the end of the season I’ll include the Thunder. Or just remove the top 8 teams and see if anybody notices.

Cleveland was a close call also, but I included them. This is all controversial, probably. The power I have on my own blog is out of control sometimes:

dasidhasda

Surprise, surprise! Good teams beat up on bad ones! Specifically the West though. I think that proves how much more deep the conference is, though most of us already knew and love to complain about that. Sure, the top five in the East can hold up versus the best in the West with an emphasis on the Hawks, but the sixth to eight spots (and possibly ten by the end of the year) in the West are obviously stronger than the same East seeds.

It is nice that the East has a juggernaut in Atlanta, though, and maybe Cleveland in time, making the conference at least tolerable. I might’ve already said this in previous posts, but the second round in the East is going to be pretty damn fun.

Anyway, hope the splits were interesting. Below is a look at this week’s non-conference games:

week15

Three Nuggets and Lakers games for the East to feed off of as well as a 13-9 home-road advantage, and the East has some decent firepower overall. The top five teams play nine of the 22 games INCLUDING A GOLDEN STATE-ATLANTA MATCHUP. That’s probably the game of the week, but I’m writing this before I’ve done the Watchability Rankings so who knows.

Anyway, enjoy the week.

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