Category Archives: Stats

Tables with shot location splits (from the Knicks post)

Below are some shot location splits I made to compare New York’s recent, excessive jump shooting with the rest of the league.

The first table looks at how many shots a team takes outside of the paint, according to NBA.com’s shooting stats. Here’s a link to it for maybe an easier view. This one should make it downloadable on Excel, where sorting columns are hopefully a possibility.

Anyway, here’s the posted table(s) from Google Sheets:

There isn’t anything too telling with how shots in the paint or out of it impacts offensive rating. The top 10 most efficient teams are scattered across the board. It’s worth noting, though, that only seven teams have taken more than half their shots in the paint.

Splits in wins and losses, found in the second sheet, also vary. In wins, the Nets, Pistons, Clippers, and Lakers all take a few less shots in the paint. The Bobcats, Cavaliers, Heat, and Magic have the opposite result. For Charlotte and Miami, maybe that’s from the impact of Al Jefferson and LeBron James, respectively.

Overall, though, I’m not sure it’s worth looking too into the stats because of, well, the difference in points from a mid-range jumper and a three-point shot not being specified (but will be in the second batch of tables). That doesn’t mean it’s not cool to post the splits, though, well hopefully.

But the next table’s a little more specific with where a team distributes their shots, sorting ones that often generate the most points (around the rim and from the arc) from the lowest (in the paint but not in the restricted area, and from mid-range). Here’s a link to the table for possibly easier viewing. This link should hopefully load in Excel.

This table has a more clear relation to both offensive rating and effective field goal percentage, though outliers like Philadelphia (poor Thaddeus Young, by the way) still remain. Detroit’s also one of the top teams to shoot around the rim or from three, though their efficiency takes a hit from Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, among other players.

On the other side of the outliers is Oklahoma City, who’s in the middle of the pack with how many attempts they take around the rim and from three, though they’re sixth in offensive rating and EFG%. It helps to have nice mid-range shooters in Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Same goes for Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki and Portland with LaMarcus Aldridge.

No team takes less than half of their shots from the high-efficiency areas of the floor, though Memphis is tip-toeing that ground with a near 50-50 split. Related: they’re 20th in offensive rating and 21st in EFG%.

Win-loss splits still vary. Golden State, for example, attempts two to three more shots from either mid-range or the non-restricted area part of the paint (that part of the floor seriously needs a better, shorter name) in wins. Swinging the other way are the Mavericks, Clippers, Pelicans, and Jazz all taking a few less shots from those low-efficiency spots on the floor with the Clippers having the biggest decrease, taking over five less shots in wins. Unsurprisingly, their EFG% improves by 9.1 percent though every team’s percentage has increased in wins. There’s hardly a difference in shot distribution for some teams like the Lakers, Magic, and Blazers, all changing by less than a quarter of a percent.

Just for fun, I included an extra table featuring which teams take more mid-range shots than ones around the rim, something I included in the Knicks-related post this morning. Unsurprisingly, Portland’s both at the top of that table and the only team to be in the top 10 in scoring efficiency. The rest of the teams, save for the Knicks, are either at the bottom 10 or flirting with it.

I also wanted to include game-by-game logs but they’re so big that I didn’t want to make this post extremely slow to load. They can be found here on Google Sheets or a link to Excel.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome, and as a reminder this was related to the Knicks column I posted earlier today about their overreliance on the jump shot, even by their standards.

Looking at team-by-team conference splits

Over the last several weeks, I’ve started a series about non-conference matchups in a season where the West has had the upper hand by a historic margin. That margin, at least in terms of winning percentage against the East, is slowly shrinking but I thought it’d be fun to dive deeper into non-conference play anyway.

So after fooling around with the stats page at NBA.com, I made some conference splits. Just how well are teams performing against the East compared to the West?

Some net ratings per 100 possessions are pretty staggering. Only the Heat have a higher one against the West while the Jazz are even at zero. Below are the five worst differences against the West and the six best since there was a tie for fifth (you can also view it here):

It’s not all that surprising to see a team like the Kevin Love-led Timberwolves in the bottom five. Their offense is still somewhat there against the West, though their defense falls apart. At the same time, so does quite a few others and Minnesota’s net rating versus the West is slightly above the league average of -1.57. Positivity!

That’s only a small portion of the table I made, though, since I plucked basic, miscellaneous, and advanced stats from NBA.com. It actually killed an hour of boredom by making the massive table below. After posting that, I’ll include a few thoughts.

Scroll around to see the stats you’re curious about. Teams are sorted in alphabetical with net ratings, assist percentages, etc. first, miscellaneous stats like fast break points and points in the paint second, and basic stats third.

The table can also be viewed here, and I’d actually suggest that since the table is huge. It’s my first time using Google Docs links so any issues are encouraged to be brought up.

As a reminder, all stats are pace-adjusted and according to NBA.com.

Defensive efficiency

Defensive efficiency shows a pretty significant difference with teams on average allowing 4.49 points more per 100 possessions against West opponents. In particular, Detroit, Dallas, and Toronto all allow 10 or more. Only the Lakers (+1) and Spurs (+.01) have better defensive ratings against the West than the East, though the Lakers’ one is no accomplishment. More on that in the next paragraph.

The top five defensive ratings against the East are Indiana (91.1), Chicago (94.7), Toronto (96.5), Golden State (97.3), and Houston (97.6). The five worst are Los Angeles (106.3), Philadelphia (105.6), Milwaukee (105.6), Utah (104.7), and New York (104.5). Nothing too surprising, though New York’s defensive rating against the East WITH Tyson Chandler returning is 106.1, according to NBA.com.

The top five defenses against the West are Indiana (97.2), Oklahoma City (99.5), San Antonio (100.3), Golden State (100.6), and Charlotte (102.0). The five worst are Detroit (112.3), Dallas (109.4), Utah and Cleveland (108.6 each), and Sacramento (108.4). Indiana is a freak of nature. Detroit, meanwhile, is a punching bag.

Offensive Efficiency

Offensive efficiency doesn’t show anywhere as large of a difference as the defensive side. 14 teams score more points per 100 possessions against the West and only one team, San Antonio, has a difference larger than five points in either direction. They score 110.9 per 100 possessions against the East and 105 against West opponents.

The top five against the East are San Antonio (110.9), Oklahoma City (110.1), Portland (109.3), the Los Angeles Clippers (108.4), and Miami (108). The bottom five are Milwaukee (97.1), Utah (97.3), Cleveland (97.4), Philadelphia (97.6), and Memphis (98.9). Seems pretty standard as far as the top five go. On the other side, Cleveland is just embarrassing. For the Grizz, there’s plenty of time to improve on their number, though they need health to be on their side sooner or later.

The top five offenses against the West are Miami (112.1), Dallas (109.6), Los Angeles Clippers (109.2), Portland (108.4), and Houston (107.7) The bottom five are Philadelphia (94.4), Milwaukee (95.4), Chicago (95.6), Boston (97.6), and Orlando (97.8). No surprises all around except for maybe Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki needs more love. So much more love.

Pace

To go with the grind that is the East and the quick pace of the West, only five teams play faster against East opponents than West ones. Those five: Detroit, Golden State, Memphis, Orlando, and Sacramento.
Fast break points don’t show too much change, though. 17 teams score more fast break points against Western teams. The 30 teams on average score .38 more fast break points against them.

Threes

22 teams take less threes against the West. Those 22 teams take 1.72 less threes on average. 21 shoot a worse three point percentage, and those 21 average out at 2.97 percent worse. When factoring in every team, the average is 1.49 percent worse against the West compared to the East.

Paint

On average, teams average 2.54 more points in the paint against the West compared to the East, and only five teams average less. Those five: New Orleans, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, and Orlando. The five highest increases: Dallas (+6.2), Indiana (+6.0), Miami (+5.5), Memphis (+5.4), and Detroit (+4.9).

Also, 21 teams foul less against the West while 18 average less blocked shots.

Free throws

19 teams take more free throws against the West, though overall teams take only .12 more attempts. Only nine teams foul more against West opponents.

Rebounding

21 teams rebound less per 100 possessions against the West and 22 rebound a lesser percentage. At the same time, 20 teams grab more offensive rebounds though 17 grab a higher percentage. 12 teams record more second chance points against the West opponents than East ones.

Passing

Six teams assist a higher percentage against the West: New York, Atlanta, Sacramento, Boston, Cleveland, and Utah. Overall, teams assist 2.28 percent less. Oklahoma City is in last place at a decrease of 8.3 percent.

14 teams have a lesser assist/turnover ratio, though, and only four teams turn it over more against the West: the Lakers, Minnesota, New York, and Chicago.

There’s a bunch of other stuff to look at. I just thought I’d share the table and some thoughts. Brighter people will draw better conclusions from it than I could. Basically, though, the West is obviously more strong, but also a different beast than the lesser conference. The difference in pace is what I find most surprising, at least so far.

Any other thoughts are welcome.

Though I made a formula to find the differences in stats between each conference, I’m not guaranteeing everything to be 100 percent correct, especially since opponent stats were confusing at first. There might be a team with, for example, an average of 1.2 rebounds less against the West instead of -1.2. Things like that.

Make with it whatever you’d like, though, and again any comments or corrections are welcome.

Half-court heaves: A follow up on pre-season curiosity

It’s that time of the season where I’ll be following up on posts I made three to four months ago, most likely relating to predictions or curiosity about a player or team. For example, a few days ago I looked at Josh Smith’s shot selection that I was fine with in November but now fascinated by how badly it could regress. Today I’ll go even further with low-percentage shots, following up with pre-season curiosity about how players would approach buzzer-beating half-court shots in a time when efficiency is as important as ever.

With the way the heaves are counted in the stats, they create a unique conflict between a team and the player holding the ball during the final seconds of a quarter. Taking those shots with the clock winding down would obviously be efficient from a team’s standpoint. The opposition is never getting the ball back so it’s a chance for a free three points, points a team is rewarded with about 2.3 percent of the time (more on that soon). That percentage, however, has made some players hesitant to take those shots because of the harm to their individual shooting numbers.

Fast forward to now and this season’s heave total is actually on pace to match 2013’s, give or take a few attempts. Below is a season-by-season tally according to Basketball-Reference that dates back to when they first charted shots. Only attempts taken from 47 feet and beyond were accounted for, though I thought about 45 before staying literal with heaves beyond half court.

Since the league only needs five more made heaves to break the record set in 2010, I just might have to update (or not) whenever one goes in. Below are the eight players who have made shots so far.

Though my calculations might be off, to reach an effective field goal percentage of .500 we’d need one of the following two to happen:

  1. 1,562 of those 4,686 total heaves would have to go in. This is where Stephen Curry becomes useful.
  2. The actual 110 that went in would have to be worth about 42.5 points each. 2014’s “heater” took a sliver off their possible value. Coming into the season, they would’ve been worth closer to 43. Whatever. This is where Curry would become VERY useful. Jamal Crawford, too.

In the first post about the heaves, I wrote that the impact of those shots to a player’s shooting stats isn’t as big of a deal as they might think and both past and current all-stars like Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant all have taken over 30 career heaves from beyond half court (all the cool kids are doing it!). Unfortunately, that alone likely wouldn’t encourage more shots. A better chance would be implementing a rule that treats heaves like how baseball treats sacrifice bunts and flies. If the shots go in they’ll count and if they miss it’s absent from the stat sheet.

Regardless, now that the season’s over halfway done we can look at how heaves have affected three-point percentages so far. Below is a table featuring every player who has taken three or more shots from half court and beyond.

Most players’ three-point percentages change by less than one point and each team still has 30 or more games to go, so there’s plenty of time for the impact of heaves to look even smaller.

Lance Stephenson arguably has the most at stake, though, as he hangs around league-average three-point shooting while on an expiring contract. Reggie Jackson (who leads the league in heaves this season with seven) and Alec Burks are other players to watch, but a few missed buzzer-beaters shouldn’t matter for others. Guys like Andre Miller (the most notorious heaver with over 100 career attempts) and Tyreke Evans, for example, aren’t known for their range. Their percentage from 50 feet out is roughly the same from 25, well almost. Looking at the table, Tony Wroten‘s actually a close call.

Those who are the most negatively affected by heaves are probably sports bettors who have the under on a point total and fantasy basketball owners of players who take last-second shots. A fantasy team with Evans, Miller, and Burks might have to punt three-pointers and maybe even points, though the latter wouldn’t be the case if half-court heaves were worth over 40 points.

90s NBA: Players who shot worse from the shortened three-point line

During last night’s barn/dome burner at Syracuse, I noticed Derrick Coleman getting some love from the broadcasters. Looking at his NBA stats from Basketball-Reference, I noticed two odd things:

  1. Coleman shot threes, but like Charles Barkley and Josh Smith he bricked many.
  2. Coleman shot worse from the shortened three-point line, the one that went from 23’9″ around the arc to a uniform 22 feet from 1995 to 1997, than he did from the modern-day line. From 1995 to 1997, he shot 67-for-260 (25.8 percent) from three. His other seasons combined: 259-for-845 (30.7 percent).

Some searching on Basketball-Reference showed that quite a few other players had the same, weird drop-off in three-point percentage from a shortened line. Others shot better when the arc went back to the normal 23’9″ (with the 22-foot corners staying) in 1998 while some experienced both the drop off from 1994 to 1995-1997 and the uptick the following season.

Whatever the case, below is a table to show those players who met the criteria previously listed with an additional two requirements:

  1. Play at least 50 games in a season.
  2. Average at least one three-point attempt per game.

Seasons with the shortened three-point line are highlighted in blue and regular three-point lines highlighted in red. It’s a decent-sized list, so just use the bar on the right side to scroll up or down.

Some reasons off the top of my head on why players would struggle with a shorter three-point line:

  1. With a shorter arc, defenders had less distance to cover when running a shooter off it. Shooters who took an extra tenth of a second to get their shot off would be affected the most.
  2. Three-point specialists might not have been used to shooting a foot or two closer to the hoop, though in time they would adjust.
  3. Some players are asked to create with the shot clock winding down. A closer three-point line may have led to more contested shots from beyond the arc versus 22-foot twos. That’s not a problem when three points are worth more than two, but the three-point percentage took a dip nonetheless.
  4. It was just variance running it’s course, though more often than not it reared its ugly head at the players listed in the table.

Other thoughts are certainly welcome.

Just for fun, I’ll end this post with a table featuring notable players who benefited from the shorter three-point line and then saw their three-point percentage (and possibly three-point attempts) decline after the 1997 season.

Opposite from the previous table, the shortened three-point line is highlighted in red and the modern-day line in blue:

Any excuses I made about players shooting worse from the shortened line might be crushed thanks to that second table. There’s a lot of what-ifs after looking at it, such as Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan, among others, having even more ridiculous point totals had the arc remained shortened. Clyde Drexler‘s another shooting guard who would’ve benefited.

Big men like Terry Mills and Arvydas Sabonis would’ve had all sorts of fun, and if a time machine could take LaMarcus Aldridge to 1995 to 1997, he too would feast. LUNCH MEAT.

When good true shooting percentages look bad

True shooting percentage (TS%) is a statistic that takes into account both field goals and free throws, and only 36 players have recorded one over .600 for this season. DeAndre Jordan, Andrew Bogut, Ryan Hollins, and Greg Smith are four of those players, joining the company that includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kyle Korver.

But something is off when looking at the four centers who made a list featuring a few of the best shooters in the game: their TS% is lower than their field goal percentage. You probably don’t need a table to realize that’s because those guys are poor free throw shooters, but I included one anyway. Eight other players have had the same problem this season, minimum 100 minutes played and via Basketball-Reference. They’re sorted by the total minutes they’ve logged.

True Shooting Percentage < Field Goal Percentage 

If you explore the table, you’ll notice I included other stats like PER, usage, and defensive rating. The only players with a PER over the average of 15 are Jordan, Bogut, and Andre Drummond. Bogut’s already a destructive defensive force while Jordan and Drummond at times have done the same. They also have the lowest foul rates per 36 minutes among the 12-player group, which is kind of a big deal when just about every player on that list is more known for their defense than offense, save for alley-oops. (One exception is Jan Vesely, who’s probably still known more for his draft night kiss and more-fouls-than-points-chase last season.)

Overall, 150 players in NBA history have recorded a higher field goal percentage than TS% at least once, minimum 100 minutes and including this season. When making the minimum 1,000 minutes, the number of players shrinks to 37.

I’ll end this blog post with a table of the current “lower TS% than FG%” streaks, including those who had one going into this season:

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