Tag Archives: half court shots

Half-Court Heaving Vs. Pitchers Hitting

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If you’re a first-time visitor of this blog or new to my work in general, just know I track some random, possibly pointless statistics, and one of them involves shots from beyond half-court. Also, most of my posts here are just me forcing myself to write to stay in the routine. This is what happens when I combine the pointless stats and forcing myself to write while it’s the off-season.

I compared shots from beyond half-court with batting statistics from pitchers.

The goal was to find a hitting statistic, preferably a positive outcome, that had about the same percentage of happening as a 45+ foot shot going into the basket, and the simplest way for me to do that was to start by looking at pitchers, the worst hitters in baseball. 45 feet isn’t half-court, by the way, but it’s a two-foot cushion I like to give after Casper Ware made a heave in 2014.

With that in mind, a more recent post on half-court shots showed that the average accuracy from 2001 to 2015 was 2.55 percent. Huge, but justtttt a bit lower than a pitcher’s batting average from 2001 to Wednesday night:

hv1

Micah Owings leads all pitchers in batting average, minimum 100 plate appearances, with a .283 mark. 100 plate appearances is the filter I decided on, fair or not or whatever.

On-base percentage would be hopeless to compare now. Maybe walk percentage?

hv2

Much closer, pitchers walking are 10.4 times less likely than a strikeout but not high enough to be compared to made heaves. That’s even if we took out all two of the intentional walks by Chris Hatcher and Brooks Kieschnick. Kevin Jarvis is the current leader in walk rate at 9.6 percent.

What about plate appearance ending with a hit by a pitch?

hv3

Too low now. Kevin Brown got hit in 2.2 percent of his plate appearances, three total. Roy Oswalt leads with five HBPs, but okay, maybe it’s time to screw around here.

Stolen base attempts for every single or walk?

hv4

Okay, that was closer, but making that stat up felt really dumb. Greg Maddux had seven stolen bases, though, so there’s that.

Pitchers bunt way more often than they would move a runner with a fly ball in the outfield. What’s the sacrifice fly to hit percentage?

hv5

EVEN CLOSER, but still a weirdo stat. What about trying extra-base hit percentage, because surely when pitchers get a hit it’s just a blooper or whatever.

hv7

Welp, might as well start all over. Carlos Zambrano had 24 home runs and 53 total extra-base hits in his career, the most, as you might have noticed, since 2001. 32 percent of his hits were doubles, triples, or home runs, but Manny Parra had the highest percentage of hits go for extra bases at 44.4 percent.

What about extra base hits per plate appearance?

hv6

XBH* Whatever

I don’t follow baseball closely, but not only are these percentages close enough to each other, the outcome we just compared to NBA heaves makes enough sense to be the baseball version, right? Maybe this outcome would be way too high, though, if pitchers were told to swing away more often than move runners along. Regardless, Owings, also the leader in batting average, takes the cake here with 11.4 percent of his plate appearances leading to extra base hits.

I suppose I could’ve filtered this to see pitching numbers from the seventh inning on, or whenever a pinch hitter becomes logical, but I don’t want to look this up and I don’t know how to. However, in an effort to spread heave awareness (STOP RUNNING THE CLOCK OUT TO PRESERVE YOUR BASIC STATS WE LOOK PAST ANYWAY BECAUSE THERE ARE TONS OF DIFFERENT WAYS WE CAN SEPARATE THESE LOW PERCENTAGE SHOTS OR ANY OTHER KIND OF SHOT FROM THE REST) just remember that over the last 15 years, the chances of making a shot from 45+ feet in the NBA has been about as likely as a pitcher stepping up to the plate and hitting a double, triple, or home run.

Now you know. So now when a pitcher is up to bat, you should also think of heaves.

Stay tuned more attempts to reach “peak off-season”, but for your safety you probably shouldn’t.

Statistics were from Basketball-Reference and FanGraphs. I love you both.

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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.

HEAVE UPDATE: 2014-15 is a struggle

With just over a month of NBA in the books, I decided to round up a couple random stats and put them here. This post went on the silly side of things as I looked at half-court heaves, which are unfortunately not doing too hot compared to last season when I posted a few (a different link for each letter!) thoughts.

Below is a look at 2001 to 2015’s numbers, via Basketball-Reference’s Shot Finder tool. The numbers are a bit different from previous posts. Since Casper Ware’s half-court shot last season was logged from 46 feet instead of the ~50 that was obvious on film, I gave the Shot Finder a two-foot cushion, increasing the range of shots to 45-94 feet. This isn’t meant to needle Basketball-Reference. Getting exact shot locations and the time the attempt was taken, among other things, is not easy.

Anyway, below are the numbers this season. I also added another column looking at how many points the heaves would have to be worth to reach an average of one point per attempt.

heavo

Four-point line? How about one worth 40 points? If this ever happens, some fans are getting max contracts.

John Henson is the only player to make a shot from beyond half-court this season, because I don’t know. Jamal Crawford leads the league in most attempted heaves with three, somehow not creating four-point plays on all of them. Some surprising names to attempt a shot or two: Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Gorgui Dieng. Weeeeeeeee

2015 is behind 2014’s pace in made heaves, though. Not too surprising since 2014 was the second-best heave percentage ever tracked, but 2015 is also in contention for the least-accurate ever. It even looks like 2015 is behind 2014’s pace is in attempted heaves, which, I don’t know. I’ll try to remain optimistic. MOAR HEAVES C’MON.

Stay tuned over the rest of the season for more heave updates. Until then, have a good heavening. /Hides

Casper Ware’s half-court shot sets league record for made heaves in a season

At a time when efficiency is as important as ever, taking a half-court shot is like a fork in the road for NBA players. It’s an opportunity for a team to score a free three points since the opposition is never getting the ball back, and that amount is more than the difference between Miami’s league-leading offensive rating and eighth-place Phoenix’s, according to NBA.com. (The drop-off is about the same anywhere in that statistic, save for one of the worst offenses ever in Philadelphia. More on them in a bit.)

The drawback to the heave is that it also counts in the box score whether or not it goes through the net, and as I’ve used as an example in previous posts about those shots, it affected how Kevin Durant and others of the Oklahoma City Thunder approached those end-of-quarter situations last season.

But to the advantage of teams and the entertainment of fans, this season’s attempts from beyond half-court (currently 331) are on pace to top 2013’s total of 361. It’s a positive sign since heaves rarely ever affect individual stats by a season’s end and never accounted for more than one percent of all attempted threes anyway.

And last night added a little extra to the uptick thanks to none other than, um, Casper Ware?

The 76ers guard, in just the second game of his career, scored the league’s 13th shot from beyond half-court this season, surpassing the record for made heaves previously set in 2010 according to Basketball-Reference.

Below is a season-by-season breakdown of shots from beyond half-court:

Before Ware, no player made a heave since March 1 when Marc Gasol dialed one up from deep, and as you might guess from the total made shots in the table above, that drought for multiple weeks is quite common. The longest came in 2005 when the first of only two made heaves was scored on January 26. 2010 and 2012 are the only seasons when two were made on the same night.

And if those field goals were ever worth more than three points, they should be way higher than the four discussed earlier this season. Very similar to what I’ve included in previous posts about half-court shots, to reach an effective field goal percentage of .500 we’d need either 1,598 of those 4,794 total heaves to go in or the 115 already made to be worth about 42 points each. If the latter were the case, even a casual NBA fan would surpass Wilt Chamberlains 100-point game in no time.

Lastly, below is the company Ware joins this season with his made heave last night:

It’s probably unnecessary given Tony Wroten‘s out with a high ankle sprain, but he’s more accurate near the opposition’s arc than his own.

But at least he has a contract guaranteeing him money next season. The same can’t be said for a few players who’ve suited up for the 76ers, including Casper Ware. If the former guard for Long Beach State never plays a minute after this season, his name will at least have some lasting power with NBA fans.

When reaching for other reasons to remember Ware, though, hopefully sinking a record-breaking half-court shot all while Philadelphia lost a record-tying 26th game will come to mind. He still has a couple games left on his 10-day contract to add to his resume, but that heave currently stands as one of the few bright spots for the post-trade deadline 76ers.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

Edit: According to Basketball-Reference’s shot finder, Ware’s shot was made from 46 feet, a foot across half-court even though his player page lists the attempt from beyond that point. ESPN’s shot chart and NBA.com also marks his shot from behind the line and video confirms that. Going forward, however, maybe I’ll have to dial back the filtered shots to beyond 45 feet, but maybe it’s just an error in the Shot Finder that will be fixed in time.

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.

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