This is post is the first in a small 4-part series I am writing up to discuss basketball statistics, analytics and the useful application of different easy stats. Box-score stats really do not tell much of a story, but hopefully some of the ideas I am going to discuss will help to create a better narrative of what really happens in a game and over the course of a season.
The stat we are going to look at for Part 1 is a measure of offensive and specifically shooting efficiency. This stat is painfully simple but drills down to an essential focus on shooting efficiency. Pts/FGA is the stat. It is easy to understand and implement, It takes into account the fact that 3pt shots are worth more than 2pt FG's, so it inherently considers 3P%. It is different than the widely used Points Per Possession because instead of valuing each possession separately (maybe you fired up a few bad shots but got the offensive rebound to extend the single possession) it considers EVERY shot and the quality of them. Similar to Points Per Possession the more free throws you make the higher your Pts/FGA will be.
This stat is a great lens to look at team scoring efficiency from game to game, but it is also extremely useful in looking at individual player efficiency and effectiveness. If you have a player shooting lots of tough, contested jumpers (and not getting to the FT Line) it will show through in this stat very clearly.
Perhaps the most powerful application of this stat which I call "scoring efficiency" is to match it with charting shot quality. Many teams have rating systems for their shots; tagging a number to a specific shot type (I've seen this done several ways) for example: Open Layup = 9, Wide Open 3 - 7, Wide Open 2 (outside key) - 5, Contested 2 (outside paint) = 3, Contested 3pt = 2. You can play around with the valuing system to suit your concepts and style of play.
Without over-complicating things (a common fault for me) it would be hugely beneficial for teams to simply start tracking Open vs. Contested Shots, and then perhaps tagging onto that where on the floor these came from. That by itself would tell you a lot. For a great (and well linked article on this see: http://articles.basketballogy.com/2012/your-shot-chart-is-lying-to-you-and-what-to-do-about-it/
Credit for the Pts/FGA stat and the first place I saw it to Ben Taylor in his book "Thinking Basketball."
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
FOOTNOTE: As noted in Taylor's book Pts/FGA is the same stat as True Shooting%, (TS% just arranges the numbers in the form of a percentage). I would contend that Pts/FGA is a more tangible, easier to understand stat for players/coaches than True Shooting%. The simplicity of the stat combined with all the contributing factors that can go into "Pts" and "FGA's" can make for clear comparisons and easy application.
Coach Matt - Father, Coach, Life Long Learner, Basketball Addict