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A First Look At Expected Scoring For 2011-2012

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Expected Scoring numbers are back for the 2011-2012 season!

If you’re unfamiliar with this measure of scoring efficiency I developed, Expected Scoring uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor, multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot, arriving at an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to create at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but the comparison is drawn with actual point totals. All of the totals are calculated per 40 minutes.

Here’s an example of how the process is applied - Mario Chalmers attempts 2.8 shots per 40 minutes at the rim. Over the past five seasons a shot at the rim has had an average value of 1.081 points, meaning we would expect Chalmers to average 3.38 points per 40 minutes on those shots. He’s actually averaging 2.4 made shots at the rim per 40 minutes, producing 4.8 points. That gives him a point differential of +1.42. The process is than repeated for every player, from every area of the floor, producing an overall point differential. This is a measure of scoring efficiency that takes into account both a player’s shot selection and accuracy.

Among the early season surprises has been Richard Jefferson, who’s scoring 3.78 more points per 40 minutes than expected. This bump is almost all due to his hot three-point shooting to start the season. He’s been making his threes at a 55.6% clip, while taking an extra 2.4 attempts per 40 minutes compared to last season. These are incredible numbers and seem somewhat unsustainable, but they do speak to a player who finally seems completely comfortable with his responsibilities in the Spurs offense.

Another shocking result was the performance of Dirk Nowitzki. Since I began working with this metric two years ago, Nowitzki has never been outside the top five in overall point differential. This is because he’s a very effective scorer from all over the floor, and a tremendous mid-range jumpshooter. His point differential to start the season is a respectable +1.99, but that’s a huge drop from the +4.43 he put up last season. Nowitzki has been taking more jumpers from the 10-15ft. range, 1.9 more per 40 minutes, but is shooting just 43.0%, compared to 49.4% from that distance last season. He got off to a rough start and I would certainly expect those numbers to rebound, but perhaps his tremendous scoring advantage is not what it once was.

Keeping the focus on Dallas, it was amazing to see a numeric value on how poor Lamar Odom has been playing offensively. His point differential of -6.18 is among the worst in the league. He’s actually taking more shots per 40 minutes than he did last season, including an extra 3.5 three-point attempts. This bump has happened at the same time his FG% has dropped to 29.5% overall, 18.2% on three-pointers, and 42.1% on shots at the rim. There’s no way this sort of slump will last all season, but until the ball starts going through the net, it might be time to dial it back a bit on the shot attempts.

Below are a few other highlights and low-lights from the early season.

The top five rookies  by point differential are (min. 50 minutes):

  1. Nikola Vucevic | +3.25
  2. Markieff Morris | +2.22
  3. Charles Jenkins | +1.80
  4. MarShon Brooks | +1.80
  5. Greg Stiemsma | +0.97

The top five players  by point differential are (min. 50 minutes):

  1. Manu Ginobili | +7.79
  2. Ray Allen | +5.90
  3. Marcin Gortat | +3.95
  4. Stephen Curry | +3.92
  5. Richard Jefferson | +3.78

The bottom five players  by point differential are (min. 50 minutes):

  1. Austin Daye | -7.87
  2. Brian Cook | -6.64
  3. Louis Amundson | -6.53
  4. Lamar Odom | -6.18
  5. Travis Outlaw | -5.92

To see the numbers for every player in the league check out the updated spreadsheet in Google Docs format here, or at the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page.


  • boyer

    There’s probably several factors involved in Odom’s shooting woes, but the main one is not playing with Kobe. His FG % immediately skyrocketed when he started playing with Kobe, and now it has plummeted. It will improve, but don’t expect it to be much higher, if higher, than 43%.

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