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Expected Scoring: Team Update

afternoon hammock

As we head into the All-Star break I thought it would be a good time to look at Expected Scoring numbers at the team level. Expected Scoring is something we’ve looked at extensively for individual players but this is the first time this season we’re looking at teams as a whole.

In this case we take a team’s shot attempts from each area and multiply it by the expected point value for a shot from that area. We can then compare that to how many points a team actually score from each area to arrive at a point differential. Expected Scoring incorporates both a team’s shot selection and shooting accuracy to arrive at a measure of scoring efficiency relative to the league average. The expected point values I use for each shot (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

The table below shows the shot attempts, field goal percentage, expected points, actual points and point differential for each NBA team from each area of the floor. Here’s the link to the actual spreadsheet if you prefer that to an embedded photo.

So far this season, the top 5 offenses in terms of overall point differential are:

  1. Dallas               +5.07
  2. Miami               +4.84
  3. Phoenix            +4.82
  4. Boston               +4.48
  5. San Antonio    +3.83

Last season’s league leader in point differential was Phoenix, by a wide margin, at +7.26. This number was mostly due to the 3.35 more points than expected they scored per game on three pointers. This season their point differential on three pointers has dropped to +1.05. As drastic as that drop was it’s been at least partially cancelled out by a huge increase in their point differential at the rim. This season they are +3.51 per game on shots at the rim, last season’s number was +1.55.

It’s amazing that Phoenix saw this much of a change despite losing Amare Stoudemire. Accomplishing this has been a team effort. Every player currently on the Suns’ roster except Zabian Dowdell, Channing Frye and Earl Barron has a FG% above the league average on shots at the rim. The Suns aren’t doing it with isolations but with efficient ball movement. They have the 4th highest Ast% on shots at the rim.

So far this season, the bottom 5 teams in terms of overall point differential are:

  1. Milwaukee         -5.35
  2. Cleveland           -4.35
  3. Charlotte            -3.69
  4. Sacramento       -3.60
  5. L.A. Clippers      -2.55 

By and large these five teams struggle everywhere. Milwaukee, Cleveland and Charlotte all have negative point differentials from every area of the floor. Both Los Angeles and Sacramento have a positive point differential at the rim (thank you DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin) but are in the negatve range from everywhere else on the floor.

There are still a few areas within this mess which stand out in particular. Milwaukee is horrible finishing at the rim. I mean absolutely wretched. Their point differential at the rim is -1.22. The next closest team, Cleveland at -0.43, is almost a full point better than the Bucks. To put their awful performance further in perspective they are one of only 4 teams who have a negative point differential on shots at the rim. In stark contrast to the numbers for Phoenix we discussed above, just two players for Milwaukee, Keyon Dooling and Garrett Temple have a FG% above the league average on shots at the rim.

Besides just looking at the best and worst offenses, several other unique features of each team’s offensive identity show up in these numbers.

  • At +2.28 Oklahoma City has the tenth best overall point differential. By far the biggest factor in their overall point differential is the +2.00 they post at the free throw line. Without the quantity and quality of their free throw shooting they would be a completely average offensive team.
  • Dallas leads the league with a point differential of +5.07. A significant portion of that comes from their +1.90 point differential on 16-23ft. jumpers. You can chalk that up to the perimeter shooting of Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki who combine to take 10.7 shots per game from that distance and shoot 51% and 48% respectively.
  • Miami is the only team in the league with a positive point differential from every area of the floor. Wade, Bosh and James carry the team’s differential from inside the arc. All three however, shoot below the league average from beyond the arc. They can thank Eddie House, James Jones and Mike Miller for their team’s positive point differential on three pointers.

I haven’t updated individual Expected Scoring numbers since January 16th, but will hopefully have some new numbers up next week. At the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page you can find links to all the available data from this season and last as well as Expected Scoring profiles for about a dozen players.

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