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Numeric Extravaganza

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This afternoon I’ll be heading out for Boston and the Sloan Sports Analytics conference. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say here at Hickory-High once I get back, but in the meantime you can follow my thoughts on the conference on Twitter and through TrueHoop.

Since I’ll be otherwise engaged tomorrow this week will be without an installment of Rants, References and Revelations. Nevertheless, I wanted to share a few links I really enjoyed this week, and in the spirit of the Sloan Conference, a brief look at some statistics I’ve been playing with.

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece for HoopSpeakU, looking at the roller-coaster season of the Seton Hall Pirates. A big part of that analysis was a different way of looking at the Four Factors. It’s extremely rare to find a team that ranks among the elite in all four, on either side of the ball. Teams must make decisions about their strengths and how to play to them. In looking at how this has shaken out for Seton Hall, I started to see a line down the center of the Four Factors. Rebound and Turnover Percentage are about stockpiling scoring opportunities. Effective Field Goal Percentage and Free Throw Rate are about doing the most with those scoring opportunities. Adding my own twist I tried to find a way to represent just the rebounding and turnover half of the equation.

What I came up with in the Seton Hall piece was a calculation for each college basketball team of how many scoring opportunities they had per game, and compared that to how many they allowed their opponents. A scoring opportunity is considered a shot attempt or a trip to the free throw line, separating it slightly from the atom of a possession. I thought it would be interesting to take this idea and bring it to the NBA. The table below shows the results.

[table id=44 /]

On top you find the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 4 more scoring opportunities per game than their opponents. A feat accomplished by dominating the glass and winning the turnover battle. This allows them to keep their Offensive and Defensive Ratings respectable despite being below average in both eFG% and eFG% allowed.

Obviously this is not the only way to do things. The Oklahoma City Thunder have an above average Offensive and Defensive Rating despite giving their opponents 5.22 more scoring opportunities per game than they have themselves. They keep their heads above water by pursuing elite efficiency with their offensive and defensive possessions.

Now for the links!

- David Murphy with an incredible mind-meld of science fiction and basketball, all wrapped up in a magenta sports coat.

- Jordan Kahn, also a contributor here at Hickory-High, did some terrific work at his own site this week. Check out some video analysis on Amare Stoudemire struggling on offense and the Rockets playing terrific end-of-game defense.

- An incredible graphic of the Wizards’ offense deteriorating in the clutch

- There have been plenty of success stories tied to the D-League. But for every success story there are twenty more players, stuck in neutral.

- The critics of plus/minus analysis point to how much a player’s performance, as measured by the stat, can fluctuate from year to year. Bucking the trend, Ekpe Udoh has been consistently impressive.

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