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Offensive Outcomes

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Creating all the offensive distribution graphs for my Offensive Geometry post yesterday involved hours of tedious, manual scanning of possessions statistics from mySynergySports. The upside is that I ended up with a wealth of data on individual offensive outcomes (player/possession type) organized in a spreadsheets. These numbers are all available from mySynergySports, but not in a sortable format that lets you compare or rank players by possession type, frequency of possession or possession efficiency. If you ever wanted to find the top five players in scoring efficiency in isolations it involved lots of guesswork and an equal amount of searching. Luckily for you, I’ve now done most of that guesswork and searching.

I’ve taken all the outcomes I grabbed for my radar graphs and put them together into one table. Because I only grabbed data that fit the parameters of my offensive distribution project, this only includes offensive outcomes that occurred at least 100 times this season. I was also focused on intentional half-court decisions so there is no data for offensive rebounds or transition possessions. In looking at this data it also helps to keep in mind the league averages for each possession type:

  • Cut – 1.18 PPP
  • PnR Screener – 0.97 PPP
  • Spot Up – 0.94 PPP
  • Off Screen – 0.87 PPP
  • Hand Off – 0.87 PPP
  • Post Up – 0.82 PPP
  • PnR Ball Handler – 0.78 PPP
  • Isolation – 0.78 PPP

To sort the table by frequency or points per possession within a possession category, first sort by either frequency or points per possessions, then sort by possession type.

Here’s the link to the entire table.

The table can be awkward to manipulate so I pulled out the top and bottoms of some of the categories.

Top 5 Overall

  1. 1.55 ppp – Andrew Bynum – Cut
  2. 1.51 ppp – Steve Novak – Spot Up
  3. 1.51 ppp – Tyson Chandler – Cut
  4. 1.46 ppp – Blake Griffin – Cut
  5. 1.38 ppp – Chris Bosh – Cut

Bottom 5 Overall

  1. 0.54 ppp – Baron Davis – PnR Ball Handler
  2. 0.54 ppp – Tristan Thompson – Post Up
  3. 0.55 ppp – Iman Shumpert – PnR Ball Handler
  4. 0.55 ppp – Kendrick Perkins – Post Up
  5. 0.56 ppp – Samardo Samuels – Post Up

Top 3 Spot Up

  1. 1.51 ppp – Steve Novak
  2. 1.34 ppp – Kyle Korver
  3. 1.29 ppp – Mike Dunleavy

Top 3 Post Up

  1. 1.05 ppp – Paul Pierce
  2. 1.03 ppp – Carl Landry
  3. 1.02 ppp – Joe Johnson

Top 3 PnR Screener

  1. 1.34 ppp – Tiago Splitter
  2. 1.22 ppp – Marcin Gortat
  3. 1.22 ppp – Amare Stoudemire

Top 3 PnR Ball Handler

  1. 1.04 ppp – James Harden
  2. 1.04 ppp – Isaiah Thomas
  3. 0.97 ppp – Kyle Lowry

Top 3 Off Screen

  1. 1.08 ppp – Ray Allen
  2. 1.04 ppp – Mike Dunleavy
  3. 1.03 ppp – Klay Thompson

Top 3 Isolation

  1. 1.07 ppp – James Harden
  2. 1.05 ppp – Chris Paul
  3. 1.03 ppp – Kyrie Irving

There is plenty here to look at, but here are a few things that struck me:

Non-Shooters shooting

8 players scored at a below-average rate on spot-up opportunities and used at least 200 of those possessions. Alonzo Gee is young and played on a bad Cavaliers team. Because of their lack of offensive weapons, he was probably asked to shoot more often than is ultimately good for him or the team. Most of the rest of the list is made up of players who at one time carried reputations as reliable outside threats, but appear to have undergone a surprising regression – Tayshaun Prince, Antawn Jamison, Jason Richardson, Marcus Thornton, Landry Fields and Chris Bosh. Finally we arrive at Josh Smith. He used a total of 377 spot-up possessions, by far the most of any player who scored at a below average rate. In fact only player in the entire league, Caron Butler, used more spot-up possessions this season than Smith. He used more spot up possessions than Kyle Korver and Steve Novak combined!


It can not be understated how much Steve Novak did with his first opportunity at playing significant NBA minutes. The 1.51 points per possession he averaged on spot ups was the second most efficient offensive outcome in the entire league. It was also nearly three times as efficient as his teammates Baron Davis or Iman Shumpert were in the pick-and-roll. The difference between Novak and the next most efficient spot up shooter, was equal to the difference in efficiency between Kobe Bryant in the post and JaVale McGee in the post.

Looking For Weapons In Cleveland

Kyrie Irving had an incredible rookie season, and at 1.03 points per possession, was the third-most efficient isolation scorer in the league. However it was difficult to find many other positive offensive outcomes. The Cavs had two of the three worst post up scorers in the league in Tristan Thompson and Samardo Samuels, who used a combined 208 possession on the block. Omri Casspi, Jamison and Gee were all below average spot up shooters. Jamison also ranked as the least efficient screener in the pick-and-roll at just 0.67 points per possession. The Cavaliers could take a big step forward next year but they’ll need to find some more scorers to support Irving.


A few players stand out as incredibly efficient in multiple categories. James Harden was top three in both isolations and as the ball handler in pick-and-rolls. He also scored a well-above-average 1.16 points per possession in spot up opportunities. Marc Gasol was another who could hurt a defense in multiple ways. Gasol was terrific in the pick-and-roll, 1.05 ppp, and as a cutter, 1.10 ppp. He was also one of the most efficient post scorers, averaging 0.93 points per possessions, more than Andrew Bynum, Dwight Howard, Zach Randolph and Luis Scola.

I hope this data is a useful resource for everyone, I know in the past I’ve found it frustrating to not be able to compare a player’s Synergy numbers to their peers. If you have trouble finding something specific let me know and I’ll try to help locate it. If you find something interesting please share it in the comments or pass it along on Twitter, @HickoryHigh.

  • Daniel

    I don’t subscribe to mysynergysports, so I don’t think I can look this up:

    Does points per play (PPP) include points scored off of free throws resulting from the plays in question?

    • Ian Levy

      It includes all points scored on the “used” possession, free throws and made baskets. A “used” possession includes field goal attempts, a drawn foul or a turnover. So points per possession does not include assists.

      • Daniel

        Because it’s clear that you haven’t done enough work here, is there a metric that DOES include assists? I imagine that would change the “PnR – Ball Handler” numbers pretty greatly, right?

        • Ian Levy

 tracks Points Created (which includes points scored and points assisted on) and measures it against possessions used. However I think they only do this on a game-by-game basis in their advanced box scores. They are the only ones I know who roll it together and they don’t differentiate by possession type. I would love to quit my job and start working on it though, that’s not even sarcasm. I’ll just have to check with my wife first.

          Thanks for reading and commenting Daniel.

          • Daniel

            Thank YOU, for doing all this ridiculous research… I’m going to use it to pine after free agents for my Knicks.

          • Anand

            Classy reply, Ian.

          • Ian Levy

            Now, I’m not sure if that’s sarcasm or not. I’m serious though, I wish I could pay the bills by combing Synergy looking for trends.

          • Daniel

            Isn’t that all John Hollinger does anyway? Could you apply to be his intern?

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  • DavidStern

    Thank you for this amazing work. It’s frustrating Synergy doesn’t allow to sort data that way.

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