Transitioning Turnovers: Case Study of Golden State and Toronto

In Dean Oliver’s Four Factors, we are interested in effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, free-throw rate, and turnover percentage. If a team cannot dominate a couple of these categories, then it will be unlikely for that team to win. For instance, let’s consider effective field goal percentage. The Golden State Warriors have posted a .558 eFG% while limiting their…

An Example in Kullback-Leibler Divergence

Consider the following table: This is Kevin Durant‘s percentage of field goal attempts, aggregated by specific distance for the first two seasons of his career. This table gives some information, indeed, however does it really paint the picture of where Durant takes his shots? More importantly, are we able to make proper decisions about the…

The Potential Assist

In a fairly comical article back in February 2018, Bleacher Report identified the League’s Least Valuable Shooters. In this article, Adam Fromal examined players around the league by extracting their field goal percentage from four particular zones on the court: 3-10 feet, 11-16 feet, 17′-3pt, and 3PA. Fromal would then calculate each player’s points per…

Current Shooting Trends in the NBA

Earlier this fall, we introduced non-negative matrix factorization to help us analyze field goal trends within the NBA and applied it to the 2017-18 NBA season. There we compared the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets to show the immense discipline the Rockets displayed while playing “Moreyball.” That is, a high propensity to take three point…

Pistol: Disrupting the Defense

To take a break from the heavy mathematics of recent articles, today we take a look at the early offense set called Pistol. Like many offensive wrinkles such as elevator doors, floppy, horns (etc.), a key goal of the offense is to force the opposing defense to be out of position. More importantly, not only…

Understanding Trends in the NBA: How NNMF Works

Over the past decade a true emphasis on three point shooting has emerged. This can be credited to the understanding of effective field goal percentage being a better underlying parameter for points per field goal attempt than raw field goal percentage. And it’s become an emphasis for some top-tier teams such as the Houston Rockets.…

Offensive and Defensive Ratings

The terms offensive rating and defensive rating refers to the amount of points scored by a team and by the team’s opponents, respectively, over 100 possessions. The normalization to 100 possessions allows for the ability to compare teams as pace of games can skew points per game comparisons. Both ratings are still considered box score…

Measuring Attack Vectors of Ball-Handlers

As a point guard growing up, I found that driving with my dominant shooting hand would typically put my shooting hand away from the basket. And being undersized at the position (5’4″, 95 pound Sophomore) made life more difficult to shoot off the dribble. Instead, I developed my non-dominant hand, which gave me two options…

Comparing West vs. East: If the NBA Playoffs Were Seeded Like the NCAA

Over the past couple decades, we have heard effectively the same complaint that the NBA’s Western Conference is simply too tough and that the Eastern Conference teams have it relatively easy. During the last decade, it’s the primary reason that people dismiss LeBron James’ run through seven consecutive NBA finals as a result of the…

Measuring the NBA MVP Race and Solomon Hill

In two days, we will find out who is the NBA MVP: James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook. Each player has their pros and cons, and have been heavily debated over the past month since the finalists have been listed. Despite Leonard leading the Spurs into the second best record in the league (61-21)…