CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

Posted by: Steve Toll
10/17/12 9:23 am EST

Value is often a topic that is mentioned in both articles and comments.  There is an approximate possession value in an NBA.  Without getting into specifics like the value of a possession goes down the farther into a quarter you get or that an offensive rebound is more valuable for certain players, I will break down based on averages the offensive performance of the 76er players through 3 games.

The average NBA possession is worth 1.05 points.  Here are some other values:

 Turnovers -1.2 OREB +.985 2pt make +.95 3pt make +1.95 Miss -.7

 This doesn’t take into accounts assists, in parenthesis is each players assist total…

 

Maalik        +11.06 in 69 minutes (17)

SwaggyP   +9.93 in 86 minutes (6)

Holiday      +7.63 in 73 minutes (18)

Kwame      +7 in 32 minutes (1)

Thad         +4.21 in 71 minutes (4)

Lavoy        +3.54 in 83 minutes (2)

D. Wright     +3.03 in 44 minutes (4)

Hawes      +2.73 in 67 minutes (10)

Wilkins      +1.24 in 27 minutes (0)

Royal        +1.49 in 26 minutes (1)

Moultire     -.81 in 40 minutes (0)

JRich        -4.26 in 41 minutes (3)

ET            -11.33 in 89 minutes (10)

What these numbers tell you the approximate value of each player on the offensive end, while it isn’t perfect, it’s the quickest and most efficient way to figure out value without going further down the rabbit hole while sitting at the bar after a game with friends.

I know what you are thinking, “What pray tell is down the rabbit holes?”

 

The first thing is that this doesn’t include assists which is a whole other bag of value.  While that can be seen as negative, it can be positive for some players.  If a guy takes a bad shot instead of passing it to his teammate, that negative is only seen in the bad shot in this chart.  If a guy passes up a good shot to pass and his teammate misses, that isn’t negative for the bad pass.  

From an Expected Value perspective, I could use the shot chart from the game as well as
value of possession chart for time in the quarter (each possession closer to the end of the quarter is less valuable than the one before it)  with a value chart for when the shot was taken in the 24 second clock,  I could then use each players historical
shooting % from that area depending on how near a defender is and I have in my hands an EV to compare against their actual performance

While that seems quite complicated, all it really shows it the Expected

Value of each shot and from there you could compare that to the results for an idea of how the team performed from an EV perspective.  Using game type, you can also adjust for the other teams defense and the negative value of a turnover depending on where on the court it is.  

You can also look at the type of offense and defense being ran and make further valuations to who is on the court and how that changes the value of a certain play.  You can also look at the court and see if it was the best available play based on the circumstances.  You can see if a guy is constantly missing the open man or if he tends to be the guy who passes it with 2 seconds on the shot clock but someone else gets hit with a TO.

There is a ton of stuff to do and then you need to include the value of a double team and then a 2 pass open 3 which is hard to quantify but is valuable.

A player can not score a point but be your best offensive player, it’s all dependent and you can look at tape to see the true value of a players performance.

For instance, In terms of Negative value from most negative to least: Foul on a 3pt shot, Passing lane turnover to a Wing, Out of bounds turnover, blocked shot

I talk about Expected Value and its often referred to as a sports betting term but it can be used in sports and all walks of life.  For instance, it always makes sense to throw a ball towards the hoop at the end of the quarter regardless of the score.  The EV of that shot is extremely low but there is value in the long run and eventually you will reap the benefits of that shot.  There is always variance involved with things like that, but a shot like that is never a negative EV type of thing.  

At some point that game, season or career you are going to see the EV of that toss.  In a previous articles comment section, I asked about the value of a miss.  There are essentially 4 kinds of missed shots: two-point umper, Layup, 3pter, Free Throw.

 By order of value, how would you order these shots in “value of a miss”???

I hope this article shed some light on a different way to view basketball from the readers and I look forward to hearing some answers to the above question


 
 
 

28 Responses to “CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS”

  1. Lennix
    17. October 2012 at 16:18

    meh

  2. Coach
    17. October 2012 at 16:59

    well the value of a missed layup would have to be highest because that is the highest percentage of conversion, for that same reason, free throws would be next. followed by long twos and 3 point misses hurt least because 3/9 from beyond the arc is 4.5/9 from medium distance.

  3. Alex Brandão
    17. October 2012 at 18:32

    Steve, as a psychologist and HR analyst, I’m really intrigued by your stats driven methods and points of view. I’m in no position to judge you since these levels of details and stats are new to me and, as of now, I dont feel like I can prove anything since the season has not started.

    But I have a few questions about all this:
    - since this data is used to predict player performance, did you already knew what would be the outcome of last season’s Sixers? Would you have any data to back it up?
    - how much time do you think it will take for us to analyse the season progress and compare with the data, so to ascertain that these data were either right or wrong?
    - how did you learn all this?
    - if you had the chance, tell me the players you’d hire to play for the 76ers based on stats prediction.

    Anyway, just trying to keep this discussions healthy and constructive…

  4. Pat
    17. October 2012 at 19:28

    Im intrigued by the last question as well… Steve, can you tell the players that you would sign as the 76ers based on stats prediction?

  5. Ubee
    17. October 2012 at 21:56

    One word- superfluous. Keep it simple… Points, boards, assists, and turnovers

  6. Lennix
    17. October 2012 at 23:30

    ill only agree with this article because its teams with superstar bigmen, ala spurs tim duncan, that use and need numbers like this. this wouldnt fly with me for last years team, just pointless. what would be the bynum EV be you think? and whos EV would go up and whos would go down? I still think ETs would go up

  7. Steve Toll
    18. October 2012 at 12:38

    Alex,

    In a relative sense, I had an idea of how the 76ers would perform last season. The beginning of the year was an outlier in terms of Wins-Losses and how that came to be. Unfortunately, that positively reinforced Coach Collins’ methodology for the rest of the season which hurt the team.

    There is data to back it up. It’s turning the it into something useful that is the hard part but I am in no way downplaying the difficulty in accumulating such info. Also, anyone with time and energy could do a lot of this stuff up to a point.

    On a average value perspective, these numbers are spot on. From a, there is more info available on each shot, pass, offensive rebound, and turnover then these numbers so this whole thing are without context and only a derelict would take these as gospel, but in a general sense of things it is something cool.

    Each game can be measured out and analyzed, so the more advanced form of this article can be done after every game.

    Reading and speaking to successful basketball people, and because I find it interesting to do research. People often criticize me because they think I don’t watch basketball, that thought couldn’t be further from the truth as its very important aspect of what I do

    Who would I hire if I was the 76ers GM? For the purposes of tanking, which was 100000000000% the teams plan before the Bynum trade, I wouldn’t of done much differently but here are a few things:
    Lavoy and Spencers deals would have included a team option in year 3.
    Kwame would not have received a player option for year 2, his agent literally said “we look forward to the next 2 seasons with the 76ers”
    Trade Iguodala for a lottery pick and gamble on Andre Drummond, which would essentially guarantee a top 5 pick in 2013.

    Based on the offseason up until the Bynum trade, there is a 0% chance that I would have acquired JRich or any other lengthy-bad contract in that trade. If it was Dwight Howard instead of Bynum, I’d sing a different tune.

    If I was looking to actually keep the team competitive:

    Trade Evan Turner for a 2013 draft pick, it wouldn’t really matter what the pick was as long as it created cap space

    Acquire Dorell Wright

    Amnesty Elton Brand and instead of signing SwaggyP and Kwame, I’d of done everything in my power to acquire Ryan Anderson in a sign and trade, which considering all the Magic got was Gustavo Agon, means that RAnderson would have a 76er uniform on this season. I’ll just assume that Vucevic and the 15th pick gets the trade done

    I give Lavoy and Hawes 4 year deals, instead of 2.

    Resign Jodie Meeks and use the remaining 7 million to sign Chris Anderson, Ronnie Brewer, Matt Barnes

    I can’t say whether or not I’d of had the insight by myself to sign Maalik Wayns but I believe through other resources at my disposal, I’d of given him a shot much like the 76ers did which looks like a great move

    Holiday, Maalik, Meeks, Brewer, Wright, Barnes, Thad, RAnderson, Birdman, Lavoy, Hawes and last but certainly not least, Andre Iguodala.

    The team would be 11 players who are all better than average by varying degrees, Maalik is a wild card and all under 29 except for Birdman

    Ubee,
    Keep the on superfluous trucking

    Lennix,

    This article isn’t about EV with the numbers at the top, this is about based on averages the offensive value each player has had compared to breaking even which would be 0 next to their name. A team can win a basketball game with a 0 next to every players name as long as their opponents total numbers are a negative numbers.

  8. Rod Thorn
    18. October 2012 at 14:28

    Thank The Lord you’re not a GM. You wouldn’t win 25 games with that squad.

  9. Steve Toll
    18. October 2012 at 17:21

    Fake Rod Thorn,

    That team only wins 25 games? I’m interested in know which of these guys (or than Maalik who is unproven) isn’t AT LEAST an Average NBA player?

    The team has 2 guys in Iggy and RAnderson who produce at all-star levels, a PG that everyone is high on, Thad of House Night Shift, defensive stalwarts Brewer, Barnes (who can hit the 3) and Birdman, elite 3pt shooters Wright and Meeks, a wild card in Maalik along with Hawes+Lavoy who are both quality bigs that are under 25 years old.

    If you’re gonna come at me Bro, do it right

  10. Joe Dumars
    18. October 2012 at 19:06

    But that’s the flaw in the logic…. a team full of ‘average’ players does not mean they will win ’50%’ of their games.

    I agree that your squad wouldn’t crack the playoffs – they are worse than the bucks (for example). The current team with Bynum could crash and burn, but they could also run the table. That has to a calcuated risk worth taking. No?

    (I’m not saying there isn’t great value in the stats work you’re doing, its very interesting stuff. Just saying individual numbers don’t extrapolate to overall team success, and if the goal is something more than 1andDone then some risk is acceptable. But the key thing your numbers do confirm is that there is no short-term success under any circumstances if ET doesn’t improve)

  11. Steve Toll
    18. October 2012 at 23:33

    Joe Dumars,

    You might wanna do some research yourself about my proposed team before you comment, it will save both of us time. Excluding Maalik, every player on the team is better than average in varying degrees.

    Let me break it down:

    Iguodala, All-Star, Olympian and 2nd best wing defender in the league behind Lebron

    RAnderson has led the NBA in 3pt makes the last 2 seasons and was 6th in offensive rebounds last season, he had more offensive rebounds than D12 and actually played less minutes. He plays at an All-Star level

    Jrue Holiday, 22, a top 30 guard who has been slightly below average the past few years and took make steps forward the 2nd half of last season.

    Dorell Wright 27, who is second in the NBA in 3pt shots made the last 2 seasons

    Jodie Meeks, 25, 14th in 3pt makes the past 2 seasons and 31st in the NBA in Win Shares the last 2 years.

    Ronnie Brewer, 27, a career 50% shooter on low usage known for elite defense at SG-SF and Matt Barnes, 31, a similar player to Brewer but a better rebounder and 3pt shooter.

    Thad Young, a very good offensive rebounder who masquerades as a small ball PF

    Birdman has been very good the last 4 seasons and if he had a better coach would have been utilized better the past 2 seasons. He performs at just below an All-Star Level

    Hawes should great promise last season and one of the most dynamic offensive skill sets among Bigs in the NBA

    If you watch Lavoy play last season against KG, you know that he is a player.

    So a team that has 2 All Stars, the best combo of 3pt shooting in the NBA, elite offensive rebounding, elite wing defense, above average defensive rebounding, 5 above average passers, a group that has historically low turnover numbers, has a bunch of efficient scores and is the deepest team in the NBA……… In your mind doesn’t make the playoffs?????

    When you have a team where every second of on court play is going to be from players who are above average, you are going to be very good. Add in multiple All-Star level performers and you have a team that is very hard to beat. There is no weakness on that team and the depth is unmatched even by San Antonio

    I will say, Milwaukee is going to shock people this season and ET is horrible

  12. Steve Toll
    19. October 2012 at 00:55

    There are essentially 4 kinds of missed shots: two-point jumper, Layup, 3pter, Free Throw. By order of value, how would you order these shots in “value of a miss”???

    I’m hoping to get a few more responses before I answer this

  13. Ryan
    19. October 2012 at 10:13

    You lost me where you said you would resign Jodie Meeks. I’d rather gouge my eyes out than watch him stink up the joint in a sixers uniform again

  14. Steve Toll
    19. October 2012 at 12:11

    Ryan,

    Wait til the season starts and you get a real dose of Nick Young

  15. Rick
    19. October 2012 at 15:40

    Per your question, Steve, I’d hypothesize that the value of a miss is the lost EV of the particular shot. The simple form of EV, that is without taking into account contested/uncontested, chance of offensive rebound, etc., would be

    MakePct x Points

    Using last year’s league-wide averages from Hoopdata, the MakePct for each shot type is:

    AtRim: .626
    Long 2pt: .381 (note using the “worst” jump shot)
    3pt: .349
    FT: .752

    So, the value, or in other words, “points left on the court” by each miss is:

    At Rim: .626 x 2 = 1.252
    Long 2: .381 x 2 = 0.762
    3 pt: .349 x 3 = 1.046
    FT: .752 x 1 = 0.752

    So, in order of lost value it would be: Layup, 3pt, 2pt, FT.

    The only thing I find counterintuitive is that missing a FT is “better” than missing a long 2, but only in the absense of oher factors. I’d venture that given the difference in offensive rebound chances, the FT miss is really worse.

  16. Steve Toll
    19. October 2012 at 15:59

    Rick,

    I’m gonna need you to show your work on this one

  17. Rick
    19. October 2012 at 16:32

    Steve,

    Although my premise might be wrong (or I just misunderstand the question), I thought I was clear as to my reasoning and the math involved.

    The EV (Expected Value) of each shot type is the expected points, that is the chance of making it (MakePct) times the amount of points the shot gives. Thus, using league averages, the expectation is that every layup attempt gives 1.252 points, every 3 attempt 1.046, etc. By missing you “lose” that expected point value.

  18. Rick
    19. October 2012 at 16:34

    and yes, ET is horrible. ;)

  19. Steve Toll
    19. October 2012 at 17:34

    Rick,

    Great job on that, I was just messing with you.

    Interestingly enough, if those shots were all 0% to go in, they are in that order of value because that’s the order of % of offensive rebounds from those shots.

    Missed Layup>>>Missed 3>>Missed Jumper>>>>>>missed free throw

  20. Rick
    19. October 2012 at 19:37

    Another interesting way of looking at it is “what is the value of a MADE shot?” The answer would be

    Actual – Expected

    yielding the following results:

    Layup: 0.758
    Long 2: 1.238
    3 pt: 1.954
    FT: 0.248

    In a somewhat related vein, see Henry Abbott’s recent TrueHoop columns on the difficulty of building an offense around mid-range 2 pointers, something *sigh* we Sixer fans know all too well.

  21. Coach
    19. October 2012 at 20:51

    i disagree with some of you guys values. i believe the value of a missed free throw is much more than you guys think.

    you have to take into account the average conversion rate of each field goal. three pointers are of more value but also are converted on a much less consistent basis so the “value of a miss” isn’t that as it seems on the surface. even though a free throw is one point, the basket itself is uncontested and converted an average of around 75% last season.

  22. Steve Toll
    19. October 2012 at 22:28

    Coach,

    A free throw is only worth 1 point and has a super low offensive rebound rate…..

  23. Rick
    20. October 2012 at 10:40

    Coach,

    This is a statistical exercise. Think of it this way:

    Just by taking a shot you expect to get its EV. The result is either a make or a miss, in either case what you gain (or lose) is the actual resut minus the EV.

    Now, the EVs I derived above are simplistic. They are actually a bit more since you might get an offensive rebound (which would add the expectation of [OffReb * AvgPtsPerPossession]) or be fouled (which would add the expectation of [And1Pct * AvgPPP]).

    In isolation, the exercise doesn’t provide much insight. Where it comes into play is when evaluating players against these average expectations, for example, “How much more valuable is being 5% above average on 3s versus being 10% above on FTs?” See? It gives you a metric for analyzing these things.

    (Answer: 0.21 points per shot, even though a FT% of 85.2 looks so much gaudier than a 3pt% of merely 35.4)

  24. Rick
    20. October 2012 at 14:46

    Hah! There’s an error in my answer (both in use of numbers and methodology – I am so ashamed!)

    Corrected:

    0.051 points per shot, with a FT% of 85.2 and 3pt% of 39.9

    And the lesson here is ALWAYS double check your results!

  25. Jonathan
    20. October 2012 at 22:56

    Steve, the problem is you’re trying to reduce sports down to science. If things worked that way, then Sports wouldn’t be entertaining. There’d be no drama. Take Kirk Gibson’s famous walk off homerun for example, does it make sense that a guy with a broken leg would have a better outcome then a healthy player? No, but that’s what happened. Another example is the great Tim Tebow, statistically speaking he is a terrible quarterback, but when it all comes down, the guy wins games. And this all can be translated to basketball, it’s not a videogame, things don’t work out perfectly. You don’t win a game by scoring the most number of “efficiency points” you win it by scoring the most number of plain old-fashioned points. So I don’t really care if Evan Turner isn’t as efficient as some other players, the fact of the matter is he creates more points and prevents more points in the situation he’s been placed in over a guy like Matt Barnes. You don’t think that these NBA executives know what they’re doing? Don’t you think if Matt Barnes was the answer he’d be a starter somewhere in this league, not a guy getting 18 minutes a night for the LA Clippers? Come on Steve, be realistic, for once.

  26. Joe 'drummond is gonna save my job' Dumars
    21. October 2012 at 19:24

    I still say that team would lose more than they win. Just don’t like the mix, and i think stats can’t predict the right team combos (yet), but whatever.

    100% agree with what you say in a more recent post/comment…. the only important question is: will Thad and/or ET make a leap? One of them needs to for the 76 to be a legit contender. And being a legit contender is the only chance that ownership might actually consider re-upping both, and the best way to get the bigman to stay. There is no planB for Bynum or Jrue, Lavoy is a keeper, and everyone else is kinda replaceable.

  27. Sdtoll87@yahoo.com
    21. October 2012 at 20:23

    Jonathan,

    Most NBA GMs are outright terrible. Players are consistently overpaid and goodplayers are undervalued. Every offseason is filled with a comedy of errors.

    In a world full of guys doing a bad job, doing a less bad job and getting lucky play a huge role how GMs are viewed.

    You’re view on stats are absolutely wrong as over an 82 game season, the good players play good and the bad players play bad

  28. Sixersfan
    22. October 2012 at 18:44

    Andre Iguodala- extremely effective defender and overall player that can’t get his own shot, will get less than 15 ppg. Single coverage.

    Ryan Anderson- nice player, good rebounder but got most of his shots by hanging around the 3-point line and being spoon-fed by dwight. Single coverage.

    Jrue Holiday- above average pg with nice potential. Single coverage.

    Dorell Wright- very nice complimentary player. Single coverage.

    Jodie Meeks- undersized 3 point shooter who has nothing else to offer on offense nor on defense.

    Hawes- soft, will never be a real quality starter because he refuses to dunk, jump and is too slow to guard PFs and too light to guard Cs

    Thad young- good player, difference maker off the bench.

    No one else is worth mentioning. There is a reason nobody signed birdman. There is a reason the bulls fans hate brewer.

    At the end of the day, no team has ever won a chanpionship without having someone that can get their own shot. No one on your team would need a double team which makes the offense rely on perfect execution night in night out, and that doesn’t happen. Bynum will command a double which opens up space for the players to actually get good threes and cuts, instead of jacking up contested twos like last year.

    Last years sixers had a top three defense but no go to guy which simply means you wont win a championship no matter how balanced the team is. Just compare the big 3 or the lakers to your amazing squad of iggy and anderson + role players. The goal is to win achampionship, not to stay just above 500, and you will get over the hump by taking risks, which the sixers wisely did. Ask yourself this; do you want iggy and co to stay the 7th seed or take the Bynum trade and go either up to contender status or fail and start over with a top prospect through the draft.

    On a side note, players have their own contract demands. You cant just crucify the sixers for the player option because you have no idea what happened behind closed doors.

    Have a nice day and i hope to hear back from you

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