A Word on Stats

I’ll be using a few statistics to review Hornets’ games this season. This post will serve primarily as a glossary for all those stats.

As noted by Dean Oliver in his Basketball on Paper, the four most important aspects to a game are shooting, turnovers, offensive rebounding, and getting to the free throw line, in that order.

Shooting is measured by what is known as an “effective field goal percentage”; instead of looking at just field goals made, it gives some additional value for three pointers made (as three’s are 1.5x more valuable than two’s in terms of the score.)  It is given by a simple calculation: Eff FG% = (FGM + 0.5*FG3M)/FGA. For some context, the top team least season in eFG% (Phoenix) shot 55.2% while the worst in eFG% (Atlanta) shot a mere 47.1%.

Turnovers aren’t measured as a raw number; rather, we look at how many turnovers per 100 possessions a team has. The most turnover prone team last season (Orlando) gave it away 19.0 times every 100 possessions, while the least turnover prone (Detroit) gave it away just 14.1 times per 100 possessions.

Offensive Rebounding, just like turnovers, is viewed as a rate; instead of OREB’s per 100 possessions, though, we look at how many OREB’s a team collected per total rebounds available (OREB + opponent’s DREB). Last year,  Utah led the NBA at 31.7 OREB’s per opportunity while Toronto came in last with just 22.1.

The fourth measure of a team’s success comes from its ability to get to the free throw line; taking it to the hoop is an empirically proven “safe” strategy as opposed to constant jump-shooting, and getting fouled is just a byproduct of constant driving. Sacramento got to the line a league high 29.0 times per FGA while Milwaukee made it there just 20.9 times per FGA.

The Hornets’ ranks on the so-called Four Factors last season: 47.9 eFG% (28th), 16.1 TOr (10th), 29.1 OREB% (6th), and 21.5 FT/FG (28th). Clearly there’s some work to be done as far as shooting and getting to the line are concerned this season.

The four factors can be found on ESPN boxscores using the ESPN4Factors script written by Cherokee of the APBRMetrics Board. Instructions for installation of this script (works with GreaseMonkey) can be found here.


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