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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis: NJ at Washington, November 12, 2006

November 12, 2006—New Jersey 105, Washington 93

Lots of analysis today.

Team Statistics

Possessions. The number of possessions—i.e., each time a team brings the ball up court—is a way to measure the pace of the game. For games involving running or trapping teams, the number of possessions will be high—possibly more than 100. For more methodical teams, the number of possessions may be closer to 80. Possessions can (generally) end one of three ways: on a field goal attempt that is not rebounded by the offense (this includes successful FG attempts); on a turnover, or through some free throws. Since this is an estimate based upon various statistics, and because the number of possessions should be approximately the same for both teams, we also present the average estimated number of possessions.

New Jersey 100.2
Washington 97.3
Average 98.8

Although the season is just five games old, we can start to make some general conclusions about the team’s play. The first is that the Nets’ pace of play is quicker than last year. With 99 possessions last night, the Nets are now averaging 97 possessions per game. Obviously, that figure is buoyed a bit due to overtime, but last year the club averaged around 89 per game, just around the league average. Now obviously each team’s number of possessions is also influenced by the preferred pace of the opponent, and over a small sample size the Nets could have just played teams that prefer to run up and down more. Also, there’s the possibility that teams use more possessions early in the season when turnovers are high—a theory that has extra validity this year, with all the complaints about the new ball. So, how have other teams fared in the early going? Using the magic of multiplication, I come up with a league average of around 93.5 possessions a game, and calculate that the Nets have played at the sixth-quickest pace. This number can only have been deflated by the two games against the Heat: Miami has been the sixth slowest team in the early going, at around 91 possessions a game. So it seems as though the league pace is a little faster than last year, whether due to a proliferation of "small ball," the new ball, the preponderance of turnovers in the early going, whatever. All I know is that Coach Frank promised that the team would run more, and it looks like he’s been a man of his word. So far.

Offensive Rating. A team’s offensive rating is just the number of points scored per 100 possessions. The opponent's offensive rating can be considered the team's Defensive Rating. For the past few seasons, the average team offensive rating in
the NBA has hovered around 105.

New Jersey 106.3
Washington 94.2

The Nets have now surpassed 106 three consecutive games, and have held the opponent below 101 four of their five games. The league average offensive (and defensive, by definition) rating is currently around 105. The Nets sit at 102 after five games, which is just 22nd best. However, on the defensive side, the Nets’ 98.75 rating is the third best in the league. Overall, their differential of +3.3 ranks them ninth. With the offense clicking into gear, this ranking should improve with the won-loss percentage.

Assist Percentage. The assist percentage measures the frequency that successful field goals have been assisted.

New Jersey 70.0%
Washington 54.5%

"Big Four" Factors. The four primary factors that determine the outcome of a basketball game are: field goal percentage, offensive rebound percentage, turnovers, and the ability to get to the line and hit free throws. Offensive rebound percentage is measured as a percentage of rebound opportunities; turnovers are measured as a percentage of possessions; and free throws are measured by the percentage of time the team got to the line in relation to field goal shot attempts.

New Jersey Washington
FG% 48.8% 35.1%
OREB% 4.9% 26.8%
TOV% 12.2% 10.1%
FTA/FGA 25.6% 28.7%

And, for the first time, let’s add effective field goal percentage to the analysis:

New Jersey 54.3%
Washington 38.8%

Nets dominated the Wizards in the field goal percentage metrics, but once more were out-rebounded. This factor was nearly enough to give the game away, and has to be considered the biggest area of concern in the early going. The Nets have now been out-rebounded each of the last four games, and have not been able to grab 20% of the offensive rebounds since opening night. Get ready for it . . . after five games, the Nets are now LAST in the league in offensive rebound percentage, at 14.4%. League average is nearly 27%. And, to top it off, tonight the Nets face the #4 team in offensive rebounding. Remember, we’re not measuring the number of rebounds, but the percentage of possible rebounds on the offensive end. Last year, the Nets were one of the worst teams in the league at grabbing offensive rebounds, but made up for it by being one at the best at restricting the opponents’ offensive rebounds. Not so far this year. This has got to be an area of concern. This is one reason why (I believe) Rod Thorn and Co. drafted Josh Boone—hopefully he’ll be back soon to lend a hand.

Scoring Possessions. This figure is an estimate of the number of times a team scores at least one point on a possession.

New Jersey 47.9
Washington 43.1

Field Percentage. This figure is an estimate of the percentage of times a team scores a basket on possessions where no free throws are awarded.

New Jersey 43.6%
Washington 38.1%

Number of plays. This figure is an estimate of the number of times that a team both gains and loses control of the ball, either when the opposing team gains control or when a shot goes up.

New Jersey 102.4
Washington 114.8

Reflecting Washington’s dominance on the boards.

Play percentage. This figure is an estimate of the percentage of a team’s plays on which it produces a scoring possession.

New Jersey 46.8%
Washington 37.5%

Individual Statistics

New Jersey Nets

Player Scoring Poss'ns Poss'ns. Floor% Offense Rating Points Prod. Points Scored % Tm Poss Plus/ Minus
J. Kidd 11.9 22.7 52.2% 111.0 25.2 15 27.5% 19
V. Carter 13.8 27.2 50.7% 121.1 33.0 34 35.0% 12
A. Wright 1.1 7.1 16.1% 31.2 2.2 1 10.9% 19
J. Collins 0.6 1.6 37.6% 75.3 1.2 2 4.8% 2
N. Krstic 9.2 16.8 54.9% 113.2 19.0 22 19.8% 7
B. Nachbar 3.9 7.8 49.9% 123.7 9.6 15 13.5% 15
M. Williams 3.2 9.9 32.7% 65.3 6.5 8 24.0% -14
C. Robinson 2.8 4.7 59.7% 119.4 5.6 8 10.7% -1
M. Moore 0.0 0.9 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 13.2% 1
M. Ilic 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --
H. Adams 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% 0
J. Boone 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --

Washington Wizards

Player Scoring Poss'ns Poss'ns. Floor% Offense Rating Points Prod. Points Scored % Tm Poss Plus/ Minus
G. Arenas 11.1 25.2 43.9% 102.1 25.8 25 31.6% -13
D. Stevenson 4.3 8.5 50.4% 98.2 8.4 9 15.2% -5
C. Butler 8.6 18.8 46.0% 92.8 17.4 17 24.9% -5
A. Jamison 3.1 12.4 25.3% 66.0 8.2 9 18.5% -18
E. Thomas 1.8 5.2 34.1% 68.9 3.6 4 16.0% 0
A. Daniels 3.7 7.3 50.2% 97.2 7.1 8 13.3% -15
M. Ruffin 1.8 3.6 49.5% 87.0 3.1 1 8.8% -5
J. Hayes 4.1 8.4 48.8% 97.7 8.2 8 24.4% 8
B. Haywood 2.3 2.5 91.1% 170.6 4.3 5 10.6% -8
D. Taylor 1.3 2.7 47.9% 95.9 2.6 4 25.1% 0
C. Booth 0.2 0.2 100.0% 158.3 0.4 0 2.6% 0
R. Mason 0.7 2.2 33.7% 101.0 2.2 3 26.7% 1

Some comments, in no particular order:
(1) After several strong performances, Antoine Wright flamed out, earned just a 31.2 offensive rating. This follows a string of instances where Wright apparently has trouble performing under new pressure: A poor first year in college; a poor first year in the pros; a poor first game of the preseason; a poor first game of the regular season; and now a poor first game as a starter. He’ll bounce back. Besides, his plus-19 rating would suggest he made contributions on the defensive end. More about that in a minute.
(2) Jason Kidd produced 25.2 points despite scoring only 15 himself. This figure reflects contributions to overall scoring based on number of assists and offensive rebounds, in addition to a player’s own scoring. This 10.2 "intangible points" earned by Kidd will set a standard that may go unmatched the rest of the season.
(3) Once again Carter dominated the team possessions, but I doubt anyone is complaining today.
(4) Only one player finished with a plus-minus rating worse than minus-one: Marcus, at a disastrous minus-fourteen.
(5) Boki finished with a team-high 123.7 offensive rating. This is his third game of the season where he earned a rating over 120. Nice job. Of course, his other two games earned him a 70 and a 15.
(6) Behind the Plus-Minus Ratings. On their face, it looks like Boki played strong defense, but there is more to it than that, which requires a closer look at the plus-minus figures. It appears that there were "two Bokis" on the court yesterday. The Nets used a lineup containing both Wright and Nachbar for a total of twelve minutes and thirteen seconds, during which the Nets went an astonishing plus-seventeen. For nearly all of that time, Kidd and Krstic was also on the court. When Nachbar was on the court without Wright? Minus-2 in nearly nineteen minutes. What a difference. I prefer the first Boki. Again, Wright did not impress on offense in this game, but it appears that he had quite an effect on the defensive end. Perhaps Coach Frank should try that combination on the court more frequently. The same type of split can be seen with Marcus, although in very limited minutes. When Marcus was on the court with Nachbar and Wright, the Nets were plus-4 in just over four minutes. Not much to draw conclusions from--yet.

These individual statistics are estimates based on the premise that teammates should share credit for points and scoring possessions based upon their individual contributions to each play. They are derived from the research of Dean Oliver, and more can be read in his book, "Basketball on Paper."

Glossary for Individual Statistics:

Scoring Possessions: A scoring possession is awarded to an individual when he contributes to a team scoring possession. If multiple players contribute, then credit is split among teammates based upon a formula.

Possessions: Number of team possessions used by a particular player.

Floor percentage: The percentage of a player’s possessions on which there is a scoring possession.

Offensive Rating: Points produced by an individual per 100 possessions, as calculated by a complex formula.

Points Produced: The number of points a player generates through various offensive contributions, including assists, field goals, free throws, and offensive rebounds.

Points Scored: Number of points actually scored by the player in the game, which is included here for comparison to points produced.

Percentage of Team Possessions: How often a player uses a team possession when he is in the game. With five players on the court, an average value would be 20%.

Plus/Minus: How much the team outscores the opposition when the player is in the game.