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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis: Utah at New Jersey, November 8, 2006

Dumpy’s Statistical Analysis
November 8, 2006—New Jersey 96, Utah 89

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.

Utah 87.9
New Jersey 88.9
Average 88.4

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.

Utah 100.7
New Jersey 108.6

By far the best offensive showing of the season, as the Nets top the 100 mark for the first time.

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

Utah 66.7%
New Jersey 51.7%

A terrible assist ratio, but I have to assume that a part of that was due to the unusual number of times the Nets went to the line (more about that in a minute). By the way, am I the only one that noticed that Collins earned more assists than J-Kidd? It’s true, Twin beat the Captain 3-2 on that metric.

"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.

Utah New Jersey
FG% 42.3% 42.0%
OREB% 35.1% 16.7%
TOV% 18.1% 12.4%
FTA/FGA 34.6% 58.0%

Before I make a few points about these figures, I promised that we’d take a closer look at these metrics today, so here goes. Field Goal percentage is easy; last season, the average team shot 45.4% from the floor. Note that this figure is the actual shooting percentage, not the "effective" shooting percentage, which gives extra weight to successful three-point attempts. The figures ranged from 43.3% to 47.9%, with the Nets close to the bottom at 44.0%. As for offensive rebound percentage, the average team grabbed 27.3%, and the range among all teams was between 32.4% (the Jazz) and 22.2% (Phoenix). The Nets were next-to-last, at 24.0%. Turnover percentage fell into a narrow range: 12.4% (Detroit) to 18.6% (Knicks), all teams averaging 15.2%, with the Nets at 14.5%. Finally, the free throw measurement. The typical team averaged .334 free throw attempts for each field goal attempt. There was a relatively narrow range—26 of the teams fell between 29% and 37%--with a couple of outliers, most notably Phoenix at a pitiful 20.6%. The Nets were slightly better than average here, at 34.6%, courtesy of RJ’s talent at drawing shooting fouls.

The "Big Four" factors really tell the story of the game. The Nets were dramatically outrebounded (as might have been expected given these team’s stats in this category last season), but had an advantage in turnovers. I should mention that the Nets’ turnover rate has declined each game, and now is squarely in a happy place. However, the key to the game appears to be the Nets’ ability to get to the line. The Nets’ FTA/FGA ratio was a ridiculous 58%, the result of getting to the line 13 more times than Utah, hitting 11 of those shots. [We can also credit the Nets’ superior three-point shooting, which accounted for four more points]. Bang, Nets win. End of story.

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

Utah 43.1
New Jersey 44.2

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.

Utah 42.8%
New Jersey 39.8%

Here you can see the true impact of the free throw differential. When not awarded free throws, Utah scored on a higher percentage of possessions than the Nets. Including free throws (the scoring possessions figure above), the Nets scored on a higher number of possessions than Utah. It really does make a difference, and you can it right here in the numbers.

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.

Utah 104.8
New Jersey 96.0

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

Utah 41.1%
New Jersey 46.0%

Individual Statistics

Utah Jazz

Player Scoring Poss'ns Poss'ns. Floor% Offense Rating Points Prod. Points Scored % Tm Poss Plus/ Minus
D. Williams 6.3 14.5 43.8% 88.4 12.8 14 12.7% -16
C. Miles 0.2 2.1 10.3% 21.4 0.4 0 10.4% -10
A. Kirilenko 4.1 9.1 44.9% 95.5 8.7 6 13.9% -16
C. Boozer 8.3 14.0 59.5% 119.3 16.7 15 29.5% -14
M. Okur 5.3 12.9 40.6% 93.8 12.1 13 21.1% -15
M. Harpring 4.4 8.7 51.1% 104.4 9.1 13 16.3% 7
D. Fisher 6.5 12.7 50.8% 103.0 13.1 15 30.1% 0
P. Millsap 1.5 4.0 38.2% 77.7 3.1 2 11.2% 15
G. Giricek 4.9 8.1 61.3% 137.8 11.1 11 22.8% 5
J. Collins 0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% 9
D. Brown 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --
B. Chase 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --

New Jersey Nets

Player Scoring Poss'ns Poss'ns. Floor% Offense Rating Points Prod. Points Scored % Tm Poss Plus/ Minus
J. Kidd 6.2 12.3 49.9% 114.3 14.1 15 17.8% 15
V. Carter 14.0 25.8 54.5% 113.8 29.3 30 36.4% 21
J. Collins 1.4 4.0 34.4% 78.3 3.2 0 8.5% 15
R. Jefferson 10.2 17.2 59.1% 130.8 22.5 23 28.0% 9
N. Krstic 2.9 8.4 34.2% 70.1 5.9 5 14.4% 9
A. Wright 5.2 7.8 66.1% 146.3 11.5 15 13.3% -3
M. Williams 3.1 7.8 40.2% 95.0 7.4 8 24.3% -2
C. Robinson 0.0 0.8 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 3.6% -13
B. Nachbar 0.2 3.5 6.3% 15.0 0.5 0 21.4% -12
H. Adams 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% -4
M. Moore 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --
M. Ilic 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% --

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."

Nice job all around. The Nets’ attack was a little less balanced than usual, but it paid off as Vince and RJ came through with big games. Notice, too, that the Nets’ starters dominated the Jazz starters from a plus-minus perspective. Let’s all give a shout-out to Antoine Wright, who had his coming out game last night. 15 points? 2-3 from behind the arc? A 146 offensive rating? Give us more, Antoine, give us more!

The last thing to mention is on the five-man units, which I’ll bring up from time to time. You probably think that the Nets’ starting unit completely outplayed Utah when it was on the floor together, as evidenced by the plus-minus differential of each team’s starters, and you’d be right. By my count, the starting unit earned a +9 rating in about 13 minutes of play. Just as important, though, was the small unit brought out by Coach Frank for the final 6.8 minutes, consisting of Kidd, Vince, Antoine, RJ, and Twin. Despite strong pressure by Utah, this unit went +3 to close out the game, and kept the slow-footed Carlos Boozer off the floor. I’d like to see if this unit perform more frequently, perhaps also with Marcus manning the point.

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.