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Dumpy's Statistical Analysis: Memphis at NJ, December 11, 2006

Dumpy’s Statistical Analysis
December 11, 2006: New Jersey 105, Memphis 92

Jason Kidd achieved yet another triple-double, but the story line from this one was all Vince Carter. Taking 30 shots in 40 minutes—twenty of them three-pointers, making nine—Carter controlled over 30% of the team possessions when he was on the floor. For comparison, I’ll note that only one other Net (Nenad Krstic) took as many as ten shots. Over in the forum, there’s been a debate of sorts as to whether Vince did the team a favor by controlling the game to such an extent. As some have pointed out, the Nets were just enjoying themselves once the game was well in hand, possibly trying to get Vince the three-point shot record, and there’s no reason to read anything into the fact that Vince took 35% of the team shots. Nevertheless, I’m going to use the opportunity to examine whether the Nets have done better when Vince has dominated the offense so far this season. But first, the team numbers:

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.

Memphis 92.0
New Jersey 93.1
Average
92.5

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.

Memphis 99.4
New Jersey 113.5

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

Memphis 81.8%
New Jersey 77.5%

"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.

Memphis New Jersey
FG% 44.6% 47.6%
OREB% 23.8% 30.0%
TOV% 21.6% 19.5%
FTA/FGA 28.4% 15.5%

And the effective field goal percentage:

Memphis 50.7%
New Jersey 56.5%

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

Memphis 41.1
New Jersey 44.9

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.

Memphis 39.5%
New Jersey 45.5%

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.

Memphis 102.4
New Jersey 107.2

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

Memphis 40.1%
New Jersey 41.9%

Individual Statistics

Memphis Grizzlies

Player Scoring Poss'ns Poss'ns. Floor% Offense Rating Points Prod. Points Scored % Tm Poss Plus/ Minus
D. Stoudamire 5.0 11.6 43.4% 105.2 12.2 14 19.2% -12
D. Jones 4.8 8.0 59.5% 126.7 10.1 9 13.6% -14
H. Warrick 4.5 10.5 43.0% 88.7 9.3 10 23.3% -5
M. Miller 0.8 7.0 11.3% 25.4 1.8 0 13.8% -17
J. Tsakalidis 0.3 3.0 9.1% 20.3 0.6 0 24.1% -12
C. Atkins 10.0 16.3 61.5% 145.7 23.7 26 27.7% 11
E. Jones 3.8 11.2 34.5% 71.0 7.9 5 21.0% 3
S. Swift 3.4 6.6 51.2% 108.0 7.2 10 15.1% -25
R. Gay 3.4 9.2 37.1% 75.7 7.0 8 22.1% 5
B. Cardinal 3.2 6.7 47.8% 119.9 8.0 8 20.2% -1
T. Kinsey 0.7 0.7 100.0% 250.0 1.9 2 34.2% 2
A. Johnson 0.0 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 7.9 12.6 62.6% 154.3 19.5 12 19.7% 15
V. Carter 11.6 24.5 47.4% 124.9 30.6 37 31.7% 19
R. Jefferson 5.0 8.3 59.7% 139.3 11.6 16 12.7% 10
J. Collins 0.8 0.9 88.8% 173.9 1.6 1 5.5% 14
N. Krstic 7.7 18.7 41.2% 86.4 16.2 14 24.7% 20
M. Williams 1.9 5.9 32.1% 91.0 5.4 6 20.1% 1
A. Wright 2.0 4.8 43.0% 105.7 5.0 5 9.7% -8
E. House 1.1 6.5 17.2% 36.8 2.4 2 25.2% -7
M. Moore 3.6 6.3 57.3% 127.8 8.0 10 15.0% 9
H. Adams 4.2 4.2 100.0% 200.0 8.4 2 200.7% 0
B. Nachbar 0.0 1.4 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 10.3% -8
J. Boone 0.0 0.0 0.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0.0% 0

First, a quick note about the possession percentage for Hassan Adams. It seems that when players are on the court for a very short time, the formulas calculate odd results like this. In Hassan’s case, he was on the court for about a minute, and hit his only shot attempt. Obviously, Hassan didn’t produce 8.4 points (he failed to record an assist or offensive rebound, which can also contribute to points produced), nor did he use over 300% of the Nets’ possessions. I don’t know why this happens, but when I have a chance, I’ll look into adjusting the formulas for such circumstances.

But first, here is the in-depth look at Vince Carter that I promised.

Out of the Nets’ 20 games thus far, Vince has used up greater than 30% of the team possessions on eight occasions. Of those eight games, his 124.93 rating against Memphis represents his best effort in such games. Here’s a breakdown of those eight games:

--In the two games that Vince had an offensive rating above 115, the team averaged an offensive rating of 110.
--In the four games that Vince had an offensive rating between 100 and 115, the team averaged an offensive rating of 101.
--In the two games that Vince had an offensive rating below 100, the team averaged an offensive rating of 96.7.

So, when Vince is dominating the offense, the team performs better as a whole when Vince plays well. Simple enough.

What about when Vince uses less than 25% of the team possessions? There are five such games:

--In the two games that Vince had an offensive rating above 116, the team averaged an offensive rating of 111.4 Incredibly, in those two games, Vince averaged an offensive rating of around 154.
--In the two games that Vince had an offensive rating between 100 and 116, the team averaged an offensive rating of 102.
--In the one games that Vince had an offensive rating below 100, the team had an offensive rating of 106

Finally, the middle group: Games where Vince used between 25% and 30% of the team possessions. There were seven such games.

--In the four games that Vince had an offensive rating above 116, the team averaged an offensive rating of 120.9. In those four games, Vince averaged an offensive rating of around 146.
--In the one game that Vince had an offensive rating between 100 and 116, the team averaged an offensive rating of 108.
--In the two games that Vince had an offensive rating below 100, the team had an offensive rating of 86.

Although the data is limited, the results are somewhat fascinating. So far this year, the Nets are at their best when Vince controls between 25% and 30% of the team possessions. The average team rating of 120.9 when Vince is performing well, and the team rating of 108 when Vince is playing at an average level, are both higher than the comparative figures for when Vince controls either a greater or lesser percentage of the possessions. When Vince is playing at an average or higher level, and controls a greater portion of the possession, the team efficiency drops. Part of the reason for that has to do with Vince’s own rating in such games. As mentioned before, it is more difficult for a player to attain a high rating the more he is involved in the game. Part of that is due to the fact that he is likely taking more difficult shots, but part is also due to the way turnovers are incorporated into the calculations. Turnovers both increase the possession percentage and lower the offensive rating simultaneously, and so games that are listed in the "middle" category could just be performances when Vince had few or no turnovers. Regardless, it is interesting to note that the Nets do not appear to need Vince to take a third of the team shots in order for the offense to be successful. Again, this is limited data, and could partially be the result of a chicken-and-the-egg type problem. It’s possible that Vince adjusts his possession usage based upon how his teammates are performing, and not the other way around.

Finding the optimal level of usage by players such as Vince Carter is one of the things that these sorts of numbers can be used for, and it is something I may look at again. . . . assuming I can solve the Hassan Adams limited-minutes calculation discrepancy first, that is.

--dumpy

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.