Saturday, September 11, 2010

What I'm Using: Individual Offensive Metrics

I love stats. No. You're not hearing me. I LOVE STATS. This is part of the reason why I love baseball so much (shameless plug: Motor City Bengals). There's so many juicy stats to kick around in your head to make the game so fun to watch and discuss and dissect. And I'm not talking about those watered down box score stats either. I really couldn't care less about batting average, RBI, and ERA. Those stats do tell us SOMETHING about the game of baseball, but not nearly as much as we think they do.

And it's the same with basketball. Shooting percentages, minutes per game, and rebounds tell us a bit about our team, or our opponent, but they don't tell us as much as they could. All of the advanced statistics I'll use can be derived from the standard "box score" numbers, but when mixed (and added, multiplied, and divided) together, we can come away with some numbers that are more meaningful than the one's we're used to.

The leader in advanced college basketball metrics is Ken Pomeroy. His site has tons of good information and statistics, but it only covers Division I ball. I'll borrow his statistics and apply them to our Knights. Here are some of the highlights:

Percentage of Minutes Played (%Min)
%Min is just what it seems. It's the percentage of possible team minutes that a particular player is in the game. Simply take a player's total minutes played and divide it by one-fifth of the team's total minutes played. It's a very simply stat, but it's much more meaningful than minutes per game. Here's what the stat looks like in terms of the 2009-10 Calvin team. I don't expect you'll find any surprises:

No.Player%Min
52Mantel0.70
30Veltema0.66
20Rodts0.65
10Salo0.61
22Snikkers0.59
40Campbell0.48
42Schuster0.46
4Powell0.37
24Schnyders0.32
14Haverdink0.07
32Capel0.03
12Waters0.02
50De Young0.02
44DeBoer0.01

Sure there are times, such as an injury, where a players %Min doesn't line up with how often a team wants to use a player, but it gives a better sense of what actually happened than MPG alone does.

Percentage of Shots Taken (%Shots)
I'll let Mr. Pomeroy explain this one:
This is the percentage of a team’s shots taken, while the player is on the court... PlayerFGA / (%Min * TeamFGA).
It's important to note that this isn't a true stat--it would be extremely tedious to count team FGA for each individual player using game data--but it should be a pretty good approximation. Again, here's what this looked like using last year's squad as a reference:


No.Player%Shots
44DeBoer0.37
4Powell0.26
52Mantel0.25
24Schnyders0.25
30Veltema0.23
22Snikkers0.21
42Schuster0.20
20Rodts0.19
14Haverdink0.17
12Waters0.15
40Campbell0.13
10Salo0.12
32Capel0.12
50De Young0.10

There may be a few surprises here. Matt DeBoer only saw mop-up time last year, so his large number here doesn't mean a whole lot, but I was a bit shocked to see how often Bryan Powell and Brad Schnyders heaved the rock. I know neither are afraid to shoot, but that seems like an awful lot of shots. It's also a bit surprising to see how low Danny Rodts is on the list. 19% seems a bit hesitant for a guy that's as talented as he is.

Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%)

This is basically the traditional FG%, except it accounts for the fact that three point shots are worth, well, three points. A three pointer made is worth 1.5 two pointers in the calculations. A player who shoots only three point shots at a rate of .333 has the same eFG% as a guy who shoots only two pointers at .500. You know the drill:


No.PlayereFG%FG%
30Veltema0.5840.440
20Rodts0.5670.473
10Salo0.5610.439
42Schuster0.4970.424
52Mantel0.4760.463
40Campbell0.4580.453
22Snikkers0.4550.432
24Schnyders0.4500.437
4Powell0.4460.369
14Haverdink0.3750.300
44DeBoer0.3330.333
32Capel0.3000.200
12Waters0.2000.200
50De Young0.0000.000

Trent Salo? Trent Salo. Never woulda guessed it. Remember all of those shots Powell and Schnyders were taking? Doesn't look particularly hot right now. They were the two worst in eFG% among the "regulars". It becomes quickly apparent that traditional FG% is lying to us when it comes to the guys who shoot three pointers well.
Free Throw Rate (FTr)
Pomeroy:
Free throw rate is calculated by 100*FTA/FGA. This measures a player’s ability to get the line using the number of free throws shot per 100 field goal attempts. Players that shoot a lot of free throws tend to be efficient scorers, so a high free throw rate is a good thing unless the player is horrible from the line. Anything over 50 is good, and 70 is excellent.
Well said. On to the Knights:


No.PlayerFTr
52Mantel85.9
24Schnyders74.8
40Campbell54.7
22Snikkers47.4
20Rodts41.9
32Capel40.0
30Veltema37.5
44DeBoer33.3
14Haverdink25.0
10Salo23.7
42Schuster16.7
4Powell10.1
12Waters0.0
50De Young0.0

I'll be the first to admit that this stat isn't very intuitive on its own, but I love this stat because it lead me to:

Points Per Attempt (PPA)

I came about this stat in a very roundabout way. I thought about modifying eFG% to account for the rate at which players get to the line and their respective FT%, but then I smacked myself in the forehead and realized there was a much simpler way to do what I was trying to do. Points divided by field goal attempts. Done. Easy. Because really, what we're interested in (most of the time), when discussing individual offensive numbers, is how many points our team gets when each guy shoots the ball. Why don't we use this more?


No.PlayerPPA
30Veltema1.51
52Mantel1.50
20Rodts1.48
24Schnyders1.41
40Campbell1.32
10Salo1.30
22Snikkers1.26
42Schuster1.14
32Capel1.00
44DeBoer1.00
14Haverdink1.00
4Powell0.96
12Waters0.40
50De Young0.00

Remember all those shots Schnyders was taking? Remember his relatively low eFG%? Doesn't seem so bad anymore, does it? His excellent free throw rate makes up for his low eFG%, and that's even considering he didn't shoot free throws particularly well (.685)! I can't suggest that he would be able to sustain that level of energy if he got more playing time, but he was very valuable to the offense when he was in the game. His FG% (.437), 3P% (.188), and FT% (.685) suggest to me that he took too many shots, but I don't think that was the case at all. He has some room to improve his free throw shooting, and he could stand to take fewer three pointers, but his already good PPA looks to be improvable, and that bodes well for the Knights.

Remember all those shots Bryan Powell was taking? Yikes. He'll find it (I hope).

Assist Rate (Ar)
Pomeroy:
This is assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court.

Again, I'm approximating 'field goals made while the player is on the court' with field goals made times %Min. Should be close enough.


No.PlayerAr
50De Young0.29
4Powell0.16
22Snikkers0.14
12Waters0.14
10Salo0.12
52Mantel0.12
24Schnyders0.11
32Capel0.11
14Haverdink0.10
30Veltema0.09
20Rodts0.07
42Schuster0.07
40Campbell0.06
44DeBoer0.00

Adam De Young didn't really play, so we'll skip him. It's kinda cool to see him dish it out from the post, but the sample size is really small so we shouldn't really infer too much from his number. I've already said too much on the subject.

Bryan Powell redeems himself a little bit here as the team's leader, but 16% isn't a particularly outstanding number. For what it's worth, the 100th ranked Division I player in assist rate last year notched a 29.3% mark. I don't usually get too worked up about assist rate, but that's probably because Calvin hasn't sported an outstanding assist man recently. We'll see.

More still to come. I'll detail the defensive and team metrics that I like in subsequent posts.

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