The words ‘advanced basketball stats’ may scare some coaches, because the term ‘advanced’ makes things sound very complex and complicated, but that could not be farther from the truth.
While calculating and tracking advanced stats isn’t difficult, it does help you to get a deeper understanding of your team and can help you find your strengths and weaknesses with data to back them up.
Historically, basketball statistics have been looked at in a very ‘black and white’ kind of way. Everything was looked at on a per-game basis for a team. Points per game, points given up per game, rebounds per game, etc. In the past, if team A gave up 66 points per game, and team B gave up 64 points per game, we would automatically say that team B had a better defense. But where this logic was flawed was that a team’s pace was never factored in.
If you begin to track the stats that we highlight below, you’ll be able to see where your team’s strength and weaknesses lie, and make adjustments to your team to highlight your strengths and combat your weaknesses.
Points Per Possession
Pace is basically the amount of possessions per game that a team gets. For example, a team that averages 80 possessions per game is probably going to score and give up more points than a team that averages 65 possessions per game.
Rather than just looking at the per-game stats of points scored and points given up, we’re able to calculate how many points per possession teams are scoring and giving up, and that’s a much better indicator of how an offense and defense are performing.
How To Calculate
As I mentioned above, none of these stats are extremely difficult to calculate. In order to calculate your points per possession, you must first calculate your possessions. This can be calculated like this: poss = FGA + 0.5 x FTA – ORB + TO. That might look like a complicated equation on the surface, but it actually makes sense when broken down.
Your amount of possessions is equal to how many field goals you attempted, plus half of the free throws you attempted, minus offensive rebounds (because those count as the same possession), plus turnovers (because a shot wasn’t attempted, but you still had a possession). Not so hard, is it?
After you have the amount of possessions calculated, the rest is easy.
Just divide the amount of points your team scored (or gave up) by the number of possessions. A team that averages over 1.1 points per possession is thought to be above average, as is a team that gives up less than 0.9 points per possession.
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Effective field goal percentage is another ‘advanced’ basketball stat that isn’t difficult to calculate, but has a lot of value. Effective field goal percentage adjusts to the fact that a three-pointer is worth more than a two-pointer. This helps to give a more complete of a game because three point shots are given extra weight.
How to calculate
Effective FG% is calculated like this: (2pt FGM + 1.5*3pt FGM) / FGA
What this means is that a made three-pointer is worth 1.5 times more than a made two-pointer.
So what exactly does this stat mean? It’s pretty self-explanatory, but throughout a game, this stat tells you which team is more effective from the field, which is where the majority of the points are scored from in a typical basketball game. Odds are that if your team has high eFG% you’re holding your opponent to a low eFG%, your liklihood of winning is strong.
Turnover percentage is another pretty self-explanatory stat. It calculates the percentage of your possessions that are ending in turnovers. Only 10 turnovers per game may sound like a very efficient offense, but if you only have 40 possessions within a game, your turnover percentage is at 25%, which is much higher than where you’d want it to be. Again, statistics are about more than per-game stats, and I can’t preach that enough.
How to calculate
It’s a simple one. You already calculated your possessions above for points per possession, so you shouldn’t have any problem calculating your turnover percentage.
Coaches often look at the wrong rebounding stats when evaluating their team’s rebounding performance. They’ll look at offensive and defensive rebound totals and base their judgements off of that, but they couldn’t be more wrong in doing so.
What if your team had a terrible shooting night, in which you missed 50 shots, but got 10 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, your opponent only missed 20 shots and got 8 offensive rebounds. By looking at total numbers, you outrebounded your opponent on the offensive glass, but that stat is misleading because they had far fewer offensive rebounding opportunities, so looking at rebounding percentages is a far better stat.
How to calculate
- Offensive Rebounding% = OffReb / (OffReb + OppDefReb)
- Defensive Rebounding% = DefReb / (DefReb + OppOffReb)
For starters, your goal should be to have a higher offensive and defensive rebounding percentage than your opponents. As more games pass and you begin to learn the identity and skillset of your team, you may have to adjust those goals as you go.