Pro Stats For Amateur Teams

Smart Stats

While traditional box score statistics have an important place in the game of basketball, one weakness is their pace bias. By pace bias, I mean box score stats do not account for the number of opportunities a team gets in a certain category. For example, if a team misses 30 shots in a game, that obviously means they have 30 opportunities for an offensive rebound. So, if after the game the coach looks at the box score and sees that the team had 10 offensive rebounds, most coaches are likely to be pleased with that. However, if Coach looked at the team's offensive rebounding percentage(OREB%),it would be 33.3%. This means the team rebounded 1 out of 3 of its team's missed shots. And courtesty of B-Jam, you would know that is right around the national average. And we know there isn't a coach on this planet who likes to be average!

Let's dive a little bit deeper and look at another example. This scenario compares three teams' Defensive Points Per Possession.

Hickory High: Gives up 50 points per game and average 50 possessions per game. (remember, 4 passes before anyone shoots it)


Bayside High: Gives up 70 points per game and average 70 possessions per game. (C’mon, you really thought Zach was going to let Mr. Belding slow it down?)


Bel-Air Academy: Gives up 60 points per game and averages 70 possessions per game. (Let’s not talk about their offensive efficiency, did Will ever miss a shot? And he sure as heck isn’t passing to Carlton.)


So, which is the best defensive team? If you’re doing the Carlton dance right now, you got it! Bel-Air Academy is the best defensive team. 60 points per game / 70 possessions per game(get out your calculators, i sure did) = .86 points per possession.

As for Hickory High and Bayside High, this is where it gets interesting and helps to explain the motivation for starting this website. In the past, we would look at points allowed and label Hickory High a good defensive team, while calling Bayside High a bad defensive team. The truth is, their defense is exactly the same, Bayside High just plays at a faster pace. Let’s look at the math:

Hickory High: 50 points per game / 50 possessions per game (hopefully you don’t need your calculators for this one) = 1.00 point per possession

Bayside High: 70 points per game / 70 possessions per game = 1.00 points per possession.

So as you can see, while points per game and other traditional box scores tell an interesting story, they don’t tell the entire story. But you can look at efficiency stats like Paul Harvey, they are here to tell you the rest of the story.

***I’m sorry that I’m not sorry for all of the "90’s child" references. My site, my rules :)***