Monday, January 30, 2017

Most Overvalued and Undervalued Stats

Here are the most overvalued and undervalued stats:


Missed Shots. It always amazes me when a fan talks about how clutch a player was to just keep shooting after starting a game one of eight because "he is their scorer" and hits a shot late and wasn't scared to keep shooting. If a player hits a game-winning shot after going one for eight, then the team should not have needed a last second shot. In many cases a trigger happy player costs his team the game.

Live ball Turnovers. Unfortunately we do not have a breakdown of how many live ball turnovers (steals) a player gives up, usually resulting in the opponent having a chance for a fast break. An out-of-control player who gives the other team the ball on a break several times en route to scoring some points is often hurting his team.

Defensive Points Allowed. I introduced this concept back in my historic Marquette book, but fans don't seem to grasp that the points a player scores is relative to how many points his team needs to score to win the game. Pomeroy lists %Pts to show what percent of his team's scoring a player accounted for his each game, but if he would just flip that to divide by points allowed. If a player scores 15 points and the opposing team his held to 50 points, then he has scored 30% of the points his team needs to win or at least force overtime. If a player scores 20 points and his team gives up 100 points, he has only scored 20% of what his team needs to win. This simple state (Points / Opponents Team Points) would fix so many distortions by taking into account tempo as well as defense..


Points per game. People seem to ignore missed shots, turnovers and poor defense if you have a 20 point game.

Free Throw percentage. Commentators go on and on about a team with a 71 percent free thrown percent not wanting to get into a free throw shooting contest with a team shooting 78 percent from the line. OK, so it can be a tie-breaker. If every other aspect of the game is played completely even and both teams shoot 14 free throws, the better shooting free throw shooting team will project to win by one point, but the fact that everything else was that close is the story. And yet, fans will say that a team that went 14 of 20 from the line and lost by 3 points "left six points at the line," because a kid who ran hit butt off and came up with five steals to keep his team in the game was dead tired and fell short on a couple of free throws. At 14 of 20 you have hit what it typical. If you go 16 of 20 that is a PLUS TWO over what you should have scored. The fact is FTA/FGA is the least significant of the Four Factors, and the way to make that state more meaningful is the make it FTM/FGA - that adds the difference in being able to get to the line AND the ability to hit once there to make one more significant stat instead of two minor ones.

Deadball turnovers by a team's offense. Finally, people overvalue how much dead ball turnovers hurt a team. They are bad. they are worse than a missed shot because you do not have the one in three chance of getting an offensive rebound and still trying to score. But giving up steals is so much more damaging because it can make a solid defense irrelevant and get an opponent who is struggling shooting on track with a couple of breakaway dunks.

To illustrate this I took Pomeroy's stats on offensive steals allowed and overall turnovers allowed, and subtracted to see how many turnovers were deadball (traveling, ball thrown out of bounds, 30-second violation).

Admittedly cherry picking a bit, I pulled out the 13 team for which well over half of their turnovers are LIVE BALL turnovers (first 13 listed), and the 13 teams that give up mostly DEAD BALL turnovers (last 13 listed).

UCLA overall ranks as the 17th best defense in the country even though 56% of their turnovers are live ball, and I believe it is a really bad Achilles Heel for what many believe is the best offense in the country but is starting to struggle. Overall these 13 teams give up slightly higher than average turnovers (19.2), but most of these are live ball steals (10.8 or 56%) and despite UCLA's nice defensive rating of 17th, these 13 average only the 194th best defense in the country.

The 13 at the other end of the spectrum give up almost as many turnovers (18.5), but only 6.7 are steals compared to the 10.8 by the first 13 teams. Overall their defenses rank 123rd on average, 71 spots better than the high steals allowed teams. Cincinnati from this group ranks only one spot better than UCLA overall as the 16th best defense in the country, but the fact that two-thirds of their turnovers are dead ball and only 5.4 per 100 trips are live steals means come tournament time you are going to need to grind it out against their half court defense to win.

Turnovers are not all equal, and looking at the steals allowed is a better indicator of vulnerability that simply looking at turnovers allowed - one of the four factors.

Worst % Live Ball TOConfTO%Stl%Deadball%StealDef Rank
Miami OHMAC19.411.4859%276
New MexicoMWC18.510.77.858%111
UMass LowellAE21.812.69.258%281
Oral RobertsSum179.77.357%213
High PointBSth20.711.29.554%265
Ball St.MAC21.111.49.754%172
Ave. High Live Ball%
Best % Live Ball TOConfTO%Stl%Deadball%StealDef Rank
Ohio St.B1018.87.111.738%63
Cal St. BakersfieldWAC21.78.113.637%120
Santa ClaraWCC16.2610.237%167
Mississippi St.SEC17.96.611.337%89
Cal St. FullertonBW21.8813.837%311
Cleveland St.Horz20.37.412.936%232
New Mexico St.WAC20.47.41336%85
Morehead St.OVC18.86.81236%185
Weber St.BSky17.1611.135%140
College of CharlestonCAA16.25.111.131%94
Ave. Low Live Ball%18.56.711.936%122.6

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