Hello GSoM community, I have a new warriors blog over at Golden Stat Hoops which I thought you might enjoy, its a Warriors blog with more of a statistical emphasis. Here's the first post from it, let me know what you think/if you disagree with the ideas. Thanks.
When looking at a boxscore, the first thing most people probably notice is who scored the most points. It's only natural, the team who scores more wins, and thus players who score the most points are usually valued very highly. But the question that should be raised and is not asked often enough is did they score efficiently, that is could they maximize their scoring potential? Since I'm a baseball fan first and foremost, I especially like Kevin Pelton's analogy of scoring efficiency to on base percentage, arguably the most important stat in the game yet undervalued for a very, very long time.
So how can we expect the Warriors to fare in scoring efficiency this year? First, a few definitions and stats that will help shed some light on efficiency.
These are the stats your dad grew up with and the ones you typically find in newspapers and fantasy leagues. They are easily deduced from the box scores, FG% is simply the number of field goals made (FGM) divided by the number of field goals attempted (FGA), while 3P% is the same for 3 point shots (3PM/3PA). The Warriors ranked 12th in the NBA with a 45.9 FG% last year, just 0.2 above the league average. Their 3P% was much worse at 34.8, good for 26th place and 1.4% behind the league average of 36.2%.
Now your first though may be "wow, the Warriors can't have been very efficient look how poorly they shot from behind the 3 point line." This is actually looking at things the wrong way and demonstrates why straight FG% and 3P% are not the best evaluators of efficiency. It doesn't take into account at all that the Warriors had a lot more 3PA as an overall amount of their FGA (29.5% to be exact, tops in the league), but more importantly it doesn't account for the fact that a 3PM is worth 1.5 times a 2PM in terms of points. Which brings us to
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) is a stat which was popularized by Warrior legend Rick Barry in his Pro Basketball Bible series of books. The formula is simply eFG% = (FGM + .5*3PM)/FGA. Looks just like FG% except it takes into account the extra point a 3PM is relative to a 2PM.
This is especially relevant concerning the Warriors, who we all know shoot a lot of 3s. The Warriors 51.1 eFG% was good for 8th in the league last year, 4 spots higher than their FG% ranking and a whopping 18 spots above their 3P%. So while the warriors may not shoot 3 pointer at a high percentage relative to the league, their volume more than makes up for it with regards to efficiency. But there's one more shooting stat which more fully encompasses efficiency
True Shooting Percentage (TS%) incorporates free throws into the equation, TS% = Pts/(2*(FGA + (.44*FTA))). Notice the 2 multipliers in the equation, the 2 is to get the TS% to be closer to FG% (its less confusing to have Andris Biedrins 07-08 TS% to be 63.7 as opposed to 127.4), and the .44 multiplier is because of And-1s, technicals, flagrant fouls, clear-path fouls, or three shots after a foul attempt on a three point attempt, if there were none of these occurences than the multiplier would be exactly .5 since you would always get two free throws per a possession.
Notice that TS% doesn't care how you got your points per se (there's no 3PM, FTM in the formula), it only cares how many you got on how many shots. It also rewards players who get to the free throw line a lot (provided you make them). Say on one possession you got fouled in the act of shooting and missed your shot, but make both free throws. Your TS% for that possession would be 2/(2*(0+(.44x2))) = 2/1.76 =1.14, as opposed to the 1.00 it would be if you had just made the jump shot without being fouled.
I couldn't find league wide sortable TS% by team (if someone knows where I could that would be great), so I just calculated the Warriors TS% by hand and it turned out to be 55.5. I'm not sure where that ranks compared to other teams, but it is 1.5 percentage points higher than the league average team TS% of 54.0.
Enough with the mumbo jumbo, just tell me how the Warriors will do this year
Well, its hard to say. While I don't think individual shooting percentages fluctuate wildly from season to season, the Warriors are going to be a very young team (young players have less historical data to work with and can improve more dramatically than older ones) with a new nucleus of players (will Corey Maggette be able to sustain his excellent numbers from last year in a new system?), so trying to project their shooting efficiency this year from last year's data may not work that well. That being said, let's look at individuals' numbers last year (apologies for the formatting, new to Wordpress and struggled to find a better way to make a table):
Warriors 2007-2008 Shooting
Player TS% eFG%
Monta Ellis 0.580 0.536
Baron Davis 0.523 0.483
Andris Biedrins 0.637 0.626
Al Harrington 0.547 0.517
Stephen Jackson 0.536 0.481
Kelenna Azubuike 0.534 0.505
Mickael Pietrus 0.549 0.525
Matt Barnes 0.510 0.483
Brandan Wright 0.583 0.554
Austin Croshere 0.573 0.526
C.J. Watson 0.519 0.470
Corey Maggette 0.595 0.497
Ronny Turiaf 0.539 0.474
Marcus Williams 0.499 0.471
The first thing to note from the numbers is that my man-love for Andris Biedrins is well grounded in the stats (and not just the hair gel). Now I know part of the reason Biedrins posts such high percentages is because his whole game is putbacks and dunks for the most part, but still he should have gotten much more than the 7.3% of the teams FGA. Shouldn't let that kind of efficiency go to waste.
Speaking of waste, Baron Davis did a bit too much of it with regards to this shot selection. His reputation as a chucker is well grounded in these stats, as his TS% was the worst on the team of the regulars (and his eFG% was no great shakes either), exacerbated by the fact that he took just under 300 more field goal attempts (20.6% overall) than anyone else on the team. From a pure shooting efficiency standpoint replacing, if you replaced Davis's percentages with Maggette's the team would see a dramatic improvement in TS%. Of course the game doesn't work that you can just change the numbers like that, but I still think Maggette would be an improvement over Davis with regards to shooting.
This year's team also won't feature Mikael Pietrus or Matt Barnes. Pietrus was surprisingly efficient by these numbers, probably because he mostly shot 3's all day (and made a lot of them). Barnes was very similar to Pietrus in the shot selection, except the part about making the 3 pointers, so his numbers are much worse. But both were still significantly better than Marcus Williams, who I assume would get a lot of their minutes. Williams still doesn't have much of a track record, but maybe there's a reason for that as his numbers from last year are terrible. Let's hope they don't expect him to do much shooting.
The man who should be doing most of the shooting (hopefully) is Monta Ellis. His efficiency was incredible last year, especially when you consider the volume (16.6% of the team's FGA) of shots he took. By now I'm sure all Warriors fans have heard about Ellis's injury. Personally I don't care what happened so much as how (hopefully not at all) it will affect his game upon returning (whenever that may be). If Ellis can return and be the player they expected when they signed him to that huge $66 million extension, I'm sure all will be forgotten.
Wait a minute, you still haven't answered my question. Will you get to the point already?
Sounds like I should be a Vice Presidential Candidate instead of a Warrior blogger, eh? Alright, here's what I think will happen. Assuming:
- Corey Maggette gets the bulk of Davis's playing time and shots from last year
- Monta Ellis can return some time reasonable (say before the end of 2008?) at a level close to his old form
- Steven Jackson gets some of the time at point instead of Marcus Williams like Coach Don Nelson is considering and as a result distributes a bit more than chucks like he usually does
- The team gets Andris Biedrins the freaking ball more asadjkhfajwhfajksdhf 63.7/62.6 C'mon!
- The other guys stay close to their levels last year
Then I think this team will definitely see their shooting efficiency rise, the TS% especially since Maggette is such a large (7.2%) improvement over Davis. If that happens and the Warriors keep the Pace they ran at last year, expect to see their scoring rise, which is hard to imagine considering it was already a league leading 111 last season. It would be fun to watch, that's for sure.