Sunday, April 24, 2016

New box score feature: Pace and Efficiency Report

I have added a new feature to my NBA Win Probability Graphs and Box Scores. If you click the "pace" tab, you will see a table that looks like this:


Using the play by play data, this table summarizes offensive pace, as measured by seconds per possession. The "season" row shows each team's average offensive pace for the season. The "opponent" row shows how each team's opposing defense has controlled the offensive pace this season. Similar statistics are shown for scoring efficiency, as measured by points per 100 possessions. This is basically a game-specific version of the team summary pace tool I rolled out last season.

The table above is from Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals, in which the Cavaliers took a (fleeting) 2-1 series lead over the Warriors. The Cavaliers' success in that game, and the game prior, was often credited to slowing the tempo of the notoriously fast-paced Warriors. But what the table shows is that while Cleveland certainly slowed their own pace on offense (from 15.9 seconds to 17.0), the Warriors were still playing their game on offense, mostly. They averaged 13.9 seconds per possession, just slightly above their season average, and still well below the league average of 15.1 seconds.

Just a note on the possession counts: These do not precisely align with those you find on sites like basketball-reference.com. In general, I am counting more possessions on average than what is usually tallied using the box score, which results in slightly lower efficiencies. The main reason for this, I believe, is that my method counts "end of quarter" possessions that do not result in a typical box score "possession marker", like a made/missed shot or a rebound. If a team gets the ball with 10 seconds left and fails to get a shot off, that will likely not count as a possession using the box score stats, but is counted as such by my method.

Eventually, I hope to add pace and efficiency for the other possession types to this feature: after made shot, after defensive rebounds, and after turnovers.

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