Guide to Advanced Basketball Stats

Tyler Smith

Our goal is to bring you the best Clemson sports analysis on the web. In doing so we've made a point to bring the intellectual level of Clemson basketball discussion up a notch, and that means advanced stats. Here's a brief and simple explanation of the more common ones we've been discussing.

Offensive Rating (Ortg): I love this stat because it combines everything into one number for quick reference. It's not the "end all be all" of stats, but it is basically the QB Rating of offensive basketball. You can think 100 as a good benchmark. If you're around that mark, you're not doing too bad. For reference, K.J. boasts a 113.1 while Filer has a Ortg of 88.6. One thing to remember is this is a measure of efficiency, so someone like K.J. who has a high usage rate (i.e., McDaniels shoots the biggest chunk of Clemson's shots) will have a tougher time being efficient that someone like Rod Hall (Ortg: 114) who can be very selective with his shots.

It uses a complicated formula that credits made shots, assists, etc and penalizes turnovers missed shots, etc.

"A measure of personal offensive efficiency developed by Dean Oliver. The formula is very complicated, but accurate..." (KenPom.com)

Defensive Rebounding % (DR%): This stat is great because it is easy to interpret and helpful when comparing players with very different levels of playing time (e.g., McDaniels vs. Djitte). It is simply:

Defensive Rebounds / Defensive Rebounding Opportunities

Someone like Sidy Djitte doesn’t play enough minutes to post a strong rebounding average, but in his limited minutes he does get a large proportion of the rebounding opportunities. This stat shows that more effectively that your rebounds per game stat.

Additionally, this controls for tempo. A team like Clemson slows a game down which means fewer shots, and fewer missed shots, and thus fewer rebounding opportunities. If you compare someone on an up-tempo team like VMI to a Clemson player, that VMI player will have an advantage in their opportunity to accumulate stats.


Offensive Rebounding % (OR%): This is the same thing as DR% except on the offensive end. Comparing offensive rebounding totals isn't always fair because one team may have missed many more shots than the other had thus had more opportunities to get offensive rebounds. For example, in our game against Notre Dame, we had more offensive rebounds, but they had the better OR%. Why? Because we missed more shots, so we had more chances to get an offensive rebound.


Turnover Rate (TO Rate): This one is fairly complicated and hard to explain for individuals. It's easier to use on a team level when it is simply percentage of possessions that end in a turnover. On an player level it only counts those possessions when the player touches the ball.


Assist Rate (AST Rate): Would be the same thing as TO rate only for ASTs. Again, this is a bit easier to use on a team level when it is percentage of possessions that end in an assist and basket.


Effective Field Goal % (eFG%): This multiplies 3P% by 1.5 because 50 (of 100) 3-pointers equals 75 (of 100) 2-pointers. This makes it fair to compare post players with 3-point shooters. It’s also the only way to compare teams when one shoots a lot of 3’s and one does not.

For example, let's say we wanted to compare NC State and Princeton. NC State focuses heavily on 2-point shots while Princeton focuses largely on 3-point baskets. As such, it would be incredibly misleading to say NC State is a better shooting team because their .458 FG% is better than Princeton's .456%. That's because a much, much larger proportion of Princeton's shots are from 3 (and are thus 50% more valuable when they go in). Using effective field goal percentage, we see that Princeton has a great 54.6 eFG% (17th in the nation) while NC State's eFG% only 49.5.


Fouls Committed per 40 Minutes (FC/40): This is pretty self-explanatory. It shows how many fouls a player commits in an average 40 minute span of playing time. Since guys like Djitte never play 40 minutes it is the only way to compare someone like Nnoko with a guy like Djitte. It seems like Nnoko is always in foul trouble, but Djitte is actually the biggest hacker on the team (in the world?). He just plays less minutes so it's not as obvious. He actually averages almost 8 fouls per 40 minutes.


Fouls Drawn per 40 Mins (FD/40): This is the same as above except it’s drawing fouls. This is a great measure of aggressiveness. We've seen Rod Hall improve in this area year-over-year. This year he is drawing 3.5 fouls per 40 minutes where as last year that number was only at 2.6.


Free Throw Rate (FT Rate): This is another metric that shows how good someone is at drawing fouls. It just divides FTs by FGs and multiplies by 100 so you can see how often they get to the line compared to how many shots they take. Clemson is pretty weak in this area because we don't have many players that can attack the basket and get to the line. This is typically a team stat while the fouls committed/drawn per 40 are best used on an individual level.

(Free Throws / Field Goals) * 100

Statistics as of 2/18/2014.
For more, please visit this post from our friends over at Blogger So Dear or KenPom's definitions page.

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