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2016-17 Clemson Basketball Season Preview: Intro & Advanced Stats Primer

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As football season winds down, Clemson’s basketball program has a huge year ahead.

NCAA Basketball: ACC conference tournament-Georgia Tech vs Clemson Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s amazing how quickly football season breezes by. Throughout a painfully long offseason, we anxiously await, preview, and project the year of college football to come. Then we blink and it’s almost over. As the football season now enters its stretch run, Clemson’s basketball season is about to begin.

This year, the basketball team is primed for something special. We’ve been talking about this season for two years now, as the promising youngsters are now upperclassmen and the transfers are now eligible. On top of that, Littlejohn Coliseum reopens and will give the team a nearby home and the students nearby seating. Have a look:

So with all this reason for excitement, we bring you our in-depth season preview. As you asked, we’ve spaced it out with an article nearly every day until we preview the season opener against UGA.

To start, we discuss some of the KenPom advanced stats we’ll use as we preview, and then cover the Tigers this basketball season.

Offensive Rating (Ortg)

Offensive rating is a overall measure of offensive efficiency. 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)

Think of it as QBR for basketball players.

Effective Field Goal % (eFG%)

This multiplies 3P% by 1.5 because 50 (of 100) 3-pointers is worth the same number of points as 75 (of 100) 2-pointers (150 points). This makes it fair to compare post players with 3-point shooters.

Jaron Blossomgame had a FG% of .513 last year. Landry Nnoko had a FG% of .552. While it is intuitive that Nnoko was taking easier shots, looking at those numbers one might think we should have fed it to Nnoko more at the expense of Blossomgame’s touches. When we convert to effective field goal percentage, we see Blossomgame’s eFG% is 56.9, while Nnoko’s matches his FG% (he shot 0-0 from three). This is a better measure of efficiency and shows just how remarkably efficient Blossomgame was last year.

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., Blossomgame vs. Djitte). It is simply:

Defensive Rebounds / Defensive Rebounding Opportunities

At 25.3, Djitte led the team by a decent margin. Now thrust into a starting role, at least for the Fall semester, we’ll see if he can keep that up with more minutes.

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. This stat can be especially useful in single game analysis. While others may fall into the trap of saying a team got beat on the offensive boards after looking at raw numbers, these adjusted numbers allow us to see if it was really just because one team missed more shots or if it was real.

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.

This stat is of special relevance to Clemson as a few players on the roster may qualify as "hackers." Sidy Djitte was the biggest culprit, committing 7.5 fouls per 40 minutes last season. That’s actually down from 8.2 in the season prior. He’ll be starting with very little depth behind him until Texas A&M transfer Elijah Thomas is eligible. If he gets in early foul trouble, the Tigers will be forced to count on Legend Robertin he is an even bigger hacker (10.9 fouls per 40 minutes) or a small lineup with no true post player. This could be a recipe for dropping a silly game early in the season.

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. Last year, Jaron Blossomgame was drawing 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes.

Free Throw Rate (FT Rate)

This metric is often used to show how often teams get to the foul line. It can indicate if teams are aggressive in attacking the basket, and in turn getting to the charity stripe.

(Free Throws / Field Goals) * 100

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. 15.8% of Clemson’s possessions last season ended with a turnover. This is a fairly low number and ranked 35th nationally.

Possessions

Finally, a game statistic that's especially useful is the number of possessions in the game. More possessions equals more opportunities to accumulate raw stats. This fluctuation is one reason why advanced stats are so useful.

Clemson was one of the lower tempo teams in the country at 64.4 possessions per game. This number was actually up two possessions from the season prior. The five second shot clock reduction likely played a role in this.

FGA-OR+TO+0.475xFTA

For more, please visit this post from our friends over at Blogger So Dear or KenPom's definitions page.