News

Crunching the numbers

As we begin the New Year and approach the business end of the regular season, the race to the NBL Finals is beginning to heat up. In a league where all teams play each other four times and there are so few secrets between friends, coaches are constantly looking for anything that might give their team an edge. One important tool at the fingertips of coaches these days is the use of advanced metrics. Number crunching in the modern game goes way beyond the box score, with valuable intel to be gained by analysing advanced stats. How well does my team truly rebound the ball? How does our defence stack up on a per possession basis? We’ve placed the microscope over six key statistical measurements, to offer a different perspective to that which can be gained with the naked eye. To add some extra insight, former NBL MVP and current Fox Sports analyst Derek Rucker has offered his thoughts on each of the statistics. “I am a big fan of advanced analytics to assess performance and look for points to improve or aspects of a team’s play to emphasis,” Rucker told nbl.com.au. Of course, numbers – no matter how ‘advanced’ they might be – never tell the whole story. As Mark Twain once famously quipped, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Rucker agrees, but offers a slightly more open-minded perspective. “Clearly there are some intangibles that can’t be measured but if coaches, players and fans are ignoring the numbers, then they’re not getting the full picture on performance.” So without further ado, let’s crunch the numbers. Player Efficiency Rating PER, originally developed by ESPN columnist John Hollinger, is a measurement of a player’s per-minute performance while adjusting for pace. In Hollinger’s own words, “The PER sums up all a player's positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player's performance.”

#

Player

Team

PER

1

A.J. Ogilvy

ILL

30.9

2

Hakim Warrick

MEL

26.4

3

Charles Jackson

NZ

25.1

4

Kevin Lisch

ILL

24.5

5

Julian Khazzouh

SYD

21.9

6

Tom Jervis

PER

21.6

7

Daniel Kickert

MEL

20.7

8

Casey Prather

PER

19.9

9

Daniel Johnson

ADE

19.7

10

Jerome Randle

ADE

19.7

  A.J. Ogilvy take a bow. Illawarra’s big man has been a pillar of strength for the Hawks all season. His dominance passes the eye test and is reflected in both the box score and advanced stats. For comparison, only one NBA player – Golden State’s Stephen Curry (31.9) – currently holds a PER higher than Ogilvy. Interesting to see New Zealand’s Charles Jackson rating so highly here. Jackson’s per minute production has been outstanding for the Breakers but he averages only 20.6 minutes per game due to his extremely high foul rate (his 3.4 fouls per game leads the NBL). Derek Rucker: “No surprise two Hawks players near the top for this category and A.J. Ogilvy operating at an amazing level worthy of MVP honours.”   Offensive Rating Offensive Rating is the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions.

#

Team

ORtg

1

Illawarra

118.7

2

Melbourne

112.9

3

Perth

111.5

4

Adelaide

109.5

5

Cairns

109.2

6

New Zealand

105.6

7

Sydney

105.2

8

Townsville

101.9

  Illawarra is averaging 118.7 points per 100 possessions? That’s more than the Golden State Warriors! Rob Beveridge has had the Hawks firing on all cylinders over recent times and their offensive efficiency, in particularly, has been very, very impressive. Out west, Trevor Gleeson must be pleased to see the improvements in the Wildcats’ offensive efficiency numbers this season. It’s a stat they dominated during their championship season of 2013/14 but which fell away significantly last year. Rucker: “A tricky result here with the New Zealand Breakers’ rating not reflecting their win/loss record. It goes to show that defence and extra possessions definitely help win games.”   Defensive Rating Defensive Rating is the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions.

#

Team

DRtg

1

New Zealand

101.6

2

Perth

106.4

3

Adelaide

108.4

4

Illawarra

110.1

5

Sydney

110.9

6

Melbourne

111.0

7

Townsville

111.2

8

Cairns

114.2

  Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Cairns gave up only 103.7 points per 100 possessions last season but rank stone cold last in this measurement this time around. New Zealand and Perth, meanwhile, are perennial leaders in defensive efficiency, with the Breakers only falling away during Cedric Jackson’s absence in 2013/14. The Illawarra Hawks have been steadily climbing these rankings over the past few weeks. Rucker: “The most surprising result of all the metrics is that Cairns are last in this category. The Taipans built their success on tough defence but are a distant last to the New Zealand Breakers.”   Defensive Rebounding Percentage A measurement of the percentage of defensive rebounds a player/team secures that are available to his/the team.

PLAYERS

#

Player

Team

DRB%

1

Majok Majok

MEL

29.2

2

Tom Jervis

PER

24.3

3

A.J. Ogilvy

ILL

23.2

4

Daniel Johnson

ADE

23.0

5

Mathew Knight

PER

22.7

6

Matt Burston

CNS

22.6

7

Charles Jackson

NZ

21.8

8

Torrey Craig

CNS

21.4

9

Julian Khazzouh

SYD

20.1

10

Lucas Walker

ADE

19.7

 

TEAMS

#

Team

DRB%

1

New Zealand

73.8

2

Perth

71.5

3

Cairns

70.7

4

Adelaide

69.7

5

Sydney

69.6

6

Townsville

68.8

7

Melbourne

67.7

8

Illawarra

66.6

  Comparing raw rebounding numbers can sometimes be a little deceiving. Different teams play with varying pace and efficiency which can make box score rebounding numbers a little misleading. That’s where rebounding percentage can help. These stats provide the percentage of boards a team or player grabs that are available to the team, thus providing a true indication of rebounding performance. We’ve chosen to highlight defensive rebounding percentage here; a measurement which shows how well a team finishes possessions by cleaning the defensive glass. New Zealand, of course, lead the league. They only have one player in the top 10 individually (Charles Jackson), but there are plenty of Breakers just outside, with Mika Vukona (19.6), Alex Pledger (17.2), Cedric Jackson (16.3) and Tom Abercrombie (16.0) also ranking highly. A.J. Ogilvy, meanwhile, has been the lone ranger for Illawarra on the defensive glass for much of this season, with no other Hawk ranking inside the top 20 for defensive rebounding percentage. Rucker: “If Majok’s minutes start to decline, it will be imperative that United find ways to rebound the ball when he’s off the court if they want to figure in the post-season. Daniel Johnson’s work on the boards is above solid for Adelaide.”   Opponent Three Point Percentage

#

Team

Opp. 3P%

1

New Zealand

.316

2

Perth

.331

3

Illawarra

.347

4

Sydney

.348

5

Adelaide

.349

6

Townsville

.353

7

Melbourne

.360

8

Cairns

.394

  This is not actually an ‘advanced metric’, but contesting the three-ball has become one of the most important aspects of effective defensive efficiency. Interestingly, New Zealand and Perth are also the teams who have given up the fewest three point attempts per game this season. So much of their defensive philosophies are about running teams off the arc and towards their imposing frontlines. Townsville have given up the third least attempts and prior to their NYE nightmare vs Illawarra they were third on this table with an opposing percentage of .343. Defending against the three has actually been a strength for the Crocs this season but Illawarra’s 16/33 effort last Thursday has skewed their numbers. The Taipans have shot the NBL’s lowest percentage from long range this season (.292) while their opponents have shot the highest, by some margin. Rucker: “New Zealand was unable to contain Illawarra two weeks ago from the three point line. Stay tuned in to this matchup to see if it was an outlier or not.”   Assist Percentage The percentage of field goals made by a team that were credited with an assist.

#

Team

AST%

1

Perth

55.7

2

Illawarra

54.4

3

New Zealand

51.3

4

Adelaide

50.0

5

Cairns

48.5

6

Townsville

47.3

7

Sydney

47.2

8

Melbourne

45.0

  This is another category that Perth topped during their ’14 Championship run, so Wildcats fans will be pleased to see them ranked #1 once again. Interesting to note that Melbourne rank near the top for offensive efficiency and yet so few of their baskets are assisted. The New Zealand Breakers, on the other hand, benefit greatly from the sublime playmaking skills of Cedric Jackson who dominates the individual assist percentage rankings. Rucker: “Perth benefit greatly from having excellent passing big men. Their interior passing and passing to shooters on the weak-side leads to excellent shot attempts. Melbourne play a lot of one on one ball utilising their individual brilliance… will this style get them to the playoffs?”   NB: to qualify for this analysis a player must have played in a minimum of 50 percent of his team’s games.
FEATURE

NBL23 Way Too Early Predictions

4 hours ago

ROSTERS

Analysis: Ins, Outs, Depth Charts (Update)

6 hours ago

PODCAST

The Huddle: John Rillie

7 hours ago

NEWS

Adelaide: Franks 'On His Way'

7 hours ago

NEWS

Former NBA Guard Helps Crown King

9 hours ago

NEWS

Soares: 'NBL One of Best Leagues in World'

10 hours ago

NBL1

Noi Ready for NBL1 Finals Challenge

10 hours ago

NEWS

Tasmania's "Diamond in the Rough"

12 hours ago

NEWS

JAM TV Becomes NBL Production Partner

12 hours ago

PRE-SEASON

Darwin Blitz Open to All

14 hours ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates