12/6/10 - Pacers' Stat of the Week: Usage Rate vs. Offensive Rating

Welcome to the newest installment of our weekly feature here at IndyCornrows, Stat of the Week. This feature, posted each Monday, focuses in on one statistic or number to recap and tell the story of the Pacers' performance for the previous week.

The Pacers had a rough week, going 1-2 in three games, wrapping up their west coast road trip. Indiana beat the Kings, were blown out by the Jazz and handed the Suns a win with 26 turnovers. The Pacers' defense remained strong, for the most part, but the offensive efficiency has still been missing.

At the end of the Preseason we took a look at Usage Rate. Usage Rate is an estimated percentage of a team's possessions used by an individual player. Field Goal Attempts, Free Throw Attempts, and Turnovers are the ways a player can "use" a possession. Today we are going to go back and revisit Usage Rate, taking a look at how the Pacers'are dividing up their offensive possessions. We will then compare each player's Usage Rate to their individual Offensive Rating to get an idea for who is providing efficient offense with the possessions they're using.

Usage Rate gives you an excellent idea of a player’s role within his team’s offense. Players who take lots of shot or spend a lot of time handling the ball will generally have high Usage Rates. A low Usage Rate may indicate a player who is primarily a spot-up shooter, or defensive specialist. Usage Rate is adjusted for the minutes a player plays. For example a player with a 30% Usage Rate, used 30% of his team's possessions while he was on the floor, not the team's overall possessions.

Offensive Rating at the individual level is a calculation of how many points a player produces per 100 possessions. It includes the points a player scores himself as well as partial credit for the points he helps creates for his teammates through assists and offensive rebounds.

Below is a table showing the Usage Rate and Minutes per Game of each Pacers' player from last season and this season. For this season I also included the individual Offensive Rating (Points Produced per 100 possessions) for each player.

Pacers' Usage Rates 2010 vs. 2011

Player 2010 Usg% 2010 MPG 2011 Usg% 2011 MPG 2011 Off. Rating
Roy Hibbert 22.2% 25.1 25.0% 29.8 109
Danny Granger 28.7% 36.7 26.4% 37.3 105
Mike Dunleavy 20.7% 22.2 18.2% 29.9 111
Josh McRoberts 15.3% 12.5 13.4% 23.8 108
Brandon Rush 14.8% 30.4 17.4% 29.8 109
Darren Collison 23.1% 27.8 23.9% 28.5 104
Tyler Hansbrough 25.5% 17.6 18.6% 14.8 116
Solomon Jones 16.1% 13.0 15.6% 14.3 105
James Posey 11.4% 22.5 15.1% 19.2 98
A.J. Price 22.7% 15.4 21.1% 15.0 130
Dahntay Jones 20.1% 24.9 19.6% 7.3 114
Paul George  -  - 17.1% 16.5 93
T.J. Ford 21.0% 25.3 18.0% 22.2 87
Jeff Foster 11.1% 15.9 9.8% 16.0 95

I have a few things I wanted to point out about some specific players.

Roy Hibbert- Hibbert's minutes have increased significantly and so has his role in the offense. His Offensive Rating has also increased from 105 last season to 109 this year. This increase is a combination of an increase in his FG% and FT%, with an accompanying drop in his Turnover Percentage. Hibbert is shooting a career high 72.4% at the rim. He's expanded his range quite a bit in terms of attempts, taking 5.6 shots per 40 minutes from 10-23ft. It would be nice to see him be a little more selective in taking those shots though; he's shooting only 30.4% from that area. Basically, Hibbert is on the floor more, using more possessions and producing more points with those possessions, all positives for the Pacers.

Danny Granger- Granger is playing about the same minutes as last season but his Usage Rate has declined. The decline in his Usage Rate is roughly the same as the increase in Hibbert's. The issue is that Granger's Offensive Rating has declined to 105, easily the lowest of his career. Granger's FT% is up, his 3PT% is up, he's finishing at the rim at a career rate. Even his overall FG% is up over last year's. Despite all those positives, there are two issues which have caused his Offensive Rating to decline.

The two issues are turnovers and shot selection. Granger's Turnover Rate has increased from 10.6 last season to 12.2 this season. More turnovers means less offensive efficiency. The other issue is that he is taking far fewer shots at the rim and from behind the 3PT line, the two areas he's most efficient, and is attempting more long two pointers, the area he's least efficient. Last season Granger attempted 12.5 shots per 40 minutes that were either at the rim or three pointers. This season he's attempting 9.6 per 40 minutes from those areas. Last season Granger attempted 5.9 shots per 40 minutes from 10-23ft. This season he's attempting 7.0 from those areas. In addition, staying away from the basket has caused his FTA/40 to decline from 7.5 last season to 5.0 this season.

With the addition of Darren Collison and the Pacers' stated goal of running more of the offense through Hibbert, I expected things to get a lot easier for Granger. So far that has not been the case.

Mike Dunleavy - Dunleavy's Usage Rate has declined and his Offensive Rating has shot up. His shooting has not been as great as it could be, just 44.5% from the field and 34.5% on three pointers. However, both of those percentages are right in line with his career averages. In addition, Dunleavy passes the ball well and has rarely turned it over. In fact, his Turnover Rate is a career low 10.2% which is a huge boon to a team like the Pacers, who often struggle to protect the ball.

Dunleavy appears to be right in the sweet spot where his Usage Rate and Offensive Rating are aligned for maximum effect. If he was using more possessions he likely wouldn't be as efficient with them. If he was using less possessions the effect of his efficiency wouldn't be as beneficial to the team.

Brandon Rush - Rush's minutes are about the same as last year, but his Offensive Rating has jumped from 99 last season to 109 this season. His Turnover Rate has declined slightly but most of this jump in Offensive Rating comes from better shooting and finishing. Rush's 3PT% has dropped to 37.8% this season, but his overall FG% has gone up to 48.8% compared to 42.3% in his first two seasons.

One of the big differences is Rush's assertiveness attacking the rim. He's averaging roughly the same number of attempts per 40 at the rim but is making 75% of them compared to only 49.7% last season. He's also increased his FTA/40 to 3.5 compared to 1.4 last year. Rush has stepped up in his 13 games this season and looks ready fill a consistent complimentary offensive role.

Darren Collison - Darren Collison is playing roughly the same number of minutes he did last season in New Orleans, a source of frustration for many Pacer fans. While his defense may be what's limiting his minutes, turnovers and poor shooting are what's dragging down his Offensive Rating. Collison's Offensive Rating is 104 this season, only slightly lower than the 105 he put up his rookie year. His Turnover Rate has fallen to 16.3% from 18.9% last year, but his FG% has dropped to 44.6% from 47.3% last year. Collison's FG% is actually up from every area of the floor except on 16-23ft. jumpers. However, he's taking 4.8 of those shots per 40 minutes and making just 30% of them.

His Turnover Rate of 16.3% is a big improvement over his rookie season. By my count there are 14 point guards who play more than 25 minutes per game with a number worse than his, including Rajon Rondo, Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson, Andre Miller and Chauncey Billups. One issue is that of those 14 points guards who turn the ball over more than him, 12 of them have a higher Assist Rate than he does. Collison's Assist Rate is 26.3%. The only players lower than him were Luke Ridnour and Chanucey Billups. Collison, Billups, Ridnour, Eric Bledsoe and Mike Conley were the only point guards of those 15 who had an Assist Rate under 30%. What this means is that Collison is turning the ball over less than some comparable point guards, but isn't creating nearly as many opportunities for his teammates as those other point guards.

T.J. Ford -  Ford has the lowest Offensive Rating of any Pacer this season, a fact that's obvious to most fans. While his defense has been keeping him on the floor, Ford has also cut his Usage Rate to 18%, his lowest since his rookie season. It's an encouraging sign that Ford has recognized his inefficiency and his role on the team and has adjusted his game accordingly.

Ford's low Offensive Rating is primarily tied to two factors. His Turnover Rate has risen to 20.7%, his highest since his rookie season. His FG% has also dropped to 36.4% a career low. Except for three pointers, his shooting percentages from every area of the floor have declined since last season. The encouraging thing is that his percentages, shooting and turnovers, are so far out of step with his performance of recent seasons that it's likely they will improve as the season progresses. Another gripe with Ford in seasons past has been his apparent inability to play within the system and compete at the defensive end, two things which largely haven't been concerns this season.

James Posey - Posey's Offensive Rating is also very low. He takes three pointers almost exclusively and despite a few hot shooting performances, doesn't make them at a very effective clip. The good side is that he knows his role, rarely forces shots and is posting a career low Turnover Rate of 9.1%. His defense has been outstanding and largely has outweighed his offensive struggles.

Tyler Hansbrough - Hansbrough is the opposite of James Posey. His Offensive Rating is among the best on the team, but his defense has been limiting his minutes. Hansbrough had a much higher Usage Rate last season but has settled into his offensive role well this year. His FG% from nearly every area of the floor has increased, including 81.3% on shots at the rim compared to just 51.4% last season. The percentage of his shots which get blocked has fallen to 6.8% compared to 13.8% last season. His overall FG% has risen to 51.7% compared to just 36.0% last season.

This season Hansbrough is being asked to handle the ball more in the high post, looking for cutters. Taking him away from the basket has caused his FTA/40 to go down to 5.8 compared to 8.9 last season. In addition his Turnover Rate his gone up to 14.0% compared to 7.1% last season. It's a great illustration of how much better his shooting has gotten, that despite those two numbers declining his Offensive Rating has still gone from a 101 last season to 116 this season. Hansbrough has still only played 43 NBA games and has a lot to learn. Regardless, he looks like a capable offensive contributor in a supporting role.

Summary - The Pacers' Offensive Rating this season is just 105.0, good for 20th in the league. Looking at these numbers some of the reasons for this struggle are clear. The Pacers' three biggest users of offensive possessions, Hibbert, Granger and Collison have not been overly effective. Hibbert is above average, but Granger and Collison have both been right around average as offensive producers. The team has some role players like Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy and Tyler Hansbrough, who have shown the potential to be solid offensive producers in complimentary roles. Unfortunately, none of these players would likely be as efficient if they were asked to shoulder a larger load. With several players who have smaller offensive skill sets but will see the floor for their defensive prowess, most of the responsibility for offensive improvement falls to Granger, Collison and Hibbert.

I started typing out separate recommendations for each player but they all need to make the same changes: fewer turnovers and fewer long two pointers. All three players are effective scorers from other areas on the floor and they need to focus on those areas. It's incumbent on the coaching staff to make some offensive adjustments to help all three protect the ball and get shots from other areas besides a step inside the three point line. As they become more productive it should only make things easier for the supporting players.

The Pacers' have four games this week. The team has to feel good about their chances against Toronto, Charlotte and Milwaukee. Hopefully they can build some momentum early in the week, addressing some of their offensive problems, and find themselves peaking for Friday's game in Atlanta, a team which has dominated the Pacers in their past few contests. 

Rebound Percentage Update:

In the first installment of Stat of the Week we discussed Rebound Percentage and identified it as a season long focus and bellwether statistic for the team. The team's percentages 18 games into the season look like this:

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 23.7% (25th in the NBA)

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 75.6% (7th in the NBA)

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