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10/25/10 - Pacers' Stat of the Week: Usage Rate

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

The Pacers' split their final two preseason games this week, squeaking past Minnesota 128-124 in overtime, and losing their finale to the Bulls 102-74. The Pacers' preseason finished with a 3-4 record, some reasons for optimism and plenty of areas to work on.

For our fourth installment of Stat of the Week we will be focusing on 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.

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.

One of the major topics of discussion heading into the preseason, was how the Pacers' offense would be adjusted to accommodate for new players and the development of Roy Hibbert. Now obviously the distribution of possessions over the preseason won't exactly match the distribution in the regular season, but it can gives us an idea of how much the team's offense has shifted. The table below shows each player's Usage Rate over the preseason, and their Usage Rate from last season.

Player 10-11 Preseason 09-10
Danny Granger 27.3% 28.7%
Roy Hibbert 26.7% 22.2%
A.J. Price 25.4% 22.7%
Magnum Rolle 24.0% 24.4%*
T.J. Ford 23.5% 21.0%
Darren Collison 22.0% 23.1%
Dahntay Jones 21.5% 20.1%
Lance Stephenson 19.8% 26.1%*
Tyler Hansbrough 18.9% 25.5%
Paul George 18.7% 27.7%*
Brandon Rush 17.1% 14.8%
Josh McRoberts 16.4% 15.3%
Solomon Jones 15.4% 16.1%
Mike Dunleavy 14.3% 20.7%
James Posey 14.1% 11.4%
Jeff Foster 3.5% 11.1%
*Usage Rate from last college season

There are several good signs in this table for the Pacers' offensive balance. With 5 players on the floor, an equally balanced lineup would have each player posting a Usage Rate of 20%. Obviously this is not always an ideal distribution. As it stands now the Pacers' starting lineup would have a Usage Rate distribution looking like this:

  • Roy Hibbert - 26.7%
  • Josh McRoberts - 16.4%
  • Danny Granger - 27.3%
  • Mike Dunleavy - 14.3%
  • Darren Collison - 22.0%

To me, this looks like a fairly healthy breakdown. Granger is using slightly fewer possessions than last year. Hibbert, as promised, is using quite a few more possessions. Collison's Usage Rate is slightly lower than last year with New Orleans, but as a starter with more effective teammates he should expect to have that number slightly lower. Dunleavy has a much lower Usage Rate than last year, but this is to be expected as a starter. Last year coming of the bunch he was asked to play a more central role in the team's offense. This season as a starter his rle is more complimentary. While Jim O'Brien may go with a tighter rotation in the regular season, here is what the 5 man second unit breakdown would look like:

  • Jeff Foster - 3.5%
  • Tyler Hansbrough - 18.9%
  • James Posey - 14.1%
  • Paul George - 18.7%
  • A.J. Price - 25.4%

There are a few numbers of concern here. Despite hitting some big shots against Minnesota, James Posey was fairly inefficient offensively in the preseason. It would be nice to see his Usage Rate closer to what it was in New Orleans last season, with some of those possessions going to George and Hansbrough. Hopefully, Foster's rate will increase slightly even if it's just from putbacks on offensive rebounds. In addition, it would be nice to see Price become slightly more of a distributor and share some of those possessions with George and Hansbrough.

Ideally the players who are most efficient offensively are also the players with the highest Usage Rate. The Pacers' have to feel good about the possession breakdown in the starting lineup. As the regular season gets underway and the bench rotation becomes more consistent it would probably be to the team's benefit to see George and Hansbrough using slightly more possessions.

The Pacers' season begins Wednesday night in San Antonio, and continues with games against Charlotte and Philadelphia this weekend. Charlotte and San Antonio were playoff teams last season, and Philadelphia has the potential to be much improved. Winning two of their first three would have to be considered a very successful start to the season. The Pacers' Rebound Rate, Free Throw Rate and Usage Rate breakdowns will all be great indicators of their ability to stay competitive this week.

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. In their two preseason games this week the team posted an Offensive Rebound Percentage of 22.9% and a Defensive Rebound Percentage of 71.6%. This was a difficult stretch on the glass, and these percentages are big reason why the Pacer's struggled this week. The team's percentages for the preseason as a whole look like this:

Offensive Rebound Percentage: 23.7%

Defensive Rebound Percentage: 74.2%