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.
Two tough losses this week to Atlanta and Orlando may leave Pacer fans feeling down, but a blowout win against the Clippers and the way the team kept themselves in the games against Atlanta and Orlando should give plenty of reasons for optimism as well. In another bright spot, ESPN's John Hollinger debuted the first edition of his playoff odds this week and currently as the Pacers slotted as the likely 7th seed in the East with a 59.4% chance of making the playoffs.
This week we are going to take a look at The Four Factors. In his book, Basketball on Paper, Dean Oliver identified four factors which were common to historically great offensive and defensive teams. This week we are going to focus on The Four Factors (eFG%, FTR, TOR, ORR) as they pertain to the offensive side and take a look at how the Pacers' are doing so far this season.
Before we discuss the Pacers' performance let's review The Four Factors:
Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%): Effective Field Goal Percentage is an adjustment to traditional Field Goal Percentage that gives credit for the extra point a player receives for making a three pointer. Effective Field Goal Percentage is a statistic which shows the value of each made basket more accurately than traditional Field Goal Percentage. Strictly speaking, a made 3 pointer is worth more than a made layup.
Free Throw Rate (FTR): Free Throw Rate is the ratio of Free Throw Attempts to Field Goal Attempts (FTA/FGA). By comparing Free Throw Attempts to Field Goal Attempts you account for the pace a team plays at and get a better idea of a team's efficiency at drawing fouls than just looking at per game totals.
Turnover Rate (TOR): Turnover Rate is a measure of the percentage of a team's possessions that result in a turnover. By looking at turnovers as a percentage of total possessions you account for the pace a team plays at and get a better idea of the team's efficiency in taking care of the ball.
Offensive Rebound Rate (ORR): Offensive Rebound Rate is the percentage of available rebounds grabbed by a team at the offensive end. A simple way to calculate Offensive Rebound Rate is to divide a team's offensive rebounds by the sum of their offensive rebounds and their opponent's defensive rebounds. By looking at a team's offensive rebounds as a percentage of their opportunities as opposed to just a per game total you get a better idea of a team's efficiency in this area.
The table below shows the Pacers' numbers for each of The Four Factors on offense and their league rank in each category:
eFG% - This is the only category in which the Pacers are above average, which is a good thing because shooting is both the foundation and strength of their offense. Anyone who saw the game in Denver knows when the Pacers are shooting well they can compete with any team in the league. The Pacers have a lot more balance in their offense this year and the increased discipline and ball movement has led to fewer forced jumpers early in the shot clock. The only players with an eFG% below 50% are Roy Hibbert, Paul George, Josh McRoberts, T.J. Ford, and Dahntay Jones. Hibbert's is troubling but there is every reason to believe it should improve throughout the season as he becomes more and more comfortable and experienced with his central offensive role.
FTR - We looked at FTR at the end the preseason and saw some good signs pointing towards improvement in an area of traditional weakness. So far, those preseason indicators have not held up. The league average FTR for an individual player last season was 31.1. This season only 5 players on the roster, Mike Dunleavy, Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert, Solomon Jones, Dahntay Jones, have a FTR above that mark. As the Joneses haven't been playing regularly that leaves three players in the team's ten man rotation who are above average with regards to drawing fouls.
TOR - Mere tenths of percentage points separate the Pacers from many of the teams ranked above them in this category, but turnovers are still a clear offensive problem. Darren Collison and T.J. Ford, the team's two primary ball-handlers, have TORs of 14.1 and 18.4 respectively. Roy Hibbert a main offensive focal point has a TOR of 15.1. Significant supporting players Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush have TORs of 17.6 and 15.0. In addition, the team's TOR over the past four games was 15.31 which means the turnover problem has actually gotten worse of late.
ORR - While the numbers here are low, the Pacers' have shown some improvement. Two weeks into the season the team's ORR was around 22% and has increased steadily over the past two weeks. The return of Jeff Foster to take Solomon Jones' minutes is a reason for further optimism in this area. Regardless of the rate of improvement, being the 23rd best offensive rebounding team could be considered a success when viewed in the context of John Hollinger's pre-season prediction that this year's Pacers could be one of the worst rebounding teams in history.
The Pacers sit at 5-6 with a challenging week of games ahead of them including Miami, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and the Lakers. The team has been executing better than last season at the offensive end, but to pull out wins against the top teams in the league they will have to improve their performance in FTR, TOR and ORR. The team's shooting, while impressive so far, has also been inconsistent. By protecting the ball, getting to the line and crashing the boards the Pacers can balance out some of their shooting cold streaks and keep themselves competitive even when their jumpshots aren't falling.
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 11 games into the season look like this:
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 24.32% (23rd in the NBA)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 76.04% (4th in the NBA)