This is a continuation of a series of fanposts that I did last year. A quick review of methodology, I am a big believer studying the edges of bell shaped curves. This year I am looking at the median number of wins of the top 7 and bottom 7 in common basketball stats. The larger the difference between the top and the bottom, in theory, the more important the stat is to winning.
Another thing that I am doing this year differently is looking at a team's net in certain stats, instead of looking at offense and defense separately. Does winning in a certain stat lead to actual winning?
Are good teams better at certain stats? Can we find trends? In 2017-18, the importance of 2% showed up in the data and it proved rather important in the Buck's past season. But it is not the only important stat.
Net points has a 31 game difference
Net TS% has a 31 game difference
2 pointers (the most common shot in the game)
Net 2% has a 28 game difference (the biggest spread of any stat). The Buck's not only were #1 in the NBA, they had the largest net 2% in the 3 point era. Unfortunately, the Buck's ran into the second best net 2% team in the Eastern Conference.
One of the reasons why 2% is important is that an improvement in 2% from 20th to 10th place will increase the number of points scored by 1.7 points per game while the same increase in 3% will have only a 1.2 increases in points per game. But please note, the quality of a 2 point attempt is much more important than the quantity of 2's.
Net 2 fga has (-11) difference (the largest negative net that I found). Good teams limit the number of 2's compared to their opponents. The Buck's had the 5th lowest net 2 fga. GSW was 9th lowest, Toronto was 8th. In fact 8 out of the 9 teams with the largest net negative in 2 fga made the playoffs.
Shots at the rim
Taking more shots at the rim did not necessarily lead to more wins. The difference between the median number of wins from the top 7 and bottom 7 medians was only 1 win. However, fg% from 0-3 feet between the top 7 and bottom 7 was a difference of 12 wins. The Buck's ranked 2nd in both categories. Having great finishers at the rim is important (Thank You Giannis).
On defense, the importance of limiting shots at the rim and allowing a low fg% from 0-3 feet was basically the same. A net of 10 wins from top 7 compared to the bottom 7 in fga at the rim and a net of 9 in fg% allowed at the rim. The Buck's and their drop zone allowed the fewest shots at the rim and the gave up the second lowest fg% at the rim.
20 years ago, the NBA average in Oreb% was 30.2%
10 years ago, the NBA average in Oreb% was 26.7%
This year, the NBA average in Oreb% was 22.3%
Two years ago the median difference in wins between the top and bottom 7 teams was only 6 games. Defending the glass had become one of the least important stats. The trend was clear, teams were not that interested in offensive rebounds. Jason Kidd even made a joke of it on draft night when talking about DJ Wilson.
And then 2018-19 happened, and good teams stated to focus more on rebounding. The 3rd and 4th most important stats when comparing the top and bottom 7's was Treb% (19 win difference) and Oreb% (17 win difference). Gaining those extra possessions all of a sudden became important again.
The Buck's improved from 29th in Dreb% to 1st last season. Not allowing teams to reload became one of the team's principles.
Net 3% had a 16 win difference
Net 3par had a 14 win difference
On offense, the median top 7 had 15 more wins than the bottom 7 in 3%.
In 3par offense, the difference was only 3 games. (again, quality trumps quantity, better teams just shoot better)
It is in 3 point defense that things get interesting.
3par defense- teams at the top at allowing fewer 3's, have a 9 win difference. The Buck's bucked that trend as they allowed the most 3's/100.
When it comes to 3% defense, a whopping 27 median wins separated the top 7 from the bottom 7. Bad teams like NYK, NOLA, Chicago, the Wiz, The Suns, Wolves, and the Cav's were the 7 worst teams in 3% defense (the Buck's were 8th worst). Bad team's either were very unlucky or they are just bad at defending the 3. Maybe teams can have some control over in 3% defense.
One of the Buck's biggest areas of improvement for next season could come from defending the 3. Or maybe it is not that important to them.
The best of the rest (remember, fewer the # of wins, less important of a stat is to winning)
Net assists, 14 win difference (Buck's 8th)
Net FT%, 14 wins (Buck's 3rd), even though the Buck's were 14th in FT%, their opponents were 30th.
Net steals, 11 wins (Buck's 8th)
Net FTa, 9 wins (Buck's 6th)
Net blocks, 7 wins (Buck's 5th)
Net not fouling, 7 wins (Buck's 9th fewest compared to opponent)
Net not turning it over, 6 wins, (Buck's 16th)
So what did we learn this year? It is great to have Giannis (2%), Coach Bud maximized many of the most important stats like spreading the court to allow a high 2%, but avoided low percentage mid-range shots. The drop zone not only prevent shots at the rim, but probably helps with defensive rebounding.
Still there is room for improvement. The Buck's were 19th in net 3%, and allowed the most 3's. When Toronto (5th in 3% net) built their wall, we did not have the right answers. What adjustments will the Buck's make?