With conference play approaching, let’s take a quick look at who’s scoring the ball efficiently across the Big Ten. We’ll use points per weighted shot (PPWS), which measures how many points a player is scoring compared to the number of shots he’s taking–both from the field and from the line.
PPWS = PTS / (FGA + FTA x .475)
In simpler terms, how many points is a player scoring compared to the number of possessions he’s using up by shooting the ball?
The data for all Big Ten players averaging at least 20 minutes per game is linked below. I’ve also included points per game and weighted shots per game (PTS/G divided by PPWS) for each player to give you a sense who’s scoring efficiently while taking a larger number of shots.
(I have the data in a Google spreadsheet, which I’m supposed to be able to embed in this page for you to see without clicking on a separate link. But the WordPress editor doesn’t seem to like the code. I’m just a caveman. I don’t understand your HTML code . . .)
A few comments:
- Our two top scoring options continue to score efficiently. Morgan and Neitzel rank in the top third of the conference in PPWS.
- The table somewhat understates MSU’s individual scoring efficiency. Gray (1.39) and Naymick (1.45) both barely miss the 20-minutes-per-game threshold (imposed by bbstate.com, the source for the data).
- Kalin Lucas is among the least efficient scorers in the league: 56th out of the 59 players listed. He’s shown flashes of scoring ability but is still feeling things out in terms of his role offensively.
- The Big Ten Wonk used to say, “PPWS is a more reliable tool for criticism than for praise.” In that case, the players to be criticized are Brian Butch, Shaun Pruitt, E’Twaun Moore, and Manny Harris. The four of them are all taking over 10 weighted shots per game, but rank in the bottom 10 in PPWS. Unusual to have two big men rank so low. Butch’s 2-20 (10.0%) on 3-point shots is hurting him. Pruitt is struggling at the line (52.6%). Moore is a freshman guard for Purdue; he’s making 3-pointers at a 40.0% clip but not shooing as well on 2-pointers (41.9%) and free throws (64.7%). Harris is making only 41.0% of his 2-point attempts and 31.6% of his 3-point attempts.
- And I think we can throw the Wonk’s dictum out the door when it comes to the #2 player on the list: Eric Gordon. Despite leading the conference in weighted shots per game, he’s putting up a lofty PPWS of 1.43, on the strength of 50.9% 3-point shooting. That’s definitely worthy of praise.
More on that last point: Intuitively, the more shots a player takes in an average game, the harder the shots would become, which would tend to lower the player’s PPWS. Balancing that out to some degree is that better shooters will tend to take more shots. I thought I’d graph PPWS vs. weighted shots per game to see how the two statistics tend to relate. Here are the results for Big Ten players this season:
There does appear to be a slight downward slope to the data points, although the curve above seems to fit better. In any case, Gordon’s data is an outlier. He’s that dot way up in the upper right-hand corner. (Actually, if you remove Gordon’s data point, a downward-sloping straight line may fit the data better)
As far as data scatterplots go, that’s pretty scary stuff for non-Hoosiers. It will be interesting to see if Gordon can maintain that combination of shooting frequency and scoring efficiency when conference play begins. For the sake of MSU’s conference title chances, let’s hope he comes down to earth at least a little–especially since fellow Hoosier D.J. White currently ranks #6 on the conference PPWS list.
Note that Morgan’s dot is the first one to the left of Gordon’s above the 1.20 PPWS line.
The relationship between PPWS and shots per game is something I hope to explore more as the season progresses.