Basketball Betting Guide: Offensive Analytics – Shooting

Understand Offensive Basketball Analytics to Help You Make More Informed Bets

In Basketball, there are very basic data points that are deceptive because they do not tell the entire story of how a player or team are performing.  Offensive scoring and shooting analytics can help you understand the game better and make better distinctions between the various teams and players regardless of league.  Having a better understand of the analytics will help you with getting a better handle of betting games and offense is critical.

Let’s start with where the mistakes are made and the wrong judgments are drawn…

Points Scored Per Game:  This is not a helpful statistic because it is a data point in a vacuum.  What was the pace of play?  How many shots were taken?  How efficient was the player or team?  Where were the shot attempts?  What was the shot quality?  Was the shot made off an assist?  See, it is a data point that leaves more questions to be asked.  It is easy for a sports writer to just use it as a throwaway citation or to make a claim of support for the weakness or greatness of a team or player’s offensive prowess, but it is not useful data.  It does not tell much of a story, you learned nothing about the team or player other than the amount of points scored per game.

Assists Per Game:  Also, not very helpful for the same reasons.  A high possession game should mean more assists, but it also could be the case that a low assist rate could be the result of many fast breaks, Free Throws Attempted, and open driving lanes.

Starting to notice a pattern here?  Per game metrics are deceptive as they do not tell the story of the game.

Field Goal Percentage and 3 Point Field Goal Percentage:  The mistake here is not breaking up the Two Point Field Goals and Three Point Field Goals.  Also, without knowing the shot attempt rates, it means very little.

Now that we are wanting deeper answers into how a team’s offense operates and how the players perform in the offense, let’s go through advanced scoring and shooting metrics bettors should look for when considering two teams in a Basketball game.

The Offensive Shooting and Scoring Metrics to Know

Shot Distribution Metrics

  • % of shots attempted within 0-3 feet of the basket (at the rim)
  • % of shots attempted between 3-22 feet of the basket (2 point jumpers)
  • % of shots attempted from 3 point range

These metrics tell you about the offense and what the offense is looking to accomplish.  Some teams will look to shoot a high percentage of three point shots and if a team plays this way, one can infer that the team likes to play a 5 out or 4 out 1 in offensive style when combined with other factors.

In this Dunks and Threes basketball world, a team that attempts a lot of mid-range shots and does not make them would be considered inefficient.

Free Throw Rate

Free Throw Rate = Free Throws Attempted/Field Goals Attempted

It’s an important metric to know because the opponent may be a team that commits a lot of fouls and the team has a high Free Throw Rate, they are likely to draw more fouls or force the opponent to play a defense that they are not necessarily comfortable.  Free Throw Rate will have an impact on the Total.  More Free Throws means more possessions, which means more points scored.

High Free Throw Rates can also lead to key opposing players being removed from the equation early in the game or late.  It could also more passive defensive efforts from key opposing players trying to stay in the game because their offensive contributions are too important.

Effective Field Goal Rate

Effective Field Goal Rate = (Two Point FGs Made + (1.5*Three Point FGs Made))/Field Goals Attempted

Effective Field Goal Rate puts all players on an even playing field as far as their shooting efficiency on the floor.  You will find that post players typically have a higher Effective Field Goal Rate than Point/Combo Guards because post players attempt more shots at the rim, are set up more often by an assist for their shots, and get put-back baskets.

When comparing teams based on Effective Field Goal Rate, it is indicative of shot selection and how teams set up shots on the floor.  When looking at Effective Field Goal Rate and 3 Point Field Goal Rate together, it can even show that some teams shoot from the perimeter terribly and have failed to recognize this weakness or are simply unwilling to adjust their offensive approach.

When it comes to College Basketball, compare Effective Field Goal against power conference teams vs. non-power conference teams.  There may be a massive difference due to the quality of competition.

True Shooting Percentage

True Shooting Percentage  = Points Scored / Field Goal Attempts + (0.44 x Free Throw Attempts)

What True Shooting Percentage does is assess how well a team or player does when there is a shot attempt in an offensive possession.  It is the shooting efficiency of a player that takes all shots into account.

You can use True Shooting Percentage to get an idea of the efficiency of the offense when shots are attempted and compare against the opponent’s True Shooting Percentage defense and whether the opponent forces turnovers.  More shots and more efficiency scoring means a higher likelihood of winning.

Percentage of Shots Assisted

Don’t mistake this for Assists Rate, this is the percentage of shots made that were assisted per area of the half court.

  • Assisted at the rim:  Teams with higher assisted at the rim rates are either scoring at the rim via cuts or post-up opportunities.  Teams with lower assisted at the rim rates are teams that are more reliant on dribble drives and second chance scoring opportunities.
  • Assisted mid-range:  Teams with higher assisted mid-range percentages actually look to set up mid-range jumpers in their offense.  If they have a high mid-range shot distribution, but a poor percentage, this offense has an inefficient strategy.
  • Assisted 3 point shots:  Teams with higher assisted three point shot percentages use ball movement to set up three point shots in rhythm.  Teams with lower assisted three point shot percentages better have guards who are capable of shooting three point shots off the dribble, on the college level, this is hard to find.  Assisted 3 point shot attempts are typically higher percentage three point shots as the shooters are more likely to be unchallenged and accepting a pass that simulates shooting practice.

How to use this particular knowledge?

  1. You can scrap the assists rate on the offensive end and focus on these individual zones.  Contrast the offensive output to an opponent’s defensive assists rate and steals rate.
  2. You can also check to see if an opponent commits a lot of fouls or allows a high Free Throw Rate, if the team has a high percentage of shots at the rim with a low assisted at the rim rate, there is a high likelihood that the team will be able to get to the Free Throw Line quite frequently.  This means more points and opponent having a compromised defense.

Percentage of Shots in Transition

These are shots taken in the first 8-10 seconds of a possession.  There are teams that take a lot of these shots and are dependent on it, their pace of play is commonly fast.  There are teams that do not take a lot of these shots and are more reliant on half court offense.

Compare a team’s transition offense Effective Field Goal rate to their half court offense Effective Field Goal rate, it will tell you whether the team has better transition offense chemistry or if the team is very set oriented.  Contrast this with an opponent’s transition defense, a team that does not allow many shots in transition has better transition defense as they are stopping shot attempts from happening.  It is important to see if the opponent does a good job stopping the half court offensive sets as well.  This is a consideration that may shape your view of the Total for the game and how the two teams will approach the battle of tempo.  Some teams will struggle in fast tempo situations and others thrive, let the data give you the guide.