Crazy about Colors and Correlations, Pt. 1

Written by Ian Levy

Also seen at ilevy.wordpress.com

This post came dangerously close to being the second installment of my Random Number Generator series. In the end the numbers weren’t so much random as they were predictable and led to extremely obvious conclusions. I was very intrigued by Tom Haberstroh’s effective height post at Hardwood Paroxysm last week. One bit of minutiae that I loved was the way he color-coded his tables. Now that I have discovered this feature on Excel you can expect to see a lot more of it! I also discovered how to calculate statistical correlations with Excel, and have obviously gone a little overboard.

With my new found correlating and color-coding skills, I set out to examine the idea of Offensive Efficiency a little bit more. The three most efficient areas on the floor to score from are: at the rim, from the free throw line, and on three pointers. The two former increase efficiency because they present relatively easy scoring opportunities, while three pointers offer the bonus of an additional point per shot.

I created this table to see which of these areas has the greatest correlation with Offensive Efficiency. I included the FG% for each team at the rim, as well as what percentage of their shots were taken at the rim. The same data is included for three pointers. For free throws I included the percentage made and the average number of attempts per game.

Strong Correlations -

  • Correlation between At Rim FG% and Offensive Efficiency:  0.663
  • Correlation between 3PT% and Offensive Efficiency:  0.773

Low/Moderate Correlations -

  • Correlation between 3PTA% and Offensive Efficiency:  0.399
  • Correlation between FTA/g and Offensive Efficiency: 0.390

(Essentially) No Correlation -

  • Correlation between FGA% At the Rim and Offensive Efficiency:  -0.075
  • Correlation between FT% and Offensive Efficiency:  0.099

Obviously, At the Rim FG% and 3PT% had very strong correlations with Offensive Efficiency. I am not sure I really need to state this fact. If you make more of your shots, you will average more points per possession. Not sure I needed to state that one either. The categories with low or no correlations were much more surprising. You definitely need to make a high percentage of your shots at the rim to be efficient offensively, but apparently it doesn’t matter much how many shots you actually from that area of the floor. Also making a high percentage of your free throws isn’t nearly as important as attempting a lot of free throws. Good news for Dwight Howard! Stay tuned for the total lack of surprises in Part 2 of this post, when I put my coloring and correlating skills to the test with Defensive Efficiency.

Topics: Indiana Pacers, NBA, Stats

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