Stats don't lie: The best Play-Offs bound teams
MIES (Switzerland) - Every basketball fan knows that we'll never be able to either prove or disprove the axiomatic statement that defense wins championships, but it serves to ignite lively debates and as the favorite go-to phrase of coaches frustrated with their players.
After delving into the stats of the 16 teams which made it to the Basketball Champions League Play-Offs however, we found reliable evidence that defense wins berths in the postseason. Let's see what else a look at some interesting stat categories can show us.
In our 'Stats don't lie' snapshot during the Regular Season break for the holidays we had concluded that, judging from the data we had gathered from the first nine gamedays, it was safe to assume that San Pablo Burgos and Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem would be the two highest-ranked offenses. This is exactly how things turned out, with the only difference that Hapoel's offensive rating increased in the final five weeks of the Regular Season and the Israeli team surpassed Burgos for first place.
Turk Telekom's rating improved to 115.7 from 113 and consequently they leapfrogged Dinamo Sassari for third. The main reasons behind this improvement will become apparent in the section below (Offensive Indicators). Meanwhile fellow Turkish side Bandirma, who were not even in the Top-10 in the first nine weeks of the Regular Season, finished strong enough to climb to fifth place on a 113.7 rating. By stark contrast, AEK dropped to 111.4 from 114.3 as the final stretch coincided with the absence due to injury of their leading scorer, Keith Langford.
OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY TOP-10
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||121.0|
|San Pablo Burgos||118.2|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||110.5|
Offensive Efficiency (or Offensive Rating) is defined as the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions
Hapoel led the league in Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) throughout the first ten weeks of the Regular Season and managed somehow to improve further in the final stretch, from 56.2 percent to 58.6 percent. The biggest surprise though was that this improvement proved necessary for the Jerusalem side to maintain their grip on first place, as they needed to fend off the spectacular rise of Turk Telekom. The Turkish side shot the lights out in the final weeks of the Regular Season and their eFG% rose to 57.2 percent, from 54.6 percent.
Turk Telekom combined this sharp rise in eFG% with a notable improvement in assist ratio, to 20 from 18.8, and these were two hugely important factors behind the Ankara team's impressive surge in offensive efficiency, which we noted in the previous section. Meanwhile the Assist Ratio of both Hapoel and Tenerife improved enough to see them finish in the top two, overcoming JDA Dijon and Burgos. It is worth noting that the team with the best Assist Ratio in the Regular Season, BAXI Manresa, didn't make it to the Play-Offs.
EFFECTIVE FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE TOP-10
|Team||Effective Field Goal Percentage|
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||58.6%|
|San Pablo Burgos||55.8%|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||55.5%|
|Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||53.4%|
The Effective Field Goal Percentage formula is (Field Goals Made + 0.5 X 3-Pointers Made) divided by (Field Goals Attempted)
ASSIST RATIO TOP-10
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||20.2|
|San Pablo Burgos||19.7|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||19.4|
Assist Ratio is defined as the percentage of possessions that end in an assist
TURNOVER RATIO TOP-10
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||11.8|
|San Pablo Burgos||12.3|
Turnover Ratio is defined as the percentage of possessions that end in a turnover
Defensive efficiency proved, by far, the most reliable metric of a team's success in the Regular Season. It is the only advanced statistical category in which a high ranking was almost synonymous with a high position in the standings - the only team with a top-10 defensive rating not to advance to the Play-Offs was Manresa, who only nearly missed out on the final gameday. To put it in even simpler terms, teams that didn't play at least average defense didn't make it out of the Regular Season.
It is important though to stress that the utility of this metric loses importance in the Play-Offs, where 'good defense' is entirely relative and you can't draw comparisons between different team pairings.
The four teams that earned the four postseason tickets from Group C (Nymburk, Tenerife, Nizhny, Peristeri) finished in the Top-5, after dominating this category throughout the season. Meanwhile Dijon dropped all the way to 104.5 from 98.2 and were surpassed by Zaragoza, in an accurate reflection of what happened also in the Group D standings in the final weeks of Regular Season action.
DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY TOP-10
|Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||105.2|
Defensive Efficiency (or Rating) is defined as the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions
No Shooting Please
We had previously marveled at the ability of Nymburk's defense to contest shots within the arc, but also assumed that keep forcing opponents to shoot below 45 percent from two-point range was not sustainable in the long term. The Czech champions however not only proudly demonstrated that this feat was possible, but went one step further by also tightening up their perimeter defense.
Nymburk ended up at the top also of the Opponents' 3-Point Shooting table, a metric in which they were only tenth overall (and seventh among teams that qualified to the Play-Offs) when there were five games remaining in the Regular Season!
OPPONENTS' 2-POINT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE TOP-10
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||50.3%|
|San Pablo Burgos||50.9%|
(opponents' percentage, so lower is better)
OPPONENTS' 3-POINT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE TOP-10
(opponents' percentage, so lower is better)
Battle On The Glass
Everything around us changes all the time, with the exception of the offensive rebounding rate this season - Burgos, Nymburk, Zaragoza and Lietkabelis were the best teams in this category (among the 16 that eventually made it to the Play-Offs) after we passed the halfway point of the Regular Season, and not only they maintained their dominance until the end, but also finished in that same order.
The exact opposite is true on the defensive glass, as the defensive rebounding rate of Sassari surged to 72.8 percent (from 70.7 percent on the Gameday 9 snapshot) and Lietkabelis's rose to 72.4 percent from below 70. By contrast, Besiktas dropped to 71.6 percent after occupying a top-two spot among all 32 teams during the first two thirds of the Regular Season. Turk Telekom were the only team that bucked the trend of huge changes in this category, making very small but steady progress throughout the season, to climb to second place.
OFFENSIVE REBOUND RATE TOP-10
|Team||Offensive Rebound Rate|
|San Pablo Burgos||36.8%|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||32.9%|
|Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||31.5%|
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||29.9%|
DEFENSIVE REBOUND RATE TOP-10
|Team||Defensive Rebound Rate|
|Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||71.6%|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||70.9%|
Here is a complete table of the relevant stats of all 16 teams that advanced to the Play-Offs (in alphabetical order):
|Team||Def Rating||Off Rating||Opp 2PT%||Opp 3PT%||eFG%||OReb Rate||DReb Rate||AST Ratio||TO Ratio|
|Besiktas Sompo Sigorta||105.2||108.1||57.5%||34.3%||53.4%||31.5%||71.6%||14.9||14.6|
|Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem||112.4||121.0||50.3%||38.6%||58.6%||29.9%||65.8%||20.2||11.8|
|San Pablo Burgos||112.0||118.2||50.9%||34.4%||55.8%||36.8%||67.6%||19.7||12.3|
|Telekom Baskets Bonn||108.2||110.5||53.0%||36.8%||55.5%||32.9%||70.9%||19.4||14.5|