Play-Offs Preview - Part 1: Shooting
LONDON (England) - How do teams win basketball games and which stats are the best predictors? In 2002, those were some of the questions that Dean Oliver's "Basketball on Paper" sought to solve. His answer was the "Four Factors of Basketball Success":
- Shooting (40%)
- Turnovers (25%)
- Rebounding (20%)
- Free Throws (15%)
As you can see, each factor was given an approximate weighting in percentage. Shooting is the most important and so on. There are of course questions around whether these weightings could be revisited as the game evolves and also about those weightings related to the contrast in style in Europe to the NBA. Regardless of those questions, the factors and the order they are presented in, are almost indisputable. So, with that in mind, we wanted to look at all eight Play-Off match-ups through the lens of Dean Oliver’s Four Factors. To do that we welcomed back Seb Kominanos from @Basketistics to help us crunch some data.
In Oliver’s Four Factors, shooting is measured by Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%). eFG% is a way of measuring shooting efficiency and how many points each attempt is worth. Primarily by accounting for the extra point for every 3-point FG i.e., a 33% attempt from behind the arc is equal to an eFG% of 50%.
To get a clearer idea of which team might hold the edge, we also looked at the different zones on the floor to observe the efficiency of shooting for each team and shot maps to get an idea of where shots are attempted from. In the graphics below, you are looking for any zone inside the arc that a team shoots 50% or better and any zone outside over 33%.
Iberostar Tenerife v Promitheas Patras
Iberostar Tenerife Shot Map
Promitheas Patras Shot Map
The hex marks on these shot charts represent made shots. The darker the color, the more made shots in that area.
Iberostar Tenerife's shot map paints a perfect picture of the way they play. The dark area around the rim is the highest volume scoring area and then the next most populated areas are left corner 3-pointers and outside shots from the top and wings.
Promitheas also make more shots from under the rim but don’t have the same kind of spread outside the arc. Instead, you can see a higher volume of mid-range shots.
Tenerife come out as the kings in the paint, shooting 61% for all shots in the paint and under the rim (including 77% directly under the basket). Looking in further detail, Tenerife have scored 470 points from 382 shots in the paint in total - 1.2 Points per attempt is efficiency in the extreme. When you watch the Canarians play, it’s easy to see that a lot of these shots are uncontested lobs or dunks from passes to the roller. The spacing created by the consistent presence of four shooters the perimeter is the key.
Promitheas most dangerous area on the floor is the right wing. The men from Patras have made 42% of 129 shots from that spot and generated 162 Points - also at 1.2 Points per attempt. Rion Brown and Tony Meier are the key danger man from that area. Brown and Meier shoot 53% and 59% respectively from the right wing.
Both teams are highly efficient shooting teams. The Canarians do come out on top in the shooting battle, but only just and with Fribourg and Opava in their Regular Season group, the concern is that those shooting numbers may be a bit noisy. For Promitheus, shot selection will be huge. Can they limit the volume of inefficient midrange shots and get the looks they want. The battle for paint scoring could be even more decisive than usual in this matchup.
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem v Neptunas Klaipeda
Hapoel Jerusalem: 56%
Neptunas Klaipeda Shot Map
Hapoel Jerusalem Shot Map
These two shot maps present our first intriguing contrast in the Round of 16. Neptunas, it seems, have flown in the face of shooting traditions in Lithuania, and made an extraordinarily low volume of corner 3’s. For Jerusalem however, it is the exact opposite. The right corner, in particular, has been a clear sweet spot. You can also see the work of Tomas Delininkaitis on those above-the-break 3-pointers. The left wing is the equivalent of a snipers tower for the veteran marksman - he shoots a league-high 59% from there.
Both teams shoot 58% in the paint and under the rim combined. And it’s perhaps a surprise - considering Jerusalem’s army of bigs - that Neptunas in fact, are the higher percentage shooters directly under the basket at 74% (Jerusalem 72%). The Lithuanians have also taken and made more shots than any other club in the paint, excluding those under the rim. When it comes to the midrange, only the left block and short corner is an efficient shot zone for either team - with Jerusalem shooting 55%. The Israeli’s also own all bar one of the outside shooting areas. The exception is the top of the key.
From a shooting perspective, the Brigade of Jerusalem are the clear favorites. They have the depth on the frontline to counteract Neptunas advantage as the more efficient shooters under the rim and have a clear advantage from behind the arc.
UCAM Murcia v Telenet Giants Antwerp
The youngest squad in BCL maybe wouldn’t be expected to dominate in the most physically demanding area of the floor (especially considering the teams in their group). But Antwerp have shot 77% under the basket and 59% in the paint overall - only Tenerife have been as efficient under the rim. Ismael Bako is the main reason for that. Bako is now shooting 80% under the rim - a higher percentage than any player with more than 50 attempts.
Also interesting is that Murcia is the much higher volume team when it comes to shots under the basket. The Spaniards’ 261 attempts at the rim have yielded 328 points. Antwerp takes the third most 3-Point attempts of our Play-Off teams but in terms of percentages, the contest from outside the arc is very even.
If the shooting numbers are pointing toward upsets in any of our matchups, this could be one. The key areas to watch are Antwerp limiting Murcia’s attempts at the rim and the Spaniards' notoriously stingy defense slowing down Ismael Bako at the rim. Antwerp may also have an advantage in the midrange areas as they have consistently generated good value shots from the short corners on both sides of the floor. A defensive-minded team like Murcia will find ways to take away your best shots, but no team can take away every shot. And if midrange shots are the accepted collateral, that could end up being an advantage for the young Belgians.
Umana Reyer Venezia v Nizhny Novgorod
Almost certainly the tightest shooting match up in the Round of 16. Nizhny Novgorod shoots a high volume of shots from the left side of the floor, whereas Venezia is much more balanced. Both teams have four efficient shooting zones, with the Russians stronger on the left side of the floor but Venezia having the edge in the right corner..
Good luck calling this one. Nothing in the shooting data suggests that either team could hold a clear advantage.
Segafredo Virtus Bologna v Le Mans
Virtus Bologna: 54%
Le Mans: 50%
Bologna is one of only three teams with over 600 attempts from 2-point range. A lot of Bologna’s most efficient shooting zones are very low volume. i.e., they have shot 71% from the right corner midrange but only attempted 7 shots from that area. Likewise, the right corner 3 is an area they shot 66% but with only 3 attempts. The Italians strike the right balance of volume and efficiency in the paint and at the rim where a combined percentage of 56% includes 74% under the basket. In total 395 attempts in the paint have produced 446 points for the Black V.
The left side of the floor is dominated by the French champions. The left corner 3 and short corner midrange are all efficient shots for Le Mans.
Bologna holds the advantage through their scoring in the paint. Le Mans is one of the more dangerous midrange teams in the Play-Offs and Bologna also possess midrange threats in the likes of Amath M’Baye and Kevin Punter. Le Mans limiting Bologna’s paint scoring and the battle between the likes of Cameron Clark and Amath M’Baye in the midrange areas could be important. Le Mans also added Kendrick Ray to their offensive weaponry and a playmaker like Ray could completely change the way the team looks to score.
Besiktas Sompo Japan v Nanterre 92
News just in, Nanterre 92 can shoot. The green lights have shot the ball better from behind the arc than (possibly) any team in Europe for several seasons now. They are also the third best eFG% team in the BCL (thanks to their 3-Point shooting and also shooting 68% at the rim). The French team is last in made 2-Point shots and first in made 3-Point shots. Nanterre has five zones where they produce efficient shots.
Besiktas found form late in the Regular Season and in a 14 game group stage, that could have had a dramatic effect on their shooting numbers. They do win the battle in the paint shooting 55% on 403 attempts. The right corner 3 has also been a sweet spot for Besiktas. Robin Benzing is yet to miss from the right corner, even if that is on very low volumes.
Nanterre probably goes into the game as slight underdogs, especially considering the way that Besiktas ended the season. When it comes to the shooting data, Nanterre looks to be in a strong position to upset the Turkish giants. For Besiktas, it comes down to stopping Nanterre’s ball movement and 3-Point shooting.
AEK v PAOK
AEK Shot Map
PAOK Shot Map
The shot maps of these two Greek giants paint a picture of the battle between inside and outside scoring. PAOK make shots from the left corner and almost everywhere above the break. AEK appear to only shoot well behind the arc from one spot; the left wing. Only 4 AEK players have made more than 10 shots from behind the arc (Larentzakis, Sakota, Maciulis, and Griffin) and the majority of those shots have been on the left wing. In the paint and under the basket is where the current BCL champs do their damage.
PAOK have the joint best eFG% in BCL at 58% (including a league-leading 3P%) and that is apparent in the shooting zones. PAOK own all of the efficient scoring zones aside from one; AEK are shooting 59% in the paint and under basket combined. Vince Hunter is a huge part of that as he has taken more shots than any other player directly under the basket and done it whilst maintaining a 78% shooting percentage.
AEK would be most people’s favorite for this Greek derby but the shooting numbers favor PAOK heavily. Again, it’s also worth noting that PAOK’s Regular Season group had both Fribourg and Opava, that allowed several teams to score at very high percentages. It’s a completely different prospect to score at a high percentage against this AEK defense.
Banvit v Brose Bamberg
Banvit leads this matchup inside the 3-Point line and is one of three teams that have attempted more than 600 shots inside the arc. Jordan Morgan, in particular, is one of the most efficient, high volume scorers at the rim in BCL. After that, Bamberg owns the efficiency contest in five zones on the floor. The Germans are the best corner 3-point shooting team in the Playoffs shooting 51% from the left and 45% from the right corner. In total 42 corner threes have generated 63 points for Freak City - At 1.5 points per shot, that is a shot that Coach Perego will surely be looking to maximize over the 2 legs.
Along with Venezia and Nizhny, this is almost certainly the hardest match up to pick in the Round of 16. The shooting numbers certainly favor Bamberg at this stage but it’s important to remember that Gary Neal hasn’t been at the club that long and will already be making dents in their shot profile. Coach Demir at Banvit and Perego at Bamberg are also both relatively new to their roles, so there is a good chance that both teams could look fairly different in style and shot profile compared to the first half of the Regular Season.
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