Four Factors Update - 12/17/12

Remember when the Bucks were the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA and struggling on the offensive boards? Or when they were a better offensive team than defensive team?

Well, things have changed for the Bucks since mid-November. A lot.

For a refresher on the Four Factors – and why they are so important – check out the introductory articles: eFG%, Turnover Percentage, Rebound Percentage, and Free Throw Ratio.

Context: The Bucks rank 22nd in offensive efficiency and 9th in defensive efficiency. All stats are through Dec. 15.

eFG %

Summary: The Bucks rank in the bottom rung in offensive eFG%, at 25th, down from 18th two weeks ago. Meanwhile, they have improved in defensive eFG%, going from 15th two weeks ago to 12th now. 

Positive: During their recent four-game winning streak, the Bucks held each opponent below the league-average .489 eFG%. Credit is due in part to perimeter defense, as the team held opponents to 29.3 % on three-pointers throughout the four wins. The Bucks are now holding opposing teams to 35.4 % on threes, which is slightly below than the league average.

Negative: Offensively, the Bucks are trending downward. The traditional numbers show that the team has hit triple digits in points just once in their last 12 games despite playing at the sixth fastest pace in the NBA. The shooting against the Clippers was very bad – a .404 eFG% (consider that the Wizards are worst in NBA this season at .447 eFG%), but it wasn’t all that much better even in a win over the Cavaliers (.428 eFG%) the game prior. Dunleavy and Udrih are missed.

Others: The Heat and Thunder – reigning conference champions and this season’s Finals co-favorites – remain absolutely dominant at putting the ball in the basket.

Turnover Percentage

Summary: The turnover game remains Milwaukee’s bright spot, helping both limit teams from scoring and igniting the offense in the other direction. The Bucks rank fourth in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage.

Positive: After three seasons of consistently modest steal numbers, Brandon Jennings has vaulted to among the league leaders. When he was atop the steal leaderboard after the first couple weeks of the season, it was easy to be skeptical because of the small sample size. But after 22 games, he remains second in the NBA in steals per game, and he looks poised to stay up there – a real, pleasant surprise.

Negative: Still not much to critique here.

Others: The Knicks are stunningly dominant at winning turnover battles, ranking easily first in offensive turnover percentage and fifth in defensive turnover percentage.

Rebound Percentage

Summary: Major changes here. The Bucks rank 11th in offensive rebound percentage and 21st in defensive rebound percentage. Two weeks ago, they ranked 22nd in offensive rebound percentage and 8th in defensive rebound percentage.

Positive: To put things in traditional stats perspective, the Bucks are averaging 18.6 offensive rebounds per game in their last three games after starting the season averaging 9.0 in their first four games. This marks a massive turnaround, but not an entirely unexpected one, considering the personnel. Ersan Ilyasova is finding offensive rebounds again, grabbing five against the Kings and then four against the Cavaliers last week. Also of note is that since returning from injury, Luc Mbah a Moute is grabbing offensive boards at a career-best rate.

Negative: After topping the defensive rebounding leaderboard the first time we checked in less than a month ago, the Bucks have free fallen all the way to 21st. Larry Sanders (25.5) remains elite, but no one else in the frontcourt shuffle has been nearly so consistent. The result? Opponents have grabbed 11+ offensive boards in nine straight games.

Others: Contrast of styles: The offensive-oriented Nuggets push the pace, get to the rim, and crash for rebounds, leading the NBA in offensive rebounding. The defensive-oriented Celtics operate more in the half court, shoot a lot of 16 to 23-foot jumpers, value getting back on defense, and don’t even bother hitting the offensive glass. The Nuggets are 12-12. The Celtics are 12-11.

Free Throw Ratio

Summary: The Bucks rank 26th in offensive free throw rate (29th two weeks ago) and 25th in defensive free throw rate (27th two weeks ago).

Positive: Progress: The Bucks have shot at least as many free throws as their opponent in eight straight games. Luc Mbah a Moute’s newly aggressive offensive game has seen him get to the line much more often than anyone else on the team and much more often than he has ever before – probably not completely sustainable, but encouraging nonetheless. Meanwhile, Monta Ellis is quietly getting to the line at a career-best rate, highlighted by December games at the line of 10-11, 8-9, and 8-11.

Negative: Brandon Jennings is getting to the stripe less than ever. His mid-range game is actually quite respectable now, but he is struggling to convert at the rim or draw fouls. And, the team is still regularly putting opponents on the line.

Others: The chart provides a pretty stunning visual representation of how far ahead of the pack the Thunder are at winning the free throw battles. Not only do they get to the line a ton, they lead the NBA making a spot-on 83.9 %. Durant lives at the line and hardly ever misses (89.7 %), Kevin Martin is just about perfect (93.3 %), and even big man Serge Ibaka is rather excellent (84.3 %).



Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at