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A.P. Hoops: A Closer Look at Ball Control
All season long, D-League.com will be looking at its top prospects and teams through the lens of advanced stats. Today, we focus on which teams do the best job of controlling the ball and making the most out of their possessions.
Kevin Galloway's average of 5.0 assists compared to 2.0 turnovers per game have helped the Stampede rank second in TORatio.
Otto Kitsinger/NBAE/Getty Images
For those struggling in the memory department, last week we discussed effective field goal percentage (eFG%) which measures shooting efficiency by accounting for the difference in value and difficulty between three-pointers and two-pointers. As you may also remember (or maybe not), I mentioned that eFG% was one of Dean Oliver’s Four Factors of Basketball Success. As you can deduce, we are left with three remaining factors to address and there is no time like to the present to venture ahead.
Much like our past discussions, I will introduce our next concept with general, “user-friendly” basketball talk. As you know, one of the most important factors in basketball is ball control. The reason is very basic: in order for a team to score, it needs to possess the basketball. As we discussed previously, a possession is defined as the period of time between when one team gains control of the ball and when the opposing team gains controls of the ball. Each possession can yield several different outcomes:
1. Field goal attempt (FGA) – team takes a shot at the basket
Armed with this information, we can now take a look at the formula for possessions.
Possessions = FGA – OREB + (0.44 * FTA) + TO
As you may notice, each of the aforementioned possession outcomes make an appearance in the formula.
Since possessions are essential for success on the court, you can imagine that forfeiting possessions by turning the ball over is perhaps the most detrimental thing a player or team can do as it eliminates the possibility of scoring and gives that opportunity to its opponent. However, similar to many statistics that we will discuss, raw turnover totals are inherently flawed in comparing the ball control ability of teams and players. If a team plays at a rapid pace, they will have more possessions per game and therefore have more opportunities to turn it over and vice versa. So what’s the solution? (drum roll please….) Turnover ratio (TORatio). This statistic controls for pace by measuring turnovers per 100 possessions. The formula is as follows:
TORatio = (TO * 100) / POSS
Below I have included this year’s team rankings for TORatio which will give you a sense of the best teams at taking care of the basketball. Since teams have not all played the same number of games, I calculated turnovers per game and possessions per game to illustrate how raw turnover data can be deceiving. For instance, the RGV Vipers turn the ball over an average of 19 times per game which ties them for second worst in the league. However, because they average 107 possessions per game (most in the league), their TORatio ranks them 7th.
Note: All data was provided by NBA StatsCube.