Posted Oct 29 2009 5:58PM
Last week, we introduced you to StatsCube, a tool that the NBA has developed to do instantaneous statistical analysis on play-by-play data. StatsCube has access to every play-by event since 1996, and with just a few clicks of the mouse, statistics can be broken down in a myriad of ways.
You can run queries through StatsCube to analyze player or team stats with respect to time (game time or the time a player has spent on the court), score, fouls accumulated, a player's presence on the floor, and more.
It's a valuable tool for coaches and front office personnel. And now, it can be a valuable tool for you.
The Numbers Game, a notebook of compelling statistical notes from the week in the NBA, will run every Thursday. And we want you to help us write it. Every week, we'll answer any compelling questions you might have for StatsCube, so start sending them in via e-mail or twitter.
What kinds of questions can you ask? Basically anything you might be curious about, but can't tell from just watching a game or looking at the boxscore.
Why exactly did Shane Battier have a -22 on Tuesday in Portland?
Does Andrew Bynum become less effective after he's picked up his fourth foul?
How much more do the Cavs run their offense through LeBron James in the fourth quarter vs. the first three quarters?
Here are four more examples, with the answers...
Shaquille O'Neal has shot better from the field (58.2 percent) than from the free throw line (52.8 percent) during the course of his 17-year career. His ineptitude from the charity stripe (the league average since his rookie season has been 74.8 percent) has led to the often-used "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy, where a team goes against all basketball impulses and fouls on purpose.
Several years ago, when questioned about his free-throw percentage, Shaq said, "I make them when they count."
But does he really?
First of all, the idea that a free throw late in the game is more important than a free throw early in the game is dubious. They're both worth one point. But for the sake of this exercise, we'll take a look at Shaq's "clutchness" -- whether he's a better free-throw shooter late in close games than he is at other times. Obviously, he doesn't turn into Steve Nash at the stripe down the stretch, but perhaps he can at least turn into Tim Duncan, a career 69 percent shooter.
For clutch situations, we're looking at the last five minutes of a game, with a scoring margin of five points or less.
|Shaquille ONeals Free-Throw Shooting, Last Eight Seasons (including playoffs)|
According to Hoopedia, the "I make them when they count" quote came in 2003. So at the time, as you can see from the chart above, the claim was not exactly accurate. But give Shaq credit, over the last three seasons, he has become a somewhat better shooter in clutch situations. Of course, the +26.7 percent increase in 2006-07 is more about how poorly he shot in non-clutch situations. Forty percent is pretty atrocious.
Looking just at active players with a minimum of 50 free throw attempts in clutch situations...
|Biggest Difference, Clutch vs. Non-Clutch Situations, 2001-02 through 2008-09|
Note to Erik Spoelstra: If you've got a small lead in the final minute of a game, put the new guy in.
Again, looking at active players with a minimum of 50 attempts in clutch situations...
|Biggest Difference, Non-Clutch to Clutch Situations, 2001-02 through 2008-09|
Note to Eddie Jordan: Take the tall, skinny guy out if the other team's going to foul you down the stretch.
Jason Kidd may have slowed down in the last few years, but he's still the best passer in the league. There are a lot of great young point guards in the NBA, but none of them have the court vision Kidd has.
The theory is that Kidd' passing ability and his basketball I.Q. make his teammates better, because he can get them the ball in a better position to score. But does that bear out? Let'
Take a look at last season's Mavs...
|2008-09 Dallas Mavericks, Shooting Percentage|
|TS% = True Shooting Percentage = PTS (2/(FGA + (0.44*FTA)))|
We can see that, as a whole, Jason Kidd does indeed make his teammates better shooters. For some guys, (like Erick Dampier, Ryan Hollins, James Singleton and Antoine Wright) he makes them much better. And you will probably notice that, of the five players who had a worse field-goal percentage with Kidd on the floor last season, just one is still with the Mavericks: J.J. Barea.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here.. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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