We've talked about mobility, hi-def, 3D, and also stadium experience. In concluding the series, I wanted to talk about metrics a little bit. I'm not going to dig too deep in attempts to lose you, but the way that many look at teams and games has changed.
In the past, it was all the "smell" test. It all depended on how one looked. Teams and players were judged based on very qualitative values, to be supported by some numbers just to make it sound like it is quantitative. For example, in basketball, they would point to how many points a player scored, not taking into account how many shots he took, and whether there are other people on the team that should shoot more. In football, it would be about how many passing or rushing yards, without taking into account how many attempts it took to get there.
Some of the "smell" test is important. But the thing is through technology, we are able to value players and teams based on things we do not always see with our naked eye. Or it could be a way to support what we're seeing with the naked eye, quantitatively.
I'm going to jump into a few metrics I like to look at in regards to basketball. The Iowa State season starts tonight, so I think talking about this is fitting. All pretty basic, but these are things I look at more and more.
With teams, I look at what is called the "Four Factors" (created by a statistician named Dean Oliver): eFG%, TO%, OR%, FTRate. eFG% is FG% but improved to weight 3 pointers more (since they are worth more). TO% is the percentage of possessions a team turns the ball over. OR% is the number of offensive rebounds divided by how many offensive rebounds were available. The opponent's defensive rebounds + your offensive rebounds = offensive rebounds available. FTRate is how many times a team gets to the charity stripe, over how many shot attempts they had on the floor. If you look at these four measures, the team that does more of these better (based on weighting) than the one they are playing is the team that is more likely to win. eFG% is weighted about 40%, TOV is about 25%, OREB is 20%, and FTRate is about 15%.
It's clear to see it's hard to overcome better shooting. You have to be better than the other team in other aspects of the game to make up for better shooting. A lot of this is pretty fundamental. Ever since the dawn if time basketball coaches have stressed making high percentage shots, not turning the ball over, getting rebounds, and getting to the free throw line. This is just a way that people like you and me can quantitatively look at why a particular team may have won a game, or why a particular team is better than the other. I've used these to help explain game recaps and to help preview teams.
There are many many many more stats that are more complex than these, and ones that you can look at for individual players. I've talked about this stuff in the past, but with a new season, I wanted to hit ya'll with a small dose, on a what I think is a fundamental way to look at basketball games from a high level. More will come as the season goes on, and I'll be using more in my analysis on the upcoming basketball season.