Bucks Diary

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why I focus on the NBA's Eff48 stat

Some people who read this site probably ask themselves from time to time, "Why is this guy so obsessed with this exotic Eff48 statistic? Why can't he just use plain old statistics once in a while? Is he trying to prove what a math geek he is?"

To the last question, hell no. I hate math. With a passion. Or at least abstract math. I don't mind math that produces answers.

The reason I use Eff48 and its ilk is because I think they are the only basketball statistics that tell me how a player actually played. To explain further, let me use an analogy taken from the book "The Wages of Wins."

Efficiency statistics are nothing more than the application of old fashioned, traditional, baseball statistics to the absurdity that is traditional basketball statistics.

To illustrate, imagine baseball offense were like basketball, in that the nine players on each baseball team could decide, throughout the course of the given 27 outs, who got to bat, how many times, and in what order. Would it make sense under those circumstances to focus on how many hits each of the nine players got in each game when you are evaluating each player's performances? Hell no. If I told you Ryan Braun got 5 hits, that's a useless figure by itself. It tells you nothing about the number of outs Braun had to use up to get those hits. If he had to use all 27 outs to get those 5 hits, he killed the Brewers. On the other hand, if he used no outs, he had a spectacular game. Yet, "hit totals" like that are essentially what basketball fans focus on when they obsess over point totals.

It makes no sense by itself. To truly evaluate a basketball performance, the number of possessions a player is using up to get his points has to be considered. If a player is using up an exorbitant amount of possessions to produce his points, he is actually hurting his team, not helping it... no matter how many points he "puts up."

That's why I focus exclusively on Eff48 and don't give a rat's ass about how many points a guy scored. Its not because I'm trying to be New Agey or because I like exotic statistics, or because I want to put forward some pocket protector image. I don't at all. Its because Eff48 and other similar efficiency based statistics are the only way to tell the important things that point totals alone simply do not tell: Did that player help his team win?


At December 1, 2007 at 10:11 PM, Blogger David said...

How is Eff48 calculated? Is there info on this in a book? online?

At December 1, 2007 at 11:54 PM, Blogger TCW said...

Yeah, its at NBA.com, go under "Statistics", then go under "efficiency". It is then the second to last column on the right. Its calculated as follows:

(points + rebounds + assists + steals + blocks) - (missed field goals + missed free throws +turnovers) / minutes played x 48

At December 2, 2007 at 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ty, thanks. Whether it's work with the stats or anything else about the team, history, BC visitor's guide or whatever it's always great stopping by.

Sometimes I look around the BC and wonder a little bit if the city really deserves an NBA team after all; thanks for the reminders why it does.


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