Stats Analysis: Offensive Efficiency Updates

The Bootleg's Basketball Stats Analyst Cameron Tana offers us another of his somewhat complex, but fascinating columns, this time focusing on individual "offensive efficiency" of current Stanford players who are entering their third year in the starting lineup.

The Stanford Cardinal lost the Lopez twins to the NBA but returned three players who have been starters for much of the previous two years. Last year, we discussed Mitch Johnson as a low possession point guard who could be expected to increase his efficiency (Cameron's 2007 Analysis). Johnson increased his offensive rating last year to 107 points per 100 possessions after rating only 75 and 87 his first two years. However, the percentage of possessions he was responsible for while in the game was still a low 15% with 20% being average. Johnson's classmates Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods have had higher possession rates the last two years and continue to be a big part of the offense in their senior seasons. This article looks at Hill and Goods' career paths through two years and finds similar players from a national database of Division I basketball statistics from 2003-04 through last year. These players are used to assess the probabilities of how Hill and Goods will play in their third seasons as starters for Stanford as the team heads into the meat of its schedule.

Lawrence Hill has had an unusual arc in his first two years as a Stanford starter. In his sophomore year, he was named to the Pac-10 all conference team as he posted a rating of 118 with a possession rate of 22%. In his junior year, his rating dropped about 10 points on a possession rate of 21%. Typically, players become more efficient at a lower possession rate, but that was not the case for Hill in 2008 as the Stanford offense increased its emphasis on Brook Lopez who had a 31% possession rate. Hill's drop in efficiency can mostly be attributed to poorer shooting. His effective field goal percentage dropped from 58% to 47%.

Lawrence Hill's Two Seasons as a Starter

Possession Rate

Offensive Rating

Effective Field Goal %

Offensive Rebound Rate

Turnover Rate

Free Throw Rate

2007

22%

118

58%

7%

15%

21%

2008

21%

108

47%

9%

15%

19%


To qualify for comparison to Hill, players in the database had to play at least 20 games in a season and play more than 50% of the minutes in those games. 46 players who had three qualifying seasons and an offensive rating of over 110 in their first qualifying season and a drop of at least five points in their second season while maintaining a 19% possession rate in both seasons were identified from the database. The following chart shows the cumulative distribution of how the players' third season compared to their first season. The chart shows that most players were not able to recover to the efficiency of their debut seasons. The majority of players were not able to get within four points of their first season efficiency. Less than 30% of the players were able to match or exceed their first season efficiency.

Cumulative Distribution of Offensive Rating Change from First Season to Third Season for Players with High First Season Rating and a Dropoff in Second Season

The ten players who beat the odds and improved on their first seasons by more than two points in their third season are listed below. The most notable player who continued to fall in efficiency in his third season was Hassan Adams of Arizona. His rating fell from 122 to 108 with a slight increase in possession rate from his first to second seasons. In his third season, his possession rate jumped to 26% and his rating fell to 105.

Players with Net Improvement of two or more points from First Season to Third Season Among Players with High First Season Rating and a Dropoff in Second Season

Player

Team

Seasons

1st Season Rating

2nd Season Rating

3rd Season Rating

3rd Season Possession Rate

Alan Anderson

Michigan St

2003-5

111

101

129

21%

Darian Townes

Arkansas

2005-6, 2008

110

104

120

22%

DJ White

Indiana

2005, 2007-8

117

109

123

22%

Quincy Douby

Rutgers

2004-6

111

104

117

32%

Jeff Green

Georgetown

2005-7

111

103

116

24%

Avery Sheets

Butler

2004-6

112

105

116

17%

Rashad Anderson

Connecticut

2004-6

119

110

122

21%

Paul Davis

Michigan St

2004-6

117

111

119

25%

Kibwe Trim

Sacred Heart

2004-6

114

98

117

26%

JamesOn Curry

Oklahoma St

2005-7

110

98

112

23%


These data show that it is unlikely for Hill to match the efficiency of his sophomore year, but he should improve on his junior year. If he can come close to matching the efficiency of his sophomore year, he will have a rating of around 115, which is a strong rating.

Anthony Goods has had a more typical career arc than his teammate. In his two years as a Stanford starter, he has had fairly average offensive ratings even with a few big scoring games in his sophomore season. He showed modest improvement from 101 to 104 between his sophomore and junior seasons as he reduced his turnover rate from 21% to 16%. He was helped in this regard by not having to play any point guard in his junior season.

Anthony Goods' Two Seasons as a Starter

Possession Rate

Offensive Rating

Effective Field Goal %

Offensive Rebound Rate

Turnover Rate

Free Throw Rate

2007

21%

101

48%

1%

21%

23%

2008

19%

104

46%

1%

15%

18%


Using the same qualifying standard for seasons of 20 games played and 50% minutes played, 185 players in the database had their first two qualifying seasons with ratings under 105 with possession rates over 19%. The following chart shows the cumulative distribution of how the players' third season compared to their second season. Approximately 50% improved on their second season efficiency by at least five points. Nearly 30% of the players improved by at least ten points in their third season.

Cumulative Distribution of Offensive Rating Change from Second Season to Third Season for Players with 1st Two Season Ratings Under 105

Based on this data, Goods should show additional improvement in efficiency in his senior season. There are many other ways to predict how Goods and Hill might do this, but combining these two analyses result in about a 30% probability that both players will exceed ratings of 110. Two Stanford starters have not achieved this together since Dan Grunfeld and Chris Hernandez in 2005. Based on these analyses, there is about a 10% probability that both players will exceed ratings of 115. This has not been achieved by two Stanford starters since Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt in 2002. The following table shows the Stanford starters since 1997 with 19% possession rates who have met these efficiency standards:

Stanford Starters with 19% Possession Rate with Offensive Ratings over 110

Rating 110-115

Rating 115-120

Rating 120+

1997

Knight, Young

1998

Young

Weems

Lee, Madsen

1999

Young

Lee, Madsen

2000(a)

Jarron Collins

Madsen, Moseley

Jacobsen, Mendez

2001(b)

Jarron Collins

Jacobsen, Jason Collins

2002

Barnes

Jacobsen

Borchardt

2003

2004

Childress

2005

Hernandez

Grunfeld

2006

Hernandez

2007

Hill

2008

B. Lopez


(a) Jason Collins (112 rating) and Ryan Mendez each started over 10 games, but Mendez played in over 20 minutes per game, while Jason Collins did not.

(b) Mendez and Mike McDonald also had ratings over 120, but had possession rates lower than 19%.

In the non-conference season, Goods and Hill are on pace to overcome the odds and team up for high offensive efficiency ratings at high possession rates. The table below shows that this improvement is based on better shooting from the field and an increased ability to get to the line and convert. We will watch to see if they can keep it up in the conference season.

Goods and Hill through 10 games of the 2009 Season

Possession Rate

Offensive Rating

Effective Field Goal %

Offensive Rebound Rate

Turnover Rate

Free Throw Rate

Goods

25%

117

56%

3%

14%

33%

Hill

24%

111

52%

8%

16%

24%



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