There Are Three Types of Lies – Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (Part 1)

“Definition of Statistics: The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures” (Evan Esar)

As we approach (or have even already approached – I haven’t checked) the midway point of the season, I decided to make my first Rocks Statistics spreadsheet. Those who know me are well aware of how much I love a good spreadsheet. So much so that I’m surprised it has taken me so long to make one for basketball.

If you hate Microsoft Excel, statistics and numbers as well as people who talk about Microsoft Excel, statistics and numbers then now is probably the time to close the webpage…

For Parts 1 and 2 I am going to consider basic stats only. The stats that the BBL include in the BBL Livestats game logs / box scores and the stats which us, as general fans, look to discuss after games. If you want a more advanced breakdown of stats then this will probably be released at the end of the season.

It should be noted that the following stats are for league games only. Both the Cup and Trophy games have been excluded because we tanked. All stats for Nate Britt are averaged over only 3 games so are definitely not a true reflection of his performances to date. It will be interesting to see how his stats develop as he gets more games.

The tables in the article can be manipulated to view however you want. For example, if you wish to view it alphabetically then you can do so. If you wish to view it to allow you see the player who attempts the most three-pointers then you can do so.

Minutes

A straightforward one to start us off – the minutes a player logs on court.

Gareth Murray28:41
Earl Brown27:28
Kieron Achara26:33
Ali Fraser26:20
Nate Britt23:39
Kofi Josephs22:28
Jonny Bunyan17:34
Boris Matrakov08:25
Bantu Burroughs04:44
Nestor Lascuncion01:37

Gareth Murray leads the way followed by Earl Brown, Kieron Achara and Ali Fraser. None of that is particularly surprising. I remember Gareth Murray played a full 40 minutes a few seasons back. Kofi Joseph’s minutes also appear to be fairly representative of his role on the team. At the opposite end of the table, the minutes for both Bantu Burroughs and Nestor Lascuncion should also not come as a surprise. Out of the 15 league games sampled, Burroughs did not get any playing time in 7 of those games and Lascuncion only featured in 3 games.

Since the arrival of Britt, Jonny Bunyan’s minutes haven’t dropped significantly and are actually sitting just above his average, at 19min 02sec. As Britt settles I would expect to see Bunyan’s minutes drop down closer to his stated average. Another point to consider is that Bunyan was our main PG for 3 games before Britt’s arrival where he logged between 20min 52sec to 31min 17sec.

Boris Matrakov is currently averaging 8min 25sec. Before constructing my spreadsheet I thought his average minutes would be higher. However looking at the stats on a game by game level, there are 6 games where he logged no court time. Aside from the Manchester Giants game on 22nd October, Matrakov only started receiving significant court time from 4th December on wards. Around the time Jalen Billups was kicked to the kerb.

Field Goals (FG)

When evaluating shooting efficiency, using field goal percentages is not always the most appropriate stat to use as it makes no differentiation between a two- and three-pointer despite the points difference. It also does not take into account free throws. A stat called the true shooting percentage (TS%) takes both three-pointers and free throws into account, however that is for another day!

Looking at FG overall, we have the following data:

PlayerField Goals MadeField Goals AttemptedField Goal %
Bantu Burroughs0.50.976.1
Earl Brown5.18.660.9
Boris Matrakov1.62.757.7
Ali Fraser5.79.756.9
Kieron Achara4.27.954.7
Gareth Murray3.98.942.6
Jonny Bunyan1.43.241.5
Kofi Josephs3.38.836.6
Nate Britt3.310.328.8
Nestor Lascuncion0.00.20.0

A very general statement would be anything over 50% for FG is decent. Using that analogy, we have 5 players above 50%.

Burroughs tops the table at 76.1% however it is worth remembering that he is receiving the second lowest minutes on the team and is therefore taking the second lowest number of shots. In a game against the Scorchers where he got 13min 25sec court time he took 5 shots and had a 40% success rate and in the most recent game against the Giants he had 14min 55sec court time and took 3 shots with a 66.7% success rate. However in 3 games Burroughs has taken 1 shot and been successful and it is these 3 games which is likely skewing the results to put him top of the table.

Players such as Matrakov, Ali Fraser and Achara are likely to have a higher FG% than, for example, Josephs or Murray due to the majority of their shots coming from around the basket as opposed to mid-range or three-point attempts. A shot chart would be useful to look at in this case. However we can further dissect FG attempts into two- and three-pointers.

Two-Point FG

Player2 Point FG Made2 Point FG Attempted2P%
Bantu Burroughs0.30.587.5
Boris Matrakov1.52.369.6
Kieron Achara3.25.267.6
Jonny Bunyan0.61.161.4
Earl Brown4.47.461.2
Ali Fraser5.38.760.0
Gareth Murray2.44.551.8
Kofi Josephs1.12.839.2
Nate Britt3.07.338.9
Nestor Lascuncion0.00.00.0

Three-Point FG

Player3 Point FG Made3 Point FG Attempted3P%
Earl Brown0.81.259.4
Bantu Burroughs0.20.450.0
Kieron Achara1.02.636.7
Kofi Josephs2.26.036.3
Boris Matrakov0.10.530.0
Gareth Murray1.54.527.7
Ali Fraser0.31.026.4
Jonny Bunyan0.82.125.3
Nate Britt0.33.06.7
Nestor Lascuncion0.00.20.0

From the above two tables, Brown and Britt appear to take the highest number of two-pointers, and while Brown’s 2P% is sitting at 61.2, Britt’s is down at 38.9, despite having the most FG attempts in the team. However in our most recent game against the Giants, Britt had a 2P% of 75 and so his average 2P% may increase as he plays more games and settles into his role. Aside from Burroughs, our most effective two-point shooter is Matrakov at 69.6%, something which may not be much of a surprise to people who have noticed how well he has been doing with the minutes given. However how much weight you can put on Matrakov’s stats when his average minutes are currently under 10 minutes per game is debatable.

Another interesting point is that Bunyan and Josephs both take very little two-point attempts, with Josephs taking nearly twice as many three-pointers as he does two-pointers and Bunyan taking 2.1 three-point attempts per game. Despite Josephs taking on average 6.0 three-pointers a game, his conversion rate is 36.3%. That may sound low, but Achara attempts 2.1 shots a game with a conversion rate of 36.7%. Should we be expecting Josephs to hit more shots? I would like to see his 3P% increase over the second half of the season. He has shown to hit 67% in one game, albeit with only 3 attempts. Brown takes on average 1.2 three-pointers a game and has a team high conversion of 59.4%. You could probably argue that both Brown and Achara are our most effective shooters when looking at FG percentages only and not TS%.

Britt’s three-point shooting is probably the most disappointing, with a 6.7% conversion rate. Even on his best game for the Rocks, he only connected with 1 three-pointer out of 5.

One final point to make about FG attempts is Murray’s stats. We know he logs the highest number of minutes, but he also takes the same number of two- and three-pointers per game with a conversion rate of 51.8% and 27.7% respectively. Despite his shooting percentages not being in the top half of the team, he still has a key role to play on court which we may or may not(!) be able to conclude from stats.

Free Throws

The final stat for Part 1 is free throws. Free throws are one of the “Four Factors of Basketball Success,” according to basketball analytics legend Dean Oliver and are one of the most efficient ways to score. The more free throws you attempt per FG, the more effective your offense will be. For example, if a player’s FG% is low, they can still be considered a fairly efficient offensive player if they get to the free throw line often. Team wise, you may have one of the most effective FG% in the league yet still remain fairly average in offensive efficiency. Why? Because the team overall has a low free throw rate. Your team may be effective at producing good shots and converting them, but unless they get to the line more frequently by drawing fouls, they could remain an average offensive squad.

PlayerFT MadeFT AttemptedFT%
Earl Brown1.42.456.1
Bantu Burroughs0.10.1100
Kieron Achara4.15.082.4
Kofi Josephs2.53.173.4
Boris Matrakov0.60.795.8
Gareth Murray1.61.889.6
Ali Fraser1.72.373.8
Jonny Bunyan0.30.555.0
Nate Britt2.02.385.7
Nestor Lascuncion0.00.00.0

With the Rocks, Achara has the highest number of free throws per game. Not a surprising stat and we are fortunate that for the number of free throws he attempts, his conversion rate is fairly high. For Murray, despite his FG% sitting at 42.6 overall, his FT% is 89.6 with only Matrakov and Burroughs (who take less than one free throw per game) above him. Going by the above paragraph, does this mean that Murray is still considered an efficient offensive player due to his FT%? Not necessarily as he is only taking 1.8 free throws per game. I’ll leave that open to interpretation.

For a player who takes the third highest number of free throws, Brown’s conversion rate is only 56.1% which is the lowest in the team when you look at players who take more than 1 free throw per game. Does this make him ineffective? I’d say no, but it’s probably a stat you would want to see improve over the second half of the season.

Part 2 coming soon.