By clicking on “Try it out here!” at the top of this post, you will be directed to what I am calling the Threes and Layups Season Simulator. As a bit of background, Dean Oliver coined the term “Four Factors” in his revolutionary book Basketball on Paper. The four factors are, shooting, turnovers, rebounding, and free throws and these factors can completely describe a game of basketball. My Threes and Layups Season Simulator allows you to not only see how any team is currently doing on the year in terms of the four factors, but also tells you what would happen to their efficiency (as measured by net rating) and their expected wins if you adjusted a part of their statistical profile!
First load a team by their initials where it says “Select Team”. (The “Select Year” option is still under construction). Then check out how they rank in the different aspects of the four factors by clicking on the tabs such as “Defensive Shooting” in the middle of the page. You will see blue sliders which give the team’s current values in each of the different statistics. Adjust these values and see how the team’s ranking changes in Wins and Net Rating. Also, underneath each stat is the Rank (where this team rates in the league) and League Median. These numbers give you context for good or bad a team is doing in each area of their profile. The Rank will change to reflect the team’s new standing in a statistic as you adjust it.
Let me explain some of the values on the page which may be a little confusing:
- Projected Record: This is the expected record this team is on pace to achieve in the full 82 game season given their current record and their statistical profile. Changing any of the four factors using the blue sliders will change the projected record and be reflected in Change in Projected Wins.
- Net Rating: Points this team would outscore their opponent by, per 100 possessions. This is simply Offensive Rating – Defensive Rating. This statistic is only taking into account what each of the statistical profile values are currently set to, not the team’s current record.
- Three Point Attempt Rate: The percentage of field goal attempts this team takes which are three pointers. This statistic under the “Defensive Shooting” tab is simply the percentage of opponent field goal attempts which are threes.
- Free Throw Attempt Rate: This is an estimate of the percentage of possessions which end in this team taking foul shots (if under the “Offensive” tab) or the opponent taking foul shots (if under the “Defensive” tab). Importantly, this is not the same thing as the basketball-reference free three throw attempt rate stat. This is a value which I estimate to make each team’s offensive and defensive ratings match their true values on the season.
- Offensive Rebound Rate: The percentage of this team’s misses which they rebound (if under the “Offensive” tab) and the percentage of opponent’s misses which our team fails to rebound (if under the “Defensive” tab). A high “Defensive” Offensive Rebound Rate is thus a bad thing.
As a final note of caution, when you change one statistic the program is only telling you what would happen if everything else remained constant. Usually, a change in one area of a team’s performance will be reflected in other areas. As an example, if a team starts forcing more turnovers they may hit a higher percentage of their two pointers because they have more transition opportunities. Try experimenting with a few different sliders at the same time and be careful interpreting the results. Also, have fun!
All data is courtesy of basketball-reference.com.