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Evaluating the performance with the concept of the box score

Individual offensive and defensive ratings try to know how many points per possession are produced or allowed by a player or a team.

The only way to score points is through field goals and free throws.

An assist is attributed to the player who passes the ball to a scoring team mate. “If” the shooter is successful, the passer gets an assist. “If” the shooter misses, an offensive rebound can repair the damage and recover the ball for the team with an extra possession, before the other team can take control over the ball.

When you are evaluating basketball and you give “if” points or you split “if” points to pay back the assister on a good shot, you also have to pay back for the missed shots. You are creating a totally new type of basketball game. The only way to score points is through field goals and free throws. Giving incentives and penalties is a good tool to teach and to motivate.

But when the players are not informed about the new rules and the intentions, there is no interaction with pedagogical effect. The developed arbitrary evaluation becomes a self deception. You are no longer evaluating an NBA, NCAA or a FIBA basketball game.

Evaluating and compensating players with nontransparent, guessing and inappropriate rules, standards and methods are a discrimination or a manipulation.

You are manipulating the free throws. You are discriminating the three point shot, the dribbled and driving points. You are discriminating the 4 other team mates in that dribbling-driving game and are playing a game of 1 against 5.
You are discriminating the 3 other team mates or you are playing a game of 2 against 5, with splitting the points between the passer and the shooter.

The movement and positioning of the other players are very important team interactions for the dribbler, driver or the assister and the shooter. You are underrating the value of the performance of the screeners, the cutters and the open looks, created for the offensive player with the ball, by threatening and pacing team mates, with their good court vision.

The same remarks can be said about the offensive rebounding. You can not split the offensive rebounds by guessing the credit for the rebounder. Selective offensive team play and selective shooting create offensive rebound advantage and help to maintain court balance, so that the defense will not get a fast break. Offensive rebounding is also a team interaction, some individuals are better ringleaders for a good position, than others.

The general practical used formula to estimate the possessions is:
Possessions = FGA + FTA x 0.44 + TO – OR (this is not our method)
0.44 is a number to estimate the number of Free Throw Attempts that end possessions.

The limits of offense and defense are self-evident. When you or your team is not scoring, you or your team are getting 0 points on a number of possessions. Every time the other team scores, you and your team are getting a passive possession. When your team always scores from the first try or from the offensive rebound, without a turnover, you get 2 as a limit. With 3 pointers that range goes up to 3 and with free throws on those fouled but successful 3 pointers, it can even climb higher.
Technical and intentional fouls are also a tool to go beyond those limits. But technicals and other bonuses with free throws are a rarity. A limit of 2 after more games looks evident. No team or individual in history has a regular rate higher than 67% with 3 pointers.

Possessions = FGA + FTA x 0.44 + TO – OR.
It looks the same formula we used, but there is an important difference. We analyze the foundation.

We compare the offense of the 1996 Chicago Bulls finals, 6 games based on the philosophy of the individual numbers of the box score and the offensive evaluation formula:

Offense = points scored divided by the used possessions minus offensive rebounds.

We first calculate the possessions: possessions = FGA + FTA x 0.44 + TO - OR.

Jordan 123 FGA 67 FTA x 0.44 = 29.48 FTpos. 18 TO = 170.48 possessions - 10 OR.
Pippen 99 FGA 24 FTA x 0.44 = 10.56 FTpos. 11 TO = 120.56 possessions - 20 OR.
Kukoc 71 FGA 10 FTA x 0.44 = 4.4 FTpos. 11 TO = 86.40 possessions - 12 OR.
Longley 47 FGA 22 FTA x 0.44 = 9.68 FTpos. 15 TO = 71.68 possessions - 8 OR.
Rodman 35 FGA 19 FTA x 0.44 = 8.36 FTpos. 11 TO = 54.36 possessions - 41 OR.
Harper 32 FGA 12 FTA x 0.44 = 5.28 FTpos. 3 TO = 40.28 possessions - 4 OR.
Kerr 33 FGA 7 FTA x 0.44 = 3.08 FTpos. 4 TO = 40.08 possessions - 2 OR.
Brown 12 FGA 4 FTA x 0.44 = 1.76 FTpos. 3 TO = 16.76 possessions - 1 OR.
Wennington 12 FGA 2 FTA x 0.44 = 0.88 FTpos. 2 TO = 14.88 possessions - 2 OR.
Buechler 9 FGA 2 FTA x 0.44 = 0.88 FTpos. 2 TO = 11.88 possessions - 0 OR.
Salley 1 FGA 0 FTpos. 0 TO = 1 possessions - 1 OR.
Chicago 474 FGA 169 FTA x 0.44 = 74.36 FTpos. 80 TO = 628.36 possessions - 101 OR.

With the box score philosophy the offensive evaluation = points / (possessions - OR)

Rodman 45 / 13.36 = 3.3683
Wennington 17 / 12.88 = 1.3199
Longley 70 / 63.68 = 1.0992
Brown 17 / 15.76 = 1.0787
Harper 39 / 36.28 = 1.0750
Kukoc 78 / 74.40 = 1.0484
Jordan 164 / 160.48 = 1.0219
Pippen 94 / 100.56 = 0.9348
Kerr 30 / 38.02 = 0.7878
Buechler 4 / 11.88 = 0.3367
Salley 0 / 0 = 0
Chicago 558 / 527.36 = 1.0581

What do you think of this box score concept in evaluating the performance of the 1996 Bulls in offense? I remember Dean Oliver once said: “don’t pass the “laugh test” ”.

M.V.P. Jordan, Pippen and Kerr: below team average in offense.
Rodman: extraordinary, abnormal like usual, but … in offense???
Wennington and Longley: dominating and outstanding in offense.
Kukoc, Harper and Brown: close to team average in offense.

What did Rodman provoke in his second Play Off game of the 1996 finals?
10 points 6 FGA + 0.44 x 6 = 2.64 FTpos. + 4 TO = 12.64 possessions – 11 OR
That gives 10 / 1.64 = 6.0976 as an evaluation in offense. That is extraterrestrial.

What if Rodman took “only” 10 OR in that game?
With only 10 OR instead of 11, Rodman’s offense registered 10 / 2.64 = 3.7879.

Rodman’s math is overreacting. It is a perfect mirror of the extravagant player, he is like that. We are feeling miserable and he is a perpetual problem in many ways.
Dysfunctions are inherent with Rodman, we know that, but now we have a little distrust.
With Rodman, the rebounding is running out of control, but Rodman is a team player too.
Is this concept of the individual box score evaluation correct?

We have the same dysfunctions with allowed offensive rebounds. There are no evaluations for (allowed) team rebounds, offensive or defensive. They are also generated by individual players interaction, with boxing out and offensive rebounding pressure. There are also aberrations with defensive rebounds because some individual box score evaluations are running into improbabilities, approaching and going into the impossibilities with Rodman.

The extensive and good defensive work in the field and on the ball makes it much easier for waiting big bodies to cash in many stat stuffing defensive rebounds on forced, difficult shots. There are “unfair” statistical transfers in the interaction between the collector and the team defenders. There is no satisfying statistical box score instrument to reward powerful defensive ground forces. Extrapolating the defensive rebound credit is then a one-sided overestimation.

Assuming, without good arguments, that all team mates are equally good in defense, or that the ground forces are equal in their trench-war and equal in their hand-to-hand fight, is the certificate of non-evaluation, the paradox of a well-considered evaluation of defensive talent and is unacceptable. Every link of the defensive string is important and the offense is always scanning to exploit its weaknesses.

Defense is a team concept and offense is a team concept, there are always interactions. The team points scored and allowed are team concepts. The evaluation method has to detect the weight of these interactions and their individual responsibilities in a team concept formula.

There is a fundamental concept problem: the individual box score evaluation.
But Rodman solved the problem, he took the mathematical charge, he never backs down.