How Should High Volume Scorers in the NBA be Valued? Open Access

Monk, Kyle (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/j098zb748?locale=en
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Abstract

Many basketball metrics have started to focus on efficiency. Unfortunately, the emphasis on efficiency comes with a tradeoff. Just as there is a constant bias-variance tradeoff in econometrics and modeling, there is an efficiency-volume tradeoff in basketball. I will propose the creation of a statistic called Cumulative Marginal Possessions (CMP) to help evaluate the efficiency-volume tradeoff. This metric is built from the assumption that every point scored in the NBA can be accounted for by the offense (plays, positioning, timing, etc.), defense (schemes, positioning, aggressiveness, etc.), and the ability of the players involved. The metric will evaluate player ability by modeling the outcome of each possession using a non-parametric model of the form:

Points = B0 + B1Potential Assist + f1(shot clock) + f2(point differential) + f3(time remaining) + ε

Using the actual results and predictions, the residuals of the model can assign value to the players involved in the outcome of each individual possession (efficiency). Then, these values (the player values of all possessions for a season) can be summed together to assess the entire volume of work of a player. Drawing on the foundations of the WS model (comparing points created to a league average measure), but utilizing possession data to make this distinction between the values of each possession is where CMP can begin to solve the efficiency-volume tradeoff problem. This draws on the assumption (and longtime argument of basketball traditionalists) that high volume scorers are asked to take more difficult shots- either at the end of possessions or games. Comparing the results of this analysis (using data from the 2015-2016 season) to existing metrics, like PER and WS, allows us to judge the value of CMP. Finally, comparing CMP to new contracts for free agents from the 2016 off season allows us to evaluate possible market inefficiencies in the market for free agents.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………..…. 1

II. Literature Review ………………………………………………………………………….. 4

i. Salaries framed by efficiency-volume tradeoff. …………………………….……. 4

ii. Modeling possessions. …………………………………………………………......... 5

iii. Passing as function of shooting. …………………………………………….….….. 7

iv. Rebounding and its value. ……………………………………………………..….… 8

v. Defensive impact by individuals. …………………………………………………... 9

III. Data ………………………………………………………………………………..….…….. 10

IV. Methods ……………………………………………………………………………......…... 13

i. Methods for CMP - offense. …………………………………………………………. 13

ii. Methods for CMP - defense. ………………………………………………….…….. 16

iii. CMP methods - possessions. ………………………………………………………. 17

iv. Methods for evaluating volume v. efficiency. …………………….……………. 18

V. Results ……………………………………………………………………………………...... 19

i. Offensive Model. …………………………………………………………………….. 19

ii. Shooting results. ……………………………………………………………………. 21

iii. Passing results. …………………………………………………………………….. 23

iv. Defensive Model and results. ……………………………………………………. 24

v. Metric Comparisons. ……………………………………………………………….. 27

VI. Discussion …………………………………………………………………………..…….... 30

i. Limitations of CMP. ..……………………………………………………………….. 30

ii. Value of CMP. ……………………………………………………………………..... 33

VII. Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………...………. 37

VIII. References ……………………………………………………………………….…….... 39

Appendix- Helpful Definitions ……………………………………………………………… 41

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