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We Need More "New Ball" Statistics!

10/31/2006

David Aldridge talked to Stu Jackson about how that new ball is working out.

In 115 exhibition games through Thursday, according to Jackson, average scoring was up more than four points per game compared with preseason games last year (from 93.7 to 97.8). Overall field-goal percentage jumped from 44 percent last year to 45.2 percent this year. Free-throw percentage also increased, from 72.6 percent to 73.2 percent.

Three-point percentage, though, was down, from 34 percent last year to 33 percent this year. And turnovers were up by 1.5 per game.

Still, Jackson says the increase in turnovers isn't due to the ball's slipping through the hands of pass catchers or getting away from dribblers.

"When we look at the categories for turnovers, turnovers that would be affected by the ball - bad passes and lost balls, both of those have decreased this year from the past preseason," he said. "The large reason the turnovers are up is in the areas of emphasis [palming and traveling violations] in the officiating. The ball's not causing [more] turnovers per game."

My thought is that this would be a much more meaningful comparison a per possession. Anyone out there feel like investigating that? I'm sure there are other clever ways to look at it that I'm not thinking of...

Practically every team is set up to be faster than last year. Most teams are trying to play a little bit more Phoenix-style. You'd expect shooting percentages, scores, and turnovers to all climb with the increase in pace and the (presumably increased) number of possessions. The more I think about it, the more I'm not sure what if anything Stu Jackson's numbers tell you--other then the fact that the ball probably hasn't radically changed anything.

But it could still be hurting shooting percentages and causing turnovers.

The purest measure we have here is three-point shooting. (Two-point shooting is very pace sensitive.  A two-point shot on the fast break is typically an easyish layup or dunk, a two-point shot in the half-court often requires star power, the referees, heroism and strategy.) A three-point shot is largely a three-point shot, although you'd imagine it's somewhat more likely to be an open three-point shot in a high-paced game. But it's still the same distance, and the numbers show those shots are not going in at quite the same rate.

Tip of the hat to Royce Webb for the link.