You Down With PPP?

Last week, one of my readers (Professor Matt) sent me and then published a very interesting spreadsheet. He had calculated a set of temp-free statistics for all the ACC teams as of about a week ago.
The gist of temp-free statistical analysis is that you can look at how efficient teams are on both offense and defense. The more standard methods that most people look at for measuring a team’s offensive or defensive prowess is points scored or points allowed. That’s a crappy way to do it. Teams that give up the fewest points typically do that not because they are great on defense, although they might be, but because they are extremely deliberate on offense. The easiest way to keep your opponent from scoring is to not give them the ball. The same goes on offense. If you play a pressure defense that forces short possessions (layups or turnovers), you’ll get the ball a lot and score a lot. That doesn’t mean you’re any good at offense, just that you play it a lot.


So enter the tempo-free stats with measures like points-per-possession (PPP) and Effective FG% (eFG). To see what Matt generated, check out the slick Google Spreadsheet.
One note – Ken Pomeroy computes some similar statistics, but in a different way. Pomeroy actually goes one step beyond this and factors in the tempo and efficiency of a team’s opponents. Obviously, these numbers are a little trickier to compute, but they are fun to play with. It’s like porn for geeks.
But back to Matt’s numbers. His spreadsheet contains all of the data, but I’ll highlight the money columns here:

PPP

Opp. PPP

PPP Margin

eFG

Opp. eFG

eFG Margin

TO%

Opp. TO%

TO% Margin

Boston College

1.09

0.93

0.16

0.508

0.445

0.063

0.208

0.219

-0.011

Clemson

1.12

0.85

0.27

0.543

0.449

0.094

0.210

0.257

-0.048

Duke

1.05

0.80

0.26

0.537

0.405

0.132

0.264

0.253

0.011

Florida State

1.06

0.91

0.15

0.544

0.492

0.053

0.236

0.279

-0.043

Georgia Tech

1.14

1.00

0.14

0.563

0.521

0.042

0.221

0.226

-0.005

Maryland

1.04

0.86

0.19

0.527

0.411

0.116

0.239

0.251

-0.012

Miami

1.14

0.95

0.18

0.533

0.491

0.042

0.205

0.215

-0.010

NC State

1.10

0.98

0.12

0.553

0.487

0.066

0.186

0.193

-0.007

North Carolina

1.17

0.95

0.22

0.559

0.503

0.057

0.198

0.215

-0.016

Virginia

1.15

0.95

0.19

0.517

0.453

0.064

0.200

0.190

0.009

Virginia Tech

1.10

0.83

0.27

0.528

0.444

0.084

0.179

0.281

-0.102

Wake Forest

1.09

1.05

0.04

0.545

0.542

0.003

0.216

0.218

-0.002

A few things that jump out (and remember, the season is young and these teams have played a lot of patsies):

  • As you might have guessed, UNC has the best offense in the ACC. What these stats don’t show you is that Carolina’s tempo increases their advantage on that end of the floor.
  • Virginia has a surprisingly efficient offense. That really surprised me since they really only have two above-average offensive players and several who are clearly below average. Just goes to show what good guard play can do for you.
  • Duke and Maryland have the worse offenses in the league. Duke’s problems have been well-publicized, but I was a bit surprised to see the Terps so low.
  • On the flip side, the Dukies have the best defense in the league. Again, that’s no surprise. In fact, their D is so effective that even with the second-worst offense, Duke has the second best PPP Margin and the best eFG Margin in the league. So maybe I’ve been a bit to bearish on their future.
  • The flip side of that coin is that Virginia Tech and Clemson are tied for the best PPP Margin. In both cases, the teams have been helped greatly by weak schedules, but it’s odd that the three-loss Hokies would still rate so well. A large part of the Hokies’ statistical success so far seems to be the turnovers they are forcing. If they can keep that up against ACC teams, they might just meet their preseason expectations.
  • Only two teams, Duke and Virginia have positive turnover margins (and positive is bad). For Duke, we know it’s because their point guard play has been so poor this year. The UVA number is shocking though, since they have the best point guard in the league and one of the top two-guards. The problem for the Cavs is that they force so few turnovers. They might want to address that and see if they can’t get a few more free possessions.
  • Want to know why the Yellow Jackets have stumbled and the Deacons just suck? Look at their defense! Their defensive eFGs are by far the worst in the league. What in the name of Dave Odom has happened in Winston-Salem?

So what do you see in the numbers?

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