Basketball Analytics: EuroLeague 2021-22 Rounds 1-7 Pace, Ratings, Four Factors

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The first seven rounds of this year’s EuroLeague have been quite exciting. We’ve seen the reigning champions Anadolu Efes lose 5 of their 7 games. We’ve had a team-record 9 3-pointers made for Panathinaikos by Daryl Macon. Elie Okobo is averaging 20 points per game for Villeurbanne. Barcelona and Milano have been dominant, while Olympiacos and Maccabi Tel Aviv have been playing above expectations.

What I wanted to do here is present the basic advanced statistics. A graphical representation of stats helps paint a better picture. With the EuroLeague regular season 20% finished, I felt like this was a good opportunity. Whether you’re a EuroLeague fan (click here for all EuroLeague content) or a basketball analytics enthusiast (click here for tutorials and guides), this is for you!

There are two great resources I want to bring up here. One is the breakthrough book on basketball analytics Basketball on Paper by Dean Oliver in 2002. He defined the beloved Four Factors, which The other is the great book Basketball Data Science with Applications in R. Anyone interested in basketball analytics should definitely get their hands on a copy. The BasketballAnalyzeR R package the authors created is simply great.

The two above links to the books are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. This post is not sponsored in any way.

Offensive and Defensive Ratings

Offensive and defensive ratings refer to the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Defining a possession is a challenge in itself. Have a look here on NBA Stuffer for a deeper definition and explanation of possessions. Two different formulas that estimate the number of possessions in a game are borrowed from nbastuffer.com and can be found below.

Basic Possession Formula=0.96*[(Field Goal Attempts)+(Turnovers)+0.44*(Free Throw Attempts)-(Offensive Rebounds)]

More Specific Possession Formula=0.5*((Field Goal Attempts + 0.4*Free Throw Attempts – 1.07*(Offensive Rebounds/(Offensive Rebounds + Opponent Defensive Rebounds))*(Field Goal Attempts – FG) + Turnovers) + (Opponent Field Goal Attempts + 0.4*(Opponent Free Throw Attempts) – 1.07*(Opponent Offensive Rebounds)/(Opponent Offensive Rebounds + Defensive Rebounds))*(Opponent Field Goal Attempts – Opponent FG) + Opponent Turnovers))

It’s quite obvious that a team should strive to have a high offensive rating and keep the opponents to a low offensive rating, i.e. a low defensive rating.

It’s no surprise that Barcelona is the team with the best offensive rating so far in the EuroLeague. Nikola Mirotic has been amazing and is leading a team with plenty of great scoring options. CSKA Moscow has the second best offensive rating but they have the worst defensive rating at the same time!

Fenerbahce has the best defensive rating, but their offensive rating is the 5th worst in the league. Real Madrid have the 2nd best defensive rating, paired with an above average offensive rating. UNICS Kazan has the worst offensive rating but their defense has been quite solid.

Pace (Possessions per Minute)

Pace is the number of possessions per minute. Both the pace of the team in question and their opponents are considered.

Anadolu Efes, Monaco, and Panathinaikos have the highest pace so far. They lead both the offensive pace and defensive pace tables.

Four Factors

The Four Factors were defined by Dean Oliver in 2002 in his book Basketball on Paper. They answer the question “what are the main strategies related to success?”. The Four Factors can be simply described as Score, Protect, Crash, and Attack:

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage
  • Turnover Ratio
  • Rebound Percentage
  • Free Throw Rate

Effective Field Goal Percentage

In terms of offensive eG%, four teams lead the way and two teams lag behind the rest.

Villeurbanne really stands out here and we see the french team the furthest on the x-axis. I won’t be going into player details here but I do need to say that ASVEL mainly has Elie Okobo and Chris Jones to thank for this performance.

Barcelona is the second team with an eFG% above 55%. Armani Milano and Olympiacos are the other two teams that make up the elite shooting teams so far.

As expected, all four of these teams can be found at the top of the EuroLeague standings. Armani Milano and Barcelona have a 6-1 record while Villeurbanne and Olympiacos have a 5-2 record. Maccabi Tel Aviv and Real Madrid are the other two teams with a 5-2 record and we can see that their eFG% is quite high as well.

Despite not having won a game yet, Zalgiris is not the worst team in eFG%. It’s actually Baskonia that has had an even worse performance in terms of shooting.

Dean Oliver put weights on each of the Four Factors and estimated that 40% of a team’s performance is dependant on its eFG%. Our findings here show that the estimate is in the right direction – and I’m not surprised.

Turnover Ratio

The Turnover Ratio is essentially an estimate of the number of turnovers either committed or forced per 100 possessions.

Red Star Belgrade has had a tough time on the offense and over 20% of their possessions lead to a turnover. At the other end, Alba Berlin, Unics Kazan, Fenerbahce, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid all lead their opponents to turn over the ball in over 20% of their possessions. Great defensive pressure!

Zalgiris, Zenit, and Baskonia are the outliers on this chart as they are the only teams with a defensive Turnover percentage less than 15%.

Dean Oliver estimated that 25% of a team’s success is dependant on the turnover ratio. EuroLeague standing leaders Armani Milano and Barcelona are quite average with respect to this metric.

Rebound Percentage

The Rebounding factor is considered the third most important of the four factors with a 20% weight. The offensive rebound percentage is calculated by the formula OReb / (OReb + Opp DReb). The defensive rebound percentage is calculated by the formula DReb / (DReb + Opp OReb). A team should strive to have high rebound percentages at both ends.

Real Madrid has Walter Tavares and Vincent Poirier to thank for their 75% and 30% defensive and offensive rebound percentages. Zenit and Maccabi are great in defensive rebounds but Maccabi has the worst offensive rebound percentage.

Alba Berlin has an incredible offensive rebound percentage, thanks to the rebounding leader Luke Sikma, but they are losing the most defensive rebounds in the league. Baskonia and Red Star are the other two teams with less than 65% defensive percentage.

Free Throw Rate

The Free Throw rate is the last of the four factors and Dean Oliver had assigned a weight of 15% importance. It is calculated by dividing the number of free throws made over the number of field goals made.

Bayern Munich here is a huge outlier. The team is first in free throw rate by a small difference to the rest of the teams, a result of the combination of the German team having the 3rd most free throws made but the 2nd fewest 2-point field goal attempts. However, Andrea Trinchieri’s team has by far the highest defensive Free Throw rate. So many fouls committed!

At the other end, Baskonia takes it easy and doesn’t like fouling much apparently.

UNICS Kazan is the only team with a Free Throw rate below 15%.t

I hope you enjoyed the stats analysis. Feel free to reach out for questions! If you’d like a video tutorial or written code to do your own EuroLeague analysis, let me know in the comments or in a message.

What are your expectations for the rest of the EuroLeague season?

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