The EuroLeague playoff picture is still being defined. We know all 8 teams who will battle it out. What remains to be seen are the matchups. Who will be unlucky enough to square off against Barcelona’s incredible offense? Which of the top 4 teams will be unlucky enough to face the reigning champs, Anadolu Efes? Will Olympiacos’ amazing regular season performances take them to the Final Four in Belgrade?
I’m not the one to ask for predictions.
But I am the one to ask to present an advanced stats view.
A graphical representation of stats helps paint a better picture. Last time I did this analysis was after the 14th round. 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!
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 took quite a long time but the reigning champions finally made it. Anadolu Efes is currently the team with the best offensive rating in the EuroLeague. The have 2 games left to play. Barcelona is closely behind them and have 1 game left. The main difference between the two teams is that Barca has the 4th best defensive rating, while Efes is below average.
Real Madrid has the best defensive rating. Armani Milano has the 2nd best defensive rating.
What stands out is how great Olympiacos has been at both ends of the court. The Greek side is the only team besides Barcelona within the top four teams in ratings – 4th in offense and 3rd in defense.
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 are far ahead of the rest: Barca, Olympiacos, Efes, and Monaco.
In terms of defensive eG%, four teams are far better than the rest: Barca, Olympiacos, Real, and Milano.
What’s quite interesting here is that Barcelona is 1st in defensive eFG%, i.e. in forcing their opponents to bad shooting efficiency. However, they are just 4th in defensive rating.
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.
The Turnover Ratio is essentially an estimate of the number of turnovers either committed or forced per 100 possessions.
Dean Oliver estimated that 25% of a team’s success is dependant on the turnover ratio.
Surprisingly, Barcelona is the 2nd worst team, with almost 1 out of every 5 possessions they have resulting in a turnover. I guess that’s the cost of playing exciting basketball!
Anadolu Efes is the team with the best turnover percentage.
Fener and Maccabi are the two teams with the most success in forcing their opponents to turnovers (kudos to Pierria Henry and Scottie Wilbekin).
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 over 75% and 35% defensive and offensive rebound percentages. Besides Real, only Milano and Barcelona are in the top right quartile of good rebounding teams. Olympiacos is 3rd best in defensive rebounding.
What stands out is that Panathinaikos is last in offensive rebounding and second to last in defensive rebounding, despite having Papagiannis, one of the top centers in the league and the current rebounding leader.
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 still a huge outlier. The team is first in free throw rate by a small difference to the rest of the teams. However, Andrea Trinchieri’s team has by far the highest defensive Free Throw rate. So many fouls committed! Barcelona also seems to be quite aggressive and gets their opponents to the foul line often.
Barcelona, Olympiacos, and Anadolu are the top 3 teams in offensive free throw rate.
I decided to add the shot preference shot charts for the top four teams. In the charts below, darker areas indicate a higher frequency of shot attempts compared to the rest of the league.
Barcelona apparently prefers driving to the basket. This is the key to Barça having the best eFG% in the league. There is also a preference of straight-up and wing 3-point shots, along with some mid-range action from around the foul line.
Olympiacos displays a strong preference from under the basket, mainly the left side. Additionally, corner-3s are highly preferred compared to the rest of the league. There is plenty of versatility and I dare to say that it looks like Olympiacos is shooting by modern basketball standards: high efficiency shots from below the basket or 3-point range.
Real Madrid – what are you doing? Looking at this chart, it’s no surprise to me that the Spanish team is the 3rd worst team in effective field goal percentage. There are plenty of mid-range shots from all over the place. It is known that mid-range shots are the least effective, since they offer low rewards compared to the ability required to make the shot.
However, this might just be a case of Real enjoying the game and putting on nice shows – mid-range shots tend to require greater skill.
My next post will be a preview of the EuroLeague playoffs. I’ll be looking in to how Real Madrid prefers to shoot depending on their opponents. What do you think – does Real shoot “smarter” against tougher opponents?
Armani Milano appears to enjoy attacking the right side of the rim, mainly with Kyle Hines. The team also attacks a lot from the right sight of the court, with plenty of midrange shots and corner 3-pointers. Looking at the chart, it’s no surprise – they are the 4th worst team in effective field goal percentage.
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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