December 07, 2006

Sactown Stats Corner: Want to Win Games? Make Shots!

Cross-posted at Sactown Royalty...

The Kings' up and down 2006-07 season is hitting new lows now, after the team's fifth consecutive loss Thursday night, in overtime against the Shaq-less Heat at Arco. The loss was exactly the type of game the Kings need to win if they are to challenge for the postseason this year, and as many of us here on the site have said, the team needs to show some serious discipline when it comes to shooting, or they're flat-out not going to win, period.

Approximately one-fifth of the way through the season, the Kings have amassed enough stats to show some basic trends, and we've crunched the numbers:

Skip The Analysis and Download The Stats

The Kings Are Not A Good Shooting Team

  • The Kings' field goal percentage is 25th in the league, ahead of only Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Indiana and Memphis.
  • In only two contests (vs. Memphis on 11/15 and at Seattle on 11/24) has the team shot above 50%. The Kings won both contests.
  • In eleven contests, including Thursday night, the Kings have shot below 45% as a team. In those eleven games, it probably comes as no surprise that they have gone 3-8 (.273). By simply raising their shooting percentage above 45%, the team has a 5-2  (.714) record.
  • It also should not come as a shocker that the team with the higher field goal percentage typically wins the game. When the Kings have a higher FG %, they have gone 6-2 (.750). When they have had a lower FG %, the team has gone 2-8 (.200).
  • This ratio gets even more crazy when it comes to 3-point field goals. When the Kings make a higher percentage of their 3-point shots, they are 7-2 (.778). When they make a lower percentage, they are a stark 1-8 (.111).

Shooting And Missing Is NOT The Answer

  • The Kings actually have a BETTER record (4-3) when they take fewer field goal attempts than when they take more field goal attempts (4-6). This speaks to picking the right shot, and making it.
  • Recognizing when to go for three is critical. When the Kings have attempted more 3-point shots, they are 5-5 (.500). When their opponents have hoisted up more 3-point attempts, the Kings are only 2-5 (.286).

Relying On Free Throws Won't Win You Games

  • The Kings have taken more free throws than their opponents in 14 of the 18 contests played so far. Yet, in those 14 games, their record is 6-8 (.429). When they have spent less time at the charity stripe, they are 2-1 (.667).
  • Yet, if you do get to the stripe, you better make your shots. When the Kings make a higher percentage of free throws, they are 6-5 (.545). When they miss a higher percentage of free throws, they are a woeful 2-5 (.286).

It Comes Down To Getting the Ball In the Bucket

There's no mystery here. By making a higher percentage of shots, that leads to a higher total number of shots going in, more points and more wins. But let's see what the numbers show...

  • When the Kings MAKE more shots than the competition, they are 7-1 (.875). That contrasts to 1-9 (.100) when they make fewer buckets.
  • From beyond the arc, if the Kings score more 3 point shots, they are 6-1 (.857). When outlaunched, they are 1-8 (.111).

Note how much more impact a three point shot has on the eventual outcome of a game when compared to free throws. It's night and day.

Yes, mixing math and sports can be dangerous. Sometimes the sample size is too small. But it's clear to me that the team needs to focus on making high-percentage shots, and taking the opportunistic three-pointer from pure shooters. It may be fundamental, but so far this season, other teams are getting it through their noggins a lot better than we are.

Want to come up with your own Sactown Stats? Download the Excel document I used for this post and let us know what you've found.