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How Aggregate NBA Stats Change Through Season?

12 Jan

Getting me interested in any random NBA statistic is easier than convincing a baby to eat some candies… and that’s exactly how this post started. Andres Alvarez made a following note on Wages of Wins Journal:

I would love to see a chart of how stats on aggregate look if we chart them over a season.

And I was hooked…
Especially when we often hear/read that “shooting picks up as season goes on” or anything similar.
Is it true? How various statistics do change through a course of a season?

To investigate I used box scores from ESPN.com and one line for each team named “TOTALS” for every game in the last 3 regular seasons. Then I divided season into 7-day sections but not by a date but literally by “days of games in a row” so first seven were Week1, another 7 days were Week2 etc (this way All-Star weekend and any random breaks didn’t affect sample size of each week, outside of last and week all have 92+ teams’ lines). Finally I calculated averages for each category and here are some results [keep in mind that in each graph seasons are marked with the same colour so red is 2008-09, green is 2009/10 and blue means 2010-11]:

Aggregate Assists per Game for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons Aggregate Turnovers per Game for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

So assists and turnovers have indeed a sizeable period of time at the beginning of each season when teams either experiment with playbook or simply can’t figure out their rotations.

Aggregate Rebounds per Game for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

I can’t see anything interesting here, isn’t it just a noise? But I’ve added it as a courtesy to Andres Alvarez. Incidentally it’s an example of graph for statistics which I didn’t include in this post ;-)

Aggregate Blocks per Game for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

I may be reading too much out of it but… do players simply try less hard to blocks shots in the 2nd half of the season? By the way, by my method Week 14 is at the end of January.

Aggregate Fouls per Game for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

That’s another sign that maybe we shouldn’t panic too much in the first 4 weeks of any season and complaining about quality of play may be undeserved… in a typical season. This one is different ;-)

Aggregate FT% for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

Technical note: I calculated FT% based on average makes and attempts not by average percentage from all games… and that’s another noise for me… but I may be wrong ;-)

Aggregate Three% for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

[I calculated 3P% based on average makes and attempts not by average percentage from all games].
Either I’ve made the same mistake 3 times [possible]… or beginning of January for some reason is a very hot period for three-point shooters ;-)

Finally…

Aggregate FG% for all NBA Teams, last 3 seasons

Well, some often repeated statements… are just true.
Players in the NBA do shoot better as season goes along… and that’s a hope for all of us in current season ;-)

Also thanks to this graph we can see that games around Christmas are not your usual matchups…

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2 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Expanding Horizons

 

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2 responses to “How Aggregate NBA Stats Change Through Season?

  1. Daniel M (@DSMok1)

    January 12, 2012 at 21:47

    Wonderful work, wiLQ!

    Note: rebounds per game are directly dependent on missed shots per game; they are not an independent variable like the others.

    Your work lines up with some research I did over at APBRmetrics regarding both pace and offensive efficiency over the course of the season. Here’s the chart (I hope it will post):

    Here’s the link itself to the chart: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-YuqA8DT6CwQ/TP14v0ShdgI/AAAAAAAAAKI/cX-mhPvArjI/s549/Rest%252520Days%252520Eff%252520%25252B%252520Pace.png

    That was part of my research on the effect of rest on pace and team Off and Def efficiencies.

     
    • wiLQ

      January 14, 2012 at 21:15

      Thanks! Also I edited your comment to make a picture visible here.

      “Note: rebounds per game are directly dependent on missed shots per game; they are not an independent variable like the others.”
      Good point but rebounds per game doesn’t seem to have anything in common with FG%…

       

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