Stop Kobe before he shoots again; gearing up for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

My apologies for missing the last couple days on the blog, but don’t worry, I was hard at work on two projects that I’ve just submitted with a couple other guys to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I’ll have more to say about them soon — one project looks at the effects of temperature, rest time, and turf type on MLS games, and the other examines the true value of winning the NBA draft lottery and measures how much tanking really goes on in the NBA.

In the meantime, Kobe Bryant is lighting up scoreboards and shot charts. He must be reading this blog, but I think all I did was make him angry. He’s taken 31 shots in each of the last three games and managed 40 points in all of them. Reading the ESPN write up from the last one, it looks like we have our new MVP.

However, over those games he’s made 47 shots for a shooting percentage of 51%. Not bad for a guard, but on a team with Andrew “Great Potential” Bynum and Pau “the Gas Man” Gasol (two of the more efficient scorers in the league), Kobe should probably be the third option (now I’m really trying to make him mad).

Let’s look at last night’s win over the hapless Cavaliers. Kobe had a good night from the three point line and the free throw line, so we’ll give him credit for that. He shot 11-24 from 2 point range and made 8-10 from the line, which we can think of as shooting 4-5 on the two point shot attempts on which he was fouled. That gives him a 2 point plus free throw shooting efficiency of 15-29 (52%). He was 4-7 from 3 point range (57%), which is highly uncharacteristic for him, but fine, we’ll give him every advantage. He had 29 total tries at a 2 pointer and 7 tries at a 3 pointer, so 2 pointers are 81% of the total.

So Kobe’s expected points on any trip down the floor where he’s “the man” (and we all know he’s always “the man”) will be 0.81*0.52*2 + 0.19*0.57*3. I’ve just multiplied his shooting percentage by the value of each shot to figure out the expected value after he decides which shot to take, and multiplied each of those by the likelihood that he chooses a 2 or a 3 to figure out his average points on any trip where he decides he’ll shoot. I get 1.16 points per trip when Kobe was “the man.” This is something like True Shooting Percentage I’m sure, though I am not well-versed yet in basketball advanced statistics.

In the same game, the Andrau Gasnum two-headed Laker beast was 16-25 on 2 pointers and 2-4 from the line. I’ll add in a 1-2 for those four foul shots to give them 17-27 (63%) on the night. So, the expected points for The Gasnum beast was 0.63*2 = 1.26 points per trip.

So, would someone please stop Kobe before he shoots again? Everyone who was hating on the Lakers is probably talking about them winning a championship again now, but please note that they just beat the lowly Cavaliers and Utah Jazz by 5 points and in over time, respectively. The first game in Kobe’s three point run was a win over the Phoenix Dead Suns.

6 responses to “Stop Kobe before he shoots again; gearing up for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

  1. Do you have any of the statistical significance stats done for this? I’m curious if the .1 is significant.

  2. I would have to check that for you, my good sir. Unlikely that those numbers would be statistically significantly different for this game alone, but I’m guessing Gasnum will be higher in almost every game, and that difference will certainly be statistically significant.

  3. (to be more specific, that paper from the conference deals with shot quality and efficient play.)

  4. I’ll have a post up about this tomorrow (link here: That paper points out an issue in my reasoning — it’s important to do more than just compare offensive efficiency, since equalizing efficiency across all players is unlikely to be the best option. Still, I think my general conclusion (more shots for Gasnum) is correct.

  5. Pingback: Maximizing offensive efficiency | Causal Sports Fan

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