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Saving My Beloved FG% from Death...

I am constantly frustrated by the current basketball community's lack of love for FG%. In Pomeroy's analysis, he looked at a very small sample of just one team. But I think it can be argued that FG% is still an important metric for two things: discussion of NBA players and of possessions.

First, a quick numerical analysis:

I took the top 310 or so NBA players and looked at how 'underrated' they are by their FG%. If we just look at the difference between eFG% and FG% we see that nearly 40% of players are underrated by 5% or more. But this is only a small part of the picture. Nobody who eyeballs the FG% of a guard thinks that a player is only shooting two-pointers. So I set up a regression for estimating eFG% via FG%. This allows us to look closer at the difference in 'roughly-expected' eFG% and eFG% itself.

Done this way, only about 10% of these players are off by 5% or more. If we get rid of the 'overrated players' (we assume that people aren't going to overrate a player's FG% in their minds), that drops to 7.7%. So at least on the player level, it's reasonable to say that FG% is pretty good for eyeballing efficiency via shooting.

Still unconvinced? Here's some more pudding:

1) FG% is useful for discussing Rebound%. To compare one team's eFG% to their OR% is not as intuitive as comparing with FG%. Field goal percent gives a better picture of 'possible rebounds' than eFG%.

2) In the same vein, FG% is more important in the discussion and analysis of what ends possessions and what doesn't.

3) I will maintain that the three-point-shot is harder to repeat. I have not done any analysis on this, but the theory is sound: the more difficult the shot, the harder it is to repeat. Therefore, to some degree, I would estimate that year-to-year FG% is a better predictor of out-of-sample eFG% than eFG% itself.

4) At least in the NBA, extremely high eFG% by a player is more likely to be from a big man; so in extreme cases of 'shooting well from the field', (which are often the important points of study), FG% is usually sufficient.

I know that none of this takes care of the two basic arguments against FG%: worse correlation with offensive efficiency, and 'just add .5*3pm from the box score!').

To that I say:

'Hey, eFG% isn't even really a percentage! It's just easier to type than Field Goal Points / (FGA * 2). I like my percentages to be out of 100, thank you!'

1 comment:

  1. eFG% correlates better with efficiency, but I imagine FG% correlates better with Floor%, the underrated cousin of efficiency. Down by 1, 10 seconds left, you care about Floor%/FG% more than efficiency/eFG%.



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