Saturday, February 15, 2014

All-Star Break Offensive Breakdown: Rise to Relevancy

As the All-Star Weekend draws upon us, it's time to take a look at how the Brooklyn Nets fared offensively. We broke this down very early in the season, just 10 games into it, and back then the numbers were quite ugly. After that atrocious start to the season, the Nets turned it in the past month and some. While their record is still below expectations, especially in the weak Eastern Conference, they still have pulled together mini-win streaks and toppled a few of the top teams in the league recently.

With a starting lineup that's constantly changing and players finally being able to set into their roles, the offense as a whole has looked much smoother as of late compared to the beginning of the season. When we looked at the offensive stats after ten games, there were a lot of disappointing numbers.

The players weren't converting on their shots. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were struggling mightily on offensive. The team was unable to hit from beyond the arc. Ball movement was nearly non-existent.

Let's how the team has done since then.

Field Goal %

Conversion is key to offense. You can run plays, have great shooters and get open looks, but if the shots aren't falling, the points are not coming. Efficiency is highly regarded in the analytic realm for players in all positions. Those with the highest percentages are either very refined offensively, or play smart basketball. When a team obtains a high field goal percentage, it shows that they are refined offensively and playing smart basketball.

The league average in field goal percentage this season is 45.1% so far. The Brooklyn Nets are averaging... 45.0% from the field. Just below average.

After starting the season at the bottom of the league (21st out of 30), they have slowly rose up to the 14th most-efficient team in the league, which is an impressive increase and shows the affects of the recent turnaround. Still, the numbers are not even close to being a top team in terms of efficiency. First on this list would be none other than the Miami Heat, who shoot at an impressive 50.8% clip. That's a solid five percentage points better than the Nets. Then you have the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Los Angelos Clippers and so on. All are considered as top-tier teams in this league.

So how have the Nets been shooting better? Let's take a look at their shot distribution chart.

If you split it up into the three basic zones, you have the Brooklyn Nets have taken roughly
  • 27.7% of their shots from 3-point range
  • 27.2% of their shots from mid-range
  • 44.9% of their shots from within the paint
One of the biggest differences from before is that they are shooting MUCH less from mid-range. They've been taking better shots as the season progresses and have found ways to take more shots closer to the rim. The mid-range jumper, especially the long mid-range jumpers, are considered some of the worst shots in the league. Whether it was due to more ball movement and getting better looks or finally finding consistency beyond the arc, the Nets have decreased the amount of mid-range shots they take on average by 10% since the first ten games of the season. Not bad.

Once again breaking it down into the three basic zones, the Brooklyn Nets are shooting:
  • 36.6% from beyond the arc
  • 40.9% from mid-range
  • 52.8% from within the paint
Compared to the first few games... the Nets have improved in every, single category in terms of efficiency. Including from within the paint, where Brook Lopez was once the dominant force.

So why has this happened? It could be because of the Nets increase in consistency from beyond the arc.

Shooting 36.6% from three is good, but not great. Being 12th in the league in 3-point percentage, however, is an improvement from early in the season and makes it easier to spread the floor. What do we credit for this increase in three-point efficiency? The players, or the system?

In a sense, one feeds off the other. Players play better as a result of the system in place, (assuming its the right system) but the system can also be adjusted for players who begin the play a higher level. So its hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. The Nets have improved drastically in terms of ball movement and that could be a key factor in explaining this rise in conversion rate. 

Previously, after the ten-game stretch, here is how our shooters lined up from beyond the arc. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the player's career average 3P%. A green number shows that the percentage was above the league average. Red shows that it was below the league average.
It was clear then that our top three-point shooters were struggling whereas others had picked it up. However those players would not get the ball as much back then due to the reputation that was built from previous seasons. Now let's take a look at the same players and how they are shooting. Keep in mind that this season, the league is averaging 35.8% from beyond the arc thus far. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the shooting numbers from the first ten games of the season.
  • Alan Anderson - 34.7% (38.7%)
  • Deron Williams - 38.4% (37.5%)
  • Jason Terry - 37.9% (35.3%)
  • Joe Johnson - 39.0% (34.3%)
  • Paul Pierce - 36.0% (28.1%)
  • Mirza Teletovic - 39.5% (0.0%)
What we see now is an increase in nearly every player in terms of three-point efficiency. Even Jason Terry, who so far has been playing way below expectations this season.

The numbers itself may be surprising, but what's even better is how these shots emerge. Eighty-seven percent of three pointers made come off of assists. That indicates impressive ball movement AND getting open looks. Nothing better than a combination of both.

Free Throw Percentage

In the beginning of the season, a major problem with the Nets was the inability to use the charity stripe to their advantage. The league was shooting at a conversion rate of 75%, the Nets were merely able to make 75.6% of their own. Now a bit over halfway through the season, the league average as risen to 75.4%, but the Nets have also improved to 76.2%

Still this does not make them a good free throw shooting team nor are they close. Their free throw rate ranks them right in the middle of the league, at 15th best. The league-leading Portland Trailblazers shoot an incredible 82% from the charity stripe. This is not to say the Nets should be up there nor is it reasonable to assume they can improve by six-percent by the season's end, but it merely shows how far off they are. Of the 14 teams ahead of the Nets, nine of them would currently make the playoffs.

For whatever reason, the Nets have just been unable to convert at a high level. They have one of the highest Free Throw Attempt-Field Goal Attempt ratio at 0.314. That's good for fourth best in the league. 

What that means is that for every 10 field goal attempts, the Nets are able to draw 3.14 free throw attempts, a pretty high ratio. They attempt 24.6 free throws a game, sixth best in the league. For every offensive play, the probability that the Nets draw a free-throw shooting foul is 23.5%, fifth best in the league. The opportunities are there for the taking, the Nets are just falling short.

To say that the Nets can capitalize on this moving forward is up for debate. The players need to make this happen, but some are just inept at shooting free throws. It may or may not be entirely their fault, but it's something the Nets could potentially focus on if they wish to become an even better, more efficient offensive squad.

Miscellaneous Stats

There's a lot to look at in terms of offense. There's the performance of individual players, offense produced at each position, pacing and much more. Unfortunately that would call for a ridiculously long breakdown. If you do want to see something specific, mention it in the comments below, e-mail us, or tweet us. For now, here's a few miscellaneous stats about the Nets.

Offensive Rating: 105.1 (21st in the league)
Assists Per Game: 20.68 (20th in the league)
*eFG%: 50.2%
*TS%: 54.6%
Offensive Rebounds Per Game: 9.2 (26th in the league)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 22.4 (24th in the league)
Turnovers: 14.5 (11th-least in the league)

*Interesting Note: The only teams above the Nets in terms of TS% and eFG% are teams that are in the playoffs, and at the top/near the top in their divisions.


The Brooklyn Nets have come a long way since the start of the season but there is still a good amount of progress to be made. In the beginning of the season, one of the Nets biggest downfalls was their inability to hit from beyond the arc. Now, they've managed to pull it together and its showing with their recent stretch of games. The Nets have begun to move the ball well and as a result are drawing fouls, getting open looks and are starting to convert their shots. While free throws are still a problem, it's not an issue that can fixed quickly. 

Whether its due to increased chemistry, comfort level, the system or players are just starting to get into rhythm, the recent Nets play has brought back hopes of a playoff run from this team. With a little over half of the season over, there is still time to improve and hopefully the Nets can capitalize. As of now, the Nets are moving in the right direction.

Again, if you have any suggestions about future breakdowns, feel free to comment them below, e-mail us, or tweet us

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