Expected Scoring Update: Halfway Home

It’s long overdue, but I’ve finally had a chance to update the League-wide Expected Scoring numbers. You can view the spreadsheet here, or by following the link from the Expected Scoring – Statistics and Analysis page.

If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals.  The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.

With the season nearly half-over for most teams I thought we could take a look at some of the Expected Scoring numbers a little bit more in depth.


Blake Griffin has set the league on fire and is as close to a lock for Rookie of the Year as you’re likely to find at this point in the season. He’s been dominating the rest of the rookie class in many statistical categories, but this isn’t one of them. Setting modest benchmarks of 10 games played with an average of 10 minutes per game, here are the Top 5 Rookies this season in terms of Point Differential per 40 minutes:

1. Gary Neal/San Antonio Spurs/+1.38
2. Landry Fields/New York Knicks/+0.97
3. Ekpe Udoh/Golden State Warriors/+0.70
4. Wesley Johnson/Minnesota Timberwolves/+0.65
5. Blake Griffin/Los Angeles Clippers/ +0.20

Griffin actually has been scoring from the floor very efficiently. However, his poor free throw shooting drags his overall number down. If he was making free throws at the expected rate of 75.9% his overall Point Differential per 40 would go up to +1.73, easily the best among the rookies we’re looking at here.

I want to recognize Patrick Patterson for the terrific offensive contributions he’s made to the Rockets in limited minutes. Patterson was left of this list because he had only played 9 games at the time of this update. However, his overall Point Differential per 40 sits at +3.37. If we look at players who have played at least 5 games with at least 10 minutes per game, Patterson’s number is good for 4th in the league, trailing only Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Shawne Williams.

John Wall, along with Griffin, was one of the preseason favorites for Rookie of the Year. He has impressed in many areas, but scoring efficiency hasn’t been one of them. Wall’s overall Point Differential per 40 is a -1.43. He takes a lot of mid and long range jumpshots but is scoring at a below expected rate from everywhere outside of 10ft.

When you look at the rookies who have made real solid scoring contributions in the first half of the season, they all have at least two major attributes in common. They have at least one area of the floor where they are an above average scorer. They focus on taking shots from those areas and not shooting from their inefficient zones. Wall and Griffin are in a slightly different boat because they’re being asked to carry much larger scoring loads for their teams. Thus, they don’t have the luxury of being as selective with their shots as they could be. That being said, there is no reason why both of them shouldn’t be able to improve significantly over the next few seasons.


Last week, ProBasketballTalk looked at some of the best mid-range shooters in the league this season. They focused specifically on Dirk Nowitzki, Al Horford, Steve Nash, Luke Ridnour and Anthony Morrow. Since their list focused mostly on FG% from those areas, whereas Expected Scoring essentially weights for the number of attempts, my list looks a little bit different. Using the same 10 game, 10 minutes per game requirement here is the Top 5 in Point Differential per 40 from the 10-15ft. range:

1. Shaun Livingston/Charlotte Bobcats/+0.89
2. Carlos Boozer/Chicago Bulls/+0.89
3. Dirk Nowitzki/Dallas Mavericks/+0.82
4. Steve Nash/Phoenix Suns/+0.80
5. Andre Miller/Portland Trailblazers/+0.72

Here is the Top 5 in Point Differential per 40 from the 16-23ft. range:

1. David Anderson/Toronto Raptors/+2.51
2. Dirk Nowitzki/Dallas Mavericks/+1.99
3. Al Horford/Atlanta Hawks/+1.95
4. Nick Young/Washington Wizards/+1.59
5. Josh Powell/Atlanta Hawks/+1.48

With his appearance on both lists, Nowitzki is clearly still the mid-range king. Together his overall Point Differential per 40 on shots from 10-23ft. is a ridiculous +2.81. David Anderson’s total is actually a +3.09, although over just 11 games, a much smaller sample size. Horford’s is a +2.18. Earl Boykins has posted a combined +2.10. The only other player with a combined mid and long-range Point Differential above +2.00 is Patrick Patterson, who we discussed above, with a +2.67.

The Best

Going with the same 10 game, 10 minute per game requirement, your Top 10 in the league in overall Point Differential per 40 is:

1. Dirk Nowitzki/Dallas Mavericks/+5.54
2. Shawne Williams/New York Knicks/+4.51
3. Steve Nash/Phoenix Suns/+3.88
4. Ray Allen/Boston Celtics/+3.30
5. Al Horford/Atlanta Hawks/+3.21
6. DeShawn Stevenson/Dallas Mavericks/+3.14
7. Kevin Martin/Houston Rockets/+2.76
8. Stephen Curry/Golden State Warriors/+2.55
9. Chris Paul/New Orleans Hornets/+2.55
10. David West/New Orleans Hornets/+2.54

Of those ten, only two are on the list because the score at a rate WAY above average from one specific area. That would be Shawne Williams and DeShawn Stevenson, whose numbers mainly look this great because they are taking and making a high number of three pointers. Six of the other eight, Allen, Nash, Martin, Paul, West and Nowitzki score at an above expected rate from every area of the floor including the free throw line.

This is the second season I’ve used this metric and the second season Nowitzki has been out in front by a large margin. These numbers certainly lend credence to his underground MVP campaign. They can also help one make the argument that he’s the best pure scorer in the NBA.

The Worst

Going with the same 10 game, 10 minute per game requirement, your Bottom 10 in the league in overall Point Differential per 40 are:

1. Earl Barron/Phoenix Suns/-5.87
2. Josh Howard/Washington Wizards/-3.66
3. Louis Amundson/Phoenix Suns/-3.63
4. Damion James/New Jersey Nets/-3.42
5. Chris Kaman/Los Angeles Clippers/-3.15
6. Tyreke Evans/Sacramento Kings/-2.87
7. Timofey Mozgov/New York Knicks/-2.79
8. Troy Murphy/New Jersey Nets/-2.74
9. Corey Brewer/Minnesota Timberwolves/-2.73
10. Reggie Evans/Toronto Raptors/-2.69

The Bottom 10 is a mix of rookies struggling to find their way (James, Mozgov), veterans who have struggled with injury (Howard, Amundson, Kaman, Murphy) and perennially inefficient scorers (Brewer, Evans).

The one huge surprise is Tyreke Evans. He has obviously struggled with injuries this season, specifically a painful battle with plantar fasciitis, which has robbed him of much of his explosive first step. Evans has a Point Differential per 40 of -1.39 on shots at the rim. He has also continued to take quite a few outside jumpers but has posted a Point Differential per 40 of -0.79 on shots from 10 to 23 ft. Evans had a negative overall Point Differential last year but has regressed significantly half-way through his sophomore season. As a basketball fan you have to hope it’s mostly attributable to his injuries and that once healthy he will be able to improve and excel.

Stay tuned for an Expected Scoring update for the team level at the beginning of next week.


Filed under Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Statistical Analysis, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards

2 responses to “Expected Scoring Update: Halfway Home

  1. Great stuff! That chart is a beast (And useful)!

    • Thanks! You might not want to look at the numbers for Greg Monroe. They look pretty ugly. He just missed making the bottom 10, I believe he was number 11.

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