WBBL vs NCAA – Part 1

One question I’ve been asked over and over again:  “How does professional basketball overseas compare with basketball in the USA?”.  Well, from my personal experience I can tell you it’s way different.  It’s a different culture.  It’s a different intensity.  It’s waking up at 5am to get shots up before class, going to class, team practice for 3 hours, then team film session, then more class.  It’s taken more seriously and requires a greater level of commitment and dedication.  But, that’s another can of worms for another time.  Now onto the numbers…

I’m aware there’s a decent amount of young players in the WBBL who aspire to play for a University in the USA.  So, I thought it’d be interesting to compare British basketball with college basketball in the USA.  I’m curious about how the WBBL differs from NCAA Division 1 (the best college division in the States) when we apply statistics.  There are tons of stats that can be looked at that may give us an idea about the style of play each league embodies.  So, to carry on from last weeks discussion of shot selection, I thought it would be cool to look at types of shots taken.  HOW exactly the shots are being taken?  Are they catch and shoot or dribble pull ups?  Will young players in the WBBL have a smooth transition into the NCAA in regards to kinds of shots taken?

It’s important to recognize that not all conferences in the NCAA are created equally.  Some tend to be know for their physicality inside, where as some are better known for their “run and gun” guard oriented game.  Just for fun I compared the WBBL with the NCAA Division 1 Big Ten Conference (for obvious reasons).  This conference is made up of 14 teams in and around the Midwest of the USA.

I chose to look at the data available on Synergy for the the 2014-2015 Big Ten season (as oppose to the current season where only a couple games stats were posted) so that I would have a larger sample size.  While comparing it to the data I have available for the 2015-2016 WBBL season, it was surprising to me that I didn’t see too many shocking differences in the type of basketball that has been played.  Of course the Big Ten had higher efficiency ratings in regards to shooting (FG%, aFG%*, PPP**, etc), but as far as types of shots taken the leagues did not differ as anticipated.  Let’s also remember to take into account that each WBBL team only had stats available for 3-4 games each, where as each team in the Big Ten played 30-35 games, so I hypothesize that as the WBBL season continues, the numbers will be able to tell us something different.

The below pie charts show that the range of shots taken did not differ too much.  WBBL teams take a bit more 3 pointers and a bit less close-up shots, but the percentage of midrange jumpers was nearly the same.

In my next post (WBBL vs NCAA – Part 2) I will  take a look the “Catch and Shoot” type shot and find out whether or not there are differences.

*aFG% = Adjusted Field Goal % = [(Total Points – Free Throws Made) / FGA] / 2

**PPP = Points Per Possession = Points scored / number of possessions



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