PART 1: PLAY TYPES: A Quick Look at Frequency & Efficiency

The WBBL is about halfway into the season, so it’s a great time to start analyzing teams’ efficiency in greater depth.  I have the privilege (thanks to Synergy) to observe statistics on detailed possessions.  They tag play types based on 10 categories:  Isolation, Pick & Roll Ball Hander, Pick & Roll Roll Man, Post-Up, Spot Up, Off Screen, Hand Off, Cut, Offensive Rebound Put-backs (OR Put-Backs), and Transition.  It’s important to note that each play type is defined by how the possession ends.  Understandably, this data is not able to tell us about entire possessions, but only how each possession ends.  And, just for a reminder, a possession ends one of four ways:  a made shot, a missed shot and defensive rebound, a turnover, or a foul.

As a starting point, I observed the frequency of each play type across the league.  Here’s a look at the averages of those play types and which team has the highest frequency of each play type.

Play Type Freq

This is showing us the type of game the WBBL plays.  Nothing surprising really. As anticipated, the league is predominantly consisting of spot ups, transition, and cuts.  Duh.  That’s basketball isn’t it?!

To give us more insight on just how meaningful play types can be, I now looked at efficiency ratings of each play type.  The table below shows the average PPP (Points Per Possession) for each play type.  I put in another column indicating which team is most efficient at that play type.

Play Type Effi

OR Put-backs and cuts are the two most efficient play types, with higher average PPP (0.0480 and 0.8918).  This makes sense.  Put-backs are close to the basket shots, so they should more likely result in a score.  Possessions ending in cuts are typically cuts through the lane and close to the basket, so they should more likely result in an easy bucket.  To no surprise, Sheffield is excellent at put-backs, Cardiff appears quite efficient at spot ups and coming off screens, and Manchester is very efficient at scoring off cuts.  So, what can we deduce from looking at both of these tables?  In short, it can tell us if teams are performing play types in which they are most efficient at.  For example, it can show us that Cardiff is spending entirely too much time ending plays in P&R with the ball handler and isolation (highest frequency in those play types), when instead they should be striving to end plays with spot up shots and shots coming off screens (highest efficiency in those play types).  Other conclusions can be made based on the more detailed data not shown in these tables.  This can be used when looking at individual player’s performance, too.  For example, if a player’s efficiency is extremely high in a certain play type, but they don’t have a high frequency in that play type, then this tells the coach that particular individual needs to adjust her play.  In other words, you as a coach need to do a better job at setting that player up to more likely be executing her most efficient play type.  Such adjustments can be helpful to any team wanting to have more productive offenses.

And just for fun:  Who are the individual standouts in each of the play types thus far?  Here you go:

Player Eff

In PART 2 of this discussion about play types I will attempt to find correlations between play types and overall offensive efficiency.  Can play types predict a team’s overall offensive efficiency?

Stay tuned…

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