**This is a sample analysis of team efficiency using Dean Smith's methods from UNC**

Pepperdine Team and Individual Statistical Defensive Analysis
2003/2004 Season


The Pepperdine basketball team finished 15-16 for the 2003-2004 season. Pepperdine ranked 16th in the nation in scoring offense at 78.9 points per game and were 1 of 4 teams in the top 30 in scoring offense to have a sub .500 record. The team also ranked 25th in the nation in least amount of turnovers per game at 12.5. Pepperdine was 1 of 5 teams in the top 30 in the category to have a losing record.

Conversely, the team ranked 320th out of 326 teams in team defense and more importantly, ranked in 317th in field goal percentage defense. Opponents shot 47.8 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from the 3 point line. Rebounding was another concern as the team finished 220th in rebounding at 34.2 per game, 1.6 per game less than the opponent which ranked 227th. In blocked shots the team ranked 239 with 2.5 per game.

The style of play is a major factor in evaluating defensive performance. An up tempo team such as Pepperdine may give up more points than the national average because there are more possessions per game. With this tempo and increased possessions, there is an expected increase in other “counting” statistics such as turnovers, rebounding, blocked shots, steals, and assists.

The statistics told two distinct stories for the Pepperdine 2002-2004 season. The offense did a tremendous job limiting turnovers especially with consideration to the increased possessions and shot a sound 45.6% from the field. Defensively, blocked shots and rebounding, were lower than expected with the increased possessions. Although, the low rebounding numbers can be attributed to the high field goal percentage offensively and high field goal percentage allowed.

From the season stats, the need for improvement rests with the defense. This study was done to help determine where the breakdowns actually occurred considering Pepperdines up tempo attack. The focus is on defensive efficiency, which relies on a per possession basis for evaluation.


Former North Carolina Coach Dean Smith calculated total possessions by adding all the stats that end a possession: field goals attempted, turnovers, and divided trips to the free throw line by two. When you divide a team’s number of points by their number of possessions, you get the points per possession, or offensive efficiency, rating. Likewise, the defensive efficiency rating is computed by dividing the opponent's points by their number of possessions. With the three-point shot, an offensive efficiency rating of around 0.95 is considered good, and a defensive efficiency rating of below 0.85 is considered good. For the analysis I used Dean Smith’s method of measuring efficiency:

Offensive Efficiency = points scored / all stats that end a possession
Defensive Efficiency = points scored / all stats that end a possession


This is used for team offensive efficiency. They made this formulate by accepting a perfect game from an offensive viewpoint would be an average of 2.0 points for each possession, and goal is to exceed 0.95 points per possessions.

For the season, the Waves offensive efficiency rating is .931, while their defensive efficiency rating is .935 which lends credence to the theory that this team still has room to improve defensively.

Another important stat to valueing each possession is turnovers. By looking at turnover efficiency the true loss and gain per possession can be found.

Percent loss of ball, which is computed by dividing turnovers by total possessions is gauged by the following: .13 or below is terrific, and anything up to .18 is considered good. Pepperdine was a solid .148.

Defensively, opponents should be at .22 or higher. For the season, Wave opponents have a .187 figure.


With the addition of the 3 point shot to the game of basketball there is cause to reassess the formula. If in fact a team has the opportunity to score at least 3 points on every possession, instead of two than we have added an additional variable into the equation. Another problem is that by using FGA as a loss of possession a possession is lost every time a ball is shot. As a result a new possession starts with an offensive rebound. This works against a good offensive rebounding team because it penalizes their Pts/Possession figure. Finally, there is variance between the number of free throws attempted per game so that the FTA/2 is not always a fair evaluation, since on any given night the number of 1, 2, or 3 free throw attempts for each fouled possession will vary. A better measure is simply the total number of possessions gone to the free throw line regardless of attempts.

As a result many coaches are now using what you call Points/Possession, or Turnovers/Possession. The Pts/Poss. is a fairly reliable stat when all things are considered. However it doesn't take into account the optimal tempo as which a team plays. For example, TEAM A allows 100 points may actually produce a better defensive efficiency than TEAM B that gives up 80 points. In a fast paced game, TEAM A allowed 100 points but in 100 possessions. This means their defensive efficiency was 1.0. TEAM B on the other hand allowed only 80 points but in a much slower paced game in 60 total possessions. That is a defensive efficiency of 1.3 actually worse than TEAM A who gave up a hundred points.

1. NCAA website:
2. Hoopsworld.com

Todd Simon