While reading the comments to the Lakers' game against Denver, I started wondering about a statistical question that has been bothering me for quite some time.
It is generally assumed that the Points per Shot stat is a better way of assessing a players efficiency than his actual Field Goal Percentage. While that may be true, I find it flawed itself.
This is not meant to bash Kobe, I just use him as an example. Kobe needed 32 shots yesterday to get 34 points. What I wonder about is this:
Besides those 32 shots, Kobe actually forced the action on a few possessions more, but got fouled.
Wouldn't be "Points per Possession", as it is already used for team performance, be even more accurate than Points per Shot?
To underline my reasoning, I'll give you another example. Let's stay with Kobe.
In the first season game against Houston, he shot 8 for 20 from the field and got 27 points. Thats 1.35 points per shot. But in this game, Kobe also took 12 free throws, making 11 of them. So in reality, he didn't just shoot 20 times, but probably more (considering that there might have been some and-1s or fouls after the team foul threshhold). More importantly, you can assume that he used 24-26 possessions. So even though he scored 27 on 20 shots, he actually scored 27 on 24-26 possessions, which is less productive.
To put that into perspective, we have to take a player, who has a low FT%, like Dwight Howard.
In his first game of the season, he shot 7 for 9 from the field and had 23 points, which would indicate a very productive performance with about 2.5 points per shot. However, in this game Howard also took 19 free throws, only making 9. Is that efficient? I don't think so. The box score says that Howard shot the ball 9 times when in reality he probably tried to shoot about 16-18 times. 23 points on 17 possessions would be a more accurate way of describing Howard's performance in this game IMO.
For the team, it is actually completely irrelevant if a player goes down the court and shoots or if he goes to the basket and draws a foul. In both instances the team uses one of its possessions.
What do you guys think?