The Explanation of Scoring Efficiency

Here at Sportsmanlike Conduct, and now over at my newest endeavor as part of the SB Nation family site Mid-Major Madness, I like to talk about basketball. When I do that, my favorite way to analyze a player’s success on a given night is to look at what I call their Scoring Efficiency, or ScEf for short.

Here’s the formula for ScEf:

                                                 (points scored)                                                   
(2*number of 2 point FGA) + (3*number of 3 point FGA) + (1*number of FTA)

When it comes to analyzing offensive success, it’s my favorite way to evaluate how smart a player was with their shot selection/gaging how well they were shooting on a given night.

Say Carmelo Anthony (a player with a notoriously low ScEf when compared to how many points he scores) were to score 33 points on 13-27 FG shooting (1-4 3 point FG, 6-10 FT) but the Knicks were to lose by 6. Typically, the media outlets would say that Carmelo put on a show but didn’t get enough help from his teammates, right?

That would be the wrong conclusion. Carmelo would’ve scored only 48.53% (his ScEf) of the points he could’ve scored based on all 37 shots he took that night, making his game patently inefficient that night. If he had delegated 4 of his misses to better shot selection, the Knicks could’ve won the game, and he would’ve been 55% efficient.

This is the most crucial part of a basketball player’s offensive mindset. It’s important for a player to regulate their play if they’re hot (or not) and make sure that the shots they’re taking are good ones.

The rating system for ScEf is still in under construction, but for now, here’s how it lies.

0-20% ScEf: varying levels of awful. A ScEf under 20% means you could’ve scored 5 times the points that you did. Yeah.

20%-40% ScEf: still pretty bad. At least once you get near 40% you’re coming close to acceptable for non-superstars.

40%-50% ScEf: an average game; not good, but not bad. You came out and shot the ball a few too many times.

50%-59% ScEf: a good game. You scored at least half the points possible, meaning the odds of your teammates scoring instead of you were low.

60%-69% ScEf: a great game. Scoring efficiency in the 60s isn’t common, and it’s typically representative of a high-scoring victory.

70%+ ScEf: some legendary stuff.

And that is Scoring Efficiency, the pride of my basketball analysis career to date. Hopefully you see the logic the way I do: if you’re not scoring efficiently, you’re not on the court. While we have superstars, the only thing separating them from ball-hogs is efficiency.


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