Tyson Chandler is a controversial figure. Not because he has a propensity for eating puppies, kicking babies or posting asses on Twitter. Rather, Chandler presents one of the more head-scratching — and polarizing — conundrums in the game: he’s taken less than six shots a game since coming to the Knicks two years ago, yet scores at a ridiculously efficient rate.
How can we compare a low usage, high efficiency guy like Tyson to high usage, lower efficiency players? Do the “stat nerds” really overvalue Tyson due to his efficient scoring without taking in to account his low usage? Today I attempt to determine what Tyson Chandler would have to do to compare favorably to the best player in the NBA at his position: Byron Mullens…. Come to think of it we’ll just go with Dwight Howard.
First, let’s have a quick lesson on the stats I’m going to use — stats you might already think you know, but with something of a twist.
The USG% stat is defined as follows:
100*((FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV) * (Tm MP / 5)) / (MP * (Tm FGA + 0.44 * Tm FTA + Tm TOV))
So basically what you’re looking at is the percentage of offensive plays that end with a player while he is on the floor. By this definition, there are three ways an offensive play can end: in a shot (FGA), with a turnover (TOV) or with free throws (FTA). That 0.44 that is multiplied by the FTA is there to compensate for the fact that free throws are usually taken in pairs, and there are also times when free throws don’t end a possession, like for technical free throws and “and 1″ free throws.
From here on out I’m going to call the calculation (FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV) an “event”. So to further simplify the USG% stat, you can say that it is 100*(Player Events)/(Team Events) * (Minutes Adjustments), where the Minutes Adjustment is just one fifth of the team’s minutes divided by the player’s actual minutes played.
To quantify scoring efficiency I’m going to go with the “true shooting percentage” (TS%) which is defined thusly:
PTS / 2*(Tm FGA + 0.44 * Tm FTA)
I like TS% because it takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws — all the ways someone is going to score. Again, you see the 0.44 correction factor being multiplied to the FTA, for the same reason as it is with respect to USG%. Basically what this stat is telling you is the percentage of shooting plays resulting in 2 points.
The Good Stuff
By this point you might be asking, what’s the point of all this? Well, what we’re going to look at now is what the Knicks’ version of Tyson Chandler would have to do to reach the usage and efficiency of Dwight Howard. Let’s check out where they stand.
Tyson Chandler (Knicks) USG%: 13.0 TS%: 0.69
Dwight Howard (Career) USG%: 23.4 TS%: 0.60
While this reflect Dwight’s career numbers, only Tyson’s Knicks years are being taken into account. So, if Tyson were to increase his usage from 13.0 to 23.4 for a full season, how efficient would he have to be with those extra scoring attempts? I thought this was going to be easy, but the math is actually fairly involved.
First we have to find out how many “events” a usage of 23.4 would be for the Knicks teams that Tyson played on, and assume that any extra scoring events that Tyson has are taken away from someone else. Well, that data is easily available. As it turns out, over the past 2 years, a USG% of 23.4 on the Knicks corresponds to an average of 1395.2 events a season. We can also determine how many scoring events Tyson has had over the past two years, based on his USG% of 13.0. That number, corrected for 82 games a season, would be 756.9 events. This means that to hit a usage of 23.4, Tyson would have to have 638.3 extra events. Now remember, an event is a combination of field goal attempts, free throw attempts, and turnovers (FGA + 0.44 * FTA + TOV).
If we assume that Tyson’s free throw rate and turnover rate stay the same with his USG% increased from 13.0 to 23.4, we can determine how the extra 759.9 events break down over a full 82 game season:
Extra FGA: 402.9
Extra FTA: 305.8
Extra TOV: 100.9
Per game that corresponds to 4.8 extra FGA, 3.7 extra FTA and 1.2 extra TOVs that Tyson would have to produce. So, now the question is, how efficient would Tyson have to be with those extra shots to hit an overall TS% of 0.60? Well, here you go:
TS% on extra events: 0.49
That’s right, on those extra scoring events Tyson would only have to score with a TS% of 0.49, which is well below the league average of around 0.54. To give some perspective on how bad Tyson would have to shoot, if he hit his free throws at the same 69% rate he has the past 2 years, then he would have to have a FG% of 39.0% if he only attempted 2 point shots. Or, he could develop a 3 point shot and hit that at a 26% rate on 5 attempts per game!
Now we know what Tyson Chandler would have to do to match an average scoring season of Dwight Howard. Honestly, it seems like all he has to do is take a a lot more inefficient shots. So the question becomes, why doesn’t he? Would it help the team if Tyson took up 10 more scoring events a game and scored on them with a 0.49 TS%? Would Tyson put up an even better TS% than the average Dwight Howard season if he matched usage?
What do y’all think?