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A FiveThirtyEight Crash Course In Basketball Stats
Hot Takedown

Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (Dec. 29, 2015), we bring you the latest edition of “Stat School.” Last time, Statman, aka Neil Paine, talked to us about NFL running back stats. This week, he brings us basketball 101. Neil guides us through three hoop-centric stats: points per game, true shooting percentage and usage rate.

Stat one: Points per game

A player’s average number of points scored per game played.

Stat two: True shooting percentage

A statistic used to gauge scoring efficiency that takes into consideration a player’s shot attempts (including field goals and free throws) and points scored. The result is the average points the player scored when he ended a possession by shooting.

Stat three: Usage percentage

A metric that estimates the percentage of a team’s possessions that a player “uses” while he is in the game. As players “use” more possessions, their overall efficiency tends to drop.

Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above. Listen to Statman and you just might be able to eke out a statistical advantage in your holiday pick up games.


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Chadwick Matlin is a senior editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Kate Fagan is a writer for espnW and a regular panelist on the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown.

Joe Sykes produces our weekly sports podcast Hot Takedown.

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