Operating from the Post

During the current era of pace and space, much has been made about the death of the post. Along with this shift has been a counter wave of analysts suggesting that there are still uses for the art of posting up. Coming from esteemed analysts Zach Lowe and Coach Nick, it is suggested that even if post scoring is down, passes from the post can still be cornerstones for efficient offences. With that being said, it is important to put the to the test: If teams shift towards more passing than scoring out of the post, do their offences become more efficient?

To start off, I decided to categorize offences based on their usage of post touches. stats.nba.com conveniently provides when a post touch ends with a pass or shot, so I compiled them into one stat, Fga/Pass, or the ratio of shots to passes. If Coach Nick’s hypothesis is correct, that passing out of the post is more efficient, then teams that elect to pass instead of shoot, and thus have a lower Fga/Pass percentage, should be more efficient.

Firstly, I examined whether teams would have better overall effective shooting percentages. Theoretically, if a pass should lead to a more efficient offence, then there should be a negative correlation.

efg vs FGAPass

While this graph does demonstrate the negative correlation I was expecting, the R squared value is much too small to be able to glean anything of significance from it.

Secondly, on a hunch, I decided to look at the correlation between post touch passing and turnovers. Intuitively speaking, players who can pass from the post, such as Tim Duncan, tend to create a smoother flowing offence than a post bully. What I would expect to find is that a scorer is more prone to turnovers, and thus a positive correlation between Fga/Pass and TOV%.

FGApass vs TOV%

While the slope of the trendline matches my hypothesis, the problem again is in the correlation coefficient being far too low. For both graphs, the problem is evident in how spread out the data is.

In conclusion, while my research proved inconclusive in determining whether passing out of the post led to an efficient offence, mostly due to a small sample size, there is definitely room for further research using multiple years worth of data.


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