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Post Timeout Performance

post timeout perforamnce in NBA Basketball

There's been strong interest this season from several quarters for developing "coach ratings" and we made a few steps in that direction with Stats for Mr. Simmons and Stats for Mr. Simmons, part II (both of which will be updated soon with full season numbers).

Still an obvious statistical area to look at where a coach might be believed to have strong influence is in the possessions following a timeout. With time to draw up a play (or draw up the defense) and substitute in and out the desired players for maximum effect, the ‘first possession?following the timeout can be viewed as a mini-test of the coach’s in game strategies.

Looking at the regular season games we can compile a hefty sample size if we use all post-timeout action, which may include a fair amount of moments at less than crucial times, and especially in the early stages of games a timeout may be called less for the purposes of setting up the next play and more for discussing the way the game is going and what, ahem, might need to be changed (the proverbial ‘yelling at the players?stoppage). Still, these numbers should provide a decent read on how a coach’s play-scripting panned out.

Offensive performance immediately following a timeout
The following numbers represent the immediate first possession after a timeout when the team was on offense and inbounding the ball.

2005-06 Regular Season
Rank
Team
FGM
FGA
FG%
FTM
FTA
T/O
Pts/Poss*
1  Seattle 185 413 .448 234 293 76 118.6
2  Boston 167 344 .485 263 336 71 117.9
3  Phoenix 135 299 .452 152 190 48 116.2
4  Utah 116 271 .428 249 323 53 115.5
5  Denver 135 321 .421 232 315 57 113.9
6  Dallas 172 407 .423 248 329 78 113.3
7  Sacramento 147 348 .422 268 348 68 113.2
8  Golden State 145 367 .395 247 324 50 112.8
9  Orlando 191 411 .465 238 317 82 112.8
10  Washington 173 417 .415 243 309 59 112.8
11  Toronto 182 431 .422 220 277 62 112.2
12  New Orleans/Okla 133 314 .424 225 295 57 111.3
13  Detroit 176 417 .422 171 232 54 111.1
14  Memphis 169 414 .408 204 269 75 110.6
15  L.A. Clippers 128 305 .420 235 301 68 110.0
16  New Jersey 184 457 .403 249 316 73 109.7
17  Miami 171 395 .433 189 268 69 109.4
18  L.A. Lakers 152 379 .401 201 271 55 109.2
19  Indiana 194 434 .447 215 285 80 108.6
20  New York 190 412 .461 219 312 83 108.4
21  Milwaukee 146 386 .378 239 320 52 108.3
22  Cleveland 149 380 .392 253 363 57 107.9
23  Charlotte 212 484 .438 204 279 78 106.4
24  Chicago 176 414 .425 156 210 76 106.3
25  Philadelphia 216 480 .450 216 297 85 106.2
26  Atlanta 194 442 .439 222 297 86 105.9
27  Houston 177 436 .406 215 282 93 105.1
28  San Antonio 168 382 .440 167 248 67 104.9
29  Portland 179 444 .403 221 311 86 103.4
30  Minnesota 141 371 .380 176 245 67 98.5

*Pts/Poss = Points per 100 possessions, accounting for offensive rebounds

The makeup of a roster probably has a lot to say with how a team can go about designing and executing plays, so it's a little unfair to label these things "coach ratings" as a result. Along with that, by using a full season we're dealing with varying levels of intensity and degree of difficulty (a play post timeout in garbage time versus a last second shot with only one second to inbound and shoot).

Nonetheless these are the stats yet since only five of the top ten most efficienct clubs are even playoff qualifiers, while four of the bottom ten made the postseason, it might be deemed a non-essential area! Just as important for a coach presumably is to set the defense coming back from a timeout -- being able to predict his opponent’s moves and ready the countering answer:

Defensive performance immediately following a timeout
...and the defensive equivalents

2005-06 Regular Season
Rank
Team
FGM
FGA
FG%
FTM
FTA
T/O
Pts/Poss*
1  Miami 149 388 .384 213 298 64 101.1
2  Dallas 147 383 .384 210 287 67 102.9
3  Detroit 200 461 .434 168 233 88 103.4
4  Philadelphia 152 377 .403 187 245 69 104.3
5  San Antonio 153 385 .397 198 253 78 104.4
6  Indiana 159 382 .416 173 240 67 104.5
7  Chicago 156 402 .388 210 268 64 104.6
8  Denver 170 404 .421 219 304 91 105.2
9  New Jersey 141 349 .404 209 271 71 105.5
10  Orlando 145 363 .399 215 303 60 106.6
11  L.A. Lakers 168 398 .422 213 293 52 107.3
12  Charlotte 162 384 .422 211 291 92 107.4
13  New Orleans/Okla 152 400 .380 230 306 61 107.6
14  Utah 132 354 .373 294 395 62 108.2
15  Memphis 168 398 .422 199 261 79 108.7
16  Houston 145 346 .419 197 263 64 108.7
17  Sacramento 162 402 .403 209 268 58 110.0
18  Phoenix 203 476 .426 227 311 86 110.4
19  Milwaukee 185 425 .435 233 322 60 110.5
20  New York 153 332 .461 235 312 68 112.2
21  Washington 167 387 .432 210 283 69 112.3
22  Golden State 178 398 .447 233 307 78 112.5
23  Minnesota 172 383 .449 241 319 62 115.3
24  Boston 193 430 .449 245 317 74 115.3
25  Portland 156 348 .448 207 271 58 115.5
26  Atlanta 184 405 .454 242 319 58 116.0
27  L.A. Clippers 187 416 .450 267 353 67 117.3
28  Toronto 183 403 .454 232 294 62 117.6
29  Seattle 181 384 .471 242 307 81 118.5
30  Cleveland 200 412 .485 202 268 55 119.7

Now we're getting somewhere as the top two teams in each conference rank in the top five for defense immediately after a timeout where the other team has the ball. Eight of the top ten made the playoffs, with only three of the bottom ten in the postseason.

One more wrinkle to consider though is that teams during a timeout may not only plan what happens on the inbounds play but on the subsequent possession going the other way. We've also compiled stats for "offense 2" and "defense 2" where it is the second game possession following a timeout (the team on defense at the inbounds going back on offense and vice versa).

Rather than show the full stats though, we'll list each team with its rank in the various segments.

Overall Post-Timeout ratings
Let's try and combine the different post timeout scenarios into one rating.

Rank
Team
Off1
Off2
Def1
Def2
Score
Wins
1  Dallas 6 13 2 21 7.3 60
2  Miami 17 2 1 7 7.9 52
3  Utah 4 11 14 4 8.6 41
4  Denver 5 21 8 13 9.1 44
5  Detroit 13 10 3 20 9.8 64
6  Orlando 9 14 10 18 11.1 36
7  Memphis 14 1 15 3 11.4 49
8  Boston 2 16 24 5 12.4 33
9  New Jersey 16 22 9 2 12.4 49
10  Sacramento 7 27 17 12 13.9 44
11  Seattle 1 3 29 19 14.0 35
12  Chicago 24 5 7 15 14.1 41
13  Phoenix 3 24 18 26 14.1 54
14  Indiana 19 23 6 17 14.4 41
15  Washington 10 7 21 16 14.5 42
16  L.A. Lakers 18 9 11 22 14.8 45
17  San Antonio 28 20 5 1 15.0 63
18  New Orleans/Okla 12 17 13 28 15.0 38
19  Golden State 8 12 22 24 15.8 34
20  Philadelphia 25 18 4 25 16.3 38
21  New York 20 8 20 14 17.8 23
22  Charlotte 23 26 12 11 17.8 26
23  Milwaukee 21 25 19 10 19.4 40
24  Toronto 11 15 28 29 20.1 27
25  L.A. Clippers 15 29 27 8 20.4 47
26  Cleveland 22 6 30 9 21.4 50
27  Atlanta 26 4 26 23 22.9 26
28  Houston 27 28 16 30 23.4 34
29  Minnesota 30 30 23 6 24.4 33
30  Portland 29 19 25 27 26.0 21

Legend:
Off1 = 1st Offensive possession post timeout when team had ball from inbounds
Off2 = 1st Offensive production when team was on defense coming back from the timeout
Def1 = 1st Defensive possession when team was on defense after the timeout
Def2 = 1st Defensive production when team was on offense coming back from the timeout
Score = weighted ranks formula: [3*Off1)+(3*Def1)+Off2+Def2]/8

So when you use our little two second formula, the Dallas Mavericks come out on top as the best team in the NBA post timeout. Kudos to Avery Johnson? On the other hand, no one is going to claim Nate McMillan is a bad coach just because of what happened in Portland this year!

For correlation lovers, it looks like this: (ranks/Poss to Wins)

Off1 = .21
Off2 = .07
Def1 = .54
Def2 = .32
Score = .58

...it should be mentioned that with n=30 sample we're dealing with gigantic confidence intervals on all these!

Most of the top teams fare pretty well in the overall rankings, although San Antonio and Phoenix only rate as middle of the pack. However if we slice the data by looking only at post timeout events in the fourth quarter of close games (neither team ahead by more than five points) then San Antonio moves up to #7, while Phoenix drops to #19. So, you might think that the strange events of Lakers-Suns game four do hint at one weakness of the "Nashers" -- they're only average post timeout.

The Suns though weren't the lowest ranked playoff team in clutch post timeout plays -- Cleveland, Memphis and Milwaukee all rated worse...will any of them survive the first round?

Again though these numbers are really more of a "fun value" at this stage, but we may well look to publish a multi-year study in the offseason to see if indeed certain coaches have a knack for winning the ultimate head-to-head matchup: pen versus pen!

Postscript: after receiving a zillion emails saying the same thing -- compare the post timeout performance to overall full season stats -- we've gone ahead and created version 2: Alternative Post Timeout Ratings


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