Dean Olivers’ Four Factors for Basketball Success

In Dean Oliver’s book, Basketball on Paper, he identified what he called “The Four Factors for Basketball success.” These four key factors significantly impact a team’s ability to win games: shooting, rebounding, turnovers, and free throws.

Shooting: Converting Shots into Points

Shooting efficiency is the foundation of a successful offense. Teams that consistently make shots from the field, including two-pointers and three-pointers, are more likely to score more points and outscore their opponents. Oliver’s analysis revealed that shooting efficiency accounts for 40% of a team’s overall performance.

Turnovers: Protecting the Ball

Turnovers (i.e., losing possession of the ball to the opposing team) are detrimental to offensive success. Each turnover represents a lost opportunity to score and provides the opponent with a chance to score themselves. Oliver’s research indicated that turnovers contribute 25% to a team’s performance.

Rebounding: Controlling the Boards

Rebounding, the act of securing missed shots, is crucial for both offensive and defensive success. Offensive rebounds give a team a second chance to score, while defensive rebounds prevent the opponent from scoring additional points. Oliver’s findings suggest that rebounding accounts for 20% of a team’s performance.

Free Throws: Converting at the Line

Free throws, opportunities to score from the foul line, are high-percentage shots that teams should consistently make. Converting free throws efficiently can be the difference between winning and losing close games. Oliver’s analysis showed that free throws contribute 15% to a team’s performance.

Oliver’s Four Factors in Action

The Four Factors formula, developed by Oliver, calculates a team’s overall performance by combining their shooting efficiency, turnover rate, rebounding percentage, and free throw percentage, weighted according to their respective importance. A team with a higher Four Factors score is generally expected to perform better than a team with a lower score.

Here’s a more in-depth discussion on the Four Factors:


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