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: