In a recent game thread, a SwishAppeal poster lamented the 2-Point Percentage (2P%) of Elena Delle Donne. When I checked her playerfile. I was surprised to see that the stats for a WNBA player do not give you Two Point Field Goal Percentage (2P%) (2-point shots made divided by 2-point shots taken). They do give you their Three Point Field Goal Percentage (3P%) (three point shots made divided by 3-point shots taken) and their Field Goal Percentage (FG%) (2-point and 3-point shots made divided by 2-point and 3-point shots taken). This is true not only in the Playerfile section of wnba.com, but also in their Statistics section which gives sorted tabular stats for all players.
- 1961 used at startup by the American Basketball League (lasted 1.5 years)
- 1967 used at startup by the American Basketball Association (merged with the NBA in 1976)
- 1979 adopted by the NBA
- 1986 universally adopted in college basketball
- 1987 adopted by high school, middle school and elementary school basketball
- 1996 used at startup by the American Basketball League (ABL)
- 1997 used at startup by the WNBA
Despite the 3-point shot being used at all levels for over two and a half decades, the WNBA (and NBA) still use the FG% statistic which counts 2 point shots and 3 point shots equally. The problem is fairly obvious - 3-point shots and 2-point shots do not have the same value when the ball goes through the basket, and thus made baskets should not be lumped together equally. To rectify this, the FG% statistic should be replaced by 2P% and/or Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%). The eFG% abbreviation currently used is a little intimidating in that the e is lowercased, in a "mathy" way, but it is simply FG% adjusted for the fact that 3-point shots count for 50% more than 2-point shots. It is: ( 2 point shots made + (1.5 * 3 point shots made) ) divided by total shots attempted. If a player doesn't make any 3-point shots, their FG% and eFG% are identical. But if they do make 3-point shots the eFG% provides an accurate comparison and the ideal solution. For example:
Player A makes 4 of 10 shots, all 2-pointers. Player B makes 4 of 10 shots, three of which were 3-pointers on eight 3-point attempts, and Player C makes 4 of 10 shots, two 3-pointers of 5 attempts and two 2-pointers of 5 attempts.
As is currently done at WNBA.com we would see:
Player A FG% 40% 3P% 0%
Player B FG% 40% 3P% 37.5%
Player C FG% 40% 3P% 40%
If we replace FG% with 2P% we get to see how the player is "shooting inside the arc":
Player A 2P% 40% 3P% 0%
Player B 2P% 50% 3P% 37.5%
Player C 2P% 40% 3P% 40%
But we get the best idea of their value as a shooter using eFG%:
Player A eFG% 40% 3P% 0%
Player B eFG% 55% 3P% 37.5%
Player C eFG% 50% 3P% 40%
Ideally we would see FG% replaced by 2P% and eFG% so we could see both the "shooting value" statistic and also be able to see how well the player is shooting from 2-point land.
So next time you are having lunch with Laurel Richie, take a moment to point out that Field Goal Percentage is over two decades out of date.