FanPost

Time for the WNBA to retire the Field Goal Percentage (FG%) statistic

It's probably no surprise that Diana Taurasi has one of the best effective field goal percentages in league history on the team that currently leads the league in the category. - Christian Petersen

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.

The history of the 3-point shot in American basketball is:

  • 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.

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