Analyzing Your Offensive Possessions by Time Segments

If you play with a shot clock, analyzing how your team performs at both ends of the floor in each third of the shot clock can be a real eye opener and teaching tool.

I look at this a lot when I analyze games and it’s probably not surprising that I (and many others) generally find that most teams have the highest rate of offensive success in the first third of the clock, their second highest rate of offensive success in the second third of the clock and their worst rate of offensive success in the last third of the clock.

Flip the script when defense is discussed: Worst Defensive Rate-First Third, Second Defensive Rate Rate-Middle Third and Best Defensive Rate-Last Third.

The reasons for these general trends are simple. In the first third of the clock, offenses are getting live ball turnover, transition and early offense opportunities before the defense can get totally set. In the second third, the offense is very often still working off an edge they gained in the first third. By the time the offense gets into the last third of the clock, they have very often lost the edge and now have to try to get a shot under time pressure and very often into a deeply entrenched defense. But, remember that these are general trends.

Examples of college teams that have routinely been successful offensively in the last third of the clock are Virginia, Wichita St. and St. Mary’s. John Chaney’s Temple teams are another example. You really won’t know how your team will fares in this type of analysis until you try it.

Any spreadsheet format will do but for each possession, chart the shot clock third and the attempted shot, turnover or foul shots that occurred. Compute the OER (or DER) for the action in each segment. Another variation is to rate each shot taken on some scale (maybe- 5 Great, 4 Good, etc). Analyzing the QUALITY of the shot (possession) might actually serve you better than the results.

Of course, results will vary from game to game depending on the relative strengths of your team against each opponent. Results will also vary from game to game depending on your opponent’s pace and style of play. The number of times you go through this exercise be will be an individual choice but it will always produce some important insights.

For those who play without a shot clock, this type of analysis can be almost as valuable as it is to your shot clock brothers. Pretend that you have segments of ten seconds. The results of the first two 10 second segments will come close to mirroring teams that play with shot clocks and can yield similar insights.

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