Welcome back to Corner Stats! Yes, I finally decide the title for my articles. As already mentioned in the last article, for this month we will explore some game situations thanks to the powerful data available on the NBA website. Today we will talk about post-ups.
The post-ups are those situations in which a player has his back to the basket and uses his body as a shield against his defender in order to receive the ball with ease. This generates an advantage for his team to be exploited in different ways such as one-on-one attacks or inside-out plays. Once the post-ups was used a lot, thanks to the fact that forwards and centers were more static than today and had less shooting range (today one of the two forwards is usually a stretch four).
In nowadays basketball, this situation is less exploited but remains an important weapon for some teams, both to exploit their players’ 1 vs 1 with a good attitude to attack in post-up and to generate movements. If you remember, we discovered last week that a generic situation is positive or negative depending on the roster available.
So let’s take a look at the following chart, showing the distribution of the thirty NBA teams based on the total post-up possessions played and the points made in these situations:
We discover that San Antonio, the 76ers, the Knicks and Minnesota are the four teams that got more from the post-ups thanks to their players: clearly with people like Aldridge, Embiid or Towns it is useful to explore this situation. On the other hand, we find the Rockets, the Jazz and the Hawks. However, this chart is in absolute terms: how did the Texan team behave in relative terms?
It acted very well but Minnesota, compared to a fewer number of post-up possessions, has been able to score more. We also find the 76ers in a high position, confirming that the post-ups for these three teams are an important weapon. However, compared to the chart about isolation, seems that teams that used fewer post-ups can still get good values of points per possession. In fact, the post-up is a situation in which if you have a physical advantage you tend to use it. This leads to higher values of points for possession even for teams that exploit it few times. Atlanta is indeed a unique team, using it not so much and badly.
When a player receives a ball in the post-up does not necessarily go to the basket: from that situation, you can also generate assists or continue some plays. Thanks to the NBA trackers we can discover how the thirty teams conclude their post-up situations: going to score (%FGA + 0,44 x FTA), passing the ball (%PASS), doing an assist (%AST), losing the ball (%TO) or making a foul (usually charge or hooking, %PF).
If 100 is the total amount of post-ups played, the colored columns identify the percentages with which the post-ups were concluded with that particular action. The chart above is the one that includes all the teams: I have selected some to focus on, based on different reasons.
I have considered Spurs, Minnie and the 76ers as they are the three teams that used most post-ups; I added also to the list the Cavs, the Warriors and the Heat as they have the highest values of the sum between passes and assists. In fact, if the first three teams have strong post-up players, the other three have more players able to read situations like Lebron or Green, who take advantage of post-ups to make passages and assist to their teammates. However, Cavs are a borderline team, because they have identical percentages of Phila, while GS and Miami go to the basket less than 40% of the time, in favor of a 40 + 14% and 39 + 10% in terms of passages + assist.
Therefore, the post-up is a situation from which you can get different benefits.
Before concluding, let’s take a look at the players to complete the analysis:
I have only considered players with at least 40 games played and 40 post-ups played. As you can see, the Spurs reason behind their first position in post-ups played is LaMarcus Aldridge.