Basket Ball on Paper By Dean Oliver – Term Paper

The subject

Basketball on Paper, is a book published by Dean Oliver in 2004, by using statistical analysis in distinguishing the most essential things to win basketball games. The book also provide ways that coaches can use in analyzing the performance of individual players. It is well written and use data from the NBA and very complicated cases in arriving at conclusions. Olivers states that the analytical methods are very important to coaches unless they have a ton of data on the individual players and the team. He believes his conclusions applies better to women basketball than men basketball games. Based on his statistical analysis, he came up with four important key points for team success in NBA, with their relative weights. These are:

1.  Get frequently to the foul lines.

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2. Get offensive rebounds.

3. Do not commit turnovers.

4. Shoot a high field goal percentage.

Oliver also had some observations based on his analysis:

1. Good offensive players are key to the success of a team than good offensive systems.

2. The efficiency of offensive is critical than pushing the games pace.

3. Teams that are good offensively have both outside and inside scoring.

4. Height is less essential to defensive success than offensive success.

 My view on the Subject

Olivers view on NBA teams that perform best is true. A team that does not shoot well should at least consider three key points mention by Oliver and do them better. Coaches need to look at efficiency by looking at the number of turnover per possession or the number of shots per possession and not total turnovers or points, which vary considerably based on the pace of the game. Obviously, the key points of the author are critical for coaches especially on defensive perspective, do not foul, do not give up rebounds that are offensive and prevent easy baskets. In NBA offense wins championships and playoffs, more often than defense (Oliver, 2004). For a team, turnovers are important because an opponent team will not be able to shoot and even score if the ball turns over during possession. A team with fewer turnovers in about 58%of the time making turnovers more important (Oliver, 2004). The biggest problem of running with the ball and shooting the first shot is because the defense will not be able to foul you, getting fouled and having a number of foul shots is the reasons for a teams success in a game. I believe the top offensive teams have players who are taller than average and vice versa. This is due to the fact that teams with shorter players have to play a defensive game because they have problem scoring. Based on Olivers view, it is true to note that from an offensive perspective, a team should avoid turnovers, get offensive rebounds, avoid turnovers and shoot a high field goal percentage. However, from a defensive perspective, a team should avoid fouls, prevent and box out offensive rebounds, cause turnovers and make offensive take a low shot percentage.

My perspective

The first part of the book has a lot of information that compares NBA teams, however, the second part of the book may not provide much assistance to coaches, it provides fodder for NBA buffs to debate. The book are important for coaches to gather information on their opponents and teams to pick optimal defenses and offenses for their teams, evaluate their players and decide good combinations and match up for players. Coaches can use the guidelines to make intuitive decisions.


Oliver, D. (2004). Basketball on paper: rules and tools for performance analysis. Potomac Books, Inc. Washington.