Effective Field Goal Percentage: Giving the Triple Its True Worth

The 3-point­er has nev­er been more val­ued than it is today. So why not embrace it with a stat that real­ly shows off its rewards?

Effective Field Goal Percentage: Giving the Triple Its True Worth

The 3-point­er has nev­er been more val­ued than it is today. So why not embrace it with a stat that real­ly shows off its rewards?

Coaches young and old are embrac­ing the mod­ern game full-on. This means allow­ing some of their most stead­fast prin­ci­ples to be twist­ed based on what today’s most pop­u­lar advanced met­rics suggest.

Take, for instance, Marshall University head coach Dan D’Antoni, who in his now-famous damn ana­lyt­ics” rant laid out to a reporter why he wasn’t all too con­cerned with post­ing up any­more. The best place on the floor to spot up for a shot? The num­bers told him it was a 3-point attempt from the cor­ner. The next-best shot? Any oth­er three.

He had a front-row seat to the rev­o­lu­tion as an assis­tant for his broth­er Mike D’Antoni, whose mid-aughts Phoenix Suns paved the way for the fre­net­ic run-and-gun style adopt­ed wide­ly in today’s NBA. Dan clear­ly took notes, as his Thundering Herd sank a bar­rage of threes to score a first-round upset in their first NCAA tour­na­ment appear­ance in three decades.

So, if a 70-year-old coach can embrace effec­tive field goal per­cent­age (one of the Four Factors”) as his North Star, why not every­one else? As the name implies, coach­es are turn­ing to this stat to help them mea­sure the effi­cien­cy of their shot selec­tion — and whether they’re deny­ing it from their foes.

How It Works

This stat is more inflat­ed than your tra­di­tion­al field goal per­cent­age, adding a weight­ed mod­i­fi­er to the three-point makes. 

But it’s inflat­ed with a pur­pose. Let’s com­pare two sce­nar­ios of team­mates con­tribut­ing to a win.

Scenario 1

Player A shoots 5 of 10 from the floor, includ­ing a 4 for 8 night on threes.

Player B, work­ing the paint, fin­ish­es 7 of 14, all twos.

Scenario 2

Player A fin­ish­es 8 of 14 from the floor, all of them 2-point­ers, for a 57 per­cent clip on field goal percentage.

Player B isn’t as accu­rate, going 5 for 13, all of them threes, for just a 38 per­cent clip.

In both sce­nar­ios, who do you think had the bet­ter night?

How Teams Value It

Catholic High School of Baton Rouge boys bas­ket­ball coach Mark Cascio, the youngest coach to ever win a state title in Louisiana his­to­ry, con­sid­ers this stat the biggest dif­fer­ence between win­ning and los­ing for high school teams.

It’s the No. 1 fac­tor in how you win high school games,” he says. That, and turnover bat­tles. If you win those two bat­tles, I think you win 90 per­cent of the time. We shoot a lot of threes, so our effec­tive field goal per­cent­age tends to be pret­ty high, espe­cial­ly when we shoot the ball well.” 

At Catholic, the Bears are heavy on the three attempts, aver­ag­ing near­ly 27 a game in some years. They also nev­er want to face a set defense, so they play with pace and space, run­ning a con­cep­tu­al offen­sive style that bor­rows from a vari­ety of attacks includ­ing drib­ble-dri­ve motion.

Nationally-ranked Philadelphia pow­er Imhotep Charter had the lux­u­ry of a few sharp­shoot­ers on its 2018 – 19 team, but that didn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean they always had the green light from deep. Effective field goal per­cent­age has been a great way for the Panthers to mea­sure the econ­o­my on their shot selec­tion — and ensure they’re mak­ing the best decisions.

And it goes both ways. Imhotep prides itself on play­ing tough, phys­i­cal defense, and looks to effec­tive field goal per­cent­age for a read on how well they’re doing in that department.

The oppos­ing team’s effec­tive field goal per­cent­age, that’s an impor­tant num­ber for us,” says head coach Andre Noble. The strength of our pro­gram has always been on the defen­sive side. We pride our­selves on get­ting stops, and that’s prob­a­bly the best mark­er for how you’re doing that, in my opin­ion. It’s huge­ly important.” 

How You Can Use It

Consider your team’s effec­tive field goal per­cent­age num­bers as a gate­way to all the oth­er dis­cov­er­ies that will help improve your program.

For instance, let’s say one of your play­ers has a rea­son­ably high effec­tive field goal per­cent­age. That leads you to the shot charts from your game reports, where­upon you dis­cov­er that play­er is par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive from one side of the floor. You can present that infor­ma­tion to the play­er, and work on improv­ing the oth­er side. You can also bring it to the white­board, using the shot chart infor­ma­tion to devise some sets that cre­ate an open look for the play­er in their sweet spot”.

Effective field goal per­cent­age is just as cru­cial in oppo­nent scout­ing. Using this stat, you can point out the best shoot­ers on their team, and remind your play­ers those are the ones they’ll have to close out on and keep a hand in their face. You can then fol­low up and look at the shot charts to see where on the floor those shoot­ers are most effec­tive. Do they park in the cor­ner? Are they dom­i­nant with one hand? You’ll be able to devise more sen­si­ble match-ups to fit the numbers.

A num­ber of oth­er fac­tors can also weigh on effec­tive field goal per­cent­age. If you’re a big believ­er in win­ning the turnover bat­tle, you’ll know that a live-ball turnover often leads to an open layup. So the more forced turnovers, the bet­ter your chances of boost­ing your eFG%.

An offen­sive rebound typ­i­cal­ly leads to a sec­ond or third field goal attempt in a pos­ses­sion — and that attempt is often com­ing around the rim, or at least clos­er to the ini­tial shot. This means offen­sive rebound­ing per­cent­age, anoth­er one of the Four Factors, also affects eFG%. If you’re min­i­miz­ing pos­ses­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties for your oppo­nents, that’ll reflect in the eFG% total on the stat sheet.


More coach­es than ever are turn­ing to the inter­ac­tive reports from Hudl Assist to uncov­er these cru­cial num­bers. With Assist, you’ll get both team and indi­vid­ual eFG num­bers linked to the video, mak­ing it easy to be sure you’re on the right side of these odds.

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