I'm Andrea Bargnani and I endorse this stat.
I’m Andrea Bargnani and I endorse this stat.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, there have been 17,301 instances of an NBA player taking 10 field goal attempts or more. According to a “new” “stat” “I” just “invented,” as I’ll outline below, Andrea Bargnani’s 2-for-19 performance from last Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs was the 33rd least efficient scoring performance of all of them.

The purpose of this article is not to be overly statistical – I’ll use math terms, but only to explain the logic – the point of this article is actually to simplify. The point is also not to rag on Bargnani. There has been some misunderstanding and disagreement among the Republic of late over what exactly makes a good game for a scorer.

For example, while some see “22 points” in the box score and deem it a strong performance, others see “10/21 FG, 0/2 FT, 2 TO” and deem it a pretty poor performance. What I wanted to do was take interpretation of the box score out of the equation and provide a simple “scoring efficiency” rating we can look at on a game-by-game basis.

Of course, box score stats are flawed, and even something like field goal attempts doesn’t tell you much without watching the game. But, for the purposes of improving our discussion, I introduce to you my “new” “stat” which isn’t really either of those things…

PRIMO – Points Rated In My Own (Way)
Simply put, PRIMO is just points divided by “chances,” defined as FGA + Turnovers + (Free Throws / 2). Chances, here, is an approximation of possessions that we can calculate easily to avoid going math-heavy.

What PRIMO will tell you is simply how many points a player scored based on how many possessions they used. (Again, this ignores other important aspects of the game like assists, rebounding, defense, and more – this is JUST a scoring efficiency measure.)

So What is a Good PRIMO Score?
To keep it easy in your head, you can consider a PRIMO score of 1.00 to be an “okay” score – a player scored one point for every possession they used. Since teams have averaged about 92 possessions per game over the past few years in the NBA, if a player with a PRIMO score of 1.00 used every possession for a team, the team would score 92 points (under the poor assumption of no offensive rebounds – forgive me for the assumption, but this IS a Bargnani-based analysis). Not great, but not terrible. If you wanted your team to score 100 points (free pizza!), you would want players to hit a PRIMO score of 1.09, for an average-paced team (the Raptors play at a slightly slower pace, 91 possessions per game).

For reference, the league average PRIMO score so far this year is 0.9 at the team level. Over the past three seasons, for any player who took 10 field goal attempts or more, the distribution of PRIMO scores is as follows (I should note that PRIMO will look silly for players with less than five field goal attempts, and the point of it is to compare higher-volume shooters).

PRIMO Distribution, 2010-11 to Present
For all player games with greater than 10 FGA.

Basically we can see that these scores are close to normally distributed – that is, the bulk of the games are around average, with fewer and fewer games further away from the average. I’ve drawn a few lines in there for reference.

PRIMO – Raptor Example

As you can see, the stat does a decent job backing up what our eyes have told us so far: Bargnani has been inefficient in scoring his heavy points total, DeRozan has been a bit more efficient, Lowry’s value is negated some by his turnovers and trigger-happy nature, etc. At the same time, as I mentioned at the outset, this stat tells you nothing of Jose’s passing, Jonas’ rebounding, etc. This is only a stat to measure scoring efficiency.

So What’s the Point?
There isn’t one, really. When trying to figure out just how bad Bargnani’s recent game was, I wanted to roll out a VERY simple and basic stat we can use when quickly scanning the box scores.

But next time you’re looking at a box score (which, of course, is absolutely no replacement for watching the game and analyzing what you SEE), keep efficiency in mind. And specifically when analyzing the Bargnani box scores, think PRIMO.

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  • Paella

    I was looking for a food item metaphor to make fun of Canadians and reduce them to it, but couldn’t find any: what the f**k do you guys eat over there in the north? LOL

    • KaioKev

      We eat the same things you eat where you live except better portion control and a few extra vegetables. With the exception of poutine and donair.

      • Arsenalist

        You, sir, have won the ROTD.

        • Jake

          Then why does your comment show up as ROTD on the front page and not his?

          • Lorenzo

             This is an outrage!

            • Geoff

              another one of your dumb sarcasm posts?

              • what the

                He forgot to write the word sarcasm at the end.

          • arsenalist

            A mistake, surely. Fixed.

  • Canadian Paul

     I like this PRIMO. Not the most sophisticated, but it does convey “something”. But can’t you use “points per possession” from Synergy and tell the same story?

    By the way, what’s Bargnani’s PRIMO (I’m loving the use of this word) from past seasons? It’d be a good point of reference.

    • Canadian Paul

      Using your formula, I get these for Bargnani:










  • Konanas

    Good job 🙂 I like this “PRIMO” concept 😀 

  • KJ-B

    The Stat-Stuff of Legend… -7 INDEED (formerly aka #7)!

  • knowledgep

    Well done man!

  • Ion66

    Is this some way of saying “stick a fork in him, he’s done.”, or just pointing out how you can twist statistics all around?

  • Pesterm1

    Looking at your PRIMO stats…. Bargnani and Calderon GTFO !

    • Jamshid

      Don’t worry about Jose. This is his last year so either he will finish as a Raptor or will be traded at the trade deadline by BC for a 2nd round drat pick.

    • BlakeMurphy

       No No. Can’t say GTFO. It’s JUST a simple shooting efficiency. Can’t conclude anything from it. Just an attempt to get us to look at the box score in a better way.

  • Jamshid

    Great Stuff Blake !!! I really liked this. It is simple but gets the message across.

    Your analysis made me think about the effect of Lowry on guys like AB and Amir and how their PRIMO 😉 has changed compare to last year and the year before !!! 

    I know AB is playing bad and I hope he is traded as soon as possible, not because we will be a better team without him, but so that the organization and the herd can move on. That being said, I think playing with an alpha male, shot first PG vs pass first PG has made some of the old players in the team less efficient. 

    • Pesterm1

       Lowry has some work to do himself. some pretty BAD TO’s last game. He needs to get some stuff cleaned up.

  • Jimi Cliff

    Seeing as a lot of turnovers are made when a player isn’t looking to score, there’s no reason that they should be included in a stat that’s supposed to reflect scoring efficiency. 

    • BlakeMurphy

      The logic is that even if the TO doesn’t come from trying to score, they still “used” a possession, making them less efficient on the whole.

      • Jimi Cliff

        You don’t know if it’s making them less efficient, because you don’t know the results of the passes that aren’t turnovers. If those passes are assists, or hockey assists, then they have a positive impact on offensive efficiency. Because PRIMO accounts only for the negative outcome of a specific action (passing the ball), ball-stoppers will look better than they should, while ball-movers will look worse.

        • BlakeMurphy

          I was pretty clear this was a “quick and dirty” way. It’s not meant to be a new way of evaluating players – just tyring to move people in the right direction in terms of box score stats, that’s all.

  • Jimi Cliff

    “So What’s the Point?
    There isn’t one, really.”
    At least PRETEND that you’re trying to do something worthhwile

    • BlakeMurphy

      I just meant there’s no overarching takeaway…I think the “trying to do something worthwhile” was clearly to get people to look at box scores in a better way.

    • Pesterm1

       Easy Jimi… Woooooah boy!

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    I like the stat, but there are two issues I see.

    1) not all turnovers are during a shot attempt or in trying to get in position to take a shot (ie: making a bad pass)

    2) I hate all blind stats that include what I call “useless” shots; half court shots launched as a quarter expires, bad shots that are forced to avoid a shot clock violation, or shots that were unfairly affected (ie: missed goaltend call or missed blatant foul)

    I’d love to see stats that take these into consideration, but that would require watching every play and applying some subjective reasoning to otherwise blind stats.

    • Theswirsky

      1) A turnover is a lost opportunity to shoot.  Therefore it is still a lost chance.  Does not matter if its on a pass or a drive.

      2) end of quarter shots are rare on a per player basis, and will have a very marginal effect on someones shooting.   What a missed goaltend or blatant fouls are, is rather subjective, in the end what matters is what the refs did call. Forced shots to avoid a shot clock violation make sense.  But also remember all these things happen to every player, as such they are innately incorportated in every player (and the average team/players) stats.    At best one could argue forced shots at the shot clock would happen more often to someone with a higher usage (get the ball more) but I’m not sure that would have an large enough magnitude effect to worry about.

      “but that would require watching every play and applying some subjective reasoning to otherwise blind stats.”

      and there is one of the problems with some of these.  Incorporating bias into an unbias process.

      • CJT

        totally agree with most of your points here.  I do think that end of shot clock shots happen more to certain players than others. 

  • Theswirsky

    “Since teams have averaged about 92 possessions per game over the past few years in the NBA, if a player with a PRIMO score of 1.00 used every possession for a team, the team would score 92 points”

    one thing to consider.  Since PRIMO is looking at ‘chances’ rather than possessions (which subtracts OREBs), it may be worth noting that an NBA team averages approx 107 ‘chances’ per game.  So a PRIMO of 1 would lead to an average of 107 pts.  Therefore to reach 100 pts the team would need to average a PRIMO of .94 

    average PRIMO would also be approx 0.93, anything above that could be considered efficient shooting. 

    (If you don’t mind me adding, it wouldn’t hurt to change the ft/2 to ft(0.44) just to help capture ‘and 1s’, fouls on 3s, techs and defensive 3 in the key violations.)

    I think its a rather solid way to look at actual shooting efficiency though – pts per fga never account for TOs, or FTs which also use up chances/possession just like FGs do.  Name is both catchy and convient.

    • BlakeMurphy

       Understand all of that for sure. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so people could look at the box and calculate it in their head, or get a rough idea (hence 0.5 instead of 0.44, ignoring O-Reb)…these shouldn’t matter TOO much since I’m suggesting this be used as a single-game tool only.

  • Arsenalist

    This post is rascess

  • cesco

    If you calculate your ‘primo’ stat up to the nov23 game , the 13th game played by the team , Andrea would have had a score of 1.028  , he would have been ‘good’ for the year . Then come a very poor 14th game and all of a sudden he goes from ‘good’  to ‘poor’ for the season ( common sense tell us that one very poor game out of 14 cannot possibly rate a player from ‘good’ to  ‘bad’ . At least for his career , his score of .948927 , rounding it off to .95 , make him average for those attempting more than 10 FG/game .

    • Theswirsky

      Bargnani’s ‘PRIMO’ score through his first 13 games this season:

      243 pts/217 fga + 51/2 fta + 23 TO



      • cesco

         You are right , I added it up all wrong .

  • FAQ

    I prefer the KRAFT Factor for statistical potpourri… more cheesy ….

  • NyAlesund

    Primo stats after Suns’ game (relate to 25th nov):

    AB = 0.880 (0.861); KL = 0.947 (1.000); DD = 0.925 (0.919); JV = 0.937 (0.964); JC = 0.942 (0.877); ED = 1.010

    • redyraptor

      This Primo just made it harder to Trade AB..lol.

  • pran

    it’s very simple. Bargnani ate too much PRIMO pasta this summer and now he is slow and unathletic, and not half the athlete he was last year when he came back after a summer playing with the italian team. We don’t need stats.