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Random Stat: Jump Ball Winning %

Q: What players are the best at winning jump balls?

-- sros0303 and many others...

A: We're surprised at how popular a request this has been, but can certainly provide these kind of numbers.

Jump Ball Winning Percentage (Min 20 Jump Balls)
Player
Team
JB
Wins
JB
Att
JB%
 Camby DEN 33  44  75% 
 Dampier DAL 33  46  71% 
 Pachulia ATL 17  25  68% 
 Brand LAC 16  24  66% 
 Lewis SEA 17  26  65% 
 O'Neal MIA 32  50  64% 
 Ilgauskas CLE 47  75  62% 
 Chandler CHI 31  50  62% 
 Ostertag UTA 16  26  61% 
 B.Wallace DET 45  74  60% 
 Gasol MEM 45  74  60% 
 Mourning MIA 15  25  60% 
 Curry NYK 34  57  59% 
 Brown NOK 38  67  56% 
 Collins NJN 30  53  56% 
 Ming HOU 28  50  56% 
 O'Neal IND 21  37  56% 
 Garnett MIN 37  68  54% 
 Dalembert PHI 28  51  54% 
 Blount BOS 14  26  53% 
 Marion PHO 14  26  53% 
 Duncan SAS 11  21  52% 
 Miller SAC 40  78  51% 
 Przybilla POR 24  47  51% 
 Bosh TOR 37  73  50% 
 Okafor CHA 16  32  50% 
 Krstic NJN 14  28  50% 
 Howard ORL 37  75  49% 
 J.Smith ATL 31  63  49% 
 Nesterovic SAS 25  54  46% 
 Kaman LAC 28  62  45% 
 Mihm LAL 28  62  45% 
 Hunter PHI 10  22  45% 
 Perkins BOS 16  36  44% 
 Collins UTA 21  49  42% 
 Jeffries WAS 26  63  41% 
 Magloire MIL 27  66  40% 
 Diop DAL 13  32  40% 
 Elson DEN 12  30  40% 
 Mutombo HOU 11  27  40% 
 Wallace CHA 14  36  38% 
 Thomas PHO 16  49  32% 
 Petro SEA 28  32% 
 Foyle GSW 18  57  31% 
 Ely CHA 20  25% 
 Sweetney CHI 21  14% 



So it's Marcus Camby and the oft maligned Erick Dampier leading the way, both above 70% on the season.

It should be pointed out however that the opening tip of a game really is a formality with no advantage to the team winning it since possessions are alternated for the remaining quarters with a new jump for any overtime period.

So while the winning percentages for Sweetney and Ely look atrocious (what you guys can't jump an inch or two off the ground once in a while!), if they really are just going through the motions on the opening tip then it's no harm done.

Ah, but of course there are some jump balls which are entirely different -- live tie-ups in the course of play where a possession does indeed hang in the balance with the winner getting the spoils.

So really if you are going to look at jump ball performance you need to break out the opening tips and look only at the ones occurring in the course of play. The downside to this kind of view though is the samples are even smaller, and the matches not exactly fair: Yao Ming versus Earl Boykins should be a foregone conclusion as to who will actually tip the ball, although that doesn't necessarily mean Yao's team would end up with it.

Since we're on the subject though and uberzev asked us to "Look at the correlation between a team winning the opening tip and them winning the game" we'll speak to that quickly:

.05 correlation (winning tip + game)

...as the team winning the tip has won the game 467/888 or 52.5% of the time.

The away teams have won the tip 440/888 or 49.5% of the time, but have won the game when winning the tip 188/440 or 43% of the time, while home teams have won the tip 448/888 (50.5%) and won the game as well 279/448 (62%) so you're really seeing the simple home court effect it seems.

Let's move on then to the more interesting query: which players are involved in the most 'live' jump balls and which ones have the best and worst percentages in those events.

Most "live" Jump Balls
Player
Team
JB
Wins
JB
Att
JB%
 Brand LAC 14  21  66% 
 Miller SAC 13  21  61% 
 Wallace CHA 11  20  55% 
 Duncan SAS 10  19  52% 
 Pachulia ATL 12  16  75% 
 Ilgauskas CLE 16  50% 
 Knight CHA 16  18% 
 Howard ORL 15  60% 
 B.Wallace DET 15  53% 
 Gasol MEM 10  14  71% 
 J.Smith ATL 14  50% 
 Magloire MIL 14  42% 
 Bosh TOR 14  28% 



If you were trying to come up with some hustle stats this might be a good place to turn -- as while some jump balls occur when a player basically gets in trouble while on offense with the rock, a large number are the true "diving on the floor" types that coaches love to talk about.

So Kudos if you will to the players listed here. Indeed most of these guys are among the most active defensively, and some of the top on court/off court guys to boot (although some troubled plus/minus players here too!)

Best "live" Jump Ball Win%
Player
Team
JB
Wins
JB
Att
JB%
 Francis ORL 10  90% 
 Wade MIA 10  80% 
 Pachulia ATL 12  16  75% 
 Gasol MEM 10  14  71% 
 Dampier DAL 10  70% 
 Krstic NJN 10  70% 
 Brand LAC 14  21  66% 
 Ming HOU 11  63% 
 Miller SAC 13  21  61% 
 Howard ORL 15  60% 



We won't pick on the guys with low percentages since that may be largely a function of being mismatched (eg do you really want to knock Brevin Knight for failing to win jumps against some of the NBA goliaths?), but the leaders are quite interesting with Francis and Wade winning a high percentage of their tie-ups in meaningful moments.

We're talking tiny samples though so you'd really need like a five year survey to try and extract any meaning from this.

Still, that leaves one more interesting tidbit to examine -- which teams have the best and worst record at getting involved in jump balls, and winning them!

All Jump Balls
1. New York 62%
2. Miami 59%
3. Detroit 58%
4. Cleveland 57%
5. Denver 57%
...
26. Milwaukee 44%
27. Phoenix 42%
28. Washington 41%
29. Charlotte 36%
30. Golden State 32%

They take their jump balls seriously in the Eastern Conference, with four of the top five in the East!

'Live' Jump Balls -- number involved in
1. Charlotte 76
2. Memphis 68
3. L.A. Clippers 59
4. Miami 55
5. Sacramento 54
...
26. Denver 36
27. Phoenix 33
28. Washington 30
29. Minnesota 27
30. Portland 25

The Blazers as the lowest hustle team in the league? Hmmm. The Suns are down low but that may be as much because of the reliable ball handling of Nash not leading to as many scrums as the typical team experiences.

'Live' Jump Balls -- Winning%
1. New York 64%
2. Boston 62%
3. Phoenix 60%
4. Orlando 58%
5. New Jersey 57%
...
26. Houston 42%
27. Cleveland 42%
28. Denver 41%
29. Toronto 40%
30. Golden State 35%

Larry Brown must be so proud! If only the Knicks could do well in the stats that are much more important!


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