Synergy vs. Hoopsalytics = Stats vs. Analytics

As we’re bringing aboard more college level programs, we often get asked about the advantages of Hoopsalytics over the Synergy stats they are usually required to acquire from their conference. This post will illustrate why you need Analytics – not just Stats – to improve your team’s chances of winning games. Plus

Stats are the numbers each player and team generates during a game – like rebounds, points scored, etc. Analytics use every event in the game to generate actionable numbers that are reflective of a player’s real impact.

Defense in particular is under-served by plain stats. Steals and defensive rebounds don’t do justice to the impact of a solid defensive player.

As an example, here are some Synergy stats for a D3 college game. Can you tell which player had the most impact?

As a comparison, here are Hoopsalytics analytics for the same game. Check out the adjusted plus/minus (what the point differential would have been if the player played a full 40 minutes), as well as points-per-possession (offense scored, defense allowed, and net) when the player was on the floor. This is the true measure of player impact.

#23 and #24 had the most impact when measured as two-way players (Adjusted +/- and net Points Per Possession). #14 and #24 had the most impact defensively (based on “Def. PPP” or Defensive Points Per Possession). You would never know this if you’re relying on just Synergy’s stats to make personnel decisions.

You can also account for “coat-tailing” – i.e. if a weaker player’s stats are impacted by playing more with a stronger player. Here we’ve excluded #23 to see how the rest of the team’s numbers are affected:


It’s All About Possessions

Also notice how the Synergy PPP numbers are weird. #10 had a 0.00 PPP. A Possession in Synergy-world just focuses on the player’s shots and turnovers. Synergy shows that #10 had zero offensive impact since he didn’t score, but in reality the team scored 0.91 PPP when he was on the floor.

Synergy also shows the PPP of a Missed 3 point shot as zero, where in actuality these can generate scores after an offensive rebound (as much as 0.35 PPP).


Customization and Details make for Better Coaching Decisions

Synergy can be really handy for basic scouting decisions – especially with their database of videos and stock stats for lots of teams. But basketball is more nuanced, and different teams emphasize different actions, many of which cannot be measured by generic stats.  Some examples:

Here are Synergy Stats for Transitions and Post Ups during our comparison game:

Let’s examine Transition Offense first. The effectiveness of transitions depends upon the context: Transitions off of turnovers typically convert differently than rebounds or made baskets. Here’s how this same game is cataloged in Hoopsalytics:

You can see each transition type, as well as the points generated from each. (You can also deep dive into any event by clicking the number to see how the outcome occurred – i.e. clicking on a number under the Turnovers column will show video clips of those turnovers.)

Let’s look at “post ups” next. Swarthmore is a high post focused offense – which doesn’t appear in the generic stats. We added some custom events (like Barkleys and DHOs) to track. Here’s the Hoopsalytics breakdown of the various actions we’re interested in:

You can see how different actions impacted scoring. Hoopsalytics assigns a point value to an action if at any time during the possession it led to a score. So if a paint touch led to an open three point shot a few seconds later, that action gets credited with generating three points in that possession.

Hoopsalytics can also break down offensive actions on a per-sequence basis. A sequence is a portion of a possession that stops if play stops (i.e. out of bounds, turnover, etc.) or if the offense resets. This is usually more indicative of the effectiveness of an action.

Also, with Hoopsalytics, you can customize the various offensive actions you want to track, i.e. those which you think are important to the success of your offense.

Shot Charts

Charting the location of made and missed shots is a great way to visualize the strengths of your offense and defense. For example, we’ve used the Interactive Shot Charts in Hoopsalytics to justify implementing a no-middle defense.

The Hoopsalytics Shot Charts have an extra level of interactivity you don’t get from Synergy. Here’s Swarthmore’s shot chart for the game we’re analyzing:

We can isolate by shot type – here’s just the 2 pt. jump shots. Notice how the team and player percentages change:

Another cool bonus: You can filter by shot distance, so you can see who is shooting those long two pointers that most coaches hate. This example shows shots longer than 16.5 feet, who did them, and what the percentages were:

You can also select an area of the floor and see the numbers change. Here we are looking at middle-of-the-floor, mid-range two-pointers:

You get a much more limited shot chart in Synergy – here’s the same game with high-middle threes selected:


If you just want basic scouting stats, Synergy is a great resource.

However, as coaches and assistants, we ask our players to put in the extra time to get better, so we should also be doing everything we can to become better, too. Since you’re watching film anyway, you might as well spend time to mark up games with the specific details that are important to you. The extra point differential you will achieve by making better, analytically-based coaching decisions will be well worth it. And having video-links to your analytics only strengthens the impact to your players.

Please reach out to us if you have questions, or would like a personalized demo for your team.

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Category: Analytics | Stats