Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller is the centerpiece of the team's offense.
Among the team's top five scorers (Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey), Zeller uses up the highest percentage of offensive possessions on the team (24.4 usage percentage), attempts the third-highest percentage of shots when he is on the court (22.8 shot percentage) and naturally, thanks to his incredible talent for getting to the free-throw line (81.7 free-throw rate) has averaged the most points per game for the Hoosiers this season (16.0 points per game).
As a testament to his ability and offensive skills, he has managed to handle such an offensive burden without sacrificing a bit of offensive efficiency, still managing to post an effective field goal percentage of 59.8 percent and a true shooting percentage of 64.4 percent.
Those shooting numbers are not the highest among the top five scores on the Hoosiers team, who are all extremely efficient shooters in their own right, but it would be hard to argue that the Hoosiers would be a significantly better offensive team if Zeller took fewer shots per game.
However, despite Zeller being the best player on the team, it is point guard Jordan Hulls who narrowly edges out Zeller in terms of the relationship between their effective field goal and true shooting percentages and the team's offensive efficiency, or points scored per 100 possessions.
After 20 games, Hulls's effective field goal percentage (64.7 percent) has a correlation of 0.560 with Indiana's offensive efficiency while his true shooting percentage and Indiana's offensive possession have a correlation of 0.557.
The correlations between Zeller's effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage with Indiana's offensive efficiency are 0.509 and 0.540, respectively.
These correlations do not indicate that Hulls's shooting is a bigger cause of Indiana's offensive success than Zeller's, but rather, that when Hulls is having one of his better shooting days, Indiana's offense is very likely to be having a good day overall.
The same could be said for Zeller's shooting percentages, albeit to a slightly lesser extent. Still, with correlations that are mostly of equal value, if one wants to guess how well Indiana does on offense, it would be most advisable to take a look at how well Hulls and Zeller are shooting in the contest.
Interestingly, guard Victor Oladipo, who just exploded for 21 points against Michigan State, is the second-leading scorer on the team (13.9 points per game), and possesses the highest true shooting percentage on the team (72.1 percent), has the lowest correlation between his true shooting percentage and the team's offensive efficiency.
For the season, the correlation between Oladipo's true shooting percentage and Indiana's offensive efficiency is 0.099, as there is practically no relationship between how Oladipo shoots and how Indiana scores overall.
One reason for the lack of relationship could be due to just how consistent a shooter Oladipo is. The standard deviation for his 20 games' worth of true shooting percentages is just 0.125, which is the lowest such mark among the top five scorers.
While Oladipo's shooting numbers game to game cannot really provide any information on how well Indiana is scoring, it is more than likely that he is shooting well.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see if the shooting percentages of Hulls and Zeller continue to be the highest correlated with Indiana's offensive efficiency or if the second half of the season will see another player's shooting percentages become more of a barometer to Indiana's offensive success.
As it stands right now, though, pay most attention to how Hulls and Zeller shoot and the least amount of attention to how Oladipo is shooting.
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