Basketball on Paper

Rules and Tools for Performance Analysis

392 pages; 6" x 9" ; 252 Tables; 45 Figures; Glossary; References; Index

$18.95   $15.16
Available: November 2004
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Journey "inside the numbers" for an exceptional set of statistical tools and rules that can help explain the winning, or losing, ways of a basketball team. Basketball on Paper doesn’t diagram plays or explain how players get in shape, but instead demonstrates how to interpret player and team performance.

Dean Oliver highlights general strategies for teams when they’re winning or losing and what aspects should be the focus in either situation. He describes and quantifies the jobs of team leaders and role players, then discusses the interactions between players and how to achieve the best fit. Oliver conceptualizes the meaning of teamwork and how to quantify the value of different types of players working together. He examines historically successful NBA teams and identifies what made them so successful: individual talent, a system of putting players together, or good coaching.

Oliver then uses these statistical tools and case studies to evaluate the best players in history, such as Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Charles Barkley and how they contributed to their teams’ success. He does the same for some of the NBA’s "oddball" players-Manute Bol, Muggsy Bogues, and Dennis Rodman and for the WNBA’s top players.

Basketball on Paper is unique in its incorporation of business and analytical concepts within the context of basketball to measure the value of players in a cooperative setting. Whether you’re looking for strategies or new ideas to throw out while watching the ballgame at a sports bar, Dean Oliver’sBasketball on Paper will give you amazing new insights into teamwork, coaching, and success.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

Dean Oliver is a former basketball player, assistant coach, and collegiate scout, and has contributed to Basketball Digest. In 1996 he founded the Journal of Basketball Studies, an online compilation of basketball research, and contributes to the Association for Professional Basketball Research. Oliver currently provides statistical advice to the Seattle Supersonics and the public relations director of the WNBA. He lives in Oakland, California.


"At the risk of succumbing to hyperbole, Basketball on Paper is a revolutionary strike for statistical analysis of the game of basketball. . . . There has never been a basketball book quite like [it]."

"The must-read hoops numbers book."
Eric Neel,

"Statistics guru Dean Oliver . . . is to the NBA what Bill James is to baseball."
Paul Forrester,

"Excellent writing. There are a lot of math guys who just rush from the numbers to the conclusion. . . . Dean is more that that; he's really struggling to understand the actual problem, rather than the statistical after-image of it. I learn a lot by reading him."
Bill James, author of Baseball Abstract

"Oliver's book provides an insightful framework for basketball. . . . This book is a unique and surprisingly practical addition to a coach's library."
Dean Smith, former UNC coach

"A revolutionary strike for statistical analysis of the game of basketball."