Which NBA Coaches Are Best At Designing Plays During Timeouts?Kyle Wagner12/16/13 11:45amFiled to: nbastatstimeoutsRegressing287EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkThere is something impossibly satisfying about watching a team come out of a timeout and run an ornately designed play that springs someone for a wide-open look or an easy layup. A gorgeous play there, a nonsense turnover here, the very best reputations might be well won over years, but overall, our sense of which coaches and teams are best in these situations is largely anecdotal. Here's our attempt at fixing that.How This WorksStephanie Brown and Jordan Sheldon of Bloomberg Sports ran the timeout numbers for us (data gathered current as of Dec. 11), and we have at least the beginnings of an answer. To isolate dead ball performance, BS only looked at plays immediately following a timeout (including officials' timeouts—though not ones that came just before free throws—and totaled up the points per possession for them, as well as the true shooting percentage for those possessions. This loses plays following intentional fouls late in a game, out of bounds, and other times you might get a set play, but it allows us to isolate the times you'll definitely see a designed set play. AdvertisementBut because we're trying to isolate how much of an effect these plays have on a team in relation to its performance in open play, we can't just look at who has the best efficiency and percentage (though that's still useful). We decided to try to look at how offenses perform in just the halfcourt instead of their overall offense, because it's not like you can start a fast break off of a timeout. So we used Synergy Sports's data for points per possession overall and transition offense, and came up with a number for non-transition offensive efficiency per 100 possessions. Then, we subtracted that from the efficiency after a timeout, which gave us the stat you see here, which we're giving the bullshit name of Timeout Play Rating, just to have something to call it. Here's how that looks in practice. Out of timeouts, the Mavericks score 96.7 points per 100 possessions (8.05 points better than the league of 88.65). In regular halfcourt, they're at 91.2. So their score for Timeout Play Efficiency is +5.48. The same goes for defense. Brooklyn is last in the league, allowing opponents to score 88.7 points per 100 in the halfcourt. But by improving to 84.8 after timeouts, it rates an actually solid -3.9, which is good for sixth in the league. AdvertisementWe should also point out that since this comprises all timeouts taken throughout the course of a game, the stats include those taken at the ends of quarters where the only reasonable outcome is a low percentage shot. This includes all manner of necessarily awful shots—shots with less than a second on the clock, shots with the subs in and no chance in hell the coach is running out a shooter for one play at the end of the second quarter, etc. Also, if a team is regularly winning by blowout (like the Spurs), it's possible that the performance out of timeouts will suffer, though we'd need more data to say that confidently.You can find the full table of results at the bottom of the post. For now, here are some breakdowns of what happens on offense and defense. The charts below show a team's half-court offensive or defensive efficiency, with an arrow pointing to their post-TO offensive or defensive efficiency. This means that the length of the arrow is equivalent to "Timeout Play Efficiency."On OffenseLeague-wide, there's a slight offensive benefit to calling a timeout, but only a slight one. Halfcourt plays score 88.44 points per 100 possessions, while post-timeout plays score 88.65.Starting at the top, Mark Jackson's Golden State is preposterously efficient out of timeout situations, well ahead of every other team. (It's also fourth by True Shooting percentage adjustment.) Golden State runs a lot of novel actions on its set plays to spring Steph and Klay for shots, like the universally loved Elevator Doors play, or the Split Action play that sends two players smashing into each other and then away, to open space. Most often these happen in open play, but they're also used out of dead balls to good effect. Having bigs like David Lee and Bogut, as well as the addition of a spatially savvy player like Andre Iguodala, makes the Dubs just a sublime team to watch. And of course, having Steph lets you do things no one else really can.