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Mathematics Application in Basketball

While basketball is a popular sport, mathematics does not have that many fans.

By Milton Bertrand

Basketball is a popular sport in American schools; the sport is also becoming very popular in many other countries. As many of you may not think so, there is a considerable amount of mathematics in the game of basketball. You are probably watching the NBA final this season, or any other time; you hear a lot of statistics. You may wonder how they calculate them. Off course, you already have the answer to that; it is the power of mathematics. In so doing, STEM fields can be very fun as they allow us to better understand the world. If you want to become a sport broadcaster, math skills can go a long way. It is not just a question of saying the stats but with clear understanding. Emphasizing how mathematics is used in basketball can influence many to be more involved, motivated and excited about angles and percentages while helping them realize the crucial importance of mathematics in everyday life. While watching, or playing basketball, you can practice geometry, percentages and other basic mathematical operations.

Here is a partial overview on how to calculate these stats.

2-Point Field Goal Percentage = 2-Point Field Goals/ 2-Point Field Goal Attempts
3-Point Field Goal Percentage = 3-Point Field Goals/ 3-Point Field Goal Attempts
Assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while he was on the floor. It is calculated given the formula; Assist Percentage = 100 * AST / (((MP / (Tm MP / 5)) * Tm FG) - FG). Where AST is assist; MP is minutes played; TmMP is team minutes played
Effective Field Goal Percentage adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose John goes 4 (four) for 10 with 2 (two) threes, while James goes 5 (five) for 10 with 0 (zero) three. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).  That is calculated as follow (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA Where FG is field goal; 3P is 3 points; FGA is field goal attempt.
Field Goal Percentage is given by the formula FG / FGA.  All fields goals attempts regardless 2 or 3 points.
Free Throw Percentage is calculated as follow FT / FTA.
Games Behind can be calculated using the following formula. G = Games, GB = Games Behind; ((first W - W) + (L - first L)) / 2, where first W and first L stand for wins and losses by the first place team, respectively.
Game Score was created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player's productivity for a single game. The scale is similar to that of points scored, where 40 is an outstanding performance, 10 is an average performance, etc… GmSc  = PTS + 0.4 * FG - 0.7 * FGA - 0.4*(FTA - FT) + 0.7 * ORB + 0.3 * DRB + STL + 0.7 * AST + 0.7 * BLK - 0.4 * PF – TOV
PTS = points, ORB = Offensive Rebound; DRB = Defensive Rebound STL = Steals, AST = Assist, BLK = Blocks, PF = Personal Foul, TOV = Turn Over
As there is a push for STEM education, it is indeed imperative to focus on the real applications of these disciplines. 
About Milton Bertrand:
Milton is a STEM advocate and a fellow Geazler. His passion for STEM fields extends way back to his early childhood when his curiosity led him to reverse engineer his toys and tinker with many types of experiments. Currently, Milton is working on the stimulation of STEM to raise awareness regarding the importance of these disciplines


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