Usage - How do I use this stat to build teams? Topic

Usage is one of the most complex stats in this sim and is one of the things I see asked about most often. Even people who think they have a good handle on it often have the wrong idea. So let's start with the first question most people ask when they come to this site:

What is Usage%?

From the knowledgebase:
Usage% is the player's possessions (FGA + FTA * 0.44 + Turnovers) per minute as a percentage of his real-life team's possessions per minute. This value indicates how often a player either shot the ball, drew a foul, or turned the ball over. The SimEngine uses this value in relation to the other 4 players on his team to determine how often each player gets the ball.
So, with this in mind, the higher the usage of a player, the greater the CHANCE your team's possession in this sim will end with that player making a FG attempt, getting fouled or turning the ball over. With that in mind, you probably want to make sure your highest usage players are your most efficient offensive players (shoot a high fg%, get to the line a lot, and don't turn the ball over as much. Example: 89-90 Michael Jordan or 12-13 Lebron James).

Also keep in mind that there will only be so many possessions in a basketball game. It is a flat-out waste to draft way more possessions than you can ever use in a game, so you're better off spending some of that money on lower usage guys who specialize in other areas (rebounds!) that can help you.

So how much usage is too much? How much do you need?

The first thing you have to realize is that there are two penalties to avoid, and you need to use different strategies to get by both of them.

The first is the team possession penalty. Here, total usage% means absolutely nothing. You can't just add up the five players on the floor's usage and have it right. Usage is broken up into different tiers that give different point values. Here is that table:
Tier 1: Usg% >= 32.5 = 8 points
Tier 2: Usg% 27.2 To 32.5 = 6 points
Tier 3: Usg% 22.1 To 27.2 = 4 points
Tier 4: Usg% 17.5 To 22.1 = 2 points
Tier 5: Usg% 13.7 To 17.5 = 1 point
Tier 6: Usg% < 13.7 = 0.5 points
That table will be extremely useful to you when building your own teams and analyzing other teams. It's a good idea to just memorize it. Now here's how to use it: Take your five players on the floor and find out which tier they fall into. Add up the POINTS. This is what's important. You need 10 points on the floor to avoid the team possession penalty.

Now before I go any further, let me go into more detail about the possession penalty is and why it's bad. As I said before, there are two kinds of possession penalties: Team & Individual. When a team gets into a possession penalty situation, their players don't shoot as good and they turn the ball over more often. The same thing happens to a player when they get into the individual possession penalty. Obviously you can see that you want to avoid this as much as possible.

The team possession penalty is the easier penalty to avoid. All you need is 10 usage points on the floor to avoid it. That's it. So you can literally have one guy with 32.5% usage or higher on the floor with 4 specialists who have a usage of 13.7% or lower and not hit the team possession penalty. If you add that up, you'll see that number is less than 100%. That's one reason why you can't rely on what I dub cumulative usage (or adding the usage up of all five players on the floor). You can actually have 100% or more usage on the floor and below the possession penalty. How? Let's say you have four guys with 21 usage & a fifth with 17. That adds up to 101 usage... but only 9 usage points. This team will hit the team possession penalty. That's bad. Don't do that!

Now... you've got the team penalty & how to avoid it down, right? Just get 10+ usage points. But what about the individual possession penalty? How do you avoid that? That's where cumulative usage comes into play.

Think about what usage means (as defined earlier) a minute. If you have less than 100% usage on the floor, someone is going to end up with more possessions in the sim than the did IRL. That triggers the individual penalty. This occurs on a game by game basis, not the season total, so realize that at any point, sim randomness & outliers can and will screw you. To ensure that you will never hit the individual possession penalty, you would likely have to waste a great deal of salary by spending too much on usage, ending up with several players who won't get their RL possessions. But you can achieve a reasonable balance where it is unlikely that you will have too many players hit the individual possession penalty while not wasting too much of your salary on it.

By playing uptempo & working hard on the possession battle (boards, turnovers), most of your guys WILL end up with more shots than they did IRL. I've found great success recently in aiming to have more than 100% cumulative usage (but less than 115%) on the floor at all times. Starting on page 6 of this thread, I began a series of tests to determine what the right usage number was. Prior to these tests, I always tried to aim for a set number of usage points on the floor... I encouraged people to run 12-15 usage points. You still can do that, but you can end up with less than 100% usage on the floor with as much as 14.5 usage points (maybe more)... and that can create the possession penalty (which can lead to losses).

I aim to have 10 usage points on the floor at all times (making sure my backups are in the same tier as the starter, or at least high enough that the lowest lineup I can run will have 10 usage points). I'm shooting for 105%-115% cumulative usage in my starting line-up with a minimum of 90% usage possible on the floor when backups are in the game. So far, this has led to much more consistent success than when relying on usage points alone.

Keep in mind that this sim is about getting the right balance between all of the necessary stats. Usage isn't the only thing you should worry about, but it might just be the first thing you should worry about. See my other thread for helpful tips on how to approach that balance of all the necessary stats to win.

***I wondered if fatigue and/or playing a guy out of position messed with his usage like it does his other stats, so I asked admin.
8/7/2012 9:48 AM Customer Support

Usage rate is not affected by position effectiveness or fatigue.

There you go. So that barely tier-2 guy that's fatigued is still giving you tier-2 like production - and helping you avoid both possession penalties.
10/16/2017 10:11 PM (edited)
excellent advice and should be pinned but it does miss one of the most important lessons taught in the aforementioned 'possession penalty' thread
9/29/2011 8:15 PM
thanks ash!
9/29/2011 8:47 PM
Finally  a clear explantion of usage and the tiers very informative and helpful thanks ash I will keep it in mind before I draft another team thank
9/29/2011 10:10 PM
This post has a rating of , which is below the default threshold.
Posted by malone9975 on 9/29/2011 10:34:00 PM (view original):
Posted by felonius on 9/29/2011 8:15:00 PM (view original):
excellent advice and should be pinned but it does miss one of the most important lessons taught in the aforementioned 'possession penalty' thread
Which lesson is that?

Is it the admin hate us lesson, or is it the "abandon hope all who play here" lesson?
I think that was his point :)

Both of them.
9/30/2011 1:05 AM
Penalty = Whiner Rule
Penalties are there so even a loser can win.
Simply pandering to the lowest common denominator, the loser.
why bother getting good at something that has a program designed to discourage it
Jeez I hope I haven't been vague on my opinion regarding penalties
9/30/2011 3:09 AM
There's a good basketball reason for a possession penalty.  There's also a good basketball common sense factor missing from all of this, but this isn't a discussion on how it SHOULD be handled, it's just on how it IS handled to help out those having trouble understanding usage%.
9/30/2011 6:31 AM
But I still believe that if I build a better team with respect to synergy, ie surround two great shooters with a top rebounder and two facilitators, I should not be penalized because they out perform their real stats. Its fantasy after all. Lastly your correct discuussion of the pro's & con's is most likely a waste of time. Could you give a more detailed explaination of how penalty works as you did for usage%.
9/30/2011 10:32 AM
I don't know about that last part, badja. Out of curiousity, I just checked my team and my top 8 guys have 105.6 inrl ppg/82. We ended up leading the league in scoring too, so I don't think you need that many points to avoid the penalty. Part of the possession equation is FTAs, so maybe if guys don't get to the line as much in the sim then they can still have a lot more FGAs than inrl without suffering the individual penalty.

I'd still go with looking at usage% (or usage points, more specifically as Ash stated above) when drafting a team.
9/30/2011 4:15 PM
badja, not to be rude, but most of your post is just flat wrong.  PPG has nothing to do with it.  It's total possessions per 82 games.  See the correlation there with usage?  (usage is percentage of a team's total possessions per minute).  If you like using it, that's fine, but don't spread misinformation because the sim doesn't look closely at PPG... it doesn't look at it at all.

Look... I've been running every team I've had over the past year through a spreadsheet to calculate the advanced stats they actually gave me since WIS doesn't.  Everybody that shot worse or turned the ball over at an extraordinarily high rate also ended up with a significantly higher usage% than they did IRL.  I'm saying that with the fact that almost everybody has a turnover percentage 2-3% higher in the sim than they did IRL in mind.
9/30/2011 4:52 PM
Ok, I removed the post because I see you are indeed correct.   I have NO idea what works or not in the sim because we are not given the information we could use to determine how to build successful teams. 

I stand by the fact that 10 usage points is too many to require on the floor.  A real NBA team is just fine with 6-8.

I would be curious what you consider a significantly higher usage%.

9/30/2011 6:21 PM
that's cool man, I appreciate that.  And yeah, it sucks that so much of it is learned by trial and error.  I agree, I think 10 usage points is too many to require.  In fact, I think that usage points and the usage tier is an incredibly bad idea.  A 27.1% usage guy is only going to give you 4 points, yet the difference between him and a 22.2% usage guy is ridiculous.  If they're going to use a 10-point system, then it should be percentage based, in which case just adding usage together would make more sense.

I think a significantly higher usage% depends on what their RL usage is (ie percentage based).  If a guy has a 10% usage and ends the season with 12% usage, that's a 20% increase.  That's absolutely ridiculous and will destroy his fg% & tov%.  But 34 to 36 isn't near as big.  If you notice, on teams that are near the 10-minimum usage that have usage more spread out, they end up with much worse penalties on both turnovers and fg%.  But when you have someone that's in that top tier usage, they aren't penalized near as much.
10/1/2011 6:54 PM
Does usage% relate to tempo at all? Or does tempo have to do with fouls and turnovers? Or am I completely wrong on both of those guesses?
10/7/2011 1:34 PM
there is a relation there, yes - tempo settings will vary pace factors which will vary possessions
10/7/2011 3:23 PM
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