I am having trouble understanding possessions in basketball as it seems like there are 3 equations. One that is (FGA+0.44*FTA+TO) and another that accounts for Offensive Rebounds found here. Lastly, the main one created by Dean Oliver found here. Are the first two estimates of possession, as in a much simply way to calculate possession?

My question stems from looking at some formulas like TOV% and Points per Possession. Seems like TOV uses the equation found above and PpP uses Oliver's equation. Why does this difference exist? Also are players TOV%/PpP different than a team's TOV%/PpP? I feel like the calculation should be the same, but using the teams numbers instead of a players.

up vote 2 down vote accepted

What is Possession acording to SportingCharts:

A statistic in basketball defined as the time a team gains offensive possession of the ball until it scores, loses the ball, or commits a violation or foul. A possession in basketball is an important statistic because it allows teams to compute statistics on a per possession basis. The statistic can be applied to an individual player or the entire team.

Now we know what possession is, we can go further: how to calculate possession in Basketball?

The more realistic possession estimator is poss = FGA + 0.475 x FTA - ORB + TO

FGA - the number of field goal attempts

FTA - the number of free throw attempts

ORB - the number of offensive rebounds

TO - the number of turnovers. Possessions end on turnovers and on shots that the offense doesn't rebound.

0.475 - The consensus value for college basketball seems to be 0.475. In the NBA, 0.44 is typically used.

A good pdf about this formula.

New contributor
Morais is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
  • 1
    Thank you. So you are saying probably ignore Oliver's method and use the above? For both Team and Player Points per Possesison. Then for TOV% use the predefined one. – Jack Armstrong Nov 9 at 14:30
  • I think yes. The formula FGA + 0.475 x FTA - ORB + TO to calculate the possession (team or individual) and you can use the TOV% to calculate especially the percentage of turnover by a player. – Morais Nov 9 at 15:09

Your Answer


By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.