Team Defense

A team’s defense can be evaluated using the same 7 stats:

  1. 3P%: opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage
  2. 2P%: opponent’s 2-point field goal percentage
  3. FT%: opponent’s free throw percentage
  4. Blk%: opponent’s block percentage
  5. St%: opponent’s steal percentage
  6. A%: opponent’s assist percentage
  7. 3PA%: opponent’s 3-point attempt percentage


A team’s defensive 3-point field goal percentage is its opponents’ made 3-point shots divided by its opponents’ attempted 3-point shots.

3P% = Opp. 3PM / Opp. 3PA * 100

Cincinnati’s defensive 3P% was 30.9% in the 2017-2018 season, good for 7th amongst all Division-I teams.

Its opponents made 231 3-point shots in 747 attempts.

3P% = 231 / 747 * 100 = 30.9%

For a comparison, North Carolina’s opponents made 38% of their 3-point shots. That’s good for 316th in the country in 2017-2018.

KenPom has written extensively about why a team’s 3P% defense should not be defined by its opponent’s 3P% offense.


A team’s defensive 2-point field goal percentage is calculated by taking its opponents’ 2-point makes and dividing them by its opponents’ 2-point attempts.

2P% = Opp. 2PM / Opp. 2PA * 100

The 2017-18 Michigan State Spartans ranked 1st in the nation limiting opponents’ 2P% to 38.4%.

Michigan State opponents made 522 of 1360 2-point shot attempts.

2P% = 522 / 1360 * 100 = 38.4

For some contrast, NC State’s opponents made 53.6% of its 2-point shots. That clip was 297th amongst all Division-I teams.

While 3P% is not indicative of a team’s 3-point defense, 2P% can be attributed some to how a team protects the rim and defends overall.


A team’s defensive free throw percentage is its opponent’s free throw makes divided by its opponents’ free throw attempts.

FT% = FTM / FTA * 100

BYU opponents made 65.6% of its free throws in the 2017-2018 season. This percentage put the Cougars at 1st in the country.

And in comparison, Xavier opponents made 76.0% of their free throw attempts. This was rated 347th out of all teams in 2017-2018.

Obviously you can’t defend free throws. It’s an uncontested shot. But if you can limit a team from attempting free throws, it could be a big factor. Can’t make them if you don’t take them.


Defensive Block percentage is a team’s total blocked shots divided by its opponents’ 2-point field goal attempts.

Blk% = Blocked shots / Opp. 2PA * 100

Syracuse ranked 3rd in the country blocking 17.4% of its opponents’ 2-point shot attempts.

The Orange blocked 197 of its opponents’ 1136 2-point shot attempts.

Blk = 197 / 1136 * 100 = 17.4%

This make sense, as Syracuse limited its opponents to shoot 45.1% for inside the 3-point line.

South Dakota State blocked only 5.6% of its opponents’ shots in 2017-2018. This clip ranked 334th in the country.


A team’s defensive steals percentage is a team’s total number of steals divided by its opponent’s offensive possessions.

Stls% = Total steals / Possessions

Kansas State posted a 11.9% steals percentage in 2017-2018. This was good for 3rd in the country.

The Wildcats recorded 294 steals in its opponents’ estimated 2,480 offensive possessions.

Stls% = 294 / 2,480 * 100 = 11.9

In comparison, Georgia’s defensive steal percentage was more than half of that at 5.8%. This ranked 349th in the country.


A team’s defensive assist percentage is its opponents’ total amount of assists divided by its opponents’ made field goals. This includes both 3-point and 2-point makes.

A% = Opp. assists / Opp. FGM * 100

Penn ranked 3rd amongst all Division-I teams limiting its opponents to a 39.6% assist percentage. Penn’s opponents had 323 assists on 816 made baskets.

A% = 323 / 816 * 100 = 39.58

Syracuse opponents registered a 73.8% assist percentage in the 2017-2018 season. This was last (351st) amongst all teams.

Assist percentage sometimes has less do with defense, and more to do with style of play. Syracuse is known for its 2-3 zone, and to beat a zone, you must share the ball.


A team’s defensive 3-point attempt percentage is the percentage of 3-point shots its opponents attempt divided by their opponents’ total shot attempts.

3PA% = Opp. 3PA / Opp. FGA * 100

Michigan’s opponents took 30.2% of their shots from behind the 3-point line in the 2017-2018 season. This was 6th amongst all Division-I teams.

The Wolverines opponents’ attempted 222 3-pointers out of 2,226 total shot attempts.

3PA% = 222 / 2226 * 100 = 30.2

In contrast, Georgia State’s opponents attempted 46.2% of their shots from behind the 3-point line. That’s percentage ranked 347th in the country.

Remember: Teams have much more control over how many 3-point shots their opponents shoot than how many they make.