This week I decided to study the connection between a high scoring starting unit and winning games. In order to do this, I simply recorded the total number of points scored by each starting five and found the average for winning teams and losing teams.
There were 50 games this week, providing a decent sample size. The starters of winning teams averaged 72.48 points while the losing team’s starters tallied an average of 61.88 points. While this isn’t a huge difference, it supports my claim that depth is a bit overrated in today’s game. Teams that rely on their starters for the heavy scoring workload (think Portland, Boston, or Brooklyn) are more likely to win games than teams that spread out their point production (think Washington, Orlando, or Phoenix). Using these numbers as a basis, it seems like the days of the high scoring sixth man may be in danger of being phased out. Keep an eye on these numbers, and if they continue to trend in this direction, look for players like Lou Williams and J.R. Smith to be inserted into the starting lineup more often.
Remember, if you’re curious about any stat, tweet me @unSOPable23 and I’ll do a weekly study on your stat. Let’s team up and uncover some of the most unique stats/trends that this game has to offer.
Here are some of other interesting numbers from the past week.
- As you can tell, the starting unit has a big impact on the outcome of the game. That wasn’t the case when the Jazz and Rockets squared off, as the top six players in terms of plus/minus ratio came off the bench. In fact, the total plus/minus of the starting 10 players was 107 points lower than the reserves.
- Chris Paul was not only his team’s highest scorer with 19 points; he was the only starter for the Clippers to record an assist against the Spurs.
- The Magic have found themselves in some ugly games this year, and their trip to Atlanta might be the worst of the season. Only three players (Glen Davis, Al Horford, and Lou Williams) in this game scored in double figures: every other team in action tonight had at least three players record at least 10 points.
- Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings took 49.5% of the Bucks shots in Charlotte, including a remarkable 76.7% of shots taken by Milwaukee starters. For reference, Ellis’ 28 field goal attempts were more than the Bobcats top two shot takers combined (27 field goal attempts).
- Harrison Barnes grabbed at least nine rebounds for the third time in his last four games. That doesn’t seem like a big deal until you consider the fact that he tallied a total of eight rebounds in his first five games.
- When the Nets traveled to Los Angeles to take on the D’Antoni led Lakers, it was expected to be a shootout with production coming from a multitude of places. That couldn’t have been less accurate. 85.4% of all points were scored by starters and LA clamped down defensively in the second half. Brooklyn made 11/19 shots including 4/6 three pointers for 34 points in the second quarter. D’Antoni’s halftime adjustments (for lack of a better place to give the credit) limited the Nets to 14/43 shooting, 1/13 from distance, and 33 points in the second half.
- The Knicks made as many three pointers against the Hornets (14) as they did free throws.
- The Knicks lack of balance may come back to haunt them, but for now, it is working. The starters not named Carmelo Anthony went 2/4 from two point land as compared to 8/14 from distance.
- We all criticized Michael Jordan for selecting Kwame Brown, but how about the 76ers coaching staff gets a little grief for continuing to believe in him? They have started him five times this season and he has racked up more personal fouls (10) than points (9). If it aint broke, don’t fix it. If it’s not capable, don’t play it.
- Nick Young isn’t Canadian, but no player is averaging more points per game in games involving the Raptors than “Swaggy P” (minimum two games). Young is averaging 19.5 points in games against Toronto, more than any member of Toronto or any other opponent.
- More fun with D’Antoni and his immediate impact on the star studded Lakers. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will make a total of $34,646,000 this season, but totaled only 15 points on 5/14 shooting against the Kings. Jordie Meeks made 5/9 shots for 15 points and will make just over 4% ($1,400,000) of what the big men combine for this year.
- With the Trailblazers traveling to Phoenix, an interesting clash of styles took place. The Blazers seldom used bench totaled 73 minutes (8 players) and didn’t have a single player make more than one field goal. In contrast, the Kings had five players make multiple field goals, with two of their reserves making more shots than the entire Portland bench.
- If you went through the NBA and named all of the guards who excel in efficiency, it wouldn’t take you long to get to Monta Ellis or Chris Paul. Tonight, however, they ranked last and second to last respectively in points per shot among all the starters in the NBA. Ellis managed nine points on 16 shots against the Thunder while CP3 made 2/14 shots on his way to a disappointing nine point performance.
- If a strong starting unit is indicative of a good team, then bad team likely needs a strong performance from their bench to stay competitive. The Wizards lost their 10th consecutive game today, but their reserves did in fact keep them in the game.
Starting Unit (109 minutes): 17/43 from the field, 1/7 on threes, 23 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 38 points
Bench (155 minutes): 21/46 from the field, 6/13 on threes, 35 rebounds, 10 assists, 7 steals, 62 points
- Paul George broke Reggie Miller’s all time Indiana Pacer record for three pointers in a game, as he buried nine against the Hornets. Be honest, when you first heard that, you immediately thought: “Nice game, but George simply isn’t the shooter that Miller was”. While that may be true, George averages 1.77 treys, not far behind Miller’s career mark of 1.84.
- Andrea Bargnani lit up the Pistons for 34 points tonight in another losing effort. Team success has been inversely related to the success of Bargnani, as he is averaging 20.8 points on 44.4% shooting in losses and 11.7 points on 29.2% shooting in wins. After the first few weeks of the season, it is reasonable to consider Bargnani (18.7 ppg) an all-star, but consider this. If he kept those same split stats but played for a team that was 10-3 instead of 3-10, he would average 13.8 points, the same number as Darren Collison and fewer than J.J. Redick.
- Kevin Durant averages 10 rebounds + assists per game over his career, but managed only half that production against the Celtics tonight. While that may seem like an outlier, he has recorded two such games in the first 15 games of all six of his seasons in the NBA.
- To say Kobe Bryant has the green light under D’Antoni would be understating the obvious. In a losing effort against the Grizzles, a game in which there were 204 points scored, Bryant missed more shots (16) than every player besides Rudy Gay (17) took.
- How important are free throws? We’ve got conflicting results from Friday’s action, as James Harden (16/16) took and made more free throws than the entire Lakers team (12/14) in a winning effort. The Hawks, on the other hand, managed an NBA low 5.9% of their total points from the stripe but defeated the Bobcats who scored an NBA high 23.1% of their points from the line.
- Jason Kidd is a hall of fame point guard, but he has never had a season with an assist to turnover ratio above 4.0. He is currently leading the NBA with a 5.43 ratio and has yet to have a single game with three or more turnovers. In fact, JKidd has turned the ball over one or fewer times in 10 of 11 games this season.
- The Heat posted the third highest point total (110) against the Cavs, but took the fewest shots in the NBA (69). Miami averaged 1.59 points per field goal attempt, far and away the best number in the league this season. To help you understand just how dominant that is, the Mavs averaged 0.97 points per shot against the questionable defense of the Lakers.
- The Bobcats, who were underdogs in this game (!), traveled to Washington to play the winless Wizards, and the bench players determined the outcome more than the starters. Four of the games five highest scorers came off the pine, with 52.8% of the games total points being scored by reserves.
- Staying in this game, the Bobcats won despite a poor shooting day from Kemba Walker. The second year man missed 14 of his 17 shots from the field, but Charlotte found a way to improve to 3-1 this season when Walker misses at least 10 shots after losing all 10 such games last season.
- It’s not the quantity of shots taken, rather the quality, that wins basketball games. The Heat proved that, and the rest of the league followed suit today. Teams that attempted more three pointers were 2-6, with the winning teams combining to jack up 34 fewer triples than the losing teams.
- Richard Hamilton poured in 22 points against the Bucks, giving him at least 19 points in eight of his last 21 regular season games, the exact same number of 19+ point games as Deron Williams over that stretch.
- J.J. Redick has now gone 12 straight days (six games) since his last missed free throw. That sounds like a pretty good stretch, and it is, as few NBA players have done better this season. That being said, a 12 day streak would have ranked as Redick’s fourth longest of 2011-2012.
- Please don’t allow this remarkable assist streak of Rajon Rondo to continue without taking notice. Tonight he handed out 16 dimes while turning the ball over once in 42 minutes of action. The rest of his Celtics teammates and the bench of the Magic combined for 17 assists and 20 turnovers in 338 total minutes.
- J.R. Smith tallied a double-digit rebound game, not exactly what he is in the lineup to do. In seasons where Smith’s role has been that of a super sub (seasons in which he starts fewer than 40% of his teams games) he has averaged one such game per season. Oddly enough, his presence on the glass has been strongly correlated to poor three point shooting. In those seven games, Smith is shooting a mere 21.6% from three point land.
- Who says the 76ers don’t have a big three? Lavoy Allen, Thaddeus Young, and Jrue Holiday combined to make 23/37 shots for 54 points while the other nine active players on the Philadelphia roster connected on only 16/44 field goals for 50 points.
- Reggie Evans recorded what should be known as a Reggie Evans stat line: double digit rebounds with little involvement on the offense. In fact, in 72% of his double digit rebound games over the past 2+ seasons, Evans has scored six or fewer points. This week was a great example, as Evans totaled 42 rebounds and only nine points (1/4 shooting).