For this week’s study my brother (@KurtSoppe) pondered if FG% or FT% was more directly correlated to the game’s final outcome. He hypothesized that both FG% and FT% would be consistently higher for victorious teams, with the stronger correlation being found in the field goal percentage.
In support of Kurt’s guess, winning teams shot an average of 47.9% from the field while losing teams shot only 42.3%. Winning teams shot better than 50% from the field in 32.7% of the 52 games this week while losing teams made less than 40% of their shots in 30.8% of games this week.
The free throw results, however, showed no correlation whatsoever. In fact, losing teams shot a high percentage from the line in the majority of days this week. A strong showing on Sunday (four of the five winners shot at least 80%) resulted in winning teams edging out losing teams in weekly shooting percentage 73.8% to 73.4%, hardly a large enough difference to assume a direct relationship. The lone team to make all of their freebies this week lost, while five teams made less than 60% of their free throws and managed to win.
This felt like a “Dwight Howard” experiment to me, as we are looking to determine if a high FG% is more influential than a high FT%. According to the study (for this week at least), the Lakers made a wise move, with FG% being the stronger correlated of the two statistics.
I’m challenging you the reader to give me a stat to break down for next week. It could be as simple as the average height of players who score 20+ points or as in depth as percentage of shots made from 3-9 feet that were assisted on. The only rule for stat suggestions is that I have a place to find the stats you want researched. Other than that, I’ll run a week long study on any statistic your heart desires. So what will it be? What has you thinking? What are you interested in? Don’t be shy, tweet me @unSOPable23 and use #StatStudy to put your idea in the conversation for this week.
With that being said, here are your standout stats from the week that was in the Association.
- On the final day of 2012, let’s have some fun with free throws. In the days second lowest scoring game (Bobcats and Bulls totaled 172 points) there were 56 free throws attempted. One would assume that more free throw attempts means more scoring, but that wasn’t the case, as the nights highest scoring game (Rockets and Hawks totaled 227 points) saw only 29 free throws attempted. If you use a standard grading rubric (65% is the lowest grade a student can receive and still pass the class), nine players in that Chicago/Charlotte game “failed” from the free throw line. On a day with six games, LeBron James made more free throws than five teams.
- The Indian Pacers, who rank in the bottom half of the league in made three pointers per game (6.6), torched the Memphis Grizzles, who are the sixth best defense against the three (6.3 makes per game), from distance. Indiana tallied 36 points from downtown and 28 points from two point range.
- Russell Westbrook received stitches to stop the blood from streaking down his face, but that wasn’t enough to prevent a rare “point guard” performance from the highbred athlete. For the second time in two weeks (seven games), Westbrook handed out nine assists and turned the ball over only once, something he hadn’t done once in his 131 previous games.
- The San Antonio Spurs rode the coattails of Tony Parker for a third consecutive game, something they should do more often. They have won 18 straight games when their shifty point guard scores at least 20 points and shoots 50% or better from the field.
- Nikola Vucevic may finally get the recognition he deserves after his 29 rebound outburst against the Heat. Yes, that is an ultra impressive stat line, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Over his last 10 games, Vucevic is shooting 61.2% from the field with six double doubles and averaging 14 rebounds per game. The second year man doesn’t wear a cape or throw down jaw dropping dunks, but his presence on the glass is making it easier for Orlando fans to forget a player who did.
- The Clippers looked unbeatable for the better part of a month, so what changed in Denver that ended the 17 game win streak? The average height of an NBA player is believed to be roughly 6’7” and members of LobCity that measured at least that height shot 31.8% from the free throw line. They missed 15 free throws and Los Angeles lost by – you guessed it – 14.
- Bradley Beal’s production has been predictably inconsistent as he adjusts to the speed of the NBA game. Tonight he made four three pointers and missed three free throws, matching his totals in each category since December 12th (nine games).
- If I told you that a player had connected on 17 triples in the last 10 days, who would you guess? Maybe Ryan Anderson (who led the league last year and is currently setting the pace in 3PM per game)? Nope, he’s made 14. How about the sweet stroking Steph Curry? He hasn’t exploded lately and checks in at 12. The savvy NBA fan may toss Nicolas Batum’s name into the conversation, but he fell just short with 15 makes. How about an eighth year man who is averaging a shade over eight points per game? That’s right, Charlie Villanueva. The Pistons power forward connected on four more triples tonight, his fifth consecutive game with at least nine points from behind the arc.
- Dwight Howard struggled to find any sort of rhythm on offense (1/7 from the field and 5/10 from the line) but remained very active on the glass (14 rebounds). Given the date on the calendar, that type of game shouldn’t be a surprise, as he has recorded more rebounds in three of his four New Year’s Day games. In fact, in those four games, he is averaging 11.3 points and 14 rebounds.
- Tuesday’s without Tyson. The Knicks center has 12 double doubles this season and is on pace to average a double double for only the second time in his 12 year career, but has as many double doubles on Tuesday’s (five games) this season as you or I.
- The Clippers lost all four quarters for the second consecutive night to begin 2013. It took eight entire games until they lost their eighth quarter in December. They also have already matched their December total for quarters lost in road games.
- Tim Duncan is viewed as arguably the best power forward of all time because of his rebounding and fundamentals, but the Spurs scoring over the past three years has been directly tied to his ability to set up teammates. Since the beginning of the 2010 regular season, San Antonio has eclipsed 100 points in 85% of the games in which Duncan tallies at least five assists, averaging 108.1 points in those games.
- Earl Watson came off of the Utah bench and dished out nine assists, more than double the amount for any other player. His nine dimes in 24 minutes of action equaled the total number of assists produced by the Timberwolves starting unit in 157 minutes.
- Is Greivis Vasquez quietly becoming a small market version of Rajon Rondo, but with a better jump shot? The Hornets point guard handed out more assists (14) than field goals made (6) for the 30th time in 32 games this season.
- The 76ers have a better winning percentage when Jrue Holiday misses 10+ shots (.500) than when the UCLA product scores 20+ points (.417).
- Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 rebounds and shot 75% from the field as the Knicks snapped the Spurs seven game win streak. Those may seem like remarkable numbers, but Chandler has tallied 10+ rebounds while making at least three quarters of his field goal attempts in 25% of the Knicks games this season.
- Tony Parker connected on a three pointer against the Knicks, something that doesn’t sound like a great feat. But when you consider that his career points per game (18.4) against New York is higher than his three point percentage (18.2), it becomes a bit more interesting.
- Andre Iguodala has missed more free throws (10) in his last two games than two point field goals he has made (9), remarkable considering he has taken 25% fewer free throws.
- The Nuggets have been giving Andre Miller an increased role due to the injury to Ty Lawson, and for the most part he has thrived. His role, however, hasn’t expanded past the three point line, where he hasn’t made a shot since November 15th (0/15 in 638 minutes).
- Minnesota has fallen in love with pass first point guards (Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved), but it is their spunky reserve who contributes more FGM (4.6) than assists (4.2). The Timberwolves have won nine of 13 games this season when JJ Barea attempts at least 10 shots, making them only 6-10 in games in which he isn’t as involved.
- In the Lakers last four road losses, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard have combined for 40 field goals and 36 personal fouls.
- The Celtics extended their streak of games non-overtime games decided by at least 10 points to 15. They haven’t played a game (win or lose) that ended after 48 minutes that was decided by a single digit margin since a 91-88 loss at Milwaukee December 1st.
- I say this all of the time in regards to Kobe Bryant, but it has merit for Kyrie Irving as well: I don’t care how gifted of a scorer you are, you can only go so far without making your teammates better. We have all been made aware of the Lakers struggles when Kobe scores 30+ points (6-14), but the Cavs are even worse when Irving scores at least 27. Last night’s victory improved the Cavs to 3-10 in games in which their young stud lights up the opponent from a scoring sense. Of those three wins, one was against Kobe (someone had to win) and the other two were against the worst teams (Wizards and Bobcats, who are a combined 12-51) in the NBA. Cleveland’s growth as a young team appears to be stunted when Irving becomes more of a scorer. For the record, LeBron James was 12-9 in games in which he scored at least 27 points in his rookie campaign because he kept his teammates involved, as he displayed his elite playmaking ability, both for himself and for others, at a very young age.
- In the week following his suspension, DeMarcus Cousins has showed exactly why the Kings selected him fifth overall in the 2010 draft. He has amassed 97 points, 70 rebounds, 22 assists, and even 11 steals in those five games, sharing the paint with Anderson Varejao, Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler, and Greg Monroe. It is still early in his career, but numbers like those combined with the inconsistent attitude have the makings of a journey man who makes all star games but rarely is seen in the postseason.
- Joe Johnson will get all of the highlights for his step back jumper with a double team closing in on him that beat the buzzer, but if not for Brook Lopez, there would have been no game winner to hit. In fact, the game wouldn’t have last more than four quarters. Lopez poured in an efficient 27 points (53.3% from the field and 78.6% from the line) as Brooklyn/New Jersey improved to 7-0 over the last two seasons when their center scores at least 25 points.
- Lou Williams’ role as a scoring force is increasing in a big way (points per game by month have jumped by at least two points in each month) and he has responded by eclipsing his career average in points (11.6) in 12 of the last 13 games. My worries for Sweet Lou moving forward stem from how many minutes he is playing. He has never averaged 30 minutes and is fresh off a season in which he saw only 26.3 minutes per game (in a condensed schedule), but the gifted scorer is averaging 38.5 minutes over his last eight games. I love his talent, but if this trend continues, the Hawks may be regretting his major winter minutes when the playoff race tightens up.
- The Pacers are the second lowest scoring team in the NBA (91.4), so why not try to run a patient offense that involves your 7’2” center more? Including tonight, Indiana has won five straight and eight of ten when Roy Hibbert attempts at least 10 shots. They have won games were he has gone 3/13 and 3/10 from the field, proving that it is the threat of interior dominance that helps as much as anything.
- The Nets have a few glamorous players (Deron Williams and Joe Johnson) that garner most of the credit when the team succeeds, but lately Andray Blatche’s scoring has been the most correlated statistic to wins. Brooklyn has won six of the last seven games in which Blatche has reached double figures and are only 2-5 in games over that span when he fails to score at least 10 points.
- The Utah Jazz didn’t have a starter make more than four field goals (combined to shoot 16/49) while the Nuggets didn’t have a starter make less than four field goals (combined to shoot 29/48). Breaking News: you can’t win basketball games like that.
- O.J. Mayo started and played 35 minutes in a starting unit that included Dirk Nowitski for the first time this season. Baffling to me, Mayo failed to record a single assist for the first time this year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there aren’t enough basketballs in Dallas to make both of these volume shooters happy.
- Today’s game against the Thunder was full of surpasses for Alan Anderson, who not only scored 42.1% more points than any of his Raptor teammates but also took more 27.3% more shots than Kevin Durant. For all the surprises that took place, Anderson’s accuracy from the free throw line remained constant. Not since April 2007 has Anderson missed a free throw (19/19) in a game in which he scores at least 20 points.
- LeBron James had himself a great game (24 points, 2 three pointers, and 7 assists), something NBA fans have become to call “Sunday” for James, but recorded only two rebounds. Over the last 160 regular season games, this was only the third win for the Heat in a game that James had three or fewer rebounds.
- Greg Monroe scored exactly 18 points for the third consecutive game, the second time he has had an identical point total for a three game stretch in his 182 game career. For a little perspective, consider that Kobe Bryant has never had an identical three game streak in his 1,414 game career.
- The Steve Nash days of run and gunning in Phoenix are long gone, as they have totaled only 161 points over their last two games. It is still early in January, but Luis Scola has more assists (19) than the team’s starting point guard Goran Dragic (18) does this month.
- The move to L.A. for Dwight Howard was supposed to result in his dominance leading to victories. That hasn’t exactly been the case thus far, as the Lakers fell to 3-7 in games in which he hauls down at least 15 rebounds. The Magic were 17-9 in such games last season.