This week’s #StatStudy was suggested by our very own Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh), a great basketball mind who will stop at nothing to make sense of this game we all know and love. Mr. Levy was curious as to the ideal number of possessions, a stat that I measured by recording the OffEff (points per 100 possessions) of every winning team this week (52 games).
Oddly enough, the result from this study closely resembled a standard bell curve. The mean number of possessions for winning teams was roughly 93 with 68% of the data (one standard deviation in either direction) being between 88 and 97 possessions. There was a two way tie for the mode, as 94 and 97 possessions were the numbers that occurred most frequently. However, the mean number of possessions (93) was also the peak when it came to average OffEff of the winning team. Thanks in large part to the Heat’s dismantling of the Kings (a game in which they scored 137.6 points per 100 possessions), victorious teams that had 93 possessions averaged the greatest OffEff at 117.42. Of the teams that fall outside the norm (88-97 possessions), it was the teams who had more possessions that were slightly more efficient. When a team recorded more than 97 possessions in a given game, their average OffEff was 110.4 while teams who had fewer than 88 possessions averaged 108.6 points per 100 possessions.
In conclusion, it is about finding the quickest offense your specific team can run while maintaining solid shot selection. More possessions doesn’t mean a higher efficiency, however, as the lowest possession count of the week (82) had a higher efficiency (120.7) than the winning team in the game with the most possessions (108). The average winning team in the NBA averaged 108.03 points per 100 possessions, with only three teams winning by averaging less than a point per possession.
We’ve got a #StatStudy lined up for the week ahead (what is the impact of double digit assist men on the outcome of the game), but what would you like to see studied in the future? There are almost no restrictions, as the topics can range from advanced statistics to production by a player with the best nickname. Each week in the NBA features roughly 50 games, so your idea will receive a pretty decent sample size. Tweet me @unSOPable23 with the next great idea and we will discuss the logistics to make it happen.
Without further adieu, your stats from the week that was in the NBA.
- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 46 of the Thunder’s 99 points, leading most people to think that they did all they could to help their team attempt to fend off the Wizards. It wasn’t enough, and a big reason why was the Big Two’s lack of efficiency as they got close to the rim. Durant and Westbrook made only six of 14 shots from within nine feet while their teammates connected on 90% of their attempts that close to the rim.
- Carlos Boozer has started January by scoring 82 points in the Bulls three games, helping Chicago average 103.3 points over that stretch. Prior to January, Boozer hadn’t had a four game stretch with more than 70 points scored.
- In an overtime victory over the Magic, the Trailblazers starting five averaged 43.2 minutes. In contrast, the Magic had two starters combine for 36 minutes.
- The Grizzles reached the century mark in Sacramento in a beat down of the Kings. Memphis has now won 15 of the last 16 games in which they have scored at least 100 points while the Kings matched their December home loss total in their first January home game.
- According to rumors, Carmelo Anthony had to be restrained from entering the Celtics locker room after an emotional 102-96 defeat, but maybe he was just looking for the basket. During the game he couldn’t find it (6/26) as he combined with JR Smith to miss 31 shots, only four fewer than the entire Boston team missed.
- Many people believe that Dwight Howard and/or Pau Gasol are the problems in LaLa Land, but in the Lakers first game without either they struggled in a way that should scare their fans. Los Angeles assisted on 37.5% more three pointers than shots taken at the rim, a ratio that simply will not win games in the NBA, especially with their current defensive principals. The Lakers were lucky enough to make 45.2% of their three point attempts and still lost. What is going to happen when the shots aren’t falling (do you really want to rely on Darius Morris, Chris Duhon, and Metta World Peace making 8/9 triples)?
- The Indiana Pacers are getting credit for slowing the pace down in order to beat the Heat, and while that has merit (the game featured only 84 possessions), it wasn’t why the pulled off the upset. Miami is the league’s third most efficient team, averaging 1.071 points per possession, but the Pacers held them to 0.917 tonight. The difference (0.154) may not seem huge, but had the Heat had an average night when it comes to efficiency, they score 90 (not 77) points on their 84 possession. Indiana scored 87 points.
- Larry Sanders is blocking shots to welcome the New Year at an elite level. The third year one member swat team has turned away more shots this month (18) than free throws attempted by teammate Monta Ellis (14). Making that stat a bit more impressive is the fact that Ellis has played 52.1% more minutes over that stretch and averages nearly three times as many free throws as Sanders does blocks over his career.
- We all loved what we saw from the 76ers last season, so why the struggles this year? Sure, the trade for Andrew Bynum has yet to pay dividends, but it goes a bit deeper than that. Philadelphia ranks dead last in the league in terms of percentage of points that come from the free throw line (13.6%), a trend that continued tonight when they managed only 6.7% of their points from the charity stripe. Their low percentage of free throws is magnified when you consider that their offense ranks 27th in the league in total points. Consider this: the Thunder are making 22.9 free throws per game, meaning the 76ers (12.6) would need to outscore them by 10 points from the field just to draw even.
- Josh Smith averages 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds, making his average PR 25.3 this season. He recorded a PR of 34 last night in an Atlanta loss, only the second loss in the last nine games in which Smith’s PR was great than his season average.
- The NBATV crew has coined the nickname “First name 20 last name 10” for Zach Randolph, and while I am all about the creative nickname, they should be accurate. ZBo has recorded only five 20 and 10 games this season (32 games), hadly enough to justify a nickname. Here are some other things that have happened five times this season, with the suggested nickname that are just as statistically accurate as Randolph’s.
- Steph “Clean the glass” Curry has recorded 7+ rebounds.
- Kobe “Slack Mamba” Bryant has scored 20 or fewer points in a game.
- The Washington “Anti-Generals” Wizards have won.
- James “The Fantastic Flopper” Harden has made at least 14 free throws.
- Josh “Shot Swatter” Smith has blocked at least five shots.
- Jrue Holiday, a 79% career free throw shooter, has lacked consistency over the last three seasons against the Toronto Raptors. In the 2010-2011 season Holiday made 16 of 17 free throws against Canada’s finest, but has made only six of 13 since then.
- In the past 14 days, Gordon Hayward (119 points) has scored more points than: the leading sixth man of the year candidate J.R.Smith (118), Josh Smith (117), Kevin Martin (113), and teammate Paul Millsap (102).
- The Bulls elite defense, not the stagnant offense, has been struggling of late. Before Christmas, Chicago was averaging a mere 84.9 points per game in losses, as the offense was getting it done. But since December 25th, the Bulls are averaging 91.3 points per game in losses. Those 91 points would have been enough for the Bulls to win games early in the season but have not been lately.
- There is MVP talk surrounding Chris Paul, and while he is a great player, is he even the most valuable player on the Clippers. Rarely does an elite point guard lead his team to glory, and the team’s success seems to be correlated to the play of Matt Barnes as much as anybody. The super sub has a PR (points + rebounds) average of 16.3 and Lob City is 15-2 when Barnes’ PR is at least 17. That means the Clippers are 13-5 when Barnes turns in a less than average performance, a winning percentage (72.2%) that would have the Clippers sitting at the three spot in the West.
- The Knicks lost to the Pacers in a game in which J.R. Smith was remarkably inefficient (10/29 from the field). For a volume shooter like Smith, you’d assume that a tough night for him would be very difficult to overcome, but the opposite has held true this season. The Knicks had won six consecutive games in which Smith’s shot total was greater than or equal to his points scored.
- Tyson Chandler had himself another fine day (12 points and 15 rebounds), but he did so in a very uncharacteristic fashion. The Knicks center missed five shots from the field for the first time in his last 76 games.
- Speaking of odd shooting stats, try this one on for size. Dirk Nowitzki had a higher 3P% (minimum one 3PM) than FG% for a third straight game, something the tall German hasn’t done since December 2008.
- The Portland Trailblazers rely heavily on their starters, making any (and I mean any) production from their bench a bonus. In fact, the Trailblazers have now won seven consecutive games in which Ronnie Price has made at least one free throw. For what it’s worth, Price made three free throws in last night’s 92-90 win over the Heat.
- My job is to find statistical correlations, so this one kills me. Stats themselves do not win games, and LeBron James has been a great example of that since the beginning of December. The Heat are 4-3 over that stretch when The King hands out at least nine assists, 3-4 when he scores at least 30 points, and 3-4 when he grabs 10+ rebounds.
- Remember when the Raptors brought in Kyle Lowry and we all assumed that made Jose Calderon expendable? Not only his assist to turnover ridiculous of late (28 assists and 0 turnovers since the first possession against the Thunder on Sunday) but he is scoring too. After last night’s first quarter, Calderon had locked up a fourth consecutive double digit game, the third such streak in 36 games (21 starts) this season. Excluding this season, it took the crafty point guard 91 games to record three separate streaks of at least four double digit point totals.
- The defensive oriented Bulls have yet to win a game at home when both teams score at least 100 points, but have won four in a row this year (six dating back to last year) when that happens on the road.
- The proof is in the pudding that James Harden needs to score at a high level for the Rockets to be effective. Sure, his franchise record of 14 consecutive games with at least 25 points was nice while it lasted, but there is something more important correlated with him scoring 25: winning. The Rockets are 16-7 when he scores more than 25 and 5-9 when he’s “held” to 25 or fewer points. They are a good story, but can a playoff team be that dependant on one player and make any noise?
- Tony Parker made all three of his three point attempts, including a bomb to send the game into overtime, but the Spurs fell to the Grizzles. This was the first loss in a game in which Parker drained at least three triples since 2/13/2005. The US average price of a gallon of gas has risen about 50% and the Houston Astros made the World Series. Yea … it’s been a while.
- Since we rang in the New Year, Randy Foye has yet to regress on his three point shooting. The seventh year pro that averages 1.4 3PM for his career has made at least as many triples as the previous game in every game this month.
- Omer Asik made all four of his free throws in a losing effort against the 76ers last night; the third time the Rockets big man has made all of his free throws since March of last season and the first time in over two months. As odd as it is for him to make all of his free throws (took him 18 free throws to make four in his previous five games), it is even rarer that Houston loses a game in which the 53.5% career free throw shooter misses two or fewer freebies (minimum of one made FT). The Rockets had won the last 10 such games, but couldn’t ride Asik’s sweet stroke to victory on this night.
- Blake Griffin poured in 30 points on 68.2% shooting from the field against the Magic but it was enough for the Clippers who are have played .500 ball since rattling of 17 straight wins. Since entering the NBA, Griffin’s team has been outscored by 49 points in the 21 games he has scored at least 30 points.
- The Heat rode the coattails of Mario Chalmers last night as they steam rolled the Kings 128-99. Miami, who has won roughly 70% of their games since establishing their Big Three, had lost four games in the time it took for Chalmers to accumulate 34 points prior to this outburst.
- The Memphis Grizzles are a very good team, but how bad was their showing tonight against the Mavericks? I understand that they just played an emotional overtime game against the Spurs, but did they really expect to win a game in which Darrell Arthur and Wayne Ellington both missed more shots than Zach Randolph attempted?
- It may be time for #StartDrummond to trend on Twitter. The rookie stud from UCONN is shooting 71.2% from the field in the last 10 games in which he has scored at least six points. Over that stretch, Andre Drummond is averaging one rebound every 2.4 minutes. Free throw shooting (7/23 over that stretch) and fouls (averaging one foul every 6.6 minutes over his last five games of at least 20 minutes) are a problem, but we are nearing the point where a rookie has to learn to play through it.
- Both front courts in the Raptors/Bucks game were remarkably efficient, making up for the struggles of the guards. The Power Forwards and Centers combined to make 36 of 58 field goals (62.1%) for 89 points while Small Forwards and all guards made only 40 of 104 shot attempts (38.5%). Ironically enough, each team’s highest scorer was a member of the backcourt.
- The Brooklyn Nets point total has decreased in every game of their five game win streak.
- As the leader of the Ricky Rubio fan club, you’ll have a hard time finding a writer more in his corner than I am. That being said, he simply hasn’t been the same since he tore his ACL last season. He has been in and out of the Timberwolves lineup, and while nobody ever confused him of being an efficient scoring guard, his current pace is brutal. “Testigo” (which means “Witness” in Spanish) is shooting 18.2% from the field and averaging 8.8 points per 48 minutes in his nine games this season. To put that in perspective, Hasheem Thabeet is averaging 10.3 points per 48 minutes.
- The Nuggets had an NBA best one turnover per 12.1 minutes last night against the Warriors, proving that if an NBA team gets enough looks at the basket, they are going to have success. The added scoring opportunities allowed them to take seven more shots from the field and 19 more free throws as they erased and eight point fourth quarter deficit. The Nuggets point guards dished out 13 dimes and turned the ball over only once, whereas the Warriors ball handlers had more assists (15) but lost six more possessions.
- The Lakers took 26 fewer shots than the Cavaliers and won. Los Angeles had six players shoot at least 50% from the field and make a three pointer while Cleveland didn’t have a single player do so. One of those players was Kobe Bryant who took only 14 shots on this ultra efficient night. In the last seven games in which Bryant has attempted fewer than 20 field goals the Lakers have averaged 110.1 points, scored at least 113 points in the majority of those games, and won all seven games.