As mentioned in the previous edition of the Weekly Stats Recap, the suggested #StatStudy for this week was orchestrated to determine the impact of elite assist men. Perry Missner (@PerryMissner), a noted doubter of the importance of great point guards, estimated that 65% of the teams with a double digit dime man would win. As it turns out (for this week at least), Perry wasn’t pessimistic enough when it comes to the correlation between individual passing performance and team success.
During this 49 game week, a mere 11 games were won by a team who had a player record 10+ assists. That is a lower number than I would have guessed given the sheer volume of points scored in the NBA, but points are being scored more in isolation sets these days. In addition, teams with a double digit assist player lost 12 times, meaning that if you had a player record 10+ assists, you only had a 47.8% chance of winning.
I decided to also chart the number of assists for the point guard on the winning team. My thought process in charting such a statistic was to see if Perry’s theory that “we don’t need no stinking point guard” was accurate. As expected, because he does his due diligence and wouldn’t make such a claim if not supported, assist totals for victorious point guards was not very high at all. The 49 winning point guards recorded 319 assists (6.5 apg), not a high total considering that the NBA average for points in a game is 97.5 and roughly 103 points for the winning team.
What statistic is on your mind? What do you want me to chart for the next seven days in the hopes of proving/disproving a thought of yours? Tweet me (@unSOPable23) the stat and your prediction for the result, use the hashtag #StatStudy, and I’ll put the wheels in motion. That’s all it takes. Let your opinion be heard!
Without further adieu, here are the stats that went unnoticed for the week that was in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo recorded his third triple double of the season, dominating the Bobcats by shooting 72.7% from the field and handing out six assists for every turnover. When a player is going good and records a triple double, you’d expect an efficient night from the field, but last night was the exception and not the rule. Since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season, Rondo has registered 20 triple doubles but has shot under 50% in half of them. His cumulative shooting percentage in those 20 games (43.9%) is well below his career clip (48.2%).
The Atlanta Hawks had one of the worst offensive displays in the shot clock era (58 points on 29.3% shooting) but had a higher assist to turnover ratio (1.07) than the Grizzles (1.00) who played a Chris Paul-less Clippers team. The Hawks starters, however, were as bad as it gets. LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Dion Waiters all recorded more points than the entire Atlanta starting unit (30).
Speaking of the Thunder’s dynamic duo, they combined to take a shot on 57.4% of OKC’s possessions against the Suns. That doesn’t include possessions that end in free throws, and with Durant/Westbrook taking 81.8% of the team’s freebies, it is safe to say that they were the scoring option on at least 60% of the Thunder possessions. That easily outpaced the Heat’s Big Three who took a shot on 47.8% of possessions and attempted less than 44% of their team’s free throws.
The Washington Wizards won a third straight game, the first time in five seasons that they have won three consecutive games in January. Oddly enough, the second and third wins of the current streak came on the exact same dates (January 12th and January 14th) as the second and third wins did in 2008 and both sets of victories included a win over the Hawks.
The Kings may hate dealing with DeMarcus Cousins, but when he is between the lines and focused, they count on his as much as any team counts on a single player. His USG rate over the last two seasons rival that of Kevin Durant, and never has it been more evident that the past 15 days. Sacramento has scored at least 100 points four times over that stretch, with Cousins’ PR (points + rebounds) being at least 38 in three of those games. The lone exception was when he felt it was in his best interest to use the attention being paid to him to his advantage, as he recorded a triple double.
The Los Angeles Clippers are currently the two seed in the West and it is possible that we have yet to see their best. Blake Griffin’s free throw percentage in victories has increased every month (minimum two games), as it started at 55.2% in November and stands at 72.4% in January.
The 76ers are a good team, but due to their lack of star power, they rely on every player filling a certain role. The weird part in Philadelphia is that it seems when a player goes outside of his role the tem struggles, even if he does so in an efficient matter. Case in point is Jrue Holiday’s three point shooting. He knocked down four triples last night in a loss to the Hornets,, the fifth time this season he has made at least three three pointers in a game. Philadelphia has lost all five of those games despite the UCLA product connecting on a ludicrous 78.3% of his shots from distance.
Critics of Kenneth Faried say that he is strictly an energy guy, a nice piece to a winning team but not a player you build around. If that’s the case, the fact that the Nuggets are having their best month in the Faried era (7-1 including six straight wins) in the month in which Faried is logging a career high 31.9 minutes per game seems like quite the coincidence. In January, the Manimal is shooting over 60% from the field, over 80% from the line, and averaging a double double. You can measure a lot of things at a combine, but the size of a players heart remains one of the most important and overlooked qualities in today’s NBA.
Kyle Lowry came off the bench for the Raptors tonight and poured in 21 points while only attempting seven field goals. The three points per shot was Lowry’s best effort (minimum six field goal attempts) in his career (397 games), but it likely won’t be enough to bump him into the starting lineup. Jose Calderon extended his NBA best streak of consecutive assists without a turnover to 41.
I realize that Kobe Bryant might be the second best all time when it comes to mid range shooting, but the Lakers finally played to their strengths against Milwaukee, a large reason why they controlled the game and won by 16 points. Of LA’s 94 points scored via basket (free throws don’t count), 78.7% of they came either at the rim or behind the three point line. They’ve got an elite center and a handful of catch and shoot guys (five different players made a three pointer), so why not play into the strength of the entire roster as opposed to one player?
LeBron James raced past the 5,000 assist plateau in style, handing out 10 assists and turning the ball over only once. It was the third time this season (37 games) that James had double digit assists and one or fewer turnovers, matching the number of times he had such a stat line in his past 208 games.
Kosta Koufos made all six of his field goal attempts tonight, bumping his shooting percentage in losses to an outstanding 73.7%. That number drops to 53.5% when the Nuggets win.
The Rockets are struggling and while James Harden’s scoring average hasn’t dropped, it has been his efficiency that seems to be correlated to Houston’s recent struggles. They are 1-5 in games in which Harden (the NBA league in FTA) misses at least three free throws and have lost the last five games in which their star takes at least 18 shots (shooting 41.4% of that stretch).
The Kings duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans played a total of 83 minutes and were as productive as any tandem in the league on a night in which the Heat, Thunder, and Rockets were all in action. Sacramento’s studs each had a PAR (points + assists + rebounds) of at least 37, a plateau that no other pair of teammates reached.
How rare is the air that LeBron James is in after recording his 5,000th career assist? I used the beginning of the 2006-2007 season as my starting point as it was the season after James’ first career playoff appearance and now evident that this man would go on to do great things. Since that point in time, he has handed out 3,453 assists that have lead to 7,981 points. That’s more than was scored by Steve Nash (7,310), Ray Allen (7,855), Chauncey Billups (6,871), Paul Millsap has scored (6,175), or Luol Deng (7,446) over the same span of time. Some in the advanced stats community devalue the assist. But even if we only credit LeBron with 1 point for each assist leading to a 2-point basket and two points for each assist leading to a 3-point basket we still end up crediting him with 4,536 points being scored by his teammates. That total still means the King has created more points via pass than Tyson Chandler (4,256 points), Andrew Bogut (4,435), Kyle Korver (4,436), or, after tonight. Andrew Bynum (4,523) has scored.
Staying in the LeBron James frame of mind, he does a lot of things well, but shooting from distance isn’t generally believed to be one of those things. If I asked you prior to the Heat/Lakers game who you thought would lead each team in three point percentage that night, who would you have said? Safe money would have been on the games all time leader in 3PM (Ray Allen) and the eighth most accurate marksman in NBA history (Steve Nash). Maybe you would have gone out on a limb and said Kobe Bryant and Mario Chalmers or Metta World Peace and Shane Battier. Even if you were to place a long shot bet, it probably would have been on players like Rashard Lewis and Jodie Meeks. LeBron James and Earl Clark lead their respective teams in three point percentage, a combination that would have taken some serious dart throwing to project prior to this game.
The Knicks and Pistons played in London and the good people of England must be quite confused by the scoring distribution of the NBA. Two thirds of the players to score at least 13 points in this game came off of the bench while four starters combined to play 70 minutes and score just 18 points.
Speaking of odd contributions, Lamar Odom came of the Clippers bench and led them to victory in Minnesota. The 13 year pro recorded nearly as many assists (6) in his 25 minutes of action as the entire Clipper starting unit did (7) in 120 minutes on the court. He also grabbed one rebound every 2.1 minutes while Blake Griffin (who ranks 19th in the NBA in total rebounds) averaged a board every 8.8 minutes. How many teams in the league today can win a game without their MVP candidate in which their leading scorer, rebounder, and assist man comes off the bench?
The Milwaukee Bucks won their 10th game of the season when Monta Ellis does not make a three pointer. For a player who averages just under 18 shots per game and says that the only difference between himself and Dwayne Wade is the rings, it is a bit surprising to find that the Bucks are more successful when he doesn’t connect on a triple (10-7) than when he does (10-9).
Kevin Durant made 21 free throws against the Mavericks in 50 minutes of action. The Raptors/76ers (530 total player minutes) game saw a total of 20 free throws drop through the net.
We had a statistical conundrum last night as the Spurs and Warriors both rely on the three pointer (both rank inside the top 10 in percentage of points scored from distance) and defending the three pointer (they are the top two teams in 3P% against). The defenses were able to almost completely negate the strong three point shooting (only three players connected on a triple), indicating that a strong defense against the long ball is more influential than a team’s ability to drain trey’s.
Bradley Beal is averaging 20.5 points on 56.6% shooting with John Wall in the lineup over the past six days. Prior to the return of the Wizards star, Beal was averaging 15.7 points on just 36.7% shooting.
Jeff Teague offered up his statistically most impressive set of back to back games during a home and home series with the Brooklyn Nets. His 21 assists were the second most he has ever handed out in a two game stretch and his 49 points were far and away better than any other set of two games. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this happened tonight, as Teague’s points, FG%, 3P%, and assists are all higher on Friday’s than any other day of the week this season (minimum three games played).
The Spurs have won 19 of the last 20 regular season games (dating back to February 2009) when Tony Parker takes at least 18 shots, but none of them are three pointers.
DeMarcus Cousins has recorded 45 assists, none prettier than this, in the last nine Sacramento wins. It is impressive to note that that is more assists than the team’s starting point guard (Isaiah Thomas) over that stretch, but even more telling when you recall that Cousins was inactive (suspension) for one of those games.
Greivis Vasquez handed out 15 more assists, an NBA high for the week, and established a new career high for assists in a season in the process. Just in case you forgot, the season is less than half over (New Orleans has 42 games left to play).
The Washington Wizards (18 turnovers) and Portland Trailblazers (19 turnovers) both had more turnovers than took place in the entire Jazz/Cavs game (17). With that many turnovers for the Wizards and Blazers you would hope that the assist numbers were high enough to balance out the risk taking, but that wasn’t the case. They recorded a total of 40 assists while the Jazz/Cavs game featured 50 dimes.
Speaking of Portland, is it possible that the Bucks out-Blazered the Blazers? To my knowledge, this is the first time this season that an opponent of Portland has had its starting unit attempt more shots than the Trailblazers starting five. This is even more astounding considering the fact that Portland starters played 26 more minutes than Milwaukee’s.
Thanks to this week alone, James Harden’s season field goal percentage has dropped from .457 to .438. Back to back to back games with 18+ shots and a FG% under 28% will do that. The Rockets have scored fewer points with each passing game this week, starting with a 109 point effort against the Clippers and ending with a 79 point display at the hands of the Timberwolves.
Kobe Bryant missed the same number of shots as points scored by the Raptors leading scorer (22). It took Bryant 113% more shots to make one more field goal than Jose Calderon, a near impossible statistic to overcome.
Over the past four games 55.6% of Kyle Lowry’s baskets have been three pointers. Prior to this stretch, only 35.4% of Lowry’s buckets this season were from distance.
Remember in 2005-2006 when Shawn Marion was “The Matrix” and averaged better than 20 points and 10 rebounds? We saw a flash of that tonight, as Marion recorded his first 20/10 game this season, breaking a 126 game streak without such a game.
Andre Drummond is shooting 71% from the field while averaging 10.1 points and 8.8 rebounds in his last 10 games. Those are impressive numbers for a 12 year pro playing 33 minutes a night (see Chandler, Tyson), but this is a 19 year old kid who is playing fewer than 23 minutes per game. If you extrapolate those sparkling stats for just another 4.56 minutes per game, you’re looking at a double double machine (12.1 points and 10.6 rebounds). Now, that isn’t exactly fair to do (his efficiency could drop with more time), but Drummond has been as good as any center in the league of late.
Why were the Nuggets able to beat the Thunder just days after being run out of the gym 117-97 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close? One would guess that they were able to shut down the NBA’s scoring duo, but that wasn’t the case. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 21 more points, handed out nine more assists , and made 23 more free throws than they did on Wednesday, so that wasn’t it. Surprisingly it was the production of Corey Brewer. The former Gator played 15 more minutes than earlier in the week and dropped in an extra 23 points (15 of which came in the fourth quarter) in the extended opportunity. Brewer has now shot at least 50% from the field in each of his last four home games, a stretch in which Denver has averaged 115 points.