This week I thought I’d take a look at the shot taking/making of offenses “at the rim” and behind the arc. Theoretically, offenses work hard to get a good look from one of these spots on very possession, and I was curious which had a greater impact on the game. My hypothesis was that winning teams would have the consistent edge “at the rim” while the three point shooting would be something of a crapshoot, an indication that a team can live/die by the long ball. I also wanted to see where the winning team gained the largest advantage on a per game basis. My thought here was that this study would prove that while three point shooting can win games, pounding the ball in the paint is the way to have consistent success in the NBA.
For the most part, my train of thought was on the money. Winning teams shot 69.3% “at the rim” and 39.0% from distance during the 54 game week while the losing teams shot 63.1% and 34.0% respectively. What surprised me about the results were the shots attempted at each location per game. The winning team averaged 25.5 field goal attempts at the rim while the losing team averaged 25.2. The results for three point attempts were nearly as symmetrical, with the winning team shooting 19.7 per game as opposed to 18.8 from the losing team.
For the week as a whole, the winning team outscored the losing team by an average of 3.6 points “at the rim” and 3.9 points from distance. There were a few outliers (the Bucks made 14 triples and 13 shots at the rim in a loss to the Cavs and the Knicks connected on a mere eight from point blank and 16 from distance in a win against the Hawks), but for the most part the data was pretty consistent. Teams that made 10+ three pointers won 60% of the time and teams that made 20+ shots at the rim proved victorious 75% of the time. My conclusion is that if you’re a good three point shooting team, let it fly, but if you’re an elite interior team, you will have more long term success.
Let your voice be heard and tweet me (@unSOPable23) your stat of choice for this week’s #StatStudy. You’ve got nothing to lose. This is your chance to uncover NBA data, don’t miss out! With that being said, here are the stats to amaze from the week that was in the Association.
- Blake Griffin dominated the Warriors for his 41 minutes on the court, recording 26 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists as the LA outscored Golden State by 13 points when he was on the court. His dominance resulting in a loss is nothing new; however, as the Clippers have lost the last five games in which Griffin’s PAR (points + assists + rebounds) is at least 45.
- The Grizzlies lost for a fifth straight game in which Mike Conley dished out three or fewer assists. That doesn’t seem like much of a surprise until you consider the fact that Memphis had won seven of the previous eight such games.
- Reggie Evans played at least 20 minutes for the 27th time this season and has not recorded a single assist in 13 of those games. He averages one assists per 38.9 minutes on the court this season, a remarkable ratio for a player pulls down nearly nine boards a night. With that being said Evans has a long ways to go to catch up to Hasheem Thabeet, who averages one assist per 91.6 minutes over his entire career (172 games).
- James Harden took 42.3% more shots than any of his teammates tonight but managed only a tie for third in terms of FGM. Free throws are nice (Harden made 19/21 while the rest of Houston shot 13/20 from the stripe) but eventually poor shooting from the field will catch up to even the best.
- Nicolas Batum (career average of 1.7 assists) dished out 11 assists against the Wizards, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Washington from claiming its third road win in 20 chances. Not only did the fifth year swingman record the same number of assist as the next two highest totals added together, he did it against a team he traditionally refuses to pass against. In tonight’s game, Batum recorded 55% of his career assists against the Wizards in only 14.5% of the minutes.
- On NBATV, they referred to Russell Westbrook as one of three elite point guards. I don’t really have a problem if you want to call Westbrook elite, but if he is in that class, Kyrie Irving deserves at least consideration.
Irving (January averages): 9.4 FGM, 19.7 FGA, 40.4 3P%, 3.6 TO, 25.5 points
Westbrook (January averages): 9.3 FGM, 20.1 FGA, 34.7 3P%, 3.6 TO, 26.8 points
- The numbers are pretty similar and that is without accounting for the fact that Westbrook plays alongside Kevin Durant. In fact, Irving’s January numbers in his second year in Cleveland aren’t drastically different from those of LeBron James at the exact same point in his Cleveland career.
James (January 2005 averages): 10.8 FGM, 20.7 FGA, 40.0 3P%, 3.8 TO, 26.5 points.
- Over the last 30 days, JJ Redick is averaging more points per minute played (0.524) than Deron Williams (0.475), Monta Ellis (0.483), and Chris Paul (0.511). This number is not skewed by a lack of minutes on Redick’s behalf, as he is averaging 31.7 minutes per game over the last month.
- Average players crumble under the pressure of being “the man” on a team, while the truly gifted players thrive. We are gaining clarity as to what type of player Jrue Holiday is on a daily basis. His ability to distribute the basketball (has 53 more assists than last season in 27 fewer games) and score (averaging 40.7% more points per game than last season) make him a dual threat and impossible to completely contain. In fact, last night was his 18th game with at least 8+ assist games over his last 21 games, matching the total he had in the previous 106 games.
- The Thunder beat down the Clipper last night in a battle of the top teams in the West, continuing an odd trend in games in which Serge Ibaka doesn’t block multiple shots. Oklahoma City has won 10 of the 11 games this season in which their rim protector doesn’t send at least two shots back, meaning they are 23-8 (0.741 winning percentage would rank them third in the West) in games he records at least two blocks. This trend has carried over from last season, as the Thunder have won 16 of the last 17 such regular season games.
- Kevin Durant had his second consecutive game with at least seven rebounds and seven assists, the second time he has done that this month. He is quietly forming a nice all around game, as he had one such occurrence in his first 455 games in the NBA.
- The Warriors have recorded some of their best victories this season when Steph Curry struggles from distance. They are 2-0 against the elite Western Conference teams (Clippers and Thunder) when Curry’s missed three pointer total is greater than his assist count, and 1-2 when it is not.
- For the third time in six days Greg Monroe tallied at least 20% of the Pistons assists. Just for comparisons sake, the best passing Center in terms of assists (Joakim Noah) averages just under 17% of his teams assists. Detroit has something special if they can keep Monroe around for the growth and development of Andre Drummond.
- Why have the Spurs been able to rattle off six wins in a row while playing four of those games with Manu Ginobili, two without Tim Duncan, and one with Greg Popovich? San Antonio has stayed successful the same way the New England Patriots have, and that’s the ability for the “next man up” to step in and fill the void. Over the last six games, Tiago Splitter is averaging 14.7 points on 80.9% shooting and eight rebounds.
- James Harden is averaging roughly seven 3PA and nine FTA in January. An average NBA shooter would make 2.5 three pointers out of seven attempts and seven out of nine free throws, meaning the average NBA shooter would have scored 98 points via the long ball and 91 points via free throw (7.1% more points from three pointers) given Harden’s attempt totals. The Beard, however, has scored 51.5% more points at the free throw line than behind the three point line this month.
- The Portland Trailblazers got 20 points and eight assists from Damian Lillard, the exact production it takes to make Portland a playoff team that nobody wants to play. When the Weber State star goes for at least 20 and eight, the Blazers are 7-1, but when he fails to reach at least one of those statistical plateaus, they are a mere 14-20.
- When the Raptors traveled to Orlando as part of a Florida back to back, an offensive show was not to be expected. While this was the day’s highest scoring game, the two teams combined for only seven fast break points. In other words, 3.6% points were scored in transition while the next lowest percentage for a game tonight was 13.7%. The other four teams in action all scored at least 10 points by themselves on the break.
- DeMar DeRozan continued his strong play on the second night of back to backs as he poured in a game high 22 points and handed out a team high seven dimes. For the season, DeRozan averages more points and assists on 0 days rest than any other amount of days between games.
- If you subtract Amir Johnson from the Raptors lineup, Toronto (30/60) missed the exact same number of shots from the field as Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith did (14/44) in the Knicks win over the Celtics.
- Over the last four games in which he has played at least 30 minutes, JR Smith has dished out a whopping six assists in 150 minutes of action. That wouldn’t be so bad if he was in one of those shooting zones but Smith is shooting 29.9% from the field and even worse (22.7%) from distance.
- DeAndre Jordan is not a good free throw shooter, but he has made the same number of FT’s during the Clippers three game slide as FG’s. Not only is he not scoring, he is not passing at a level that would make Hasheem Thabeet (see Monday section) proud. Jordan has three assists in January, putting him on pace to out Thabeet Thabeet for the month, as he averages one assist per 94.5 minutes played.
- Paul Pierce is a career 36.8% shooter from three point land, and the Celtics may not be staring down a six game losing streak if he could have shot that over the past nine days. He has made just three of his 25 three point attempts when statistically he should have made nine or 10. Those extra 18 points would have helped a lot considering Boston has lost three games by a combined nine points.
- LeBron James and the Heat dismantled the Pistons with a predictably efficient effort tonight. Since we flipped our calendars to 2011, James is shooting 63.1% from the field following a triple double.
- Remember when we were all critical of the Grizzles trade of Pau Gasol? Brother Marc, who was involved in that trade, is averaging 0.5 more points per game than Pau, and today was the ninth time (in 14 such games) that Marc outscored Pau on a day in which they both were active.
- James Harden made all 12 of his free throws in an 18 point victory of the team currently known as the Hornets, the first time as a Rocket in which he has made all of his free throws (minimum of one attempt) in back to back games. Interestingly enough, he didn’t miss a single freebie in his final three regular season games as a member of the Thunder.
- Bradley Beal blocked a career high four shots for the Wizards in only 25 minutes of action. He blocked a total of four shots in 391 December minutes.
- I understand how good the Knicks can be when JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony are hot, but is it worth how bad they can be when they aren’t? The “Blind Chuckers”, a nickname I’m coining for any duo that misses at least 50% of their team’s total missed shots in multiple games in a given week, missed 27 shots from the field against the 76ers tonight. That is quite the feat when you consider that New York only made 28 shots as a team. Tweet me (@unSOPable23) if you have a better nickname or a duo that you think would give these two a run for their money (bonus points if you can give me a starter and a reserve).
- Chandler Parsons gave the home crowd a rare show of his ability to create for others. He notched 11 assists against the Nets, surpassing his total number of assists at home for the entire month (10).
- There were 15 players in the Nuggets/Kings game that had at least as many turnovers as assists. DeMarcus Cousins, who averages more turnovers than assists, was not one of those players.
- In the Pacers/Jazz game there were 102 points scored within nine feet of the basket. In the other nine NBA games tonight, 13 teams (72.2%) failed to score that more than 102 total points.
- Much has been made about how well Kyrie Irving is playing, and deservedly so. While he has been busy making highlight plays and buzzer beaters, Tony Parker has quietly (but predictably) gone about his business in San Antonio. In their last four games:
Kyrie Irving: 31.3 points, 5.3 assists, 55.2% shooting from the field.
Tony Parker: 24.5 points, 9.5 assists, 60.6% shooting from the field.
- In a game where youth is typically served, the aging Mavericks defeated the Suns by 15. Dallas had five players eclipse the 10 point plateau, averaging 33.8 years of age, while Phoenix had four players score in double figures, averaging 27.3 years.
- The Atlanta Hawks shot 60% from the field, made 10 three pointers, and won the battle in the paint by 28 against the Knicks. In what sounds like domination, Atlanta couldn’t make a stop when it needed it most, and lost a 106-104 decision in New York.
- J.J. Redick and Brandon Knight combined to score 62 points on 22/33 shooting (13/19 from three point land) in 77 minutes of action. On an otherwise extremely efficient night, this duo managed only two assists and eight turnovers.
- Greivis Vasquez has always struggled to find his stroke against the Grizzles, and things only got worse tonight. The NBA’s leading assist man (minimum 40 games played) missed 14 of 16 shots, lowering his career shooting percentage against Memphis to 29.3%, his lowest against any team he has played at least five times.
- The Thunder are an even 6-6 in games in which Serge Ibaka goes 0-1 from distance. Their winning percentage jumps to .667 when he attempts a second triple, regardless if he makes it or not.