We are back with another group of of statistics that found a way to fly under the radar for the week that was in the NBA. No player is exempt from this collection of far-reaching oddities, pointing out trends that you likely missed in the excitement of watching the games. On days with a full schedule, the top five stats are highlighted, and on days with fewer than five games, I’ll give you a stat from each game. One thing to remember: these stats are current on the day listed. That is, a trend can break as the week progresses, but for that moment in time, the numbers held true.
Without further adieu, the always interesting and never replicated Weekly Stat Pack.
The Nets made 12 of their 14 field goal attempts from outside of the paint in the first quarter as Brooklyn used a 40 point explosion (3.33 points per minute) to lead by nine. The next 36 minutes saw the Nets make just six of their 31 attempts from outside the painted area (1.61 points per minute).
What’s in a name? Days after J. Taylor recorded 109 points at Grinnell (his second career 100-point effort), J. Taylor for the Bobcats scored a career high 20 points. Jeff Taylor (of the NBA) is in his second year out of Vanderbilt and has proven to be Mr. November as 13 of his 24 career double digit point totals have come in the first month, including five straight in the last seven days. The 20 point effort gave him 116 points for the month.
For the first time in his career (525 games), Kevin Durant missed three free throws and six three pointers in a winning effort.
News of a sweet stroking 7-footer in a Mavericks game probably doesn’t surprise you. The big man made a three pointer for the 12th consecutive game this season. The player, of course, is Spencer Hawes. For the record, Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t had regular season streak that long in nearly ten years.
The Clippers and Grizzlies combined for 208 points, yet only three players had more than two assists.
Avery Bradley scored 11 points and missed 17 shots from the field in 27 minutes as his Celtics were never close in a 109-85 loss to the Rockets. Houston’s starting unit combined for 76 points and missed only 13 shots in 139 minutes of action.
The Heat recorded at least 100 points for the 13th consecutive November home game (12 of which have been wins).
John Wall tied a career best with 16 dimes in a winning effort against the Timberwolves. Since we flipped the calendar to 2012, Washington holds a 7-2 record when Wall’s assist total is greater than his point total and 45-98 when it is not.
Andre Drummond is as promising a talent as there is in the low post these days, but his inability to knock down free throws makes him much easier to limit than he should be. His best effort from the stripe came against the Kings last week when he connected on one of his three attempts. On the bright side, he’s missed fewer freebies than Kevin Durant, the league’s premier free throw shooter. You can chose to ignore the fact that he has attempted 111 fewer if you’d like.
I’m not saying the Kings are slow and have next to no interest in playing defense but … the Phoenix Suns didn’t dress their starting point guard (Eric Bledsoe), yet they outscored Sacramento by 25-4 in transition.
Carmelo Anthony missed 72 shots from the field from last Wednesday through tonight’s overtime loss to the Pacers. For reference, LeBron James had missed 69 shots for the season entering tonight’s action.
The starting shooting guards in the Jazz/Pelicans game point total (15) was greater than their shooting percentage (13.3%). Eric Gordon made three of 13 shots and Gordon Hayward made just one of his 17 attempts.
In denial that we are in an era of small ball? Dwight Howard, Spencer Hawes, and Andray Blatche combined to make 33 of their 43 field goal attempts for 86 points, but didn’t record a single win.
The Grizzlies beat a team in the Warriors that ranks second in aFG% (54.7%) without having a single player shoot over 50% from the field. Yea, having Steph Curry available is kind of important.
The Knicks, Nets, Bucks, and Jazz have played 45 games, yet Chris Paul has more double doubles in his 12 games this season than that quartet has wins.
Blake Griffin attempted 42.9% more shots from at least 15 feet from the basket than Kevin Durant did.
The Bulls may have lost the battle to the Nuggets, but they made a big stride toward winning the war of the 2013-2014 season. Derrick Rose looked comfortable and played aggressive as he attempted 20 shots on his way to 19 points. The Bulls won the first two games this season in which their star attempted at least 20 shots and 17 of the last 20.
Lance Stephenson is a 31.6% career three point shooter, yet tonight was the first time in his last 35 games in which he failed to hoist up a triple.
For the fourth time in 11 days, Andre Drummond missed at least as many free throws as field goals. That wouldn’t be a problem if he was taking a ton of free throws, but the young big man has attempted 20 free throws and 66 field goals.
Mike Conley made ten two-point field goals against the Spurs tonight on his way to a game high 28 points. That matches the same number of two point baskets Matt Bonner has scored in November games since 2010.
Over his last three games, Paul Pierce struggles have been magnified due to the absence of half the Nets starting lineup. He has scored 15 points from the field and 14 points from the free throw line despite attempting twice as many field goals.
The Pelicans are 3-0 and averaging a shade under 115 points since the return of Ryan Anderson (shooting 62% from distance and 50% when inside the arc). They were 3-6 and averaging 87 points without him.
For the sixth time in November, DeMarcus Cousins PR (points + rebounds) surpassed 30 as he scored 23 points and pulled down 19 rebounds against the Clippers. Interestingly enough, those six contests have come against only three different teams.
James Anderson launched ten three pointers as his 76ers fell to the Pacers, giving him 29 attempts from distance over the last five days (attempted 25 field goals all of last season).
Dwight Howard and Kevin Love are two of the premier big men in the league, but this Rockets/Timberwolves game was determined by the perimeter players. Minnesota’s two starting guards and their top reserve (Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, and J.J. Barea) combined for 29 points on 11/39 shooting and ten assists. Houston’s backcourt was missing James Harden, yet their trio (Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverly, and Aaron Brooks) notched 62 points on 21 of 37 shooting and 13 assists.
The Bucks bench accounted for 67.1% of the team’s total shots and was responsible for all three players who scored more than seven points. In contrast, the Bobcats starters attempted 62.3% of their shots and were responsible for four of their five double digit scorers.
The Spurs and Cavaliers combined to have 20 players take between four and ten field goals. 20 players! For reference, the Magic/Heat game only had 19 players get into the game.
I realize the loss of Derrick Rose is a big blow for the Bulls, but playing a little bit of defense would help minimize that impact. They allowed the Clippers starters to shoot over 69% from the field and score73 points.
Josh Smith’s team won for the sixth consecutive regular season game when he makes more free throws than three pointers he attempts.
Damian Lillard leads the league in the point attempts, yet Channing Frye (who is making less than one three pointer per game for his career) has attempted more triples over the last three road games (22 to 21).
Gordon Hayward made only two of his nine field goal attempts (22.2%), but that barely lowered his shooting percentage during Utah’s six game losing streak (27.6%). He also recorded at least five turnovers for the fifth time in his last eight games.
For the sixth time in nine home games, Steve Blake recorded more assists than points. He has yet to do so in the Lakers five road games this season and has gone 16 straight road games dating back to last year without such a performance.
We still have nearly two months until the return of actual NBA basketball games. If you’re like me that feels like an interminable stretch, a monumental journey across a nightmarish, post-apocalyptic landscape. The staff of Hickory-High has been languishing as well, struggling to preserve an oasis of creativity in this arid hellscape. I decided to share some of the meager reserves I’ve been rationing and tossed out a few questions to be discussed, roundtable-style. Here’s what we’ve got.
1. Last week Michael Beasley was bought out by the Phoenix Suns. I won’t ask you to rehash the circumstances of his departure from Phoenix, or wade into the incredibly complicated and ultimately unknowable question of whether his career is salvageable. But at this point, would you be interested in having your team take a flyer on him?
Kris Fenrich (@dancingwithnoah): Yes, I’d be interested in having him on my squad as long as there’s some level of veteran influence. If I’m the Bobcats or Sixers or Kings, no thanks. If I’m Memphis or Brooklyn , let’s roll them dice.
David Vertsberger (@_Verts): I’ll have to take a pass. If by ‘your team’ you mean my favorite team, well let’s just say the last thing the Knicks need is a patch-up job for a troubled young player.
Jacob Frankel (@jacob_frankel): There’s never really any harm in a one year deal. I wouldn’t want a young team to pick him up but I see no ways in which it hurts an established team.
Kyle Soppe (@unSOPable23): My team? No. The Raptors are not exactly a stable franchise that can take on a player with this sort of baggage. That being said, if you gave me an elite level franchise/ownership, I’d at least bring him in for a look. He’s 6’19” and athletic, something that has the ability to speak louder than any past transgression. Still only 24 years of age, Beasley is a 14-and-5 guy who has (in theory) untapped potential. I get that the off the floor stuff is troubling to say the least, but in a vacuum, is he more of a risk that Greg Oden?
Cole Patty (@ColePatty): Most teams, I say yes. People are worried about the kind of pull Beasley would have in a locker room, but I feel like someone like Anthony Bennett would listen to Kyrie Irving 99 times before he takes any Beasley advice. NBA players – like any profession ever – have had some sticky situations, but I’m sure young players are fully aware, or could be made aware, of what kind of trouble Beasley has gotten himself into. There are many risks that can be worse than fielding him on your team as a 13th man at a minimum salary for the year to see if he gets it.
Patrick Redford (@patrickredford): Totally. Perhaps this is a product of cheering for terrible teams for years, you find things that distract you from how poorly you’re doing in the win-loss column. Beasley has a real bummer of a narrative, but none of us really know a whole lot about what makes the dude tick (EXHIBIT A). He won’t cost much, and at worst he is a more colorful, talented, fun version of the flotsam available still.
Andrew Koo (@akoo): On a good team, give him a strict rotation role. If he doesn’t cost much, there’s minimal harm in a tryout. Easy enough to cut him.
Andy Liu (@AndyKHLiu): Sure, if you’re a team that enjoys terrible shot selection and lack of defense. Luckily, my team isn’t the New York Knicks. In all seriousness, the Warriors could use someone of Beas’ potential and ability to create for himself. There aren’t many, or any, iso players from the perimeter on the team. And given the strong leadership and core (MJax, Curry, Lee), there’s a chance he could pan out. I just don’t want to find out, no matter the cost.
Kevin Ferrigan (@nbacouchside): Yes. The talent is there, and with the risk being so low- a roster spot and likely minimum salary money- it’s basically a no lose proposition. I’m almost always in favor of betting on talent, unless the talented person is some sort of terrible monster, which Beasley is certainly not. He’s more of a misguided soul, in my view, than a bad guy.
Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla): I can’t think of an environment in which Beasley could perform well today. He appears to be uninterested in playing for a losing team, but why should a winning team waste a roster spot on a guy who’s two years removed from being merely a league-average player? At this point it’s too difficult to forecast his physical upside (there once was plenty) and mental upside (if there is any) to even consider signing him to a minimum deal. I’d let another team take a flyer on him.
Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin): No.
Matt Cianfrone (@Matt_Cianfrone): Definitely not on the Bucks. They just purged the locker room of some obviously bad chemistry and are clearly trying to bring in good, stable people to influence guys like Larry Sanders and John Henson. Beas is clearly the farthest thing from stable. Also the guy pulled the Mookie Blaylock (hat tip to Andrew Lynch for the term) and had more shot attempts then points scored last year so I wonder if the talent is actually still there.
2. Which connective tissue has more pressure on it going into the 2013-2014 season – Russell Westbrook’s ACL or Kobe Bryant’s achilles?
Fenrich: I’m not really sure what this means. The Lakers have the look and feel of a lame duck season while OKC’s going to be in the competitive mix out west. OKC needs Russell’s ACL more than LA needs Kobe’s achilles.
Frankel: Westbrook’s and it isn’t close. Count me shocked if the Lakers win more than 35 games.
Soppe: Kobe and the Lakers will put more pressure on him to return, but the answer here is Westbrook. Westbrook and the Thunder can be title contenders when he is right, and that’s a lot of pressure. That being said, they are a playoff team without him, so the pressure is more long term than anything. Pressure is felt when one has something to lose. The Thunder could lose a shot at taking down the potentially dynastic Heat. Kobe has nothing to lose, as we expect the Lakers to struggle and for him to try to carry them. If he fails, it’s the rosters fault. If he succeeds, we all hail Kobe. That’s not pressure.
Patty: Westbrook, but I also really don’t think the Lakers will be relevant in May unless they are next to the name Andrew Wiggins.
Koo: Westbrook. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kobe plays less games though.
Liu: Pressure to succeed? Westbrook. He’s on a playoff team. Pressure to push himself to play a certain amount of games or to score a certain amount of points? Kobe.
Ferrigan: This one seems pretty simple. It’s Westbrook’s knee. The Thunder are legitimate contenders to win the title, whereas the Lakers almost certainly won’t make the playoffs.
Karalla: Westbrook’s ACL. Westbrook’s entire game is predicated on his unbelievable athleticism. If his knee problem limits his explosiveness, OKC will have a hard time competing in a stacked West. Even if Kobe comes back at full strength on opening night, the Lakers still probably won’t make the playoffs. There’s no pressure there.
Cianfrone: Westbrook. With THE Westbrook we have grown accustomed to seeing the Thunder are title contenders. Without that version of him or better, they are still really good but I don’t think they could realistically be considered title contenders.
Redford: Westbrook. There’s been a lot of guff about how the Thunder are slipping and could fall victim to their now highly-motivated ex-compatriot in Houston. Narrative-wise, Westbrook’s knee is essential to any chance the Thunder have of reasserting superiority, whereas there are almost no real expectations of greatness or even goodness for L.A.
3. O.J. Mayo and Monta Ellis essentially swapped places. Who landed in a better situation? Which team is better off?
Fenrich: This is an apples and oranges thing. Not to turn this into a civic issue, but Ellis landed in a better city. The brief time I spent in Milwaukee was unilluminating. A traffic cop hassled me for jaywalking across a trafficless street at midnight on a weeknight. But Mayo didn’t go there because Milwaukee’s tough on crime. He went there for the money whereas Ellis took a paycut to go to Dallas. I think what we have here is a case of young men with divergent motives. “Better” means different things for each man. And the same can be applied to the teams.
Frankel: I’ve actually grown a fair bit on the Ellis signing in Dallas. He should play off Dirk well, won’t be the primary option in the offense, and I think Rick Carlisle will reign in his shot selection a bit. Mayo may be the top option on the Bucks offense, which makes me shudder.
Soppe: Ellis is probably in the better situation, but is either team any better off? Mayo is two years younger, so I guess I like what Dallas did better? I’ve got very little faith in either one of these “professional bucket getters”, so if you assume both volume shooters play to the same age, the Mavs sped up the cleansing process by two years. In all seriousness, I would prefer Mayo as a player, I just don’t think this swap moves the needle much for either squad.
Patty: I’ll take Mayo, if only because he’s younger and statistically had a decent year for the Mavericks last season. I don’t know if either player will actually get it, but I really don’t see teaching an old Monta new tricks anytime soon. Even if Mayo is just as apathetic on defense as he has been in the past, Larry Sanders playing behind him should help. Plus, I’ll take a guy who shot 40% from three over any long-two aficionado.
Koo: Dallas is the better situation as long as Dirk plays. I’m not sure Milwaukee wins 30 games. Ellis in Dallas with Rick Carlisle is an interesting season storyline. Maybe this is trusting Cuban and co. too much, but they wouldn’t have signed him to be that same player, right?
Ferrigan: Monta went to a team with an established, if aging, superstar and a good shot at the Western playoffs. O.J. went to a hot mess of a team in the Bucks, who I’d be surprised to see win 35 games this year. I’d say Monta wins because, though the longer term picture for both teams is pretty mediocre, Dallas will more than likely be better.
Karalla: From a lifestyle standpoint, the only places I’d rather live in America if I made $8 million per year than Dallas, are New York and L.A. Maybe Miami. On the floor, Dallas is the better situation and quite honestly it’s not close. It’s unclear if Dirk’s game will mesh immediately with Monta’s, but Dirk has never had a problem making adjustments to play with a small guard. Dirk, when healthy, had Dallas playing 50-win ball during the second half of last season with a roster that by comparison to this year’s was pitiful. Sanders and Knight are nice pieces, but I’d rather play for three years in Dallas with Carlisle and Old Dirk than four years in Milwaukee.
Cianfrone: Honestly I am not sure either situation is all that good but I guess since Dirk is the best player on either team Monta is in the better one. But by virtue of no longer having Monta the Bucks are better off. But the real winners and losers in this swap are Ian and I. He now has to watch plenty of Monta in Dallas which is pretty terrible and I get Monta off my favorite team and can probably not worry about hating basketball when the Bucks play. I can’t wait.
Liu: Monta Ellis. He doesn’t have to do more than he has to, though I’m sure he’ll want to. The Mavericks will be sneaky good while the Bucks will be blatantly bad.
Redford: Monta. There are a lot of guard-bros on the Mavs, but they likely won’t push Monta too hard for minutes. Plus playing with Dirk and Carlisle always helps. Meanwhile, Mayo is guaranteed slightly more touches, but there’s something too nonsensical about Milwaukee to convince that this is more than a pile of tires about to be set on fire.
4. Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings. Same question.
Fenrich: These older, upper-midwestern cities just depress me. I already referenced my Milwaukee experience. I also got lost in a parking lot after a Brewers game once and needed a stadium employee to give me a lift in a golf cart to help me find my car. Detroit is depressing for obvious reasons. When I think about Detroit and Milwaukee, I picture post-industrial wastelands where the sun’s been blotted out by lingering smog from long dead and rusted out factories. I don’t think hope is riding into town on the backs of Brandon Jennings or Brandon Knight. Hoop-wise, I’m more interested in the cozy relationship between Joe Dumars and his former assistant GM, John Hammond who’s now running the Bucks. I wonder how the politics of their personal relationship could bleed into their professional relationship.
Soppe: I prefer adding Knight as a piece to the future to Jennings, but Detroit is in better shape here.The Pistons are building an odd roster, but I trust Big Shot Billups and believe he’s got as good a chance to help develop a still raw Jennings as anybody.
Patty: I’ll take Jennings, which sucks to feel like I’m writing a 21 year-old Knight off so soon. This is more about Jennings however, and how I feel he has become slightly underrated. He’s a much better passer than Knight and his efficiency was killed by playing such a huge offensive role in Milwaukee. On a team that has more offensive options – even if most come close to the basket – I like his potential improvements with less usage.
Ferrigan: Jennings is more talented than Knight, and the Pistons’ roster is now more talented than the Bucks by a pretty clear margin. Jennings running pick and rolls with Andre Drummond should be pretty fun. Fit-wise, there are some worrying things with Jennings and Josh Smith’s potential for chucking and bricklaying, but hopefully having more talent around him will make Jennings more judicious with his shot selection, even if already we know it won’t stop Josh from continuing to lob up ill-advised J’s.
Karalla: Detroit is in better shape in the short-term. Now that Jennings finally has a couple bigs to feed, he might not feel the need to jack up six 3s a night… OK, OK, who am I kidding? He’ll still let ‘em fly, but Drummond and Monroe will be there to eat up the leftovers. Milwaukee, meanwhile, might be able to find a decent offensive rhythm now that every possession won’t end in a forced 20-footer, but if I’m Knight, I’d wish I was still in Detroit.
Cianfrone: Jennings is in the much better situation. Remember as a rookie with a healthy Andrew Bogut behind him Brandon was actually at least an average defender if not better. The past few years he was miscast as a number one option and the frustration was evident. Now as the third guy things may go back to that rookie year. Honestly I hope so because I really like the guy. Detroit clearly is the better situation too. The team is more talented and should have a clear offensive hierarchy which will put Jennings behind Josh Smith and Greg Monroe and should curb some of his bad shots. If he at least makes efforts again on defense the Pistons should be a playoff team.
Liu: Brandon Jennings will now have the ability to brick not one jump shot, but two in a single possession, thanks to Smith, Drummond and Monroe manning the boards. Also, the pick-and-rolls and defensive prowess will cover many of Jennings’ flaws. Ultimately, talent wins out. It usually does.
Redford: Definitely Jennings. Unlike the Bucks, Detroit makes sense and has a heap of talented contributors in the fold now, rather than a set of skinny dudes with potential. Jennings is the perfect dose of pyrotechnics on a team that’s been too earthbound for a while.
5. Challenge: Convince me that DeMarcus Cousins is anything but a heaping pile of inefficiency, in ten words or less.
Vertsberger: If you say he is he will dunk on you.
Fenrich: Inefficient production is still production … you just need more.
Frankel: 20 points per 36 minutes on 47% shooting. Lots of offensive rebounds.
Soppe: 20-10-5 upside in the right situation/city.
Patty: Efficiency is hard in Sacramento.
Redford: Numbers are boring. Celebrate subversives. Fun matters.
Ferrigan: Rightly or wrongly, teams double him. Opens opportunities for teammates.
Karalla: Almost unfair to judge him when playing for that franchise.
Conlin: “Inefficient” and “not valuable” should not be synonymous.
Cianfrone: What Cole said.
Liu: Trade him to the Spurs.
6. Which problem would you rather have – trying to create offensive spacing in Detroit with Jennings, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe? Or trying to defend the rim in Los Angeles (Clippers) with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins?
Fenrich: Oh, if I could pick and choose all my problems in life. In this wonderful world you’ve dreamt up, I’d take the Pistons problem. Offensive spacing is something that can be taught, drilled, repeated, learned. Defensive protection is more dependent on the opposition and with the Clippers, the opposition is led by the great deceiver, Chris Paul.
Soppe: I’d rather work with the Pistons offense. With this option, you have a fallback plan: just roll the ball out there. Spacing would be tough, but maybe the lack of space will finally give J-Smoove some sort of limited area to work, increasing his efficiency in the process. On the flip side, if you don’t have the bodies to matchup with Lob City, what in the world are you supposed to do? I guess you go with one of two plans: foul them every time or hope they foul you every time on the other end. Either way, that mixture of size and athleticism is something I want no part of defending. In this day and age of social media, the odds of a poorly run pick and roll is a lot less likely to define your legacy than an … uhhh … Brandon Knight moment.
Patty: One of these teams has CP3, but this is a vacuum question. I’ll take the spacing issues in a vacuum because the Pacers and Grizzlies just had playoff success with this set of problems. Spacing makes the game beautiful and for that we love it, but not being able to protect your own rim can get any team in a heap of trouble in a hurry. I’m also really interested in what any coach not named Vinny Del Negro can do with DeAndre Jordan.
Ferrigan: I’d rather have that Pistons problem. Although, I will say that Blake Griffin and DeAndre are rather underrated defensive players. Not perfect or anything, but they are not nearly as bad as their reps suggest. It’s more holdover from being awful when they were younger, I think. Plus, most people look worse when Vinny Del Negro is their head coach. Just look at how much Derrick Rose improved defensively once VDN was sent packing.
Karalla: I’d rather have the Pistons’ problem. Even if those four guys don’t run a single set all game, they’d each still score at least 12-14 points every night. The Clippers play in a conference with a dominant interior team (Memphis), a phenomenal pick-and-roll team (San Antonio) and a team with perhaps the best isolation center in the game (Houston), all of which demand excellent post defense. It’s difficult to envision the Clippers beating any of those teams in a seven-game series without someone to protect the rim, let alone worrying about LeBron in a potential Finals matchup.
Conlin: In previous years, teams like Miami and Washington (2013 version) and Philadelphia (2012 version) have shown that well-coached defenses can find ways to close off the paint and the front of the rim through non-traditional means. For that reason, I’d rather have the Clippers problem. It seems like it’s easier to construct a cohesive defensive unit than it is to manufacture space on offense.
Cianfrone: Give me the Clippers front line but just barely. This time last year it seemed like Larry Sanders may be on his way out of the league. Then the games started and he suddenly became one of the best rim protectors in the game. Sometimes bigs just take time and maybe this year with Doc Rivers at the helm DAJ finally gets it.
Liu: Would I rather coach a playoff team with championship aspirations and talent or a middling fringe contender in the crapshoot portion of the Eastern Conference? I’ll take the team with Chris Paul, even if he doesn’t tangibly help defend the rim. As for the question itself, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have the talent to protect the rim, in theory. Detroit can’t shoot and that’s hard to fix, given that their big men aren’t high-IQ guys anyway. That Memphis solution isn’t happening. Give me the team that actually has the talent to fix their problems.
Redford: The one that involves Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Spacing and rim-protecting are essential tasks, but both can be softened with strengths in other areas. I would feel much more confident if I could soften my team’s problem with Chris Paul.
7. Brad Stevens, first ballot Hall-of-Famer?
Fenrich: Assuming he’s getting in for contributions as a pro coach, the odds have to be significantly stacked against Stevens. To be a first ballot guy, he’s got to win a title — or multiple titles — or die at a young age, promise unfulfilled. Without researching, I don’t think there have been many college coaches who won pro championships. Larry Brown is the only guy who comes to mind. So here’s to hoping for a long, healthy, non-first ballot life for Brad Stevens.
Soppe: To my knowledge, no member of the Hall-of-Fame has lacked the ability to grow facial hair. If he accomplishes that feat, I don’t see why not. At the very least, he has a long leash given the Celtics offseason moves, so he won’t flame out. That being said, he needs to succeed sooner rather than later, it doesn’t take long for people to forget about success at the college level.
Patty: Likely not, because we get many washout coaches before any Hall-of-Famers. I’m just going to say yes, but just because he’s a stats guy that I’ve always liked.
Redford: Who is Brad Stevens?
Ferrigan: Can we let him coach one pro game before we ask insane questions like this? Okay, like probably more than one. Many. I’d like to see many, many games before I even begin to contemplate such a question. I’m on his side, though, just because he listens to and incorporates quantitative analysis of the game into his coaching approach.
Karalla: I wonder what he’d have to accomplish to get in on the first ballot. Two consecutive Final Fours in college is a heck of a feat. He’d have to win at least one or two titles, but unfortunately because of Boston’s dreadful roster he might get canned before he gets the chance to build a consistent contender.
Cianfrone: Predicting coaches is really hard so I will say no. But he seems to be the kind of guy who has a chance to be really good. The fact that he buys into analytics in this day and age is huge and he has proven he can win with inferior talent, even if it was at the college level. It may take a bit of time but I am actually kind of excited to see what he can do with a talented roster.
Liu: I’m all-in on Stevens. College success doesn’t portend pro success. A roster filled to the brim with no-namers means a tanking season for the Celtics. And yet, a guy that is only 36 years old (just 5 years older than Gerald Wallace), was one of the best leaders in college hoops. Take a look at this. So no matter how hard it is to project not just his coaching, but the players that come through Boston in his career, I expect him to lead, and win. If it isn’t Boston, it’ll be somewhere else.
The NBA Lottery will be held tonight and the odds have been set since the end of the regular season. However, expressing those odds as percentages and fractions of percentages doesn’t always give a tangible sense of the real likelihood of each team winning. I took the liberty of converting each team’s odds into a unit that may be understood more intuitively. I hope it’s helpful.
Orlando Magic – 25.0% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Josh McRoberts‘ odds of knocking down consecutive corner three-pointers.
Josh McRoberts shot 52.6% on corner three-pointers for the Magic this season. The odds of him making two in a row would be (0.526 x 0.526 = 27.6%).
Charlotte Bobcats – 19.9% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Byron Mullens‘ odds of making four consecutive free throws.
Byron Mullens shot 64.6% on free throws for the Bobcats this season. The odds of him making four in a row would be (0.646 x 0.646 x 0.646 x 0.646 = 17.4%).
Cleveland Cavaliers – 15.6% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Kyrie Irving‘s odds of making consecutive three-pointers.
Kyrie Irving shot 39.1% on three-pointers for the Cavs this seasons. His odds of making two in a row would be (0.391 x 0.391 = 15.2%).
Phoenix Suns – 11.9% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Markieff Morris‘ odds of making consecutive three-pointers.
Markieff Morris shot 33.6% on three-pointers for the Suns this season. His odds of making two in a row would be (0.336 x 0.336 = 11.2%).
New Orleans Pelicans – 8.8% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Austin Rivers‘ odds of making four consecutive free throws.
Austin Rivers shot 54.6% on free throws this season. His odds of making four in a row would be (0.546 x 0.546 x 0.546 x 0.546 = 8.9%
Sacramento Kings – 6.3% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as DeMarcus Cousins‘ odds of missing three consecutive layups.
DeMarcus Cousins shot 60.6% at the rim this season. That means he missed 39.4% of shots at the rim. His odds of missing three layups in a row would be (0.394 x 0.394 x 0.394 = 6.1%).
Detroit Pistons – 3.9% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Greg Monroe‘s odds of assisting on consecutive made baskets by the Pistons.
Greg Monroe assisted on 18.6% of the Pistons made baskets when he was on the floor this season. His odds of assisting on two consecutive makes would be (0.186 x 0.186 = 3.6%).
Washington Wizards – 3.5% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Emeka Okafor‘s odds of collecting consecutive rebounds.
Emeka Okafor snared 18.7% of the total available rebounds when he was on the floor for the Wizards. His odds of collecting two in a row would be (0.187 x 0.187 = 3.5%).
Minnesota Timberwolves – 1.7% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same Ricky Rubio‘s odds of making four consecutive shots from the field.
Ricky Rubio shot 36.0% from the field for the Timberwolves this season. His odds of making four in a row would be (0.360 x 0.360 x 0.360 x 0.360 = 1.7%).
Portland Trailblazers – 1.1% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as J.J. Hickson‘s odds of generating a steal on any given defensive possession.
J.J. Hickson’s season long steal percentage for the Trail Blazers this season was 1.1%.
Philadelphia 76ers – 0.8% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Evan Turner‘s odds of going eight consecutive field goal attempts without a mid-range jumper.
53.9% of Evan Turner’s shot attempts this season were not mid-range jumpers. His odds of attempting eight consecutive shots without having one come from the mid-range would be (0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 x 0.539 = 0.7%).
Toronto Raptors – 0.7% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Rudy Gay‘s odds of making five consecutive mid-range jumpers.
Rudy Gay made 36.0% of his mid-range jumpshots this season. His odds of making five in a row would be (0.360 x 0.360 x 0.360 x 0.360 x 0.360 = 0.6%).
Dallas Mavericks – 0.6% chance of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Dirk Nowitzki‘s odds of making 34 consecutive free throws.
Dirk Nowitzki made 86.0% of his free throws this season. His odds of making 34 in a row would be (0.860 ^ 34 = 0.6%).
Utah Jazz – 0.5% of winning the #1 pick – About the same as Mo Williams‘ odds of collecting two consecutive rebounds.
Mo Williams had a total rebound percentage of 7.2% this season. His odds of snagging two consecutive rebounds would be (0.072 x 0.072 = 0.5%).
As crazy as all those odds sound, keep in mind that one of them will hit tonight!
For this week I decided to chart the importance of turning turnovers into points. In the 52 games this week, the winning team scored 18.12 points per game off of turnovers while losing teams managed just 14.02 points. That may not seem like much, but when you consider that 17.31% of the games this week either went to overtime or were decided by four or fewer points, the ability to score points off of turnovers is a game changer.
The victorious team averaged 1.23 points directly the result of a turnover, 13% greater than the rate at which losing teams converted turnovers into points. This week long study strengthened the common thought that forcing “live ball” turnovers is the best way to get easy buckets and win the game, especially for undermanned teams.
One more full week of the regular season which means one more chance to suggest a #StatStudy. Shoot me ideas @unSOPable23 and we can work out the details for the next seven days. Here are some stats you may have missed from the last seven days:
A few weeks ago, Kevin Pelton of ESPN looked at the best contracts in the NBA by multiplying a player’s WARP (wins above replacement level) by the average amount that teams pay for each WARP. I’d like to approach this same problem from a different angle: namely, how much value are teams getting out of the salaries they pay their players? Instead of looking at WARP, I’ll focus on win shares, another metric of player value. While Pelton’s methodology assumes that the overall NBA salary market is priced correctly (therefore attaching a value to each WARP a team pays for), my method makes no assumptions about overall pricing accuracy and instead seeks to evaluate relative player salary and performance.
At a basic level, my goal is to quantitatively evaluate the best and worst contracts in the NBA. To do so, I construct a simple metric that I call the “value ratio.” This is defined as: (Player Salary/Median Salary)/(Player Win Share/Median Win Share). In effect, I am comparing the amount over (or under) which a player is being paid vs. the median NBA player with that player’s production over (or under) that of a median player. Comparing salaries and win shares with median values serves as a way of normalizing these metrics and making them more readily comparable to each other. A simple way to think about this metric is the following: if the ratio is less than 1, the player is undervalued; if the ratio is greater than one, the player is overvalued; if the ratio equals one, the player is properly valued. In short, the most valuable players will be those with the smallest value ratios.
Data and Methodology
Win shares is a measure of player value that represents the number of wins that a player contributes to his team. For any given season, the sum of the win shares of all the players on a team should be close to the actual total wins of that team (more on how win shares are calculated can be found here). Instead of looking at win shares from this season alone, I used a three-year average of win-share data, where available (rookies for example, would have only one year of data). This serves to avoid penalizing players having an off-year compared with their historical production—for example, looking at one year’s win shares data might show that someone like Pau Gasol is severely overvalued. In reality, however, a 7-foot big man posting all-star levels of production throughout his career is probably worth $19mm per season. Using an average of win shares data over a three-year time frame provides a more reliable measure of player productivity. In this post, I use win share data from Basketball Reference.
Instead of only looking at current year salary, I took an annual average of a team’s current and future salary commitments to each player. This is again a smoothing technique that accounts for the fact that a player’s current salary is not necessarily a good reflection of his future salary. James Harden, for example, is being paid only $6mm this season but is due nearly $80mm over the next five seasons. Taking an average of a team’s future salary commitments gives a better picture of how teams value players in the long-run. For the purposes of this exercise, I assume that all team and player options are picked up, all unguaranteed years will be fulfilled, all qualifying offers are extended, and no early termination options are exercised. All salary data is courtesy of ShamSports.
I also set a minutes-threshold to define a smaller subset of NBA players. This helps to exclude players like Derrick Rose who have been devastated by injury this season as well as those who haven’t played enough for their statistics to have meaning. On average, NBA teams have played roughly 50 games so far: at 48 minutes per game, that’s 2,400 available minutes per player. I set the minutes-threshold at 500, which incorporates most rotation players in the league and gives us a sample of 285 players to work with.
Results and Analysis
For this week’s Stat Study, I decided to look at average FGA, FTA, and 3PA in an effort to forecast winners. After each of the 54 games had been played this week, I charted every matchup and jotted down which team averaged more FTA, FGA, and 3PA to see if there was a constant link between any of them to the winner.
I posed the question of which statistic (FTA, FGA, or 3PA) would predict winners at the highest rate to the Twitter-verse. The team who entered the week averaging more FTA was the runaway favorite (58.8% of the vote) followed by 3PA (29.4%) and then FGA (11.8%). As it turns out the social media world had the right train of thought, but teams who averaged more 3PA won the week with a mark of 29-25, just edging out the team leading in FTA (28-26). David Vertsberger (@_Verts) nailed it this week as he projected that teams who live and die by the three pointer would ultimately prevail based on the premise that they get more points per shot made. He was banking on a big week from the Knicks, and it was their two wins that swung the scale for the week.
Ironically enough, the greatest predictor of victory was the team who averaged fewer FGA this the week (30-24). The Heat and Thunder, who both went 4-0 this week, proved that it is quality over quantity when it comes to shot selection, as they attempt the fewest shots per game in the league.
What’s on the books for next week? I’m going with an extended study this week, as it will carry through the All Star Break and include games played this week and next. What do you want to know? How can we enlighten the basketball public? Don’t be shy and get your tweets out to me (@unSOPable23) before midnight on Monday night and I’ll get the wheels in motion.
That being said, here are 35 stats that you may have missed from the past week.
Thanks to Utah Jazz fan, Taylor Berthelson (@utahmankiyi
), this week’s study was devoted to determining the importance of the first quarter to the game result. I used years of data to determine that winning teams typically performed well in the first quarter
earlier this week, but it doesn’t hurt to add some 2012-2013 statistics to prove the trend true for this season.
Taylor estimated that 60% of teams that win the first quarter win the game, and he was pretty darn accurate. For this study I didn’t count games that were tied after one quarter, so the sample size was 45 games (four games were not counted). Teams that were leading after the first 12 minutes won 29 times (0.644 winning percentage), with seven of those teams either drawing even or losing the remaining 36 minutes. For the week as a whole, the 45 teams that lead after one quarter of action went on to win the remainder of the game by an average of 1.03 points. There were two outliers in this week’s set of data, but they essentially offset one another. The Pistons beat the Bucks by nine points in the first quarter but lost the game by 27 points (-36 points) while the Rockets beat the Jazz by six in the first quarter on their way to a 45 point win in Utah (+39 points).
Thus, the hypothesis stands. The 2012-2013 season seems to be trending in the same direction as seasons past where the first quarter holds a stronger correlation to success than any other quarter.
Taylor took me up on my offer to break down a stat of his choosing and verified a belief that he had. Now it’s your turn. Have a stat that you’re curious about? Or maybe you did something real well back in the day and want to see if that skill set would have an impact on an NBA team. Whatever the case may be, your insight is important to us here at Hickory-high. What would you like me to dive deeper into over the next seven days?
If you need help thinking of odd stats and trends, here are 35 of the best from last week.
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.
1. Which All-Star selection fills you with blissful joy?
Kyle Soppe – @unSOPable23 – Jrue Holiday, for all the critics who say that the 76ers are a team without a true star player. This kid was a prodigy when he went to UCLA and has been as good as advertised in Philly. He already has 53 more assists than last season (27 fewer games played) and has seen his scoring average jump by nearly 50%. How many point guards in the league average at least 17 points and 9 assists? Only one.
Matt Cianfrone – @Matt_Cianfrone – Paul George. As I Bucks fan I should hate George but I just find it so hard. A superb defender, stupid athletic, great passing young guard who has carried his team minus what many people think is their best player. I am glad to see George rewarded even after his slow start. Also I already can’t wait for his dunks that will come in the game. It is going to be great.
Myles Ma – @MylesMaNJ - Tyson Chandler. Yes, this is a total homer pick. But this selection absolutely fills me with blissful joy. Tyson Chandler has finally made an All-Star team after serving his time as the lynchpin of a Knicks defense whose perimeter defenders volunteer as traffic cones at the DMV. It’s his first All-Star game, and it comes in the midst of one of his finest seasons. Over the past three years, Chandler has decided to limit his offensive game to just dunks and free throws, with spectacularly efficient results. This year, he’s perfected the art of the tap out, turning a lot of J.R. Smith bricks into the midpoints of extra-long possessions instead of the unhappy endings they usually are. He even made No. 8 on GQ’s 25 most stylish men of 2012. Even with that scraggly-ass beard. It’s definitely his year.
Kris Fenrich – @DancingWithNoah - David Lee (I almost typed “David Curry”) with Jrue Holiday coming at a close second. I often refer to Lee as the modern-day Bob Pettit and I’m only partially joking. He scores with ease, rebounds well, has well-above-average vision for a four man and passes well. And none of this is new, it’s just the guy’s never been in a winning situation before. Good to see his multiple skills acknowledged among the league’s best.
Michael Shagrin – @mshaggy -Kyrie Irving. When it’s all said and done, I think this kid will have the last laugh. He’s a Chris Paul look-alike with more size and a smoother J. And he’s only 20 years old! Classic Kyrie outing: the night he returned after breaking his finger, the Cavs played a nail biter against the Lakers with Kyrie going for 28 points. As Kobe tried to wrest control of the game from him in the final minutes, he cooly steered Cleveland to victory. His absence from the starting unit was almost my answer to the following question…
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.