Weekly Stats Recap
This week I decided to take a look at the impact of free throws on the final outcome. Is getting to the line more important than taking advantage of the freebies when a team gets there?
During a 54 game sample, I recorded the free throws attempted and the free throw percentage for every team. Winning teams shot an average of 77.1% on 21.9 free throws per game while losing teams made 76% of their 21 free throws per game this week. That equates to less than one point per game gained by winning teams, hardly enough to call free throws a consistent deciding factor. In fact, on three of the seven days this past week, the losing teams totaled a higher FT% than the victors.
Are free throws overrated? We know that foul trouble can land a teams star player on the bench for an extended period of time, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Does it matter how a team scores? Obviously, you’d like to make your free throws (especially down the stretch), but statistically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation what so ever (for this week at least) between free throws (attempts or percentage) and team success.
With that knowledge gained, here are 35 stats from the past week in the Association.
- The 16 teams in action averaged 104.4 points, with the majority of losing teams scoring 100+ points. For reference, that was an eight point jump from Sunday, where no losing team reached triple digits.
- Paul George is quietly developing a nice all around game, balancing both his three point attempts with paint touches and his scoring skills with the ability to create for others. In nine games over the last two months, the Pacers have won a game in which George hands out 5+ assists and snares 5+ rebounds, averaging 100.3 points. Keep in mind that the Pacers are the lowest scoring team in the NBA (89.9 ppg).
- How does a team lose a game by 29 points in which they shot over 50% from the field and make five more free throws than their opponent attempts? They turn the ball over … a lot. The Bobcats did just that, and as a result, they didn’t have enough offensive possessions to stick with the Bucks. Milwaukee shot 51% from the field, but took 37% more shots. Let me put that another way: subtract shot-aholics Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, and the Bucks still nearly matched the Bobcats in total FGA (71 to 73).
- I’m sure you’ve heard enough about gruesome basketball injuries over the past two weeks, making it about time to hear some positive news. Shaun Livingston, whose knee injury was just as brutal as that of Kevin Ware, has scored in double figures and handed out at least five assists in six of his last nine games.
- When discussing Ricky Rubio, you have to remember that he just barely has one full season under his belt. His upside is spectacular, but his shooting inconsistencies are a bit of a buzz kill. He missed nine of 11 shots against the Celtics and has now shot under 31% from the field in 42.6% of his games this season (minimum one shot attempt).
- “Statless” Steve Novak was at it again against the Heat, as he recorded a second straight game with no stats (BLK, STL, AST, REB, or TO’s) other than points scored. What sounds like a rare feat is more than a bi-monthly occurrence for the sharp shooter, as he done so three times in just over five months. Also worth noting is the fact that Novak (a 88.6% career free throw shooter) missed the his lone free throw in this contest, making him 0/1 over the last two weeks (Knicks are 8-0).
- Some will say the Knicks beat the Heat because LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were in street clothes or because Carmelo Anthony was in one of those grooves where nobody on the planet can stop him. While both played a role in the victory, I contest that it was Melo’s ability to take care of the ball that was the determining factor. As often as the ball was in his hands, Anthony didn’t record a single turnover, thus giving the Knicks a chance to score every time down the floor. The 40 minutes he played were his most this season without a turnover, and New York improved to 3-0 in games in which their star player doesn’t turn the ball over. In those three games, Melo is averaging 34.6% of the Knicks total points.
- 7.1%. That number may not mean much to you, but I’m guessing it is imprinted on the memory of John Wall. That was his three point shooting percentage last year and has clearly impacted (in a good way) how he is playing this year. He failed to attempt a triple in the Wizards win over the Bulls which, statistically speaking, gives Washington it’s best chance to win. The Wizards have won only 37.8% of their games this season but win 70% of the games in which Wall doesn’t attempt a shot from distance.
- The Bulls have dropped six of their last 11 games and are searching for answers on both ends of the court. One solution may be a “less is more” approach for Nate Robinson. While he inserts a great amount of energy, he tends to dominate the ball when he is in the game, making the Bulls offense stagnate. Robinson is averaging 15.7 FGA in the six losses as compared to 10.8 in the five victories.
- The Lakers may have beaten the Mavericks last night without Steve Nash, but their carelessness with the basketball was a dangerous sign. Against one of the worst defenses in the league, Steve Blake had a 0.25 assist to turnover ratio. In fact, the starting unit (excluding Kobe Bryant) had more turnovers than assists.
- Anthony Davis isn’t a gifted passer, but the Hornets are better when he records at least one assist. They have now lost five straight and nine of ten games when their prodigy fails to register a single dime.
- It seems like a long time ago now, but in November, Jrue Holiday averaged more assists (9.3) than missed field goals (8.4). He missed 22 shots tonight against Bobcats, almost matching the number of assists (23) in the last seven days.
- Reggie Evans continued his dominance on the glass, clearing a missed shot 18 times against the young front line of the Cavaliers. Since the first day of March, Evans is averaging more rebounds per 48 minutes (26.8) than James Harden scores per game (25.9).
- At 37 years of age, Andre Miller can still lead a high scoring offense in an efficient manner. He recorded six assists and no turnovers, leading the Nuggets to a 113-96 victory over the Jazz. The 113 points actually lowered Denver’s season average output in games in which the veteran hands out at least five assists without a turnover to 115.
- Ricky Rubio recorded a season high eight steals to go along with his 19 points and 12 assists. Rubio has recorded at least five steals in 16.3% of his games this year, a theft rate that is greater than even the surest handed defenders in the league.
- Deron Williams was cutting to the basket like the top notch point guard we are accustomed to seeing in a Nets uniform, and he was awarded 10 free throws against Chicago for his efforts. Interestingly enough, the Nets are 4-6 over the last two seasons when their PG gets to the line 10+ times, with five of those loses coming against the Bulls or Pacers.
- In his first game back from a heel injury, Joe Johnson struggled in all facets against the Bulls. But statistics would indicate that this poor effort was more a result of Chicago’s defensive intensity then it was Johnson’s nagging injury. For the last two games against the Bulls in Brooklyn, JJ has totaled 25 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 73 minutes of action. Count the high scoring veteran as one player who doesn’t want to see Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.
- There are some sub .500 teams who are losing games while their young players gain experience, but the Mavericks are not one of those teams. In a loss against the upstart Nuggets, 47.7% of Dallas’ field goal attempts came from players at least 34 years of age (and that doesn’t include Chris Kaman, who looks like he is a generation older than anybody in today’s game). The window is closing on Mark Cuban and the Mavericks, a window that not even the 6’8” Brittney Griner can keep open.
- Reason to worry? Kevin Durant’s turnovers per game have increased each month since December and he has tallied at least four giveaways in nine of his last 13. Could the grind of playing 38+ minutes every night for five straight seasons finally be taking its toll? Henry Abbott thinks minute count in a single season hurts your chances in the postseason, and Kevin Durant’s increasing carelessness with the ball could be an early indicator of just that.
- In today’s 12 games, seven winning teams attempted fewer than 19 free throws. The Minnesota lost, but they held a 19 point advantage from the stripe, as they connected on just as many FT’s as FG’s (30).
- Carmelo Anthony is on one of those scoring tears where the level of defense simply doesn’t matter. The Knicks go-to man has ripped off three straight 40+ point performances, giving him a season high 131 points over those games. His alma mater ended the regular season by scoring 170 points in their final three games.
- Carlos Boozer struggled against the Magic, one night after dominating a far superior Nets team to the tune of 29 points and 18 rebounds. This was the second consecutive below average performance following a big game, as he has totaled 23 points and 16 rebounds in the game following a 20 point 10 rebound effort.
- I don’t want to take away from all of the good that Goran Dragic did against the Warriors (32 points, 84.6% from the field, 75% from distance, 100% from the line, and the lone starter to record a positive plus/minus ratio) but a point guards first duty is to take care of the basketball. He was careless at times, and his turnovers were converted into easy baskets more often than not. The Suns lost this game by four points and were outscored by five points in transition. It is no coincidence that Phoenix has dropped six in a row when Dragic turns the ball over at least four times, surrendering an average of 113.6 points in the last five such games.
- If you bought a ticket for this game a while back, you were expecting to see the big three of Boston and arguably the games most promising point guard (if not player at any position) in Kyrie Irving. Instead, Boston’s Three Party all watched and Irving far short of 100%, paving the way for less heralded scoring options. Consider this nugget: the eight players who scored 10+ points in this game have totaled 36.9% fewer career points than Paul Pierce has alone (entering this game).
- The Denver Nuggets have done just about everything right at home this season, but the display they put on against the Rockets was down right mind blowing. Their 40 assists were greater than the total number of assists in three individual games. The passing exhibition was lead by a pair of Andre’s (Iguodala with 14 and Miller with 12) who managed to out assist 84.6% of the teams in action tonight. You can call them a three seed all you want, but I believe they are the fourth best team in the entire NBA and have to be considered a threat to run the table in June.
- Sorry Ian, but why are the Pacers likely to struggle this postseason? The same reason they lost to the Wizards tonight: their inability to compete in transition. The league has turned very much into a run and gun display of athleticism in the open court (even the “ancient” Spurs rank in the top half of the league in fast break points per game despite playing through injuries all season) and Indiana simply struggles to push the pace. The Wizards outscored them by 19 points in transition, the exact difference in the final score.
- The Nets go to Joe Johnson when in need of a big bucket, but should they just start out the game running their offense through him? Statistics would tend to refute that idea, as Johnson becomes content on shooting three pointers as opposed to getting to the basket. Even with tonight’s win, the Nets have a lower winning percentage this season when Johnson makes more three pointers than free throws (.536) than they do when he doesn’t (.579).
- Atlanta headline: “JJ keeps Hawks close, but Spurs ultimately prevail.”
Wait, I thought Joe Johnson was moved this offseason?
That would be John Jenkins who was responsible for the competitive nature of this game, as the 22 year old from Vanderbilt shook off a concussion early in the week to continue his string of strong play. He scored a team high 23 points, grabbed four rebounds, and handed out four assists in his 23 minutes of action. Over his last four games, Jenkins is shooting a blistering 82.4% from the field and 80% from long range.
- The Milwaukee Bucks were the only team to have a player record at least five of all following statistics: FTM, REB, AST, BLK, STL, TO, and PF.
- Greg Monroe showcased his playmaking ability by leading the Pistons with seven helpers. Since December, the seven assist plateau for their center has been huge for Detroit. They’ve won all three games in which Monroe has registered seven or eight assists, but have won only three of 11 games when he tallies five or six assists.
- The Kings lost to the Grizzles, not exactly breaking news. But they were held to 87 points, only the second time in two months (17 losses) that they lost a game and scored fewer than 95 points.
- Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant combined for 50 points while attempting 27 free throws. All other players in their game with the Clippers combined for 154 points while attempting 24 free throws.
- The Cavaliers won in spite of Kyrie Irving’s dismal shooting performance (3/15). Surprisingly enough, Cleveland has split the last 16 games in which Irving misses more than ten field goals.
- For the third time this season, Jason Kidd made at least four three pointers and didn’t turn the ball over a single time. Heading into this season, Kidd has done so three times since April 2009.