One Stat That You Need To Know About Every NBA Team
This NBA season has had many twists and turns thus far- and for the most part, nothing has gone as expected. The Houston Rockets have what could go down as the best offense in the history of the NBA, this rookie class has been one of the best of all time without the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft even being healthy, young players are becoming All-Stars, the Celtics had a historic winning streak without their big-name Free Agency acquisition, and are New York Knicks… good?
As we’ve recently surpassed the three-month mark into a season that is about to get even more interesting, it’s a good time to take a look at some eye-opnening stats that tell the story of how this season has gone thus far.
Stat: John Collins per 36 minutes: 61% FG, 18.3 points, 11.1 rebounds
For the Hawks, this season is all about developing young talent and getting a top pick in the Draft Lottery- and they’re doing a good job executing. They currently have the worst record in the NBA, which sounds bad until you remember how many possible stars are projected to be in the draft this year. And as far as developing young talent goes, the 19th pick from last year has been exactly what they were hoping for- he’s already a walking double-double who is even sporting a +13 net rating, which is remarkable for a rookie on any team, let alone when playing for the league’s worst team. If the Hawks can keep finding talent like this, they are going to be in good shape for their rebuild.
Stat: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined: 44% 3PT
Nobody is shocked that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have mastered the two-man game, but their lives have become much easier thanks to the shocking improvement from deep from the two young Celtics’ wings in Brown and Tatum, who both shot 34% from deep (Brown in the NBA, Tatum in college) last year. There will likely be some regression to the mean that takes place soon, but the way they have been able to consistently knock down open looks makes Boston’s offense frightening.
Stat: 39.6% three-point rate
Nearly 4 out of every 10 shots taken by Brooklyn comes from beyond the arc, which is the second highest rate in the league, only behind the Houston Rockets and their unprecedented emphasis on the three-ball. Brooklyn certainly does not have a very talented roster, and they don’t have their first-round pick this year, so why not experiment with a style of play that could very well work out in the long run? They aren’t neccesarily even a good three-point shooting team either, at just 35%. But everything is worth trying when you’re the Brooklyn Nets.
Stat: Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions) when Kemba Walker is off the floor: 95.1
Compared to the 110.7 points per 100 possessions Charlotte scores when their All-Star is on the floor, their 95.1 ORtg when he rests is abysmal- in fact, it is over seven points worse than any other NBA team. This stat is just as much an indictment on the rest of the Charlotte roster as it is an endorsment of Walker- they don’t have anybody to create offense and make plays for themselves and others. They drafted Malik Monk hoping he could help carry the load offensively, but he has not done anything of significance all season.
Stat: When Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis share the floor: 119.7 Offensive Rating, 14.8 Net Rating (point differential per 100 possessions)
After the season began with a Portis punch sidelining Mirotic for substantial time, who would have thought that when Mirotic returned, he and Portis would legitimately become one of the most productive duos in the NBA? I know it sounds insane, but lineups featuring both of them are remarkable. Their ORtg is in the 95th percentile, per cleaningtheglass.com, while their NetRtg is in the 97th.
Stat: Lineup of Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver, LeBron James, Jeff Green, Channing Frye: 31.8 Net Rating
I don’t know how this is possible. It isn’t hard to imagine a lineup with LeBron James surrounded by cutters and shooters putting up big numbers offensively as they are (123.6 ORtg), but their 91.8 Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) is in the 94th percentile- and it doesn’t make sense. Wade is a brilliant player but has lost a few steps physically, Korver never even had steps to lose physically, Green has never been a good defender, and Frye has always been a bad one. This lineup has displayed something that has become unique for the Cavaliers- effort. They are producing in a big way, and they’re doing it because they are smart, they communicate, and they actually try hard on every possession.
Stat: Arizona C DeAndre Ayton per 36 minutes: 22.4 points, 13.1 rebounds
The most important Dallas Mavericks stat does not even come from someone on the Dallas Mavericks- instead somebody they should have their sights set on- because their future needs to become the top priority, and they need to continue to lose games in order to secure a top pick in a top-heavy draft class including possibly franchise-altering players like Ayton, Luka Doncic and more.
Stat: When Jamal Murray plays Point Guard: +11 Net Rating (93rd percentile)
The Point Guard position was considered a hole for Denver going into the season, but they have excelled when tweener second-year guard Jamal Murray has been plugged in there. He certainly doesn't have the skillset of a prototypical floor general, and his shot has not been as consistent as anticipated, but the substantial sample size with him running the show has produced very encouraging results.
Stat: Lineup of Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond: 396 minutes (4th most of any lineup in NBA), -7.4 Net Rating
The Pistons had a very hot start to the season and have cooled down a bit since, but they seem to be a mid-tier playoff team. But it has many flaws, and one of which is coaching. While Stan Van Gundy has done a good job of winning with a roster that could be a lot better, he also seems to place a ceiling on his teams with things like this: a starting lineup that clearly hasn’t been good getting more minutes together than almost any other group of five players in the NBA.
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Golden State Warriors
Stat: When Draymond Green and Jordan Bell share the floor: 89.6 Defensive Rating
The Bulls really sold Jordan Bell’s draft rights for cash. It’s still an absolutely mind-boggling move, and to the surprise of no one aside from Gar Forman and John Paxson, Bell is already a high-impact player for the Warriors. In fact, he and Draymond Green form an elite defensive duo. Having Bell allows Steve Kerr to surround Stephen Curry with four elite defenders, in Green, Bell, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Bell’s shortcomings on the offensive end are masked by his tremendous supporting cast, and all of the attention that is required on the core four Warriors stars leads to a much easier time on the offensive end for the rookie.
Stat: When James Harden is off the floor: +14.7 Net Rating
The problem that has long plagued the Houston Rockets is the fact that James Harden was their only source of creation offensively. But thanks in large part to the trade for Chris Paul, they not only can get by when he sits, but they excel. Having a high-quality supporting cast is why he has been able to play less minutes than ever before in Houston, while also having his most efficient season since he became the star. And by the way: Harden is averaging over 3 more points per game than his previous career high (currently averaging 32.4 PPG).
Stat: 38.7 3P% (first in NBA)
This Pacers team is young, fast, scrappy and flat-out good. They are led by breakout star and hometown hero Victor Oladipo, with some solid pieces around him such as Myles Turner, who has become one of the most underrated young players in all of basketball. And one of the biggest keys to their success has been the three-ball. They don’t shoot it as much as many other teams, but when they do, it is usually a great look- which is why they lead the league in team shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Whether or not this shooting clip is sustainable remains a question, but these first few months have been a lot of fun in Indy.
Los Angeles Clippers
Stat: Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley: 41 combined games
In an absolutely shocking development (sarcasm), the Clippers have struggled with injuries this year. Blake Griffin just returned, and hopefully he can continue playing the great basketball that he was before he got hurt. Beverley being out for the season is a tough blow, as he is a consistent two-way player who has always been someone who helps teams win close games with his intensity and reliability. As for Gallinari, it’s hard to be surprised that LA’s big signing from free agency hasn’t been on the court- he had only played in 175 games out of 328 in the last four years playing in Denver.
Los Angeles Lakers
Stat: Lonzo Ball: 92 Offensive Rating
The Lakers only score 92 points per 100 possession when their rookie franchise cornerstone is on the floor- for reference, that is the worst of any regular Lakers rotation player. This is largely due to his dreadful shooting that has slightly improved recently. And while he will be fine in the long-term, it should be cause for concern that the team is performing so poorly when the player who is heralded for making his teammates better is at the helm.
Stat: Tyreke Evans: 19.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 5.1 RPG, 46.8% FG, 40.9% 3P
Evans has been the lone bright spot in the midst of a disastrous Grizzlies season, and he’s excelled for just over $3M. If the Grizzlies truly want to continue trying to compete for a playoff spot down the line, they will have found they reliable wing they had always been searching for. But if they opt to rebuild at least a little bit, Evans and his small salary will make for an extremely valuable trade chip come February.
Stat: Dion Waiters: 39.8% FG, 30.6% 3PT, 94 Offensive Rating
After a hot streak sparked a surge in his value, Miami decided that they were going to invest in his abilities long-term. But what they didn’t account for when they gave him a four-year, $52M extension was the fact that he was prone to being out of shape, and extremely inconsistent. And quite frankly, he’s just been horrible this season.
Stat: John Henson: 115 Offensive Rating, 107 Defensive Rating, +8 Net Rating
The Center position has long been a hole for the Bucks, but to the surprise of many, John Henson has been putting in quality minutes. He has the best DRtg of any of the bigs on the roster, and has been the difference between average and above average for the Bucks with his play- he’s a solid rebounder and good interior defender, and may play a big role in solving on of Milwaukee’s problems- defensive rebounding.
Stat: Lineup of Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Karl Anthony-Towns: 712 minutes
The 712 minutes that the Minnesota starting lineup has played together is nearly 300 more than the next lineup- because Tom Thibodeau refuses to change his ways. After seeing many players who he forced to play too many minutes like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng flame out and lose any durability they had before, he didn’t learn his lesson. And while many lineups will catch up to this in total minutes played now that Teague will miss time with an injury, it can not be overstated how reckless and irresponsible Thibodeau’s heavy usage of his best players is.
New Orleans Pelicans
Stat: When Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday share the floor: 115 Offensive Rating
When the Pelicans signed Rondo to a one-year deal this summer and made their plans to start him in the backcourt next to Holiday public, many were skeptical, and rightfully so. Rondo’s been a bad shooter his whole career, which immediately makes him a bad fit with the twin towers of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But his addition to the starting lineup gave the Pelicans a fourth ball-dominant player. But to the credit of GM Dell Demps and the Pelicans as a whole, it has worked out very well, at least offensively- their 115 ORtg is in the 93rd percentile. This surge has also been enabled by the lights-out shooting of E’Twuan Moore, as well as the obvious impact of the two bigs.
New York Knicks
Stat: When Kristaps Porzingis plays Center: 103.7 Defensive Rating
As fun as Enes Kanter’s career revival of sorts has been to watch, the truth is that Kristaps Porzingis was put on this planet to be a dominant Center who can protect the rim and block shots with the best of them thanks to his superhuman-like size and great defensive instincts. And in the limited minutes he has played as the man in the middle, the Knicks have been good offensively, but they’ve also been great defensively- and there’s no secret why. Porzingis projects as a five in the long-term, and it’s time the Knicks start preparing him for it.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Stat: When Russell Westbrook is off the floor: -7.1 Net Rating
The biggest problem for the Thunder last year that held them back in Russell Westbrook’s historic season was clear- once the MVP hit the bench, the team crumbled. And when they added both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, everyone assumed that problem would be fixed- but it wasn’t. And there are two reasons why- first, the OKC bench is depleted. They already had a lackluster bench, and when they made two different 2-for-1 trades, their previously suspect depth got even worse. But this shouldn’t be a problem when you also have Paul George, and even Carmelo Anthony. Coach Billy Donovan needs to do a better job os staggering the minutes of his stars, so he has a top-tier NBA star on the floor at all times. It’s a mistake that Scott Brooks made when he coached the Thunder when he had Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and while Donavan mostly staggers, it isn’t enough- and the numbers show it.
Stat: Aaron Gordon: 41.3% 3PT
In yet another depressing Orlando season that has been filled with disappointment, false hope, and injuries, there are a few silver linings- the first of which is Gordon’s rapid improvement. The shocking development of his jumper gives him a much higher ceiling as he heads into restricted free agency this summer. The other glimmer of hope in a dark season is the fact that Orlando is on pace to finally have a top three pick in a draft where it might get them a franchise-altering superstar, someone with more talent that they’ve seen a player have since Dwight Howard was in town.
Stat: Record without Joel Embiid: 2–7
It’s as simple as this: now and for the rest of his career, the Sixers’ success depends on the health of Joel Embiid. They have one of the best, if not the best defense in all of basketball when he’s on the floor, in addition to a good offense. Per NBAMath.com, the Sixers’ stats when Embiid is on the floor match up most similarly to the 2011–12 Chicago Bulls, a team that went 50–16 in a season shortened by the lockout. If those Bulls played a normal 82-game season, they would have won 62 games. Embiid’s presence is tremendous, but his absence is just as just as impactful- the Sixers may be a legitimately great team when he plays, but they are a very bad one when he sits. That’s why the Sixers were foolish to play him 49 minutes in one game a few weeks back against the Thunder, and why even in a time where the playoffs are in sight and every game matters, they must maintain the long view that had gotten them to the point there are where they have such a promising group of young players. While having a few playoff games in Philly would be electric and the most exciting thing to happen to the city in years, take this from a die-hard Sixers fan: in the grand scheme of things, this year does not matter. But what does matter is setting up Joel Embiid for a long and healthy career. If the choice is putting too much of a strain on Embiid body or missing the playoffs, sign me up for the second option. We’ve gotten this far by not being short-sighted. Don’t change your ways now.
Stat: Expected Win-Loss: 11–26 (29th in the NBA)
Expected Win-Loss, a stat that estimates what a team’s record should be based on their points scored and allowed, says the Suns are actually a even worse than their 14–23 record says they are. And while it’s encouraging that a young team seems to be winning close games more than young teams usually do, this is usually a good indicator of an upcoming slump in which their actual record gets closer to what the numbers say their record should be.
Portland Trail Blazers
Stat: Lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic: 86.3 Defensive Rating
This is simply shocking. In a lineup featuring two guards who are simply not good defenders, this five-man group is putting up defensive numbers that are out of this world for any team. And the difference-maker is Nurkic- he has stepped up in a big way on that defensive end. In fact, he’s the only one of the five who have been a great defender on their own this season. It’s hard to tell what it is about this group, but they seem to have figured it out on the defensive end.
Stat: Vince Carter: 307 minutes, Malachi Richardson: 221 minutes
Here lies yet another example of Sacramento’s persistent short-sightedness that is the reason they have been the laughing stock of the NBA for years. What is the upside of playing 41 year-old Vince Carter more than someone like Richardson, who is nearly two decades younger? Signing Carter was questionable to begin with, but at least there is the argument that the deal was worth it because of the leadership he can provide for their young cornerstones like De’Aaron Fox. But why play him this much? One could argue he’s actually been better than Richardson this year, as the 22 year-old has really struggled in his time on the court, but that doesn’t matter- after all, the Kings would be better off losing games and improving their position in the draft anyways!
San Antonio Spurs
Stat: 98.1 Opponents PPG (1st in NBA)
How Gregg Popovich has such uninspiring rosters turn in such impressive performances game in and game out is yet to be explained. But without Kawhi Leonard for most of the season, one would assume that San Antonio’s defense would take a major hit- after all, Leonard is a former Defensive Player of the Year. Looking at the rest of their roster, Danny Green might be the only high-quality defender present. But somehow, the Spurs aren’t just getting by defensively, they are excelling. And they’re doing it with players who are certainly not known for their defense like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Patty Mills.
Stat: OG Anunoby: 41.3% 3PT
When the rookie fell to Toronto at pick #23 last June, it was a blessing. He has the potential to be an elite defender at all five positions thanks to his fantastic athleticism, great size and freakish length. The only question was going to be his offensive impact, specifically from beyond the arc. But so far, he has surpassed any and all expectations, shooting the lights out from deep. If he can keep this up, there is no doubt he will become one of the most valuable two-way players in the NBA.
Stat: Donovan Mitchell: October: 9.3 PPG, 32.9% FG, November: 18.1 PPG, 41.3% FG, December: 23.1 PPG, 50.7% FG
When Utah traded up to the 13th pick to snag Mitchell, I thought it was the steal of the entire draft- but I did not think that he would be this good, this quickly. He is rapidly improving on the offensive end as he gets more comfortable and gets used to his heavy workload. He is already a player who gets after it on the defensive side, making him an all-around gem of a prospect. Gordon Hayward may have left big shoes to fill in Utah, but Mitchell seems to be on his way to surpassing the great legacy that Hayward left when he departed for Boston.
Stat: Lineup of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., Marcin Gortat: +21.8 Net Rating
This lineup’s success is indicative of the direction the NBA continues to go in, and it also shows that a team simply needs to just find a way to play their five best players at the same time. Oubre Jr. is simply better than Markieff Morris or whoever else may get minutes at forward for the Wizards aside from Otto Porter Jr. So it isn’t shocking that this group has been successful, especially on the offensive side. What has been a pleasant surprise is their defensive prowess (94.1 DRtg). While they have a few good individual defenders and were projected to be fine defensively, nobody could have seen this group producing elite defensive numbers. Come playoff time, the Wizards have a dangerous lineup that they should feel confident playing against any opponent.
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