NBA Stats of the Week: 3/5-3/11

Kobe Bryant, Rudy Gay

In the second of the new Stats of the Week series that I am instilling on HCB, we’ll look into the miraculous performances of a 34-year old who acts 10 years younger, a historic shooting performance by an eastern conference point guard, and a winning streak that is soon going to be so long that you can no longer count the games won on your fingers and toes, as well as a couple of other fascinating statistical points worthy of discussion.

  • Kobe BryantThe star of the Lakers has been on a tear since he guaranteed the Lakers would make the playoffs on February 21. Since he made this bold declaration, the Black Mamba has averaged 34.0 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 6.6 RPG on a very impressive effective field goal percentage of .606 (league average for guards is about .49 eFG%). More importantly, the Lakers are 7-2 in those 9 games, going from being 3.5 games back of the Rockets and 5 games back of the Jazz to actually catching up to Utah at the moment, tied for the 8th best record in the conference (still occupying the 9th spot due to tie-breaking procedures.) But there was more to Kobe’s greatness in a pair of games last week specifically. Let’s put it this way: From the beginning of Kobe Bryant’s career up until last Wednesday’s game against the Hornets, Bryant had played a total of 1443 career games, including the playoffs, without ever recording 40+ points and 12+ assists in his career. So basically, it took him 1443 games to post his first career 40-point, 12-assist performance of his career. Do you know how man games it took him to reach those marks again after his first time doing it? One. That’s right. He completed the feat in consecutive games after not once doing it in his whole career. Kobe Bryant joins Michael Jordan as the only players to ever gain these statistics in two games in a row. Jordan did it in two games in 1989. Both of Jordan’s games doing it were triple doubles, while Bryant shot more efficiently.
  • Deron WilliamsYou may have read in last week’s edition of Stats of the Week that Stephen Curry became just the fifth player in NBA history to make at least 11 three-pointers in a single contest. Well… on Friday against the Wizards, Deron Williams became the sixth to do it, exactly a week after Curry did it, about a ten minute express train ride from where Curry did it. Although the game that Williams had wasn’t as impressive as Curry’s in terms of efficiency, it did set some records that Curry’s did not. For example, Deron Williams made 7 first quarter three-pointers, which easily is the most in the league this season. Curry added two more in the second quarter to bring his total to nine at the half, good enough to set an NBA record for threes in a half
  • Miami HeatThe basketball team in South Beach is playing on a wicked level right now, winning 18 consecutive games, which tops the Clippers for the longest win streak in the NBA this season. Under closer examination, the streak looks even more impressive. They have wins against Indiana, Memphis, Oklahoma City, New York, and both LA teams, with none of those games being very close at the end. They’re averaging a winning margin by 11.4 points during the streak. They have a FG% of an incredible 51.4% against their opponents during the streak, the best by any NBA team in their last 18 games. To add to that, their defense has almost been as good as their offense. They’re in the top third of the league in FG% defense among teams in their last 18 games, and are second in the league at forcing turnovers during that stretch. Who has been leading this streak for the Heat? Their stars. Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are shooting eFG’s of 64.6%, 55.4% and 54.3%, respectively, all very impressive.
  • Brandon JenningsAlthough Brandon Jennings has long been known as a shoot-first kind of PG (he only is averaging 5.7 APG with an assist rate of 28% in his career), that may be changing now that JJ Redick is on his team. Each of Jennings’ two highest single-game assist totals of his career and 4 of his top 13 assist games of his career have occurred since the beginning of March. This month he is averaging 13.2 assists per game, an assist rate of 45.8%, remarkably better than his career assist rate. His eFG% has also jumped this month (from a terrible 43.4% to an elite 60.8%), presumably as an effect from not needing to carry as much of the work load as he had been asked to handle before the Bucks made the blockbuster trade at the deadline to bring in Redick.
  • Viacheslav KravtslavThe big man off the bench for the Detroit Pistons hasn’t played much this season. Here are some ridiculous stats on his behalf, though. Among players to have ever shot at least 75% from the field in a season, Kravtslav currently has the most shot attempts. Yes, you read that right. Among players who have ever finished a season making at least three quarter of their field goal attempts, none have taken more than 17 shots in a season. Kravtsov currently has taken 38. If you look at the free throw aspect of the game, almost exactly the opposite is true. Kravtsov is shooting a remarkably terrible 22.6% of his free throws. The record for free throw attempts in a season where a player has shot worse than 23% is 31, by Garfield Smith of the 1971-72 Celtics team. Kravtsov is currently tied with him in FTA, shooting 31 so far this season himself. Basically what I’m saying is that, using very lenient rules for letting a player be qualified, Viacheslav Kravtslav is having the best shooting season ever from the field and the worst shooting season ever from the charity stripe, IN THE SAME SEASON.

You can follow Skyler Gilbert on twitter at @SkylerJGilbert. 

GOTW Preview: Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn Nets

At 6:00 eastern time at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, two red-hot franchises will face off as they, like several either teams are doing everything in their power to move up the standings in the Eastern Conference.

The Match-up:

The Indiana Pacers (23-14), winners of four straight, are coming off of a 96-88 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats that saw forward David West record his first career triple-double. They benefited from superb point guard play that saw George Hill and back-up D.J. Augustin put up 19 and 18 points, respectively. They’ll be going to the homes of the Brooklyn Nets (21-15), who have won six in a row and seven of their last eight since firing coach Avery Johnson and replacing him with interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. Brooklyn had a nice showing on Friday night when they beat the Phoenix Suns 99-79. Joe Johnson chipped in 19 points in that game and MarShon Brooks added 17 points off the bench while filling in for Gerald Wallace, who came out of the game in the first quarter when P.J. Tucker contested a dunk attempt and Wallace landed hard on his right arm. Initial testing on the arm came up negative, but Wallace did suffer bruised ribs.

Injuries:

  • Gerald Wallace – Out. Wallace has been ruled out of this game with bruised ribs, sources near the team says.
  • Deron Williams – Questionable. Williams suffered a thigh contusion against the Suns on Friday. The star point guard is a gametime decision. ***Update: Williams will start, but may be limited in minutes***
  • Paul George – Probable. George is the leading scorer for the Pacers (16.9 PPG) and has shown great recent success against the Nets, scoring 19.5 PPG and shooting 66.7% from the field in the Pacers’ last four meetings against the Nets. Paul George missed Saturday’s game against the Bobcats with an undisclosed illness, but is expected to return with the team against the Nets. ***Update: George will play, according to the Indianapolis Star***

What to Expect:

Indiana has the top defense in the NBA, allowing only 98.6 points per 100 possessions, the best defensive rating in an 82-game season since the 2003-04 season. Their combination of long and quick players on the perimeter and Roy Hibbert causing havoc under the basket has slowed even the best of offenses in recent weeks. Both teams ranked among the slowest in the NBA by comes to pace, so don’t be expecting a “flying death machine” like Miami or the LA Clippers. The Nets have had an up-and-down year and are currently riding a hot streak. They have two guards in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson that have been putting up high-usage, albeit inefficient seasons. This game should be close right up to the end as they are pretty equally matched.

The X-Factor:

Joe Johnson is the X-Factor of this match-up. Much has been made of the struggles Joe Johnson has had in his first year with the Nets, most alarmingly is his worse-than-average PER of 14.5. For a player making $19.5 million this year, that’s just unacceptable. However, when Johnson has been productive, Brooklyn is a different team. The Nets are 16-5 when Johnson shoots at least 42% from the field and only 5-10 when he shoots worse than that.

The Predictions:

Some of the other contributors for Hoop City Blog assisted me with this section and gave me their picks for the game.

  • Skyler (twitter @skylerjgilbert) – I expect the Pacers to stop the Nets run and pull this one out. Brooklyn depends too much upon Joe Johnson and Deron Williams (who may not even play). Indiana’s perimeter defense will shut them down. 89-79 Pacers.
  • Sam (twitter @sam_vecenie) – For me, it pretty much just depends if Paul George plays, as he missed their game last night against the Bobcats with the flu. George has been on fire recently and looks like he’s turned the corner as a go-to option for the Indiana offense. If he plays, the Pacers will pick up a close win around 93-90. If he doesn’t, this should be a win for the Nets, who have won seven of their last eight under PJ Carlesimo. Without George, I’ll go with a 95-86 win for the Nets.
  • Chris (twitter @chrisjandb) – Indiana is on fire lately with a smothering defense. Opponents are only shooting 42.3% against them the last 10 games. IND 92 BK 86.
  • Quentin (twitter @qhaynes22) – I expect David West to have a big game. Pacers 94, Nets 87.
  • Jameson (twitter @jamdraper) – Brooklyn wins 94-89. Paul George not playing/playing ill hurts the Pacers.

Skyler Gilbert is a contributor for Hoop City Blog. He’d like to thank 82games.com, hoopdata.com, and basketball-reference.com for helping him compile the statistics used in the article. You can follow him at @skylerjgilbert. Also, it’s weird for him to be referring to himself in the 3rd person so he’s going to conclude this article.

Brooklyn Nets Season Preview: Starting Fresh

Team Capsule

The New Jersey Nets have been the scapegoat of the NBA for most of the past decade or so, with a few exceptions. The idea was tossed around a few times to move the team elsewhere, but the decision finally was made to give the Nets a total makeover and move them to Brooklyn to play in the Barclays Center.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s all welcome your Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets are starting a new season and have a whole new look, and with new players such as Joe Johnson and CJ Watson, the Nets are ready to turn the page.

Biggest Strength: Offense

First, the Nets will have one of the most prolific backcourts in the league with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Add in Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, and you have yourself a great scoring team. Not to mention the high-powered bench scoring; CJ Watson, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche and Marshon Brooks will provide much of that. Add that formula all together, and the sum is a high-powered scoring offense. What a relief for Nets fans.

Biggest Weakness: Defense

While Joe Johnson is a good defensive player, the rest of the Nets are a different story. Lopez, Teletovic, Blatche and Humphries all are less than desirable on defense. No one at center is taller than 6’9, so that poses a big problem. Brooklyn’s games this year will be high-scoring.

Player to Watch: Mirza Teletovic

Teletovic isn’t getting much publicity due to the other blockbuster moves that the Nets are making, but this guy’s shooting ability is definitely a force to be reckoned with. The best part? A lot of teams might not pay attention to the skills of Teletovic.

2011-2012 record: (22-44)

Coach: Avery Johnson (240-172)

Key Additions: Andray Blatche, Joe Johnson, Josh Childress, CJ Watson, Mirza Teletovic

The Nets made a lot of big moves this offseason. The biggest, obviously, was acquiring Joe Johnson from the Hawks, a player that will surely make the Nets better this season. Some may forget, however, that Blatche, Childress, Watson and Teletovic are pretty good additions too.

Key Subtractions: Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro

In my Atlanta Hawks Season Preview, I raved about the addition of former Nets player Anthony Morrow. While he’s better than people think, he is still nowhere near Joe Johnson.

Team Trajectory: Rising

The Nets organization wants more than an embarrassing team. They made big acquisitions this offseason that will result in a much better team, and will most likely keep moving forward and ultimately try to reach the final destination: an NBA Championship. However, they don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves yet. Right now, they’re playoff bound, maybe not much farther.

Projected Record: 47-35