NBA Stats of the Week: 3/12-3/18

031813-NBA-Heat-Lebron-James-DG-PI_20130318230801624_660_320

In the third edition of our newest segment, NBA Stats of the Week, we’ll look deeper into the Heat historic win streak, the impressive recent play by Monta Ellis, and a season by an NBA legend that simply defies age, and I’m not talking about Kobe, and other statistical tidbits from the last week that you my have missed.

  • Miami HeatLebron and Co. kept the train rolling on Monday night against the Boston Celtics. It wasn’t easy, though. Through the first 39 minutes of the game, the Celtics lead 93-83. Then Lebron checked in. Lebron James scored 13 points and dished out 3 assists. The Heat ended the game on a 22-10 scoring run to bring their winning streak to 23 games, the second longest NBA winning streak ever, 10 games behind the 1972-73 Los Angeles Lakers’ streak of 33 games. What has been the biggest key for the Heat in this streak? Fourth quarter play and defense. Since the beginning of their streak, the Heat lead the league in fourth quarter point differential, beating their opponents in that quarter by an average of 4.8 points per fourth quarter. They have the fourth best fourth quarter scoring average over that stretch and the best defense in that quarter. Overall, they have the fourth best scoring defense over that stretch and force the second most turnovers in the league. Lastly, Lebron had 37 points and 12 assists last night, his 18th career 35 point, 10 assist game. Do you know who that ties him with? Michael Jordan.
  • Monta Ellis: Ellis was the laughing stock of the league up until two weeks ago. At the time of the trade for JJ Redick, his shooting chart looked like this (below to the left). He was one of the most inefficient scoring guards in the entire NBA and seemed to shoot way too often. Since the beginning of March (providing a couple of games to adjust to his new teammate), Monta Ellis is shooting remarkably more efficient (below to the right). He’s not only beginning to knock down mid-range jump shots better, but he is shooting a whopping 11.5% better from under the rim. With a better teammate to play with, Monta Ellis feels less obligated to score himself and now only attacks the basket when it’s a good idea to do so, which benefits the team.

monta   monta new

  • Tim DuncanWhat Duncan is doing this season is absolutely amazing, and is going unnoticed in many ways. He is 36 years old and will be 37 by the time that his team is eliminated from the playoffs. He is still the leader of a team that is first in the ultra-competitive western conference and is the anchor of a defense that is ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating (points against per 100 possessions). But without knowing his personal numbers, you might feel inclined to chalk these things up to the fact that he plays besides Tony Parker, an elite point guard, and several productive young role players.
    Season    Age  G  FG  FGA  FG%  FT FTA  FT% ORB DRB  TRB AST STL BLK TOV  PF  PTS
    1997-98    21 82 7.9 14.5 .549 3.6 5.4 .662 3.1 7.9 11.0 2.5 0.6 2.3 3.1 2.9 19.4
    1998-99    22 50 7.7 15.5 .495 4.5 6.6 .690 2.9 7.6 10.5 2.2 0.8 2.3 2.7 2.7 19.9
    1999-00    23 74 7.9 16.0 .490 5.7 7.6 .761 3.3 8.2 11.5 2.9 0.8 2.1 3.0 2.6 21.5
    2000-01    24 82 8.0 15.9 .499 4.6 7.5 .618 2.9 8.4 11.3 2.8 0.8 2.2 2.7 2.8 20.6
    2001-02    25 82 8.3 16.3 .508 6.1 7.6 .799 2.9 8.4 11.3 3.3 0.7 2.2 2.8 2.3 22.6
    2002-03    26 81 8.1 15.8 .513 5.1 7.2 .710 2.9 8.9 11.8 3.6 0.6 2.7 2.8 2.6 21.3
    2003-04    27 69 8.4 16.8 .501 5.0 8.4 .599 3.2 9.0 12.2 3.0 0.9 2.6 2.6 2.3 21.9
    2004-05    28 66 8.4 17.0 .496 5.0 7.4 .670 3.3 8.7 12.0 2.9 0.7 2.8 2.1 2.4 21.9
    2005-06    29 80 7.4 15.3 .484 4.3 6.9 .629 3.0 8.4 11.4 3.3 0.9 2.1 2.6 2.8 19.2
    2006-07    30 80 8.2 14.9 .546 4.8 7.5 .637 2.8 8.4 11.2 3.6 0.9 2.5 3.0 2.7 21.1
    2012-13    36 56 8.3 16.5 .504 3.9 4.9 .806 2.2 9.7 11.9 3.2 0.9 3.2 2.4 2.1 20.7

    These are Tim Duncan’s per-36 minute statistics from this season, as well as his first ten seasons in the league, when he was highly acclaimed as a productive NBA big man. His statistics from THIS SEASON, at age 36, match up very closely with the per-36 minute numbers that he put up in his younger days. In fact, he’s blocking shots at a higher rate than he’s ever done before and is turning the ball over less than he’s ever done before. Of course, 36-minute splits aren’t a tell-all stat, and he isn’t as productive if he’s only playing 75% of the minutes he once played, but they surely go a long way in showing that during the time he’s spent on the court, he’s as good as ever.

  • Spencer HawesSpencer Hawes posted a career game on Saturday against the Pacers when he tallied 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, and 7 blocks. The only players to ever do that before are Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and now Spencer Hawes. So… there’s that.

You can follow Skyler on twitter at @SkylerJGilbert. I’d actually appreciate if you did that.

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. 

Miami Heat Season Preview: Defending Champs Edition

Team Capsule

Last year was a magical year for the Heat and Heat fans. Lebron James had another wonderful season that resulted in him winning his third regular season MVP trophy to go along with a finals MVP and championship ring. Although he was always heavily criticized for not being “clutch” or coming up big in big moments, Lebron James certainly did come up big in last year’s playoffs. This year, him and the Miami Heat are looking to repeat as champions of the NBA.

The Heat are known as a very fast team that likes to run teams out of the gym, and while they do that from time to time, they ranked only 16th in pace (which is an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team) at 91.2 possessions a game.  This team is smothering defensively, which often causes many turnovers from the opposition, and when that happens they get out and run being led by Freight Train James in transition. Although certainly more star studded than the late 1990s Pat Riley teams, they still have a lot of the same philosophies as those teams: be great defensively and hustle hard. They were fourth in defensive rating last year (100.2) and 4th in defensive efficiency.

The Heat, as Erik Spoelstra refers to them, are a “position-less” team. That is because of the great versatility of the team. Lebron James can play all five positions, Chris Bosh is can play both PF and C. There are many wings on the team like Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Ray Allen that can play multiple positions as well. Supposedly, a faster offense is being implemented, much like the one seen at the beginning of last year’s regular season. Last year’s wasn’t sustained partly because of a shortened season and lack of practice time.

Biggest Strength: Defense and Transition offense.

The Heat were fourth in defensive rating, fourth in defensive efficiency, eighth in opponent eFG%,  and third in OTOR (opponent turnover rate). All this led to them forcing turnovers and subsequently, being one of the best transition teams in the league.

Biggest Weakness: Defending the three point shot.

They were 25th in the league in O3P% (opponent three point percentage), with 36.3 % of all of their opponents’ three point shots going in. Despite being a great defensive team, their aggressive and gambling attitude while playing defense often leaves players wide open on the perimeter.

Player to Watch:  Dwyane Wade.

After playing all of the postseason with a bad knee, Dwyane Wade actually looked mortal. He didn’t have the same explosiveness that he usually has and generally didn’t look like himself. After getting knee surgery this off season, it will be interesting to see how the 6’4″ guard recovers from it. I believe the reports of his demise because of his postseason play last year are extremely overblown, and apparently, so does Dwyane http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/fl-miami-heat-main-dwyane-wade-1007-20121006,0,7842152.story.

Best Addition: Ray Allen.

They signed the sharpshooting shooting guard (say that 10 times fast) from Boston to a two year deal this off season. He shot 45.3% from long range last season, with just over five attempts per game. His true shooting percentage was really high as well, at 60.7%. He gives this team another shooter and a capable ball handler who can run point guard from time to time as seen in the Heat’s first preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Key Subtractions: None, unless you think losing Ronnie Turiaf was a key loss.

Projected Record for 2012-13: 62-20