NBA Stats of the Week: 3/12-3/18

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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 Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers

At 3:00 PM eastern time on February 21, the trade deadline for the 2012-13 NBA season halted all transactions between teams until the summer. Basketball fans were on the edge of their seats all day, just waiting for a “Woj Bomb” (a tweet by Yahoo basketball reporter Adrian Wojnarowski) that rocks the basketball world. Let’s dive into what the biggest winners and losers of the trade deadline were.

Winners: 

Houston Rockets: General manager Daryl Morey is at it again. One of the earliest trades of the deadline sent Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, and Toney Douglas to the Sacramento Kings and sent young forward Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns. The good news? They were able to bring in Thomas Robinson, the strong and athletic rookie from Kansas University who was drafted fifth overall in the draft last summer. Robinson hasn’t earned the opportunity he deserves in Sacramento, and with Patterson and Morris moving out, he’ll have a great chance to shine in Houston. As a Kansas Jayhawk, Thomas Robinson averaged 18-12 on 51% shooting. Although he doesn’t have elite length, he’s able to succeed under the basket as an excellent rebounder due to his strength and fundamentally-correct rebounding techniques. In this trade, the Rockets also brought in Francisco Garcia, yet another player that specializes in three-pointers and defense that fits perfectly in the Rockets system. Also acquired by Houston in this deal is Jimmer Fredette’s bench buddy, Tyler Honeycutt. That’s pretty sad, I guess, but the rest of the trade was exciting from Houston’s perspective.

Los Angeles Lakers: As a Lakers fan, I actually approve of the lack of moves on their part. Dwight Howard is still only 27 years old. Despite being banged up with injuries this season, he’s put up numbers that for anyone else in the NBA, you’d go, “_______ is really having a productive season. He’s scoring efficiently and rebounding at a high rate.” Howard has higher expectations, but hasn’t really fallen too far short of them, except on the defensive end, where he’s improved in the last few games. I also feel like the Pau Gasol injury may have been a blessing in disguise for the Lakers, who would have contemplated dealing him had he remained healthy. If there had been a trade for Gasol, given his recent play this year, the Lakers wouldn’t have received a return package of the same value as Gasol. It’s almost never a good idea to seek a trade when a player’s stock is that low.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks were able to land the biggest name of the day in J.J. Redick without giving up any important assets. In a trade that sent Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih to Orlando, the Bucks bring in Redick, the shooting guard out of Duke known for his shooting. This mostly helps to right the terrible balance of the Milwaukee offense that sees Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis shoot an insane amount of inefficient shots. Consider these three shot distribution markers:

monta jennings redick

You can click on the images to view them closer, but if you had to choose one, I’m sure that you would choose the one furthest to the right. The one furthest to the left is the shot distribution of Monta Ellis, who currently takes the MOST shots on the Milwaukee Bucks. The one in the middle is the shot distribution of Brandon Jennings. It doesn’t seem too bad at all, until you zoom up and see that he is shooting 43.5% from under the basket, good enough for last among qualified players from inside 9 feet. And the one on the right is the newcomer. JJ Redick. Do you see why it is so important that he takes shots away from these two ball-hogs? Assuming that it helps their team’s putrid balance, this is a great move for the Bucks.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics have been imitating the Portland Trail Blazers the last few weeks. Rajon Rondo and Leonardo Barbosa both were lost for the season with ACL tears. Their back-court was left in shambles. the Lakers on Wednesday, the Celtics were depleted at the guard position so badly that they were left with three guards on their line-up. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Avery Bradley. So when the Celtics went out and were able to acquire Jordan Crawford for just the price of the injured Barbosa’s expiring contract and the little-used Jason Collins, it seemed like a no-brainer. Crawford is known for taking too many shots and is much criticized for his decision-making. Hopefully for Boston, the veteran leadership will be able to guide him to a wiser overall game. I believe he’s talented enough to make a major contribution to this team if he’s able to do these things.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers agreed to a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that brought in point guard Eric Maynor for a second-round draft pick. Maynor, a fourth-year player out of VCU had rarely been used in OKC this season after missing the entire previous season with a knee injury. In his first two seasons, Maynor showed tremendous promise. He was a solid three-point shooter and a tremendous passer. In his college days at Virginia Commonwealth, Maynor was a ball of excitement in the Colonial Conference. The last couple minutes of one of the VCU Rams games with George Mason may have been the greatest thing ever. For a Portland bench that scores 9.2 points fewer per game than any other team and are the only team since the 1997-98 season (the limits of my source) to score less than 17 points per game, this move makes a lot of sense. Maynor is able to create for himself a little bit, but specializes as a floor general and will be able to create for others when he is out there. The only concern with this move is that Maynor is coming off of an ACL tear, something that Blazer players have become almost synonymous with.

Losers:

Sacramento Kings: The Kings were sitting at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest abyss in any ocean. So many bad situations have put this franchise into a situation where you wonder if they can go any lower. Suddenly, whilst sitting at the bottom of the lowest trench in the world, the ocean floor crumbled beneath them and they fell another 5,000 feet nowhere and unable to see any sign of daylight anywhere. While I’m not sure whether or not that metaphor came across or not, the point is this. The Sacramento Kings are a freaking disaster. Dysfunctional ownership has left the team in a scramble to harvest all possible cash to prevent the franchise from relocating to Seattle. At the trade deadline, the starve for money led to the team trading away their fifth overall pick and their future, Thomas Robinson. I understand that it saved them $3.1 million in a time where they need to accumulate cash, but still. In the long run, this will likely make them more bankrupt. Although they earn money in the trade, they lose money in advertising, ticket sales, and merchandise sales. What fan wants to stand by an organization that just admitted to throwing away their future? They hardly got any value at all in return. Toney Douglas is  basically a twelfth man. Cole Aldrich, too. Patrick Patterson is a rotational player and has probably already peaked. He’s far less valuable than Thomas Robinson’s immense amount of potential. The Maloof family should be embarrassed to own a franchise this way.

Utah Jazz: None of the other “losers” of the deadline can quite compare to the atrocity of the Sacramento Kings, but the Utah Jazz certainly did themselves a disservice. The Jazz needed to make a deal. They’re sitting at the seventh spot in the west, with the talent-filled Lakers occupying the ninth spot, eyeing their playoff spot. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are both on expiring contracts and both valuable. The Jazz have a notable weak spot at the point guard position and talent like Eric Bledsoe was on the market. Their front-office has a long history of making the right decision, but at this trade deadline, I feel like they made the wrong one. Salt Lake City isn’t always a desirable place to spend a winter and they had a golden opportunity to get talent in return for one of their big men before they may walk during the free agency period this summer.

Atlanta Hawks: THEY HAD TO TRADE JOSH SMITH. He may have a problem with heaving too many jumpers and sometimes he may not seem like he’s totally “in” the game, but he still is a very athletic tweener forward that has value on many teams. I think he will walk away this summer anyways. Take it from the Cavaliers. It isn’t fun when you watch a star player walk away with your team getting nothing in return. Don’t get me wrong–Josh Smith isn’t nearly the player Lebron James is–but the two situations are relatively similar. They could have sent Smith to San Antonio and received Dejuan Blair and Stephen Jackson in return. Maybe they could have also been able to pry Bledsoe away from the Clippers and fill the void left on the bench when Lou Williams went down. Maybe even the Lakers would have bitten if they tried hard enough to get Dwight Howard. The Hawks intend on making an effort to draw in Howard, who grew up near Atlanta, during the summer. It would have gone a long way towards completing that signing if they could have made him a Hawk now and familiarized him with his teammates and the organization.

You can follow Skyler Gilbert on twitter at @skylerjgilbert.