The other day, we looked at where the team stands statistically compared to the rest of the league. Such offensive and defensive ratings can be very helpful and you can monitor how those and other metrics change as the season progresses over at Basketball-Reference.com. (Don’t worry, we’ll also keep a close watch and let you know when or if the trends change.)
Obviously, the further and further we get into the season, the more such numbers can be trusted to properly depict reality. Even now, after 18 games, the sample size is still too small for us to really know if the numbers we see will be similar to those we see in the future. Are the Pacers really the the 7th best defensive team in the NBA? Or are there a few anomalies in there skewing the data?
We will see in time.
It’s even more important to realize such things when looking at individual player numbers. It’s only December 5. The team has only played 18 games. We can’t forget that. One or two really good or really bad nights can skew the following stats we will look at dramatically.
With that caveat, here are how all the Pacers players have done so far statistically. For the traditional per game individual stats through 18 games, check here. Those are interesting, but I think we already knew all that.
Instead, we’ll focus on some less obvious numbers.
Production Per 40 Minutes
Here’s are the numbers all the Pacers players put up per 40 minutes. We focus on this rather than the per-game numbers so that we can see which players are making the most of their minute. Obviously, some guys will give you diminishing returns if asked to play 40 mpg (although, historically, most guys have come pretty close to their extrapolated totals when thrust into larger roles), but the point here is mainly just to neutralize things to a per-minute basis rather than presuming anyone could do exactly these numbers in 40 minutes.
To more prominently illustrate who is doing what in which categories, I have highlighted the numbers with green and red to show whether the player is higher or lower than the league average. Green means the player has a higher number except in the case of turnovers and personal fouls.
Here are the five things that stand out the most to me.
1. Quantitatively, TJ Ford pretty much does nothing while he’s on the court.
2. Mike Dunleavy grabs a significant number of more boards than Danny Granger. It would be nearly impossible for someone who had never seen them play but just looked at them side-by-side to understand how this could happen.
3. This team could really use someone who could get to the line.
4. The way the assists are so well-distributed suggests that (a) the ball movement is pretty good, or (b) the team’s guards are not setting many people up for easy buckets.
5. Solomon Jones fouls a ton.
Again, the green in the next chart also means “above average” aside from with turnover rate, for which it means “better” (that is, lower). Additionally, we see even more here that the red/green demarcation is really a rough barometer. Roy Hibbert’s assist rate, for example is 14.8% compared to a league average of 15.3%. Obviously, a center who is just a hair below the league assist average for all players in no way deserves to have a giant red shadow over his number. But all it means is that it is lower. I trust that you’re educated enough to understand that a more nuanced look at these can tell us more than any red/green highlight can.
Here are the eight categories in the chart below:
- Usage Rate (USG) – The percentage of offensive possessions a player uses
- Percent of Field Goals that Are Assisted (%AST) – Self-explanatory … can help show how often players create their own shots vs. just “finishing” plays
- Assist Rate (AR) – Percentage of the team’s possessions that end in the player getting an assist
- Turnover Rate (TOR) – Percentage of the team’s possessions that end in the player turning the ball over
- Offensive Rebound Rate (ORR) – Percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player grabs while on the floor
- Defensive Rebound Rate (DRR) – Percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player grabs while on the floor
- Total Rebound Rate (TRR) – Percentage of possible total rebounds a player grabs while on the floor
- Player Efficiency Rating (PER) – John Hollinger’s attempt at a singular metric to define a player’s stat value.
Here are the five things that stand out the most to me.
1. Roy Hibbert is an advanced stat beast. Those rebounding numbers are as impressive as they are unexpected. If he can keep this up it will represent a huge step forward for him on the glass. It’s very rare to see a guy go from a total rebound rate of 12.4% to 17.3% in one offseason.
2. This chart shows why Brandon Rush is so poorly respected by the NBA media that like stats. He is below average in every category here aside from turnover rate (which makes sense cause he doesn’t handle the ball much) and … you guessed it … minutes per game. That makes people scratch their heads. Obviously, he plays good on-the-ball defense, however, and as we’ll see below, he shoots rather well.
3. TJ Ford’s assist rate is considerably higher now than it was in his first two years in Indy. He was around 24% that past two seasons and his current 29.7% compares favorably to the 31-32% he posted in Toronto. His PER is obviously gross, however (and we’ll see later that his shooting is just as bad).
4. Mike Dunleavy, James Posey and Solomon Jones have almost never created their own points. All three score more than four out of every five buckets right after catching a pass — with Posey’s 86.7% rate suggesting that he might not even know how to dribble.
5. Solomon Jones can’t catch passes, turning the ball over on a ridiculous 17% of his possessions.
(UPDATE: The charts in this section were a little off for the first few hours this post was live. Not sure what happened, but the numbers were not all correct. All has been fixed. Here are the updated charts.)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Again, green is above average, red is below average. (Note, however, that while Granger and Mike Dunleavy and Darren Collison’s FG%s are technically below average, we’re talking about one percentage point over 18 games. In reality, they are both shooting just fine from the field. Nuance remains important.)
The only things you need to know about the metrics is that eFG% (effective field goal percentage) is FG% adjusted to recognize that threes are higher risk/reward shots that are worth one more point than shots closer in and that TS% (true shooting percentage) is FG% weighted to include both threes and free-throws.
The last category measures how good the player has been at getting to the line. It’s free-throw attempts per field goal attempt — and the whole team is really poor at getting the line outside of two big men that don’t play a huge number of minutes. Good on Tyler and Solo though. At least someone is getting some freebies once in a while. Would be nice if more people did since ten guys shoot em at an above-league-average clip and, collectively, the Pacers are the 9th best FT shooting team in the NBA.
Perhaps more interestingly, below is a look at how each guy has shot from different spots on the floor. All this data comes from the invaluable site HoopData.com and their shot location data is their crown jewel. Most of this other statistical stuff can be found at various sites, but we have only had this location data publicly available for about a year or so since HoopData emerged. Thank you, kind sirs.
One thing that stands out is that Roy Hibbert isn’t very effective outside of 10 feet. We probably could have guessed this, but he has been a more willing outside shooter this year and it has seemed (to me anyway) like he has improved. Well, he hasn’t. He’s basically steady from 16-23 feet so far this year and has been comparatively abysmal from 10-15 feet (28.6% this season compared to 41.5% last year). Fortunately, however, Danny has been money from basically everywhere aside from the 10- to 15-foot range … but he doesn’t shoot much from there so no big deal. Rush, too, is looking good across the board. , only needing to dial in better from behind the arc. Josh McRoberts, on the other hand, can’t hit water from a boat no matter the distance. (UPDATE: I’m leaving this last line even if it’s hyperbolic given the updated, slightly improved numbers. He hasn’t shot particularly well aside from behind the arc is the point.)
Tags: Stat Talk