It’s that special time of the season, once again, where we take a look at the useful information that is NBA.com’s stat-tool: SportVU.
As you’ve seen in previous articles on the subject, SportVU can break down everything from percentages on catch-and-shoot jumpers and pull-ups, to the amount of touches a player gets per game. As a result, we have captured some intriguing stats that have told us who are some of the league’s best and worst drivers, the best passer in the league not named Chris Paul, and a championship-contender that’s chock full of rotation players that are constantly on the move.
We take a look at five of more of these stats in yet another thought-provoking installment of interesting stats from SportVU… in a playoff-run edition.
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LeBron‘s the league’s best driver, Russell Westbrook is one of its worst
Despite recent “struggles”, LeBron James could end the 2013-14 season with the best restricted area field goal percentage in NBA history.
Not even the league’s most prolific post players have been able to match the 80 percent LeBron is shooting at the rim. On 428 attempts, LeBron has been unequivocally automatic near the rim compared to other dominant post scorers and imposing figures in Dwight Howard (73 percent on 426 attempts) and DeAndre Jordan (71 percent on 338 attempts).
Even with a free throw rate that’s well below his career-averages, LeBron has been able to finish around the rim with a proficiency that has never been seen before. On drives alone, he leads the league in field goal percentage at 64 percent. The player closest to matching that percentage is Kevin Durant at 59 percent. However, he’s doing so on a full drive per game less than LeBron. Dwyane Wade is shooting 53 percent on 6.7 drive attempts per game, a shade below LeBron’s average of 6.9.
As for the worst, there are a few names you may not have expected. Among those who attempt at least five drives per game, no player has a worst field goal percentage on drives than Brandon Jennings, whose 34 percent conversion rate on drives is by far the worst. Dion Waiters and Michael Carter-Williams are also shooting below 40 percent, but those can at least be predicted. What you may not have envisioned was Russell Westbrook being the league’s second-worst finisher on drives, shooting less than 35 percent on nearly seven attempts per game.
What could have led to this odd development? Russell’s athleticism may still be seen in flashes–ask Kent Bazemore–but he still may not be able to sustain it for over 40 minutes as he’s become accustomed to doing, prior to the knee injury he suffered in last year’s postseason.
Overall, Westbrook is a 58 percent finisher at the rim on 191 attempts this season. He was a 61 percent finisher last year on 612 attempts, as well as the year before on 489 attempts. Ricky Rubio and Raymond Felton have superior field goal percentages than Russell Westbrook on drives. That’s a sentence I never pictured myself writing.
Damian Lillard also surprises with a 40.3 percent conversion rate, but that number has actually significant increased since the All-Star break.