Scouring through the NBA’s new, in-depth, advanced take on stats with its SportVU add-on has changed the game for good, from the minds of the front office personnel who may use it to the fans who educate themselves on a player’s strengths and weaknesses.
From figuring out who the league’s fastest and most agile players are to which big men are the best rebounders in traffic, the SportVU tool can put an end to any type of NBA-based argument because of how advanced it is when it comes to the numbers it produces.
The best part of it, by far, is putting an end to former stereotypes, which composes a few of the stats that are soon to be brought up in this piece. You’d be surprised to find out how some of the players supposedly among the league’s worst rebounders are actually not that bad, as well as how players who were thought to only score off of drives are actually incredible shooters.
It also gives credit to those who may not be recognized by the larger mainstream outlets. SportVU allows viewers to observe the numbers of even the most obscure players who may be killing it with their underachieving team, without the bias or slant of certain sources.
For example, there’s a player out in Milwaukee who has become one of the league’s best defenders and a player coming off the bench on Charlotte who should be recognized as one of the league’s top players at getting to the rim.
Those realizations would have never been brought to the light if not for the research that goes into finding out the percentages of stat categories we always wish we knew about, stats such as contested rebounding percentage, field goal percentage allowed at the rim, or even the points per game a team scores off of drives.
Using this tool, we found five more interesting stats that will have you reconsidering previous facts you thought you once knew, as well as uncovering just how prolific and effective certain player are.
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1. The Los Angeles Clippers are still Chris Paul or bust
After two years of assimilating to his new team, Chris Paul is having a season with the Los Angeles Clippers that is similar to those in his time with the New Orleans Hornets, averaging double-digit assists per after three consecutive seasons of averaging less than ten.
The 11.4 assists he’s averaging is nearly two more assists per game than what anybody else in the league is averaging, and it’s also only a few percentage points short of the career-high he set back in 2008, only the third year of his career. His assist percentage, the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while on the floor, of 54.2 percent also shatters anything he’s put up since 2010. Not only is he leading the league in assist percentage and assists per, he’s also leading in secondary assists per game, or the hockey assist, used to give credit to the player who passed to the teammate who was credited with an assist.
Naturally, he’s also leading in points created off his assists at nearly 26 points per contest. Once again, this is far-and-away the best mark in the league, nearly four points more than second place. He also has 86 more assists than second place. He’s good at what he does and nobody in the game can control the tempo or make it look as easy as he does.
The Los Angeles Clippers may not be a playoff team without him making every play happen. When he’s on the court, the Clippers are generating 108.7 points per 100 possessions, but only 100.5 points per 100 possessions when he’s off.
Lineups that play without Paul have some of the worst field goal percentage and assist numbers of any that are utilized by the Clippers. The lineup that plays the most minutes without Chris Paul — the Collison, Bullock, Crawford, Jamison, Hollins lineup that’s played 37 minutes in seven games together — is shooting 40 percent overall, 11 percent from three, and has come up with more turnovers than assists.
The Collison-Crawford-Dudley–Griffin–Jordan lineup has also struggled, shooting only 41 percent from the field and 33 percent from three. Of lineups that have played at least 30 minutes together this season, the two without Chris Paul are by far the worst.
Both of those lineups are the only ones to play 30 minutes together and not average at least 100 points per 100 possessions. However, they do provide good defensive numbers, giving up 84.2 points and 99.1 per 100 possessions, respectively.
Even the two-man lineups indicate how much Paul means to this team. When Paul is put alongside a starter, whether it’s Griffin, Jordan, Dudley, Crawford or Redick, all of those lineups are generating at least 107.6 points per 100 possessions. The Paul-Redick backcourt is actually ringing up 113.7 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, there are three five-man lineups with Chris Paul that have played over 30 minutes together and are shooting at least 50 percent. The worst lineup, in terms of field goal percentage, that he’s used in is shooting 43 percent.
Chris Paul is going to have those robust numbers because he’s such a great point guard, as well as the Clippers needing him in order to generate offense. The six-most used lineups on this team all involve Paul facilitating. It’s understood that the point guard, especially one of Paul’s caliber, will produce the best offensive numbers, but the dropoff without Paul is something that could prove to be crippling once the playoffs begin.
The Clippers are touted as championship contenders, yet they are clearly dependent on one player to make everything work on offense or else they’re stagnant. He’s averaged at least 37 minutes per game in his two playoff appearances with the Clippers and that number could go up this year with Eric Bledsoe no longer an option to go to.
Things will pickup once J.J. Redick makes his return, but he won’t be the answer to the Clippers’ extreme dependency on Paul.