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NBA AM: Looking At The Numbers

With roughly 20 percent of the regular season in the books, let’s take a look at some of the numbers and who is doing better than expected… Some players in the D-League are playing really well, are they primed for a call-up?

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Looking At The Numbers: The NBA, in partnership with SportVU, installed motion tracking cameras into every NBA venue last year and began producing a wide range of player tracking type stats. With SportVu coming into its second year of being widely used in the NBA, some of the data that can be extracted becomes interesting, especially when you are valuating how well specific players are doing.

While there is wealth of new data to comb through, here is a look at some of the leaders in various areas.

Touches and Possessions

Player GP Touches per game PTS Per Touch PTS Per 1/2 Court Touch
Chris Paul 16 99.9 0.183 0.2
Reggie Jackson 14 97.4 0.200 0.2
Kemba Walker 18 96.2 0.146 0.2
Rajon Rondo 13 96 0.097 0.1
John Wall 15 95.1 0.190 0.2
Deron Williams 15 91 0.196 0.2
Michael Carter-Williams 9 90.7 0.162 0.2
Darren Collison 14 90.4 0.175 0.2
Tony Wroten 15 89.7 0.199 0.2
Damian Lillard 17 85.6 0.232 0.3
Donald Sloan 17 85.4 0.136 0.2
LeBron James 15 85.3 0.292 0.3
Blake Griffin 16 84.9 0.266 0.4
Mike Conley 17 84.5 0.193 0.2
Kyle Lowry 17 84.1 0.228 0.3

The touches and possession data is interesting, especially as it pertains to point guards. Clippers guard Chris Paul leads all players in touches with 99.9 touches per game. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson comes in second with 97.4 touches per game.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kevin Mart is the most productive players with 40 or more touches per games, scoring .501 points per touch. Golden State’s Klay Thompson comes in second with .455 points per touch.

In terms of halfcourt touches, which are the most valuable possessions in basketball, New Orleans big man Anthony Davis leads the league with .700 points per halfcourt touch, among those players with 40 or more touches in a game. Martin comes in second with .600, while Charlotte big man Al Jefferson is tied with him.

Minnesota’s Shabazz Muhammad makes an appearance in the halfcourt stats; he doesn’t receive a ton of touches – 17.3 touches per game, but he is scoring .700 points per halfcourt touch at .554 per touch overall, which is among the best for players with 15 or fewer touches per game.

Passing

Player GP AST per game Passes per game Assist opportunities Points created
Chris Paul 16 9.6 78.9 18.6 21.6
Ty Lawson 15 10 57.7 19.8 23.6
Rajon Rondo 13 10.5 78 21 24.5
John Wall 15 9.1 69.1 17.9 21.4
Stephen Curry 16 7.8 56.4 13.9 17.7
Damian Lillard 17 6.8 63.6 13.2 15.9
Kyle Lowry 17 6.6 61.4 11.9 15.5
Mike Conley 17 6.4 64.5 12.3 13.9
LeBron James 15 7.2 57.5 12.8 16.5
Jeff Teague 15 7.2 55.6 14.4 17.1
Brandon Knight 18 5.9 54.4 11.6 13.2
James Harden 16 6.6 50.2 13.8 16.6
Reggie Jackson 14 7.5 68.6 16.7 16.8
Eric Bledsoe 18 5.7 45.3 10.3 13.5
Kemba Walker 18 5.7 74.2 11.5 13.1

A lot is made about playmakers in the NBA, with a lot of attention being paid to raw assist data. SportsVu allows you to see a little deeper into the assist stats.

Boston’s Rajon Rondo leads the league in assists with 10.5 per game. Denver’s Ty Lawson comes in second with 10 assists per game, while Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio comes in third with 10 assists per games, but with only five games played.

Chris Paul leads all players in passes per game with 78.9, Rajon Rondo comes in second with 78 passes per contest and Charlotte’s Kemba Walker holds down third place with 74.2 passes.

One of the better passing stats is the Assist Opportunities stat – which is defined as passes where a teammate attempts a shot. Rondo leads the league with 21 assist opportunities per game, giving him a converted assist average of 50 percent, meaning 50 percent of Rondo’s attempted assists are converted.

In the converted assists department Cavalier forward LeBron James leads the way with 56.3 percent of his assist opportunities being converted. Rubio comes in second with 56.2 percent. Golden State’s Steph Curry is third at 56.1 percent and Minnesota’s Mo Williams is next, with 53.6 percent of his assist opportunities connected on.

In the points created by assists department, Rondo again sits atop the leader board with 24.5 points created by assists per game. Rubio comes in second with 24.2 points. Denver’s Ty Lawson comes in third with 23.6 points.

Outside of some of the obvious leaders, Detroit’s Josh Smith creates the most points off assists for those players with 10 or fewer assist opportunities – notching 12.5 points per game off of assists. Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson comes in second in the under ten assists opportunities per game category, logging 12.3 points per game off of assists. Miami’s Mario Chalmers comes in third with 11.8 points.

Defense

Player GP STL per game BLK per game Opp FGP
Anthony Davis 15 2.1 3 52.00%
Roy Hibbert 13 0.2 2.8 38.50%
DeAndre Jordan 16 1 2.2 45.60%
Andrew Bogut 16 0.8 2.1 39.70%
Serge Ibaka 17 0.2 1.9 44.90%
Tim Duncan 15 0.9 2.1 41.20%
Larry Sanders 17 1.1 1.8 48.00%
Robin Lopez 17 0.4 1.8 47.20%
Pau Gasol 14 0.6 2.1 45.90%
Brandan Wright 18 0.6 1.6 44.00%
Josh Smith 17 1.1 1.6 49.10%
Tyson Chandler 18 0.6 1.5 50.30%
Andre Drummond 17 0.6 1.6 47.10%
Samuel Dalembert 18 0.3 1.4 38.90%
Marc Gasol 17 1.2 1.5 48.80%

Defense has always been the hardest aspect of basketball to quantify. It’s mainly always been about rebounding and blocked shots, with steals sprinkled in. With SportsVU, we can now determine the opposition’s field goal percentage, especially at the rim, which brings a new element to the discussion.

For players who log more than 15 minutes per game, and face more than five attempts at the rim per game, Orlando’s Kyle O’Quinn leads the league with 37.5 percent allowed at the rim. Indiana’s Roy Hibbert comes in second with 38.5 percent allowed at the rim, while New York’s Samuel Dalembert comes in third at 38.9 percent.

Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng is posting some of the worst percentages in this category, allowing 61.1 percent at the rim. New Orleans sharp shooter Ryan Anderson comes in second allowing 60.9 percent and Cleveland’s Kevin Love comes in third at 60.6 percent.

Among the qualified defenders, Chicago’s Pau Gasol sees the most at the rim attempts with 11.2 opposition attempts at the rim per game, but is allowing just 45.9 percent. Houston’s Terrence Jones comes in second with 11 attempts at the rim per game and is allowing just 54.5 percent, but that’s a bit deceiving because he’s only played in four games. Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez comes in third with 10.3 at the rim attempts, allowing 54.5 percent as well.

»In Related: Who Still Has Cap Salary Space? How About Cap Exceptions?

Checking In On The D-League: While a few guys have already received a call-up from the D-League, there are several other names to watch as NBA teams continue to look for ways to improve.

Rank Player PTS FG% 3FG% REB AST STL BLK
1 Brady Heslip (RNO) 34.8 54.20% 60.00% 1.2 0.6 2.2 0
2 Earl Clark (RGV) 28.8 45.20% 31.40% 7.3 2 1 3.3
3 Manny Harris (LAD) 27.6 50.70% 44.40% 5.7 2.7 1.3 0.1
4 Damien Wilkins (IWA) 24.3 50.70% 18.20% 8.3 6 1.5 0.3
5 Seth Curry (ERI) 24.2 51.20% 51.40% 5.2 2.8 0.8 0
6 Elijah Millsap (BAK) 22.6 39.80% 25.00% 10.1 6.4 2.7 0.3
7 Alex Kirk (CTN) 21.8 49.30% 0.00% 8.8 1.3 0.8 1.5
8 Jarell Eddie (AUS) 21.6 51.50% 55.00% 5 1.8 1.2 0.4
9 Adonis Thomas (GRD) 21.5 47.60% 35.90% 4.2 1.5 1.2 0.2
9 Patrick Christopher (IWA) 21.5 53.80% 44.40% 3.5 3.3 0.5 0
11 Joe Alexander (SCW) 21.4 52.80% 0.00% 8.6 0.9 0.7 1.4
12 Kevin Murphy (IDA) 21.3 45.60% 23.50% 4.7 5.5 1.2 0.3
13 Elliot Williams (SCW) 20.7 44.70% 42.90% 4.4 6.7 0.6 0
14 Joel Wright (IDA) 20.7 64.90% 0.00% 8.8 2 1.7 0.8
15 Ra’shad James (RNO) 20.3 41.70% 28.60% 4.5 2.5 1.8 0

Of the top D-League performers, Reno’s Brady Heslip looks to be the next domino to fall, although there have been reports that Rio Grande’s Earl Clark could be headed to the Lakers at some point in the next few days. LA Defenders guard Manny Harris continues to score in bunches, while Iowa’s Damien Wilkins, a long-time NBA veteran, continues to play strong.

Of the top 15 scorers in the D-League, only Cleveland’s Alex Kirk has his rights restricted since he is still a member of the Cavaliers and is simply on assignment. The rest of the top 15 are in essence unsigned free agents in the NBA and could be signed away by any NBA team that wants to ink them.

The Philadelphia 76ers scooped up Robert Covington from the D-League in exchange for a four-year NBA deal. Only $400,000 of his $1 million deal is guaranteed.

NBA teams can begin issuing 10-day contracts on January 5.

»In Related: Who Are The Top NBA Draft Prospects For The 2015 NBA Draft?

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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