The 4 Best NBA Performances From Last Week: Jonas Valanciunas Steamrolls Detroit
It's a new season in the NBA. And with it comes a new season full of awesome performances on a nightly basis. We got to see that firsthand this past week.
There were a lot of great performances of so many different types. Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James all put up huge stat lines. But, how do we know which ones are the best of the best? That's where numberFire Live comes in.
"What is numberFire Live?" you might ask. It's our very own platform that tracks each NBA game, its win probability, and player performances among many other features. Here, we're focusing on the player performances.
Each player performance is rated on a scale of 1 to 100, according to production and efficiency. Below are the only four players this week to earn perfect ratings of 100. They are listed in order of their nERD (a measure of a player's total contribution, based on efficiency) for the given games.
4. Trevor Ariza vs. Dallas Mavericks
In his 35 minutes of play in the Houston Rockets' 106-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, Trevor Ariza took advantage of James Harden and his playmaking skills. On 8 of 12 shooting, 5 of 7 from three, and 6 of 6 from the line, Ariza racked up 27 points and added 4 rebounds and a steal.
The Houston forward amassed an offensive rating of 177.6 points per 100 possessions on a true shooting percentage of 92.2%. That's good enough for a nERD score of 51.58. Surprisingly, he did all of this on a minimal usage percentage of 19.4% -- by far the lowest of these four performers.
3. Damian Lillard vs. Utah Jazz
Damian Lillard started off his 2016-17 campaign blazing hot! In the Portland Trail Blazers' opening game Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz, Lillard went for 39 points, 9 rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes of action. What was a little surprising is his level of efficiency against a fundamentally sound Jazz defense.
On 13 of 20 from the field, including four of six from three, Lillard shot 81.4% in terms of true shooting percentage. His offensive rating of 144.6 on a usage of 39.2% is what made Lillard the most valuable player of the game, with a nERD of 53.44 and a Jazz-burying three in the Blazers' 113-104 win.
2. Kawhi Leonard vs. Golden State Warriors
Speaking of hot starts, Kawhi Leonard's undoubtedly at the top of the list of fast starters this NBA season. Although, unlike many others, Leonard kicked it off against the consensus title favorite Golden State Warriors -- at Oracle Arena, mind you. On Tuesday night, San Antonio's stud of a superstar dominated the Warriors, with a career-high 35 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals.
He shot under 50% (10 of 21) from the field, but Leonard's efficiency stemmed from a perfect 15 for 15 from the charity stripe. Those are the means by which he produced a true shooting percentage of 63.4% and a nERD of 59.14. And defensively, his 93.6 points allowed per 100 possessions further fueled his perfect performance, as he outplayed Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant in a 29-point Spurs victory.
1. Jonas Valanciunas vs. Detroit Pistons
Jonas Valanciunas had a great 2015-16 season, but he only saw the floor for an average of 26 minutes a game. This time around, things are expected to be a little different up north. Valanciunas will be more of a priority offensively, and he's likely to play more minutes. On Wednesday, it helped that the Raptors were absent a reliable backup center in their home opener against the Detroit Pistons, as JV played 35 minutes and took advantage of every second.
Valanciunas tallied 32 points and 11 rebounds all the while shooting 10 of 15 from the floor and 12 of 14 at the line. He converted to the tune of a true shooting percentage of 75.6% to go with a usage of 27.5%. The big man's performance warranted a 61.62 nERD -- the highest of the week -- which led the Raptors to a 109-91 victory over the Pistons.
This play perfectly sums up JV's efficient humiliation of the Detroit frontcourt.