5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 5
After five weeks of NBA play, injuries to key players have changed the landscape of the early season.
Unsurprisingly, the pace continues to rise throughout the league at a mark not seen in nearly 25 years. With this new pace of play, three-pointers and passing have been at a premium.
It has also brought some surprising stats and players into focus.
The Rockets are on a record pace for number of three-pointers made at 13.5 per game
Last season, the Golden State Warriors rewrote the record books by making a remarkable 1,077 three-point field goals. That comes out to an average of 13.1 makes per game, which many felt would be challenged this year by the same Warriors, who added sharpshooter Kevin Durant.
Through five weeks, that pace is being broken, but it is not by the Warriors -- but by the new look Houston Rockets. It should be no surprise anyone that this team is shooting at a historic clip with the additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon to go along with head coach Mike D’Antoni. Anderson and Gordon are both better than 37% from three in their career and bolster a team with James Harden and Trevor Ariza, who are also three-point threats.
The question throughout the year will be if this team can continue this pace, as the four players mentioned above combine to make 12.5 threes per game, while the rest of the team only makes about one per night. The concern comes with the injury history of Anderson and Gordon, who have missed significant number of games in their careers.
After holding the record for three-pointers made for just one season in 2014-15, this Rockets team seems intent on making sure the Warriors also only hold the honor for one season.
Lucas Nogueira leads the NBA in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage
The Toronto Raptors currently sit seventh in our power rankings and despite a 8-5 record have a 98.3% chance to make the playoffs. Much of the team’s success can be attributed to Kyle Lowry, who is leading the NBA in minutes played, and DeMar DeRozan, who is third in the NBA in scoring at 31.4 points per game.
However, a big leap from third-year pro Lucas Nogueira has also been a pleasant surprise for Toronto.
A former first round pick, Nogueira entered this season with only 248 career minutes in his first two years and little to no big-time stats. This season, however, he has filled the role of back-up big man for Toronto, who lost Bismack Biyombo to the Orlando Magic in the offseason and Jared Sullinger to a preseason injury.
This season in 20 minutes per night, Nogueira has been an efficiency monster with an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 83.3% to go along with a monster 151 offensive rating per NBA.com/stats. These numbers can be a bit skewed, as he has only played seven games this year, but it still points to the fact that he has been a solid contributor when he has been on the court.
When Sullinger returns from injury, it is all but guaranteed that Nogueira sees a dip in time, but having per-36-minute numbers of 9.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 2.1 steals show that he can be a valuable asset in the right situations.
Jrue Holiday’s assist rate is 53.3% in two games
With the unfortunate health concerns of his wife, Jrue Holiday was granted a leave from the team for the first 12 games of the season. Veteran Tim Frazier filled in admirably for Holiday, but the team was lacking a true playmaker and struggled to a 2-10 start. Holiday returned with a revitalized vigor and has helped the New Orleans Pelicans go to 2-0 with him on the team due in large part to his passing ability.
Without a doubt, the biggest issue with the Pelicans was the lack of a consistent playmaker with both Holiday and Tyreke Evans being on the sideline. Frazier did a solid job running the show, with a respectable 37.3% assist rate, but simply could not help Anthony Davis and company win games.
The eight-year veteran, Holiday, has always been talented but has had trouble staying on the floor in his career, having only played all 82 games once. Davis is certainly the franchise cornerstone, but in many ways, Holiday may be the most important piece. His 6.1 assists per game and 37% three-point rate and two things that will help Alvin Gentry’s squad to contend for a playoff spot despite a horrendous start.
Victor Oladipo has a true shooting percentage of 40.8% without Russell Westbrook on the floor and 57.5% with him on the floor
Anytime Russell Westbrook’s name is mentioned, the first thing people think of is his massive stat lines. However, often forgotten in all of this is how much better he makes his teammates. The most staggering stat to prove this is the 16.7-percentage-point difference in true shooting percentage for the newly acquired Victor Oladipo with Westbrook on the floor, per NBAWowy.
Oladipo has certainly struggled to find his footing on the team this year, but things have begun to turn around as he has his two highest scoring games of the year in the last week at 26 and 29 points. Those numbers seem directly tied to Westbrook, who continuously gets him open shots, and in those games against the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets, he made 23 of his 35 shots combined.
The attention Westbrook draws has also allowed Oladipo to expand his game from three-point range. Last year with the Orlando Magic he averaged just 1.4 three-pointers made per game. This season, the former Indiana Hoosier has bumped that to a solid 2.2 per night.
With Westbrook getting all the defensive attention and with his becoming more comfortable in the new offense, Oladipo has started to show the team the side kick Oklahoma City traded for this summer.
Greg Monroe has played a combined 9 minutes in the Bucks' last three games
Just a year and a half ago, Greg Monroe was the crown jewel of the Milwaukee Bucks' offseason. The former Detroit Pistons big man signed a whopping three-year deal worth $50 million dollars. Coming off a 2014-15 season in which he averaged a double-double, Monroe was expected to anchor the center position for a Milwaukee team void of offensive ability down low.
After a solid first season with the Bucks, Monroe has found his way into Jason Kidd’s doghouse to the point of being a DNP-Coach's Decision Thursday against the Miami Heat.
With the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, the team certainly is in less need of an offensive force down low such as Monroe. This emergence has allowed defensive ace John Henson to pick up a bigger role recently with 66 minutes over the last three outings.
Although it seems unlikely a player with career averages of 14.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists does not find his way back into the rotation, it may be time for the Bucks to admit their mistake and move him. If he does get traded, it would not be shocking for a player who is just 26 to return to the form that garnered him a massive contract.