5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 7

Three-pointers are up across the NBA, and a new rule is helping big men shoot fewer free throws.

We are now at the quarter pole at the 2016-17 NBA season.

The Golden State Warriors have locked themselves in as the top team in the NBA with the recent drop of the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

There also has been a variety of players who have made strong pushes for All-NBA teams. Along with this, there has been a few stats that have jumped off the page that are worth noting.

Kawhi Leonard has more 8 more steals than fouls in his career

That makes him the only active player with more steals (614) than fouls (606).

Coming into his sixth NBA season, Kawhi Leonard has always been a force on the defensive end. In those six years he has amassed three all-defensive team honors to go along with his two Defensive Player of the Year wins. However, unlike other top defensive players, Leonard commits mere 1.8 fouls per game.

After 20 games this season, Leonard does have a career worst 103 defensive rating, but that still puts him just outside the top 20 this season in that category. He is also at 2.1 steals per game, which would be the second highest mark of his career, only trailing his stellar 2014-15 season stats.

His defensive dominance may have taken a small tick back this season due in large part to his increased usage on offense. Leonard is currently averaging a career high 17.5 shots per game on a team high 30.6% usage rate. Another hit on the defensive end came with the retirement of Tim Duncan.

Despite all these detractors, Leonard is still managing to be an elite player on both ends of the floor while committing an unbelievably low foul rate.

Bradley Beal is averaging 20.3 field goal attempts per game over the last two weeks

Since coming out of Florida as the third overall pick, Bradley Beal has been counted on to be the scoring punch alongside back court mate John Wall. Every season of his career, Beal has averaged at least 31 minutes per game along with a minimum of 12.3 shots per game. That number is up to 16.9 overall this year but has taken an even higher jump to 20.3 over the last two weeks.

In his rookie year, Beal struggled to an effective field goal percentage of 47.7%. However, he has seen that rise every season of his career to a high of 53.3% this season. Despite the increased workload, Beal has continued his sharp shooting, particularly from deep where he also is at a career high rate of 41.3%.

Another big reason why Beal has seen an increase in shot attempts is his overall health. Even with a heavy minutes load throughout his career, he has only managed to play over 63 games in one season. Outside of a few games to rest, Beal has been healthy this year, and that has translated to 34.5 minutes under first-year coach Scott Brooks.

DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond are averaging a combined 8.8 free throw attempts this season

One of the biggest rule changes heading into the 2016-17 NBA season was the rules regarding “Hack-a-player” fouls. By making fouls late in a quarter the equivalent of a technical, it made the strategy much less viable. Nowhere is that more evident than with the two most well-known poor free throw shooters in the NBA.

Last season, DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond combined to shoot 15.2 free throws per game. This year, it is down nearly 50 percent to just 8.8 a game combined. Although the rule change may be a big part of the lack of free throws, both players have significantly improved from the charity stripe this year. Jordan is at 52.4% this year, up 11% from last year, while Drummond is actually up 12% over last year despite being only at 47.4% on the season.

The increased production from the line has been a huge help to both teams as both the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons are over .500 and are sitting in prime position to make the playoffs. Although there is a lot of season left, any boost in free throw rate for these players could make a huge difference for their teams the rest of this season.

Ish Smith is third in the NBA with a 4.35 assist-to-turnover rate

When he signed a free agent deal with the Detroit Pistons in the offseason, Ish Smith was expected to come in and be one of the top backup point guards in the NBA. That all changed with the injury to incumbent starter Reggie Jackson prior to the season.

With Jackson coming back to the lineup, it may be tough for coach Stan Van Gundy to completely cut the minutes of Smith who has averaged 6.4 assists per game while turning it over just 31 times in the Pistons' first 21 games. The totals do not pop off the page, but his consistency has been key to a Pistons team that is currently 11-11 with a 78.6% chance to make the playoffs according to our algorithm.

Jackson is much more of a scoring point guard than is Smith, but he has a career average of 2.2 assist-to-turnover rate, which may slow down the offense.

Last season, the Pistons scored 102 points per game compared to 100.4 this season, but that may also be due in part to the team slowing their pace to just 94.1 this season. With the scoring punch of Jackson, combined with the stellar efficiency of Smith off the bench, Detroit may be able to push their scoring and pace up towards the middle of the pack in the NBA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 2.2 steals and 2.2 blocks per game

Coming into this year, no one would be surprised to find out that Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 22.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. With the loss of Khris Middleton, it was paramount for the Greek Freak to take a leap on that end, but perhaps no one would have guessed he would have put up monster statistics on the defensive end..

Prior to this season, there have only been six seasons in NBA history where an NBA player averaged over 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. Four of those seasons were by Hakeem Olajuwon, along with one each for David Robinson and Gerald Wallace. Antetokounmpo has put up these gaudy stats due to tremendous consistency, having failed to record a block in only two games and while also picking a steal in at least all but one game.

Antetokounmpo’s play has boosted him to 10th in our overall player rankings, while his team continues to rise as well. With the do-it-all wing playing the best basketball of his career, the Milwaukee Bucks have risen to 12th in the team rankings with a 48.1% chance to make the playoffs. If Middleton can return to boost the team, the Bucks may make their return to the playoffs sooner than later.