5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 9
The NBA appears to be in a golden age of scoring.
Two great examples are the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. The Raptors are on pace to have the top offense of all-time, while the Warriors continue crushing opponents on their way to a 24-4 record.
However, this boost in scoring has not spread completely across the league, and some players are having the poorest years of their respective careers.
Ricky Rubio's -7.4 Net Rating Is the Worst of His Career
With a new coach on board, everyone around the NBA wondered if Ricky Rubio was the correct fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The playmaking point guard has been a staple of the team since arriving in 2011 and entered the 2016-17 campaign with at least 8.6 points per game in three straight seasons.
Along with his spectacular passing, Rubio had almost maintained a positive net rating -- offensive efficiency minus defensive efficiency -- in two of the past three years. He's unfortunately watched his net rating dip to a miserable -7.4 this year, due in large part to a career-worst 110.7 defensive rating.
Rubio has also been an afterthought on offense, as his 12.5% usage rate and 6.6 assists per game are both career lows. With rookie Kris Dunn picking up more minutes recently and wing Zach LaVine picking up more playmaking duties, Rubio could soon be on his way out of Minnesota, which may actually benefit the young Wolves.
Kristaps Porzingis 102 Fouls Committed Are 2nd in the NBA
Madison Square Garden is giddy with excitement again as Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks look primed for a return to the playoffs. The Knicks are currently 14-13 with a 36.8% chance to make the playoffs, and the young Latvian is the main source of optimism.
In his second season, Porzingis is averaging 20.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per night. Much of that has come on his improved shooting numbers, which have risen to 45.1% from the field and 38.4% from the three-point arc, compared to his rookie campaign.
The one major concern is his propensity to commit quick fouls. Some of this can be attributed to a boost in minutes -- from 28.4 last season to 34.6 this season -- but he does still commit roughly 25% of the Knicks' fouls. That could be controlled in the regular season, but if New York makes the playoffs, this could be the difference between a quick exit and an extended run.
In the grand scheme of things, foul issues are not a giant problem, but it will be something Porzingis needs to address as his game evolves.
This Group of 5 Raptors Players Leads the NBA in Net Points Per 100 Possessions
The Toronto Raptors have joined the Cleveland Cavaliers this year as another Eastern Conference powerhouse. They currently sit third in numberFire's Team Power Rankings and have a 13.9% chance to win the NBA title.
Although they are solid defensively, it may surprise many that Toronto is first in offensive efficiency, at a staggering 115.5. That's a full 1.5 points ahead of the Golden State Warriors.
The scary thing for other NBA teams is the top quintet is made up with three starters and two bench players. Superstars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue leading the way, but veteran Patrick Patterson, along with young role players Lucas Nogueira and Norman Powell form the top five-man group in the NBA.
This group has a remarkable +69.4 net rating per 100 possessions, which outpaces Golden State’s group by 10.7 points. Another positive for the Raptors is that in an evolving NBA, teams are favoring an up-tempo offense instead of using a big man, which plays right into the hands of this group north of the border.
With two stars and a plethora of strong role players, the Raptors can adapt to any style of play and could make them a tough opponent for anyone come playoff time.
Opponents Are Shooting 44.8% From Three-Point Range With Boris Diaw on the Floor
The Utah Jazz are one of the most surprising teams in the early NBA season. They currently sit fifth in numberFire's Team Rankings with a remarkable 99.4% chance to make the playoffs.
Much of Utah's success comes on the defensive end, where they're leading the league in points allowed (95.4). Utah has only one player with a defensive rating over 109 this year, and that player is newly-signed Boris Diaw.
With the move towards more stretch forwards, Diaw has been the target of opposing teams wary of driving the lane with star center Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint.
Although the team should be concerned about this trend, the one positive is Diaw has been forced into 21.4 minutes per game due to the absence of Derrick Favors, who has only appeared in 13 games because of a multitude of injuries.
With Favors on the mend, Quin Snyder will likely decrease Diaw’s minutes and thus make this stat less relevant. However, allowing the highest three-point rate of any player in the league is still a worrisome stat for a squad built entirely on defense.
Nikola Jokic Is Averaging 1.13 FanDuel Points Per Minute With Jusuf Nurkic off the Floor
One of the most puzzling rotations in the NBA resides in Denver, where coach Mike Malone cannot seem to settle on minutes for anyone on the roster. The season began with Malone starting both of his big men, as both Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic shared the floor.
That was then deemed a disaster a few games in, with Nurkic eventually settling in as the center.
Jokic saw his role dramatically decrease during an eight-game span where he saw more then 25 minutes of play just twice. He's since gotten out of Malone's doghouse, reaching that number in three of five games, but mostly with Nurkic on the floor.
Without his fellow center on the floor to clog up the lane, Jokic has blossomed with double-digit rebounds in five of the last eight games. He has also picked up his scoring by reaching double figures in each of his last eight games.
Although he will never be 100% safe to predict because of Malone’s sporadic lineups, you can count on big fantasy numbers with Jokic on the floor, and generally at a reduced price.