5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 19
The NBA All-Star break and trade deadline are both officially in the rearview mirror, which means there are a handful of teams now fighting for their playoff lives.
While squads like the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets made some big additions, there are others who have abandoned their hopes of playing past April in order to develop young talent and try to hit on a high draft pick.
As we continue getting closer to the home stretch of the regular season, here are five NBA stats to know for the week ahead.
The Pelicans Have a -17.0 Net Rating Over the Last 3 Games
Without a doubt, the biggest move of trade deadline was DeMarcus Cousins finally getting traded to the Pelicans by the Sacramento Kings. The prospect of teaming up two big men -- he and Anthony Davis -- who are each averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds is rather unique.
However, this experiment doesn't appear to be going as well as hoped over the first three games. Cousins and Davis have both posted solid stat lines together -- averages of 58.3 points and 19.7 rebounds -- but the team has a -17.0 net rating since the trade.
A three-game sample size isn't a great barometer (especially with one against the Rockets), but the New Orleans' 112.9 defensive rating has to be a concern.
The other major concern is that while feeding both Davis and Cousins, the rest of the squad has floundered -- only Jrue Holiday has averaged double figures since the trade happened.
The new dynamic needs some time to figure out, but if the Pelicans (who currently have just a 2.7% chance to make the playoffs) want to make a run, they will need to figure things out in a hurry.
Lou Williams Led the Lakers With a 30.6% Usage Rate This Season
After first-year head coach Luke Walton watched his team post a 19-40 record to start the 2016-17 season, the Los Angeles Lakers, under the new management of Magic Johnson, decided to move Lou Williams, who touched the ball an awful lot.
This deal is a sure sign that young players like Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle will be given a bigger role moving forward with an eye on the future, and it was on display in the first game without Williams. Russell posted a remarkable 34.0% usage rate, which would be good for sixth in the league if he'd been doing that all year.
Since more of his minutes were paired with Williams off the bench, Clarkson also figures to see an uptick in opportunity. In one game since the trade, he put up 17 shots off the strength of a gaudy 29.9% usage rate.
Dario Saric Has a 14.7% Assist Rate and 13.8% Rebound Rate Over the Last 10 Games
The Philadelphia 76ers have preached all season about trusting the process. That process has been centered around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but their outlooks for this season aren't looking bright right now.
However, Dario Saric is trying his best to prove that this duo of young players may in fact expand to a trio.
Over the last 10 games, he has an incredibly nice 14.7% assist rate and 13.8% rebound rate, which ranks second and third on the team, respectively.
Those numbers have improved even more after the team traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks. Saric is averaging 19.3 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists over his last four games, posting a double-double in each contest.
The rookie power forward should continue seeing well above 30 minutes per night down the stretch to improve what already appears to be a perfect complement to Embiid down low.
The Houston Rockets Have Attempted 50-plus Three-Pointers in 8 games
It was widely assumed that bringing in Mike Dâ€™Antoni as head coach meant the Rockets were going to see a significant bump in three-point attempts. That has certainly come to fruition as the team leads the NBA at 40.3 attempts beyond the arc per game.
However, the more stunning stat is Houston has attempted at least 50 threes in 8 games this season. Meanwhile, the other 29 NBA teams have combined for just two such performances, with one of them being a four-overtime game by the New York Knicks.
The addition of Williams seems likely to boost this three-point reliance even further -- he has averaged 8.3 shots from deep this season. Through just two games with his new team, the shooting guard has tossed up 18 triples.
This strategy has worked out for Houston so far -- they're second in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage while leading the league with 46.3% of their shots coming from the outside.
If the Rockets want to be a postseason threat, they will need to work on their 15th-ranked defense. But with their ability to stretch the floor, they will be able to score with anyone come playoff time.
Marcus Smart Is Allowing Opponents to Shoot 29.1% From Three-Point Range Over the Last 10 Games
With Avery Bradley sitting out since January 7th because of an achilles injury, the Boston Celtics have been in desperate need of a strong defensive guard to pair with the offensively-minded Isaiah Thomas. Marcus Smart has been that player by allowing opponents to shoot just 29.1% from the three-point line over the last 10 games.
Although Smart has not started much since Bradleyâ€™s injury, he has played over 30 minutes in 19 of the 22 contests his teammate has missed.
Many expected the Celtics to make a move for Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but the strong defense of Smart and all-around game of Bradley gave general manager Danny Ainge the ability to stand pat. Even though they may not provide star power, Smart and Bradley have proven to be excellent all-around players and complements to Thomas in the backcourt.