5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 24
With around five percent percent of the NBA season remaining, the 8 seed in both conferences is still up for grabs.
In the Western Conference, a once-surging Denver Nuggets squad has cooled down. In the Eastern Conference, teams at the top of the standings could be looking to avoid a suddenly strong Chicago Bulls frontcourt.
Along with teams fighting for playoff positioning, some young guards are looking to prove their teams made the right choice this offseason. Both Dennis Schroder and Kris Dunn have used injuries to their teammates to boost their production and lock in a spot long term for their teams.
The Denver Nuggets have a 3.4% chance to make the playoffs
Just 10 games ago, the Denver Nuggets were in control of the 8 seed in the Western Conference. However, with just seven games left in their season, they currently sit with just a 3.4% chance to make the playoffs.
They are just 5-5 over the last 10 games and have fallen 2.5 games behind the surging Portland Trail Blazers, who are 9-1 over the last 10. The most damaging game for the Nuggets was their 122-113 loss in Portland last week.
The one positive that could give the Nuggets hope is that their former center, Jusuf Nurkic, has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season with an injury, hurting Portland's chances.
However, five of Denver's seven remaining games are on the road, where the team has a poor 14-22 record this season.
Although the Nuggets looked to be heading in the right direction, it appears the Nuggets will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Trevor Ariza is shooting 48% over the last 10 games
Trevor Ariza has not had the type of shooting season that many of his Houston Rockets teammates have enjoyed. The veteran wing is shooting just 41.4% on the season and just 35.2% from the three-point line.
However, with Ryan Anderson missing the last five games, Ariza has found a level of comfort at the stretch four position. Over the last 10 games, he is shooting 48% from the floor and 37% from the three-point arc.
In those 10 games, Ariza has 29 shots within five feet, 63 shots from 20-plus feet, and only 5 shots from mid-range. Those numbers align with the Rockets' philosophy on shooting but also show why the power forward position may be where Ariza fits in -- not only with the pace of play but also the fact that opposing forwards often struggle to guard the length and speed of Ariza on the perimeter.
If the Rockets hope to make a deep run in the playoffs, they will certainly need the defensive prowess of Ariza on the floor, and if he can continue to make shots, he will provide the team an even bigger boost.
Kris Dunn has at least one steal in 13 straight games
Being a top-five pick always brings added expectations, and for most of the season, Kris Dunn struggled to prove why he was a good pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
However, the season-ending injury to LaVine has opened up a ton of time for the defensive-minded rookie to see extended time. Over the last 15 games, Dunn has played 19.5 minutes per game and also has an impressive streak of 13 straight games with at least one steal.
Coming out of Providence, Dunn was known as a stingy defender and was thought to be a perfect player alongside Rubio in new coach Tom Thibodeau’s defense-first scheme.
With his emergence of late, it will be interesting to see if the Wolves look to move Rubio or LaVine, knowing they have a ready-made replacement ready to step in.
Dennis Schroder is averaging 96.0 touches per game over the last five games
When the Atlanta Hawks made the deal to move Jeff Teague, the keys were handed to Dennis Schroder. The German point guard has not disappointed, as he has career highs in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and three-pointers made this season.
Much of this success has been helped by having the steady force of Paul Millsap on the interior to help take pressure off him. With Millsap out due to injury the past few weeks, the offensive burden has been moved over to Schroder. Over the last five games, Schroder is fourth in the NBA with 96 touches per game, trailing only Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Ricky Rubio.
Despite the outstanding play by their point guard of late, the Hawks are still a disappointing 2-8 over the last 10 games and are limping into the playoffs after a promising start to the season.
Although the season may not end as well the team has hoped, they at least can be sure that they may the right move to dump Teague to make room for the younger Schroder.
The Chicago Bulls are first in the NBA with 12.3 offensive rebounds per game
This year has undoubtedly been a disappointment for the Chicago Bulls. The team is currently fighting with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That has a lot to do with inconsistent play from Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic along with injuries to Dwyane Wade.
However, the one thing that the team has maintained throughout the season is a strong presence on the glass. The number-four rebounding team in the NBA, the Bulls currently pace the league with 12.3 offensive rebounds per game.
The dominance on the boards is led by Robin Lopez who pulls down 3.1 offensive rebounds per game. Although the team did lose 2.0 offensive boards a game with the trade of Taj Gibson, back-up Cristiano Felicio has picked up the slack with 2.0 offensive boards per game himself.
This should be a disturbing stat for the Boston Celtics in particular, who may be their opponent in the first round of the playoffs. Boston currently is 28th in rebounding on the year, pulling in only 48.2% of available rebounds.
Even with the team struggling to score on a consistent basis, the number of offensive chances the Bulls get should allow them to push into the playoffs and give a team like the Celtics trouble in the first round.