5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 1
The NBA treated us to some tremendous performances during the first week (or first five days, if you will) of the season.
We saw surprises like the Detroit Pistons opening the year 3-0, while we were also treated to the return of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant who are both averaging over 30 points per game to start the season while leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 3-0 record.
There were also some fantastic individual performances like second year shooting guard @C_J_ McC.J. McCollum scoring 37 points on his opening night and Blake Griffin averaging 32 points per game through his first three games of the season.
Finally, we have some confusing and concerning starts to the season with the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks all getting off to 0-3 starts.
Without further delay, here are five statistics to know through the first week of the NBA season.
1. Stephen Curry is averaging 39.3 points per game to lead the NBA in scoring
Stephen Curry is leading the NBA in scoring to start the season after having won an NBA championship last season with the Golden State Warriors and being named MVP for the year. Curry is obviously locked in to start the season. In addition to leading the league in scoring, Curry is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game, 7.3 assists per game, 2.3 steals per game and shooting an other worldly 58.8% from the field and 95.5% from the free throw line (positive increases in every statistical category). Curry also has a fantastic 48.2 nERD. This represents the total contribution a player makes throughout the season based on efficiency and estimates how many games above or below .500 a league average team would win with Curry as a starter. His nERD leads all NBA players and is almost double Jimmy Butler nERD (26.4), who ranks second.
We can all appreciate what a tremendous player Curry is at this point in his career, and it’s great to see him shoulder the pressure of repeating after having heard various naysayers in the offseason question whether the Warriors championship was a fluke an if Curry would be able to elevate his game further. The Warriors will no doubt be tested this year, but it’s going to be fun to watch. For now, we can probably all agree that Curry is just pure fun to watch each night.
2. Andre Drummond is averaging 16.3 rebounds per game to lead the NBA in rebounding
Andre Drummond seems like an improved player at the start of this year. He’s contributing across the board with 18.7 points per game, 1 assist per game, 2 blocks per game and 1.3 steals per game. His field goal percentage is extremely low for a center, 41.3% but should bounce back. Over his three-year career, he has maintained a 56.7% field goal percentage. The greatest improvement of all may come at the free throw line where his career average is 40.3%. But through three games, he's shooting over 58%. His nERD of 12.0 places him third amongst centers in the NBA (behind Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan), but he may be the best center in the Eastern Conference. It will also be interesting if Drummond can challenge Jordan, the two-time reigning champion, for the rebounding title this season.
The best part is that the he may finally be on a winning team. The Detroit Pistons are off to a 3-0 start. This is the same franchise that hasn’t won more than 32 games in any of the last six seasons and hasn't qualified for the playoffs during that span either. There appears to be hope in Detroit this season, and it can only increase if Drummond continues to play like an All-Star.
3. Langston Galloway’s nERD is 14.6 and ranks 10th in the NBA
Langston Galloway was an undrafted free agent that the New York Knicks signed to their D-league affiliate last season, but he eventually played 48 games on a woeful Knicks team as a combination guard. This year, Galloway seemed like somewhat of an afterthought as the Knicks drafted a point guard in Jerian Grant, retained Jose Calderon as their starting point guard, and also signed shooting guard Arron Afflalo, which you would logically think leads to reduced playing time for Galloway. However, with Affalo injured to start the season, Galloway has played 26 minutes per game and been very efficient to start the season. Galloway is averaging 12.7 points per game, 5 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 50% from the floor and almost 89% from the free throw line. For a guy whose average draft position was 146 in Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues, Galloway is delivering tremendous value. This is also supported by his nERD of 14.6, which is 10th best in the NBA.
Galloway is probably out there on your fantasy basketball waiver wire (only 45% owned in Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues) and if so may be worth a pick-up at least until Affalo returns.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 21 points per game and the leading rookie scorer in the NBA
Karl-Anthony Towns was the number-one pick in the NBA Draft this past offseason, so great things are expected of him. However, as we’ve seen from various past top picks, nothing is a given in the NBA. Early results on Towns seem to indicate that he has the game to support the expectations with his 21.1 points per game, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. He also may have the makings of a fantasy monster, as he’s shooting over 55% from the field and almost 89% from the free throw line.
Success for big men from the free throw line is a prized commodity in fantasy hoops (for example, DeAndre Jordan is a career 30.4% from the free throw line). We can only hope that Towns continues his development and that we are able to watch him become the next great big man in the NBA.
5. Philadelphia is 0-2 and losing by an average of 22.5 points per game
The 76ers keep stock piling top draft picks and finding some young exciting players like Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. To be fair, both look like potentially very good players. Okafor is a rookie and averaging 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds early on while Noel is effectively in his second season and averaging 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 1 steal per game.
However, the 76ers as a whole just look bad. They are leading the league in categories that aren't exactly indicative of success: worst field goal percentage (36%), fewest points per game (83), turnovers per game (20.3), turnover differential (-8), assist to turnover ratio (0.68). And as mentioned above, they have been outscored by 22.5 points per game. To put a bow on this, the 76ers are also ranked dead last in our power rankings. From a fantasy perspective, things look good -- in terms of starting players who are facing the 76ers, that is.