5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 2
Week 2 seemed to go by in a blur.
The games keep coming night after night, and there’s a lot of interesting highlights and lowlights to sift through.
The Golden State Warriors continue to win. They’re now 7-0, and the games have not been close most nights, as they are winning by an average of 18.3 points per game. That’s probably not sustainable because they led the league in per-game point differential last year at 10.1 points per game, but it is an early indication of their dominance. The Warriors are the last remaining undefeated team in the NBA, but we do have three teams still looking for their first win in the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans.
There were also some very impressive individual performances through the first two weeks of the season such as Blake Griffin's averaging 29.3 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game through six games, and of course, you can’t ignore Andre Drummond, who has been an absolute juggernaut to start the year by averaging 20.3 points per game and 20.3 rebounds per game through six games. No one has done that for a season since Wilt Chamberlain.
Without further delay here are five statistics to know through week two of the NBA.
1. DeAndre Jordan is shooting 76.7% from the field
DeAndre Jordan is a threat to lead the league in field goal percentage again this year, as he's started off with a blistering pace of 76.7%. After a soap opera summer given Jordan's free agency saga and eventual big contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, you might have wondered how he would play this season. It appears that even though he still cannot shoot free throws (33.3% this season), he’s possibly improved everywhere else, as he's averaging 13.5 rebounds per game, 3.8 blocks per game, 1.2 assists per game and 9.7 points per game.
Jordan could also potentially break the single season record for field goal percentage, which is 72.7% and held by Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan has a career field goal percentage of 66.5%, which is much higher than Chamberlain's career field goal percentage of 54.0%. It seems within the realm of possibility that Jordan could match or exceed 72.7% especially given, per NBA.com, that 90% of his field goal attempts this season have been within 5 feet of the basket.
2. The Atlanta Hawks are 7-1 to start the season
The Atlanta Hawks had a tremendous team last season when they made it to the Eastern Conference finals and posted a regular season record of 60-22, which was the most regular season wins for the Hawks franchise ever. After losing one of their key starters from last season, DeMarre Carroll via free agency to the Toronto Raptors, it left some of us wondering whether the Hawks would continue to win at such a high rate. It looks like the Hawks have have not missed a beat with the emergence of Kent Bazemore. Bazemore has started each of the Hawks' first 8 games and is averaging 12.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game. He is also shooting 50% from the field and 87.5% from the line. Statistically, Bazemore is completely replacing (or exceeding) Carroll’s statistics from last season.
One other interesting Bazemore statistic is that he is only owned in 57% of Yahoo fantasy leagues while Carroll (who’s presently injured) is 92% owned in Yahoo fantasy leagues. This could be attributable to fantasy owners expecting Carroll to produce similar results to what he did last year (i.e., 12.6 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and 1.3 assists per game) while not yet understanding that Bazemore is producing approximately the same or better statistics while shooting at a higher clip from the field and the line. You can also see that Bazemore is performing better at this point via his nERD efficiency of 9.2, which is much higher than Carroll’s (-5.5) so far this season. nERD 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 that player as a starter. Bazemore certainly looks like a potential find if he's still out there on your waiver wire.
3. Russell Westbrook is leading the NBA in assists per game at 10.9
Russell Westbrook is not only leading the NBA in assists per game, 10.9, but he is also averaging 26.3 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game and 2.1 steals per game. He’s shooting 47.6% from the field and 84.6% from the free throw line. Westbrook has increased his career averages in every one of these categories to start the season, but the most impressive statistic may be his assists per game, which are up by 3.7 per game versus his career average.
The previous knock on Westbrook, fairly or not, was that he didn't distribute the ball well enough or always get other people on the team involved. At times, there were even discussions surrounding whether the Oklahoma City Thunder would be better without Westbrook due to the way he dominated the ball on offense. This seems like an impossible claim to make while he leads the NBA in assists. Additionally, the Thunder’s other star player, Kevin Durant, is second in the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points per game. It is hard to say someone is selfish when he's helping his teammate lead the NBA in scoring and leading the league in assists per game. If Westbrook continues his storming start to the season, you would think he’d have a strong claim for MVP consideration at the end of this season.
4. The Detroit Pistons continue to amaze, starting the season with 5-1 record
The Detroit Pistons are currently 12th in our team power rankings but have the 4th best record in the NBA right now. You may also recall that the Pistons have been atrocious for the past six years, never qualifying for the playoffs during that span nor winning more than 32 games in one season. However, on a positive note, the 32 wins came last season, and that was after they started off 3-19. So, you could say that we started to see improvement by the Pistons during the back half of last season.
The Pistons' record is also supported by some strong individual performances. As mentioned above, Drummond is putting up ridiculous numbers, averaging over 20 points per game and 20 rebounds per game. He may be on his way at the age of 22 to emerging as the dominant big man in the NBA. The Pistons are also getting great production out of two other players who were both questions marks, to some degree, at the beginning of the season.
Reggie Jackson, who is in his first full year as a starting point guard, appears to be handling that role just fine. Jackson is averaging 23.2 points per game and 5.7 assists per game, while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and making almost 2 three-pointers per game. The other key contributor has been Marcus Morris (now detached from his twin brother who he’d played second fiddle to in Phoenix), who is finally getting starter's minutes (38.2 per game). Morris is contributing 17 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game (second on the team) and 2 assists per game. Luckily for NBA fans, tonight everyone will get a chance to see just how improved the Pistons are this year when they take on the undefeated Warriors on the road.
5. The New Orleans Pelicans are 0-6
The New Orleans Pelicans are struggling to put it lightly as they are 0-6 and play in the tough Western Conference. The Pelicans made the playoffs last season as the 8 seed with a record of 45-37. They will have to go 45-31 the rest of the season to duplicate that record, which is a 59.2% winning percentage. That may not seem insurmountable on paper, but when you look at this team a little closer you wonder when they will actually start winning.
As of right now, they have five players that are not even playing night to night because of injury including Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, Kendrick Perkins, Norris Cole and Quincy Pondexter. Plus, the starting point guard for the Pelicans, Jrue Holiday, is on a minutes restriction. Looking at just Evans, Asik, Cole and Pondexter, they represented approximately 40 points per game and 20 rebounds per game on average last season for this team, which has to be replaced by the remaining players on the roster. Even with Anthony Davis continuing to shine and play like one of the best players in the NBA, this may end up being a lost season for the Pelicans unless they get healthy quickly.