5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 4
Week 4 in the NBA is done, and the Golden State Warriors are historically good at 15-0.
The Warriors have matched the best season start in NBA history and will play the Los Angeles Lakers at home next to try and establish a new record.
It seems like they should have a pretty good shot against the 2-11 Lakers. With Thanksgiving almost upon us let’s get right to it.
Here are five statistics to know through week 4 of the NBA.
1. The Philadelphia 76ers are 0-14 to start the season
Does anyone remember that the Philadelphia 76ers started last season 0-17? That was one game removed from the tying the worst start in NBA history, which the Brooklyn Nets managed to accomplish during the 2009-2010 season. It seems the 76ers can't help themselves and are now back for another crack at the record. The 76ers' next four games are on the road, and they will face the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies in that order.
Our power rankings have these teams ranked number 17, 6, 26 and 24 respectively. Obviously, the 76ers are dead last at 30th and their team nERD is 6.9, which refers to the team's overall efficiency and expected winning percentage. This means the 76ers are on pace to win approximately five or six games this season. That is just plain horrible.
However, because it's always sunny in Philadelphia (you see what I did there?), we'll try to be optimists and believe that this may be the week the 76ers finally get a win. Although the 76ers will be on the road, their opponents (excluding the Celtics) haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire, especially the Rockets and Grizzlies. So, maybe for one night the 76ers will be able to stop the bleeding and register a win.
2. The Los Angeles Clippers are 6-7 to start the season
The Los Angeles Clippers re-signed DeAndre Jordan this offseason as part of their team nucleus and also brought in Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson to help solidify the core of this team which includes Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jordan. Yet, at the start of this season, they seem to have regressed. Last year, this team finished 56-26 and was second in the Pacific Division behind the Golden State Warriors.
They were also a middle of the road defensive team, but this year they are near the bottom of the NBA in defensive efficiency. The Clippers are ranked 24th in Defensive Efficiency at 107.4. This means that the Clippers allow approximately 107 points to an opponent for ever 100 possessions.
The top three teams in our power rankings are all also ranked in the top 10 for Defensive Efficiency -- the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Clippers will need to find a much improved defensive game if they’re going to challenge for an NBA title this season. Per Basketball-Reference, each of the last 10 NBA champions have all had top-10 Defensive Ratings as a team.
3. Will Barton is averaging 14.4 points per game and is the second leading scorer on the Denver Nuggets
Will Barton was not a household name coming into this NBA season. In Yahoo fantasy basketball drafts, his average draft position was 127, which reflects 12th or 13th round value. Now, however, he is the second leading scorer on the Denver Nuggets at 14.4 points per game and is also chipping in 5 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game and shooting 49.7% from the field and 90% from the free throw line. He's also basically getting starter's minutes at 26.7 per game.
As further confirmation of just how well Barton has been playing, he has a nERD of 8.8, which is an estimate of a player’s total contribution based on efficiency during an NBA season and how many games above or below.500 a league average team would win with Barton as a starter. His nERD ranking is 23rd best in the NBA. This is all pretty high praise for a player that prior to this year had completed three seasons in the NBA with a career scoring average of 5.7 and overall shooting percentage of 42.1% from the field.
The most surprising fact may be that he could still be on your fantasy waiver wire as he's still only 69% owned in Yahoo leagues.
4. In the Eastern Conference, 11 out of 15 teams are over .500
The last time eight teams in the Eastern Conference finished a season .500 or better was 2011-2012. This season, however, there are 11 teams that are .500 or better, including the surprising New York Knicks at 8-6.
Generally speaking, over the last few seasons, we could probably agree that the Eastern Conference has been somewhat weaker than the Western Conference. For example, last season, only six teams finished at .500 or better in the Eastern Conference, but nine teams were over .500 in the Western Conference, including seven that won 61% or more of their games. The previous season (2013-2014) was very similar statistically. This season, however, only seven teams in the Western Conference are at .500 or better and only three have won more than 61% of their games.
At this relatively early stage of the season, it appears that the Eastern Conference may be stronger than the Western Conference as a whole. Per our power rankings, 9 Eastern Conference teams are in the top 15 in the NBA. Clearly, you still have the Warriors and Spurs at the top but after that 9 out of the next 13 teams are from the Eastern Conference including Cleveland, Miami, Boston, Toronto, Charlotte, Indiana, Atlanta, Detroit, and Chicago.
In addition, 7 out of the 10 teams at the bottom of our power rankings are from the Western Conference. You can’t forget the elite teams like the Warriors and Spurs from the West, but overall, the power may be starting to swing back East.
5. The Miami Heat are 8-4 and 2nd in the Eastern Conference
The Miami Heat are healthy and look like they have two of the best players in the NBA on their roster without even factoring in Dwyane Wade. The two players who have started very strongly this season are Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. They are both dominating on the glass right now with Bosh averaging 9.7 rebounds per game and Whiteside 11.1 rebounds per game. In addition, Whiteside is blocking 4.83 shots per game.
Plus, the Heat are getting great balanced scoring from their roster. They have five players averaging double figures in points per game: Wade, Bosh, Whiteside, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic. Finally, they are also getting double-figure minutes from eight to nine players per night, which will hopefully help some of their older players, like Wade, make it through the season healthy.
The real calling card for this team right now, however, is their defense. They are the second ranked team Defensive Efficiency and overall are ranked fourth in the team power rankings. If this team stays healthy, they may be able to make some noise come playoff time. As mentioned above regarding the Clippers, defense wins championships and the Heat have that requirement in spades right now.