5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 6
Six weeks into the season, and it seems like the Eastern Conference has really awoken -- there are 10 teams above .500 after approximately one quarter of the season. Conversely, the Western Conference only has six teams above .500. Maybe -- just maybe -- we’re starting to see a shift in overall balance for these two conferences.
However, unlike the West with the Golden State Warriors, it’s not entirely clear who the best team in the East is right now, as four teams are bunched up at the top. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are all within one game of one another. Our team power rankings have the Heat as the top team in the Eastern Conference right now, ranked number three overall. However, from a championship perspective, (that is, what Eastern Conference team is most likely to make the finals), we still has the Cavalier’s with the best chance at 4% followed by the Toronto Raptors at 2.4%.
Now, let’s get to looking at five things to know through the sixth week of the season.
1. Rajon Rondo is leading the NBA in assists per game at 10.9.
Rajon Rondo had an average draft position of 101, which equates to approximately the 10th round in Yahoo! fantasy leagues. That’s approximately the same average draft position as Robin Lopez, Kevin Martin and David Lee, just to give some comparables. Rondo’s drop off is probably, in part, based on his injury history (he only played 68 games total in 2012-13 and 2013-14) and the bad experience he had with the Dallas Mavericks last season.
Injuries and perception can lead to folks deciding he’s not worth early-round draft consideration. That, plus a putrid free throw percentage of 42.5% this year and 60.4% for his career. However, Rondo is providing tremendous contributions in other categories with 12.3 points, 10.9 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. The assists, of course, are what really jump out at you, and Rondo already has six games this season where he’s dished out 15 or more of them. If you look at his career, though, this becomes less surprising as no active NBA player has more career games with 20 or more assists than Rondo (7).
Rondo is well above his career averages in points, assists and rebounds, and if you're not concerned about free throws in your fantasy league (that is, you’re punting) or in a head to head league, he’s a tremendous find to this point in the season.
2. Clint Capela has started over half of the Houston Rockets’ games this season.
Clint Capela continues to be ignored in fantasy hoops. In Yahoo! leagues, he’s the 99th ranked player, but is still only owned in 30% of such leagues.
Looking at his overall statistics, you’re probably not that impressed with averages of 8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. However, when Capela starts, his minutes per game go from approximately 14 to a little over 24 per game. In turn, his production increases to 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He also maintains a high field goal percentage of 57.8% as a starter, and the best thing I can say about his free throws is that he doesn’t take very many (3.2 per game as a starter).
All in all, Capela seems like a player that we might want on our team, especially if he’s getting consistent minutes half of the time.
3. Dirk Nowitzki is quietly having another great year, averaging 17.9 points per game.
This is Dirk Nowitzki's 18th season in the NBA, and he's now 37 years old. Yet, he’s still playing over 30 minutes per game, averaging 17.9 points per contest (which leads the Dallas Mavericks) and his team is 13-9.
Through his first 22 games, he’s having his second best season ever shooting from the field (50.2%), and is shooting his best ever percentage from three point range (43.8%). It seems pretty clear that he hasn’t lost his shooting legs yet.
In addition, Nowitzki is averaging 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He’s scored the seventh most points of any player in NBA history, and stands a very good chance of surpassing Shaquille O'Neal for sixth place prior to retiring. It's sometimes hard to appreciate how good someone has been while they’re still playing, but we should try to do that with Nowitzki.
4. Deron Williams is averaging 18.6 points per game and 7.1 assists per game over his last five games.
It's good to see some life in Deron Williams game, and maybe we’ll start to see him emerge as the player he was with the Utah Jazz and initially with the Brooklyn Nets (a three-time NBA All-Star). Folks may recall that Williams was a star with the Jazz for six years, averaging 17.3 points and 9.1 assists per game. However, the wheels gradually fell off during his time with the Nets. Williams had health issues, playing less than 60 games for three out of his four seasons, and last year, he shot less than 38% from the field while averaging 13 points per game.
Dallas seems to have given him a new lease on his health and reinvigorated his game. He's started all but one game, and is averaging a solid 33.2 minutes per game. The Mavericks are also winning and tied for fourth in the Western Conference. Hopefully this is the start of Williams returning to his All-Star form.
5. The Warriors are 22-0.
It almost feels like you’re ignoring the greatest story in professional team sports if you don’t write about the Golden State Warriors each week. The Warriors have a team nERD of 94.1, which tracks overall efficiency and is predictive of a teams ultimate winning percentage. A 94.1 nERD means that the Warriors are projected to finish 77-5, which would be astounding.
There are other equally astounding numbers when you look at the Warriors: they're number one in team offensive efficiency, team points per game, points per game differential, team field goal percentage, and team three point field goal percentage. The Warriors three-point field goal percentage is actually 1% higher than their opponents' overall team field goal percentage of 42.5%.
They also have Stephen Curry, who is the leading scorer in the NBA, and 12 players on the team with a positive nERD ranking, which includes Curry at 33.9. nERD, for those unfamiliar, estimates how many games above .500 a league average team would win with a specific player as a starter.
We also calculate that the Warriors have a 47.7% likelihood of making the NBA finals. The next closest team is the San Antonio Spurs at 15.7%.