5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 9

Kobe Bryant is heating up in the points column during his final season. Who else is making headlines?

Nine weeks into the NBA season, we continue to see surprising sources of player value being uncovered each week.

We also are continuing to see the development of younger teams, some of which are performing above expectations -- a great example being the Orlando Magic, who are 18-13 to start the season. 

Do the Magic have any noteworthy individual numbers, or did they miss the cut of five stats to know through week nine of the NBA season?

1. Kobe Bryant is averaging 20.2 points per game over his last 10 games

Kobe Bryant appears to have found his game after really struggling to start the season. Over his last 10 games, Bryant has averaged over 20 points per game while also chipping in 4.1 rebounds per game and 3.9 assists per game. He’s also made more than 2 three-pointers per game and shot over 41% from the field. This last statistic may the most noteworthy. For the season, he’s still shooting only 34.3% from the field. The 41% is a lot closer to his career average of 44.9%.

He’s still only the 188th-ranked fantasy asset, per Yahoo, but he may be a buy-low candidate if your team can withstand his relatively poor-percentage, high-volume shooting. We'll have to see if he can continue this recent upswing in performance.

2. Russell Westbrook's 75 steals lead the NBA

Russell Westbrook is averaging 25.5 points per game, 9.4 assists per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 2.5 steals per game. He is fourth in scoring, third in assists and first in steals in the NBA, and his team has the fourth best record.

He has a nERD of 18.1 (fourth in the NBA). nERD refers to the total contribution a player makes during a season, based on his efficiency, and estimates how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win with that player as a starter.

Westbrook has improved across multiple categories this season. Compared to his career shooting percentage of 43.4%, he’s a full three percentage points above that at 46.7%. He’s also exceeding his career averages in assists (+2.1), rebounds (+1.6) and steals (+0.7). Westbrook will always be overshadowed, at least a little bit, by his equally dominant teammate, Kevin Durant, but this season, Westbrook is truly excelling and doing it at arguably the toughest position in the NBA, point guard. Of course, you can’t discuss MVP point guards without mentioning Stephen Curry, who is also having an incredible season. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate the unbelievable season Westbrook is having.

3. The Boston Celtics own the second-most efficient defense in the NBA

The Boston Celtics, after finishing last season at 40-42, appear to have taken another step forward this season. They are off to an 18-13 start, and although that is only good enough for seventh in the Eastern Conference, that's probably more of a reflection of the improved conference. The East still has 10 teams that are playing above .500 basketball. Although the Celtics are an average offensive team, ranking 17th in numberFire's offensive efficiency, they are one of the best teams defensively. 

The Celtics are the second best team, per numberFire, in defensive efficiency. In addition, they are, on a team basis, second in the league in steals per game (9.4) and fifth in the league in point differential (+4.4). For this last category, only the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Cleveland Cavaliers rank ahead of them. 

The chief shortcoming for the Celtics is their overall offense. Although they average a relatively high number of points per game (103.1), that is mostly due to pace and volume, as they average over 88 shots per game (third in the NBA). The problem lies in their relatively bad shooting percentage of 43.6%, which is only 24th best in the NBA. That seems like an area that will need to improve if they want to be playoff contenders.

4. T.J. Warren is owned in only 20% of Yahoo fantasy basketball leagues

T.J. Warren is having a solid season for the Phoenix Suns. He’s averaging 11 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game while only playing 21.8 minutes per contest. Warren has also been shooting the ball very well this season, 51% from the field including 41.5% from three-point range. Now, Warren may even receive a few more opportunities because Eric Bledsoe is injured and scheduled to miss six weeks (that's over 20 points per game that will need to be replaced).

Last night, Warren played 27 minutes during the Suns' loss to Cleveland and filled up the score sheet with 23 points and 4 three-pointers. Even with Warren’s limited minutes to date, he’s still the 132nd-ranked player by Yahoo. He looks like a potential roster add at this point in the season.

5. Garrett Temple is averaging 1.5 steals per game as a starter

This may be a story only for as long as Bradley Beal remains injured, but Garrett Temple is averaging 12.8 points per game, 2.7 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game and 1.5 steals per game as a starter during Beal's absence. He’s also shot the ball relatively well at 44.4% from the field while contributing 1.9 three-pointers per game.

Even as a starter, he’s probably still only the fourth or fifth scoring option on the team, but he’s averaging over 32 minutes per game, and that will result in production -- especially if he continues to shoot the ball as well as he has. It seems like Beal will remain sidelined at least for a few more weeks, and Temple is still owned in only12% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.