5 NBA Stats to Know Through Week 11
We’ve left week 11 behind and are full steam ahead towards the All-Star break, which is one month away.
This week, we’re looking at interesting statistics with respect to a few NBA teams and sprinkling in one or two interesting player facts.
By the way, the Warriors are 36-2. Still incredible.
Here are five things to know from week 11 of the NBA season.
1. The New York Knicks are 4-1 over their last five games
The New York Knicks are playing better and are now 19-20, which is only 1.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Over their last five games, the Knicks have beaten the Atlanta Hawks twice, the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks. The lone loss was a one-point defeat on the road to the San Antonio Spurs. That's three wins against playoff bound teams and one very close defeat against arguably the best team in the NBA.
The Knicks have already won more games this year (19) than they won all of last season (17). In addition, our algorithms rank the Knicks 18th with an 11.9% chance to make the playoffs. They are also ranked 13th in Offensive Efficiency, per our rankings.
We'll have to see if this improved Knicks team can make a run at the playoffs in the improved Eastern Conference.
2. The Clippers are 11 games behind the Golden State Warriors
The Los Angeles Clippers have won nine games in a row and are 25-13 (a .658 winning percentage). They are having an objectively good season and have even weathered the loss of Blake Griffin for the last eight games, as discussed last week.
Yet, the Clippers are 11 games out of first place in the Pacific Division, and it seems like they have no chance to close on the Golden State Warriors absent something drastic happening to the Warriors' roster.
The Clippers finished last season 11 games behind the Warriors, but that was after 82 games. At their current pace, the Clippers and Warriors will be separated by 24 games at the end of this season (that is, 78 wins for the Warriors versus 54 for the Clippers). That would be a huge divide when the second place team is winning over 65% of their games -- and you would think somewhat demoralizing to the Clippers.
3. The New Orleans Pelicans have won 11 games
The New Orleans Pelicans were a playoff team last season after winning 45 games. This year, however, they started out with numerous injuries and overall have been pretty awful. Their record stands at 11-25 (next to last in the Western Conference), and they are currently 5.5 games out of the eighth playoff spot.
They have the fourth worst points per game differential in the NBA (-4.7), and they just don't seem capable of putting together a winning streak right now.
They are 4-6 over their last 10 games and have lost three games in a row. It’s hard to find fault with Anthony Davis, as he’s still putting up All-Star numbers: 22.8 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game. Yet, that clearly has not been enough so far this season.
During the second half of the season, we'll have to see if the Pelicans can catch fire and make a run for the playoffs in a somewhat weakened Western Conference. Any playoff run will likely require the Pelicans to shore up their defense, which is third to last in efficiency.
4. Damian Lillard is averaging 27 points per game in January
Damian Lillard has been having a career season for the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s averaged 24.8 points per game, 7 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. In addition, he’s been on fire in January and has averaged 27 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and 5 rebounds per game.
There is some logic to his career year, as he’s the only starting player left from last season. The Blazers lost via free agency or jettisoned the rest of their starting lineup during the offseason. That represented a loss of approximately 60 points per game from last season.
Lillard has taken advantage of the opportunities by putting up almost four more shots per game and averaging career highs in points per game, assists per game and three-pointers per game.
Of course, losing all of those starters has impacted winning. The Blazers are just 16-24. So, Blazers fans have the benefit of watching one of the best points guards each night, but it also looks like a bit of a rebuild in the Northwest for now.
5. Kawhi Leonard is shooting 49% from three-point range, best in the NBA
Kawhi Leonard seems to be on track to become an All-Star caliber player. He already has been Defensive Player of the Year and was the NBA Finals MVP during 2014. He's also in his fifth season (just 24 years old) and averaging 20.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, 2.6 assists per game and 2 steals per game for what might be the best team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs.
In addition, Leonard seems to have improved another facet of his game, which has gone under the radar. Prior to this season, Leonard was a career 39% shooter from three-point range and had never made more than 69 three-pointers over an entire season.
This year, Leonard has already made 71 three pointers (1.9 three pointers per game), which is 20th best in the NBA, and he’s shooting 49% from three-point range (best in the NBA). Leonard is a superstar in the making and appears to have added another tool to his game.