NBA Stat Central #7: Assorted Team Rankings

Welcome to NBA Stat Central, one of our weekly columns here at We take a deeper look at a different set of statistics each Friday and analyze what it all means.

This week, we’re going to talk about select team rankings to get a better idea of what makes each of them a success.

Fastbreak Points Per Game

1. Milwaukee Bucks – 17.2

2. Atlanta Hawks – 17.0

3. Los Angeles Clippers – 16.9

This isn’t too surprising when we consider the players invovled. The Bucks are led by Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, who are two players that excel in the open court. The Hawks have long been a team that wants to get into the open court with Jeff Teague and Josh Smith, and the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are awesome in transition.

Percent of Points From Free Throws

1. Oklahoma City Thunder – 22.0%

2. Minnesota Timberwolves – 21.6%

3. Los Angeles Lakers – 21.4%

One of our favorite stats. Teams that go to the basket hard often get rewarded with lots of free throws, which just make the game that much easier. The Thunder also shoot 84.5% from the line, which makes their strategy that much better. Kevin Durant (89.9%), Serge Ibaka (88.1%) and Kevin Martin (94.4%) lead the way for the Thunder.

One really interesting point here is that there is no home bias. For the Thunder at home, they are at 20.9% and 24.0% on the road. For the Lakers, the spread is even greater, with 19.3% at home and 25.5% on the road.

Average Second Half Margin

1. Memphis Grizzlies +4.4

2. New York Knicks +3.8

3. Miami Heat +3.4

The NBA is all about adjustments. Every team has talent, so the big difference comes from in-game adjustments based on how the team is performing and how the game plan is working. It’s no surprise to see three of the best teams in the league at the top of this list. What is a surprise is the remarkable disparity between the home and away margins. Memphis goes from +7.8 at home to -1.0. New York goes from +5.2 to +3.0 and Miami goes from +8.1 at home to -1.4 on the road. Those road locker rooms must be uncomfortable.

Turnovers Per Possession (Most)

1. Los Angeles Lakers – 17.7%

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – 17.0%

3. Indiana Pacers – 16.9%

This is a major surprise to us. Having the Lakers there does illustrate the major problem that they’re having right now, as they’re shooting themselves in the foot by turning the ball over too much.  Kobe Bryant (62) and Dwight Howard (48) are both in the top-10 in the league. Kevin Durant (58) and Russell Westbrook (49) are both top-8. So why are the Thunder able to overcome their turnovers and the Lakers aren’t?

The Thunder are the No. 1 free-throw shooting team, as we saw earlier. The Lakers? Dead last at just 66.8%.

Personal Fouls Per Defensive Play

1. San Antonio Spurs – 16.2%

2. Atlanta Hawks – 17.1%

3. Houston Rockets – 17.3%

There’s a fine line between playing good, solid and clean defense and simply acting like a turnstile. This category shows us that one statistic can’t be taken as the entire truth about a team. The top-two teams here are excellent defensively and it’s because of their fundamentals. However, the Rockets allow the second-most points in the league and are the No. 20 team in defensive rating. Part of it is their league-leading pace, but mostly it’s because they’re just not very good on defense.

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HoopsHabit’s Regular Column Schedule:

Monday – NBA Awards Watch
Wednesday – NBA Power Rankings
Friday – NBA Stat Central
Sunday – Your NBA Fix Podcast


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