Brainy – ESPN Insider looks at some data concerning why James Harden is one of the best players in the league, and puts his free throw shooting in context:
Entering Monday, he has attempted a league-leading 510 free throws. That puts him 45 ahead of second-place Kevin Durant (465). More impressive is that only five other players have even attempted more than 300 free throws this season — Dwight Howard (411), Bryant (374), Russell Westbrook (336), James (312) and Anthony (302). Harden is attempting a league-best 10.0 free throws per game and shooting 85.5 percent from the line, giving Houston a big advantage in the final minutes of close contests.
Statistically speaking we can expect a majority of our outcomes to fall within two standard deviations of the mean (our average). This means, that if the Rockets took 40 threes, we could expect them to make, on average, 14. But, if the Rockets shot 40 three-pointers a game for a whole season we could expect to see a majority of the results fall within plus or minus two standard deviations of our average; meaning the majority of our results would be in the range of 9–20 three pointers made per game when attempting 40 threes (note: our exact range is 8.1 to 20.1, but because our low range number is greater than 8 we cannot use 8 in our assumption).
This means the Rockets would only have a 2% chance of hitting our ‘high’ range number of 20 made threes. The Rockets’ 23 makes were three standard deviations above the average. As proven above, that has a 99.8% chance of NOT happening.
The Houston Rockets have been one of the highest-scoring teams in the NBA this season, and have surprised the league by sitting consistently in playoff position. The young Rockets were predicted to need a period of losing and growing before hopefully becoming a winning team in future seasons. In reality, Houston has been winning games with through scoring onslaughts, despite giving up a league-worst amount of turnovers. Conventional thinking says that they should grow out of these turnovers as they improve. But what if conventional thinking is wrong? [read more…]
“Holy Cow, James Harden” – In an article that has already created some buzz in the forums, Zach Lowe gets some data that shows just how dangerous the Beard is on drives to the basket:
Back to Harden: Houston is scoring 1.51 points per possession on trips in which he drives at any time in the shot clock. That is easily the highest mark among all players in the 15-team database with more than a token number of drives. It is a mammoth number; keep in mind, teams average just about one point per possession overall. Harden has drawn a foul on one-third of his drives, which is among the highest numbers in the data set, and sort of amazing when you think about it.
Also, it points out that Jeremy Lin generates as many points on drives as Tony Parker.
Dunkface – Last night, Jeremy Lin posted the best highlight of his career so far that hasn’t involved either a blue tongue or winning.
If there has been anything to note during Houston’s recent stretch of well-played games, it has been the attention that the team pays to the 3-point shot. Not only to our ability to shoot the 3, but to also ensure that the opponent doesn’t make their own 3’s. The Golden State game where Houston tied the NBA record was also interesting in that a team which possesses Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson went only 3-15 from the 3 point line. Just as Moneyball emphasizes the importance of avoiding the foul on defense, Houston also prefers to chase opponents off the 3-point line and concede the mid-range jumper.
However, tonight was not to be. I don’t watch the Kings, but I do know that while they own one of the worst records in the league, they also have a 14-12 record at home. Perhaps that record may or may not be due to everyone on their team turning into Ray Allen from the 3 point line on a regular basis, but it certainly worked tonight as the Kings surged in the 4th quarter and stayed consistent for most of the game thanks to an excellent game from their perimeter shooters. An interior defense that was allowed to hammer Houston whenever they entered the paint prevented the layup certainly helped for them as well.