Rockets Stats in “Seven Seconds or Less”

2009 December 10
by durvasa

Update: I updated the stats in this entry to discard end of quarter events. It occurred to me that previously observed low 3-point shooting% was explainable by the frequently occurring “3-point heaves” at the end of quarters.

One of the points of emphasis for the Rockets this season has been to increase the pace and get more of their offense early. The reasons are straightforward.  Without the dominant low post option in Yao Ming that they’ve relied on for these many years, and with the availability of their premier playmaker, Tracy McGrady, in question, the Rockets could no longer depend on their half-court offense for 48 minutes.  Last season, the Rockets ranked 19th in pace and 30th (that would be dead last) in fast break points. That needed to change, and it has. They are currently ranked 9th in pace and as recently as a week ago were 5th in fast break points.

But let’s dig a little deeper. We know that the gold standard for up-tempo play in the modern era was Mike D’Antoni’s “7 seconds or less” offense under Steve Nash. With that in mind, and using the fantastic play-by-play spreadsheets provided by Ryan Parker over at Basketball Geek, I’ve gone through all the Rockets possessions this season and recorded what they’ve done within the first 7 seconds. I didn’t filter out half-court possessions after a timeout, but for the most part this should give a good representation of what the Rockets have done in their “early offense”. Here are the results for the 9 primary rotation players:

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL
Aaron Brooks     696    73   21   42   8    17   17    23   27   22     1    16   3
Trevor Ariza     822    96   37   55   8    19   13    14   17   13     3    8    1
Shane Battier    681    10   2    6    1    4    7     5    6    6      3    3    0
Luis Scola       605    45   17   20   0    0    18    11   12   6      2    6    0
Chuck Hayes      504    3    1    2    0    0    3     1    2    8      1    1    1
Kyle Lowry       502    41   8    17   0    0    24    25   29   31     7    9    2
Carl Landry      547    41   16   19   0    0    12    9    10   0      0    6    3
Chase Budinger   375    42   19   36   3    9    5     1    6    4      0    2    0
David Andersen   287    7    2    3    0    0    9     3    4    1      0    1    1
total            1013   363  124  202  20   49   111   95   118  91     17   54   12

The MIN column is just the total number of minutes each of the players have played this season. All the other columns show what each player has done in the first 7 seconds of Rockets possessions.  The fouled column refers to fouls the player has drawn, 3PAST is number of assists for 3-pointers, and OFOUL is number of offensive fouls the player has committed. The final row shows totals for the entire team.

Next, let’s look at that same data per 48 minutes. For this table, I’ve added a TS% column to the end indicating each player’s scoring efficiency:

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL  TS%
Aaron Brooks     696    5.0  1.4  2.9  0.6  1.2  1.2   1.6  1.9  1.5   0.1   1.1  0.2  67.7%
Trevor Ariza     822    5.6  2.2  3.2  0.5  1.1  0.8   0.8  1.0  0.8   0.2   0.5  0.1  76.8%
Shane Battier    681    0.7  0.1  0.4  0.1  0.3  0.5   0.4  0.4  0.4   0.2   0.2  0.0  57.9%
Luis Scola       605    3.6  1.3  1.6  0.0  0.0  1.4   0.9  1.0  0.5   0.2   0.5  0.0  89.0%
Chuck Hayes      504    0.3  0.1  0.2  0.0  0.0  0.3   0.1  0.2  0.8   0.1   0.1  0.1  52.1%
Kyle Lowry       502    3.9  0.8  1.6  0.0  0.0  2.3   2.4  2.8  3.0   0.7   0.9  0.2  68.9%
Carl Landry      547    3.6  1.4  1.7  0.0  0.0  1.1   0.8  0.9  0.0   0.0   0.5  0.3  87.6%
Chase Budinger   375    5.4  2.4  4.6  0.4  1.2  0.6   0.1  0.8  0.5   0.0   0.3  0.0  54.3%
David Andersen   287    1.2  0.3  0.5  0.0  0.0  1.5   0.5  0.7  0.2   0.0   0.2  0.2  73.5%
total            1013   17.2 5.9  9.6  0.9  2.3  5.3   4.5  5.6  4.3   0.8   2.6  0.6  71.5%

A few comments:

  • This confirms how good Lowry is on the break — 31 “early” assists, including 7 to 3-pointers, lead the team by far.  He also draws a ton of fouls.
  • Brooks, in contrast, shows great promise as a scorer in transition, but his playmaking for others leaves a lot to be desired. He’s very turnover-prone and has a terrible assist to turnover ratio for a PG.
  • Ariza’s got nearly twice as many field goals in early offense as anyone else. He leads the team in points scored per minute in the first 7 seconds.
  • How about Chase Budinger? He’s definitely been active running out in transition. He’s struggled efficiency-wise pretty much across the board, but you have to like the energy he’s brought.
  • Earlier in the year, there was an article in the Houston Chronicle on how Carl Landry needed to improve in running the floor in the transition. Looks like he’s got it. He and Luis have both been great on the break.
  • Shane and Chuck … not a big part of the early offense attack.
  • Only 20 for 60 on early offense 3-pointers. That’s 33%, lower than I would have expected. Keep in mind that the percentages shown here could be tainted to a degree by quarter ending possessions where a contested shot against a set defense is required. Update: After filtering out end of quarter possessions, the team is now 20-49 on 3s for a healthy 41%.

So that’s interesting, but how does this compare to what the Rockets did a year ago? Basketball Geek has provided 72 of the 82 Rockets games for the 08/09 season in its data section. Following the same procedure as above, here are the stats for last year:

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL
Yao Ming         2217   49   11   16   0    0    31    27   37   0      0    16   3
Ron Artest       2090   99   33   59   5    18   29    28   38   22     2    14   1
Luis Scola       2182   115  40   59   0    0    43    35   51   5      1    8    3
Aaron Brooks     1696   132  39   71   7    13   41    47   51   26     4    18   4
Carl Landry      1328   46   15   19   0    0    23    16   20   0      0    13   4
Von Wafer        1154   123  45   79   8    17   27    25   32   11     0    8    3
Rafer Alston     1308   61   20   48   1    7    20    20   24   35     7    17   4
Tracy McGrady    958    39   13   26   5    14   12    8    9    5      0    4    0
Shane Battier    1816   30   6    10   3    6    17    15   15   2      0    8    2
Kyle Lowry       538    52   17   28   0    0    27    18   26   25     7    11   2
Brent Barry      706    27   9    22   2    10   8     7    7    6      1    4    0
Luther Head      243    9    3    6    0    1    2     3    3    2      0    3    0
Chuck Hayes      705    0    0    1    0    0    1     0    0    3      0    4    0
total            3456   787  253  448  31   86   281   250  315  142    22   129  26

And, again, here are the stats per 48 minutes:

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL  TS%
Yao Ming         2217   1.1  0.2  0.3  0.0  0.0  0.7   0.6  0.8  0.0   0.0   0.3  0.1  75.9%
Ron Artest       2090   2.3  0.8  1.4  0.1  0.4  0.7   0.6  0.9  0.5   0.0   0.3  0.0  65.4%
Luis Scola       2182   2.5  0.9  1.3  0.0  0.0  0.9   0.8  1.1  0.1   0.0   0.2  0.1  70.6%
Aaron Brooks     1696   3.7  1.1  2.0  0.2  0.4  1.2   1.3  1.4  0.7   0.1   0.5  0.1  70.6%
Carl Landry      1328   1.7  0.5  0.7  0.0  0.0  0.8   0.6  0.7  0.0   0.0   0.5  0.1  82.7%
Von Wafer        1154   5.1  1.9  3.3  0.3  0.7  1.1   1.0  1.3  0.5   0.0   0.3  0.1  66.1%
Rafer Alston     1308   2.2  0.7  1.8  0.0  0.3  0.7   0.7  0.9  1.3   0.3   0.6  0.1  52.1%
Tracy McGrady    958    2.0  0.7  1.3  0.3  0.7  0.6   0.4  0.5  0.3   0.0   0.2  0.0  65.1%
Shane Battier    1816   0.8  0.2  0.3  0.1  0.2  0.4   0.4  0.4  0.1   0.0   0.2  0.1  90.4%
Kyle Lowry       538    4.6  1.5  2.5  0.0  0.0  2.4   1.6  2.3  2.2   0.6   1.0  0.2  65.9%
Brent Barry      706    1.8  0.6  1.5  0.1  0.7  0.5   0.5  0.5  0.4   0.1   0.3  0.0  53.8%
Luther Head      243    1.8  0.6  1.2  0.0  0.2  0.4   0.6  0.6  0.4   0.0   0.6  0.0  61.5%
Chuck Hayes      705    0.0  0.0  0.1  0.0  0.0  0.1   0.0  0.0  0.2   0.0   0.3  0.0  0.0%
total            3456   10.9 3.5  6.2  0.4  1.2  3.9   3.5  4.4  2.0   0.3   1.8  0.4  67.1%

For last season, we see that Von Wafer and Kyle Lowry were by far the most active scoring in transition.  Tracy McGrady, as we know all too well, wasn’t particularly interested in taking part in an early offense attack and over half his shots in this situation were 3-pointers (you know, the ‘trot down the floor and shoot a 3 on the break’ variety). We also can observe the marked improvement from Carl Landry in running the floor hard in transition this year compared to last, scoring over twice as many points per minute. Its also interesting to compare Ron Artest last year to Trevor Ariza this year. Both like to gamble on defense and are active as a disruptive force on that end. But its evident here how much more effective Ariza has been at turning those forced turnovers into offense.

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL  TS%
Ron Artest       2090   2.3  0.8  1.4  0.1  0.4  0.7   0.6  0.9  0.5   0.0   0.3  0.0  65.4%
Trevor Ariza     822    5.6  2.2  3.2  0.5  1.1  0.8   0.8  1.0  0.8   0.2   0.5  0.1  76.8%

And finally, let’s take a closer look at the team totals for last year and this year:

                 MIN    PTS  FGM  FGA  3PM  3PA fouled FTM  FTA  AST  3PAST  TOV OFOUL  TS%
total (08-09)    3456   10.9 3.5  6.2  0.4  1.2  3.9   3.5  4.4  2.0   0.3   1.8  0.4  67.1%
total (09-10)    1013   17.2 5.9  9.6  0.9  2.3  5.3   4.5  5.6  4.3   0.8   2.6  0.6  71.5%

The results speak for themselves. Not only are the Rockets getting significantly more in transition this year, the efficiency has also gone up. If people are wondering how the Rockets have managed to be in the top half in offensive efficiency facing the hardest schedule thus far, this should tell part of the story. The other part, offensive rebounding, is a topic for another post.

MIN FGM FGA 3PM 3PA fouled FTM FTA AST 3P-AST TOV off foul
Trevor Ariza     777     2.3    3.8    0.5   1.3     0.8      0.9    1.1     0.8    0.2      0.6    0.1
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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Texas permalink
    December 11, 2009

    Very well analyzed and written. Thanks for your thoughts.  

    (Quote)

  2. Hayesfan permalink
    December 11, 2009

    Something that struck me on the second viewing of some of this data… when you split the starters vs the bench a great deal of the fast offense is covered in the second unit. Trev and sometime Aaron are the “overlap” from the starters to work with the bench boosters… but I wonder how many fast breaks they actually get with the first unit.

    In fact, I would wager a very high ratio of their contributions to the “seven secs of less” offense is with that second group.

    There have been a few times a game where Chuck will outlet very quickly but it doesn’t lead to as many fast break opportunities as when Kyle just takes the ball down and forces action in the paint.

    Is that a product of AB looking more for shots? Or is that more of Kyle forcing action looking for fouls inside?  

    (Quote)

  3. Hayesfan permalink
    December 11, 2009

    Forgot to add… welcome to the blog durvasa!  

    (Quote)

  4. durvasa permalink*
    December 11, 2009

    “Something that struck me on the second viewing of some of this data… when you split the starters vs the bench a great deal of the fast offense is covered in the second unit. Trev and sometime Aaron are the “overlap” from the starters to work with the bench boosters… but I wonder how many fast breaks they actually get with the first unit.”

    That’s an excellent question. It gives me a good idea for another post this weekend (charting how “early” the offense comes over the course of the game on average). That might help illustrate what you’re describing.  

    (Quote)

  5. Rockets24 permalink
    December 11, 2009

    Very well analyzed
    I love your blog
    die heart rocket fan keep up the good work.
    thank you  

    (Quote)

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