Friday, July 8, 2016

Statistically Speaking



We could go over statistics all day...and some of them might make sense, while others don't.

In the aftermath of #KevinDunRan, I just want to review the team that Durant left, on some key statistics and how this team lined up with the other top teams in the league.  Average margin of victory shows how top tier teams fared against their opponents over the course of the season.


Average Scoring Margin

Rank Team  Margin
   1
San Antonio
   10.5
     2
Golden State
     9.3
     3
Okla City
     6.9
     4
Cleveland
     6.5

Average Biggest Lead

Rank Team Margin
   1
San Antonio
    18.2
     2
Golden State
    17.9
     3
Okla City
    16.4
     4
Cleveland
    15.8

By Quarter Margin, OKC, San Antonio, Golden State and Cleveland were all basically in the top 5, with the Thunder in the Top 4 for all but the 4th Quarter...(which wasn't a big surprise that we came in 14th).


Average Margin First Half

  Rank       Team   Margin
   1
San Antonio
     6.0
     2
Golden State
     5.3
     3
Okla City
     4.1
     4
Cleveland
     3.9


Average Margin Second Half

  Rank       Team   Margin
   1
San Antonio
     4.4
     2
Golden State
     3.7
     3
Atlanta
     3.0
     4
Okla City
     2.7

Even with the 73 win season, the Warriors didn't own the league when looking at competitive statistics against other teams when it came to scoring.  Sure they blew the doors off a bunch of teams and shot lights out, but competitively speaking, San Antonio owned the league...with Golden State and the Thunder still in the top 4 of each category.  These statistics account for how teams competed against each team they faced over the course of the season.

While there are many statistics that can assess the quality of a team, there are a few primary aspects that are generally focused upon:  Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%), Turnover Percentage (TOV%), Offensive Rebound Percentage (ORB%), Free Throws per Field Goals Attempted (FT/FGA), Offensive Rating (Ortg), and Average Points (PTS).



Teams
Pace
eFG%
TOV%
ORB%
FT/FGA
Ortg
PTS
OKC
91.4
0.537
11.8
34.5
0.278
122.5
112
DAL
91.4
0.474
10.9
21.5
0.207
102.6
93.8


The Thunder dominated Dallas, simply put, outpacing them in all but Turnover %.


Teams
Pace
eFG%
TOV%
ORB%
FT/FGA
Ortg
PTS
OKC
92.9
0.497
13.2
28
0.246
108.5
100.8
SAS
92.9
0.499
8.8
18.9
0.171
109
101.3

The Thunder simply figured out a way to beat the Spurs, the team that dominated competitive gameplay on a day in, day out basis.  Giving up 4 of 6 categories, but still coming away with a victory.  How did they do this?  3 ways, Offensive Rebounding, Freethrow (getting to the line), and Defense.  On the defensive side, the Thunder allowed 105.6 in the regular season, but only 101.3 against San Antonio, which increased their defensive points per game by -4.3.  The Spurs on the other hand, allowed only 99 points per game, but gave up 100.8 to OKC, a +1.8 change.  Meaning, the Thunder simply played better defense than they did in the regular season, and the Spurs played worse defense.



Teams
Pace
eFG%
TOV%
ORB%
FT/FGA
Ortg
PTS
GSW
98.5
0.515
12.8
23.1
0.196
107.8
106.1
OKC
98.5
0.481
11.7
27.7
0.25
108.8
107.1

Game 6 was the season, why?  I'm not sure.  The statistics certainly don't reflect it.  Playing 4-5 more games against the Warriors certainly would have benefited the Thunder, if the key factors held steady.  The Thunder outplayed the Warriors in 5 of 6 categories.  If you look at defensive rating, the Thunder allowed 106.1, a mere .5 rise off their season average, whereas Golden State gave up 3.3 more points in the series to the Thunder than they did in the regular season.  The difference here?  A poor 4th quarter showing and 2 key turnovers late in game 6.  The key point being that the Thunder matched up well with the Warriors, regardless of how many games they won.

Let's look at one more, for posterity's sake.

Teams
Pace
eFG%
TOV%
ORB%
FT/FGA
Ortg
PTS
CLE
92
0.504
12.5
28.4
0.21
109.1
100.4
GSW
92
0.512
13
24.2
0.185
108.5
99.9


Same basic line as the Thunder vs. Golden State.  What was the difference?  A key block, by LeBron James and a key shot at the end by Kyrie Irving.

Statistics don't tell you everything, and the human factor certainly represents a major factor in games.  However, these statistics really don't tell you any other story, than the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder were most certainly one of the best teams in the league.  Beating statistical leaders, and outplaying teams that were better than they were, on paper.  

I have loved Kevin Durant, the entire time I have watched the Thunder, which started when they arrived...I remember the day they received their name (I'm so glad it wasn't the Barons or Bison).  I do not necessarily blame Kevin for leaving OKC for another team.  I just simply don't agree with his rationale.  I don't think the statistics show that Golden State had a better chance of granting him a ring, if things held the same...and we know they don't.  Adding Durant, means losing his production and leadership, that's obvious.  

There's a good chance the Thunder won't be able to put up the same type of numbers as they did this year.  There's a decent chance the Warriors could put up better numbers than last year.

My take:  Curry made 805 field goals this year, Thompson 651...Durant made 698, and Russell made 656 (just for comparison).  The Warriors are banking on shots coming from somewhere, and one will have to ask just who's going to give up their shots for Durant...especially on a team that does pass the ball well...but isn't known for their humility.  Even with all the passing, the scoring distribution of the Warriors was the same as the Thunder, with Curry and Thompson shouldering the load. So, if Kevin thinks he's getting away from a point guard that "likes to shoot and dribble around", one has to ask why the hell he went from the frying pan, into the fire?  Particularly with the two time MVP, who also happens to currently be the 5th highest paid player on the Warriors.  That's a lot of money, and a lot of shots, and I'm not sure if there's enough shots to go around per dollar.

The Thunder on the other hand, have to replace Ibaka, who may have been a casualty in the effort to keep Durant.  He also may not have been a casualty, with his role continuing to look awkward, his on-ball defense lacking, and his stats dropping this year.  It may have been time to realize that Serge wasn't going to get a more complex offense, and still hadn't learned how to play defense.

Oladipo will add some solid scoring power, and defense.  Compared with Durant, Oladipo had 79 less assists, but 47 more steals.  Of course, he also made 273 less shots than Durant.  Certainly, he's not a replacement for Durant, but he gives the Thunder scoring power, and better defense.  He's also a lot cheaper.  

Replacing Ibaka, as much as we loved him, might be much easier.  This past season, he was 3rd in blocked shots, but didn't break the top 20 in any other category (rebounds or points).  In the NBA, that's replaceable.  Particularly when Kanter was 5th and Adams 13th in Offensive Rebounds.  Kanter was 18th in total rebounds.  The bottom line:  Adams and Kanter became who Serge was supposed to become under Perkins tutoring, but never did, that's why he was moved to a Stretch 4 (which didn't go well).  

I've been intentional about not getting into relationships, chemistry, or clubhouse issues in this post.  There's been enough anecdotal information flying around the radio and TV already.  This is simply a statistical review of the OKC Thunder this year, and looking at how they fared under Kevin's rationale for leaving.  

I told my wife, and also had a friend bring up the same story, as to how I feel about Kevin leaving.  As a kid, on the playground, the taller and older kids liked to make sure they were all on the same team.  In high school, as a Sophomore, we always played against the Varsity. There's no joy when the Varsity beats the JV.  However, there were days when we won.

That's why we play the game.

In closing, the Thunder need to replace:

512 Fieldgoals, 186 3-Point Fieldgoals, 447 Freethrows, 589 Rebounds, 361 Assists, 69 Steals, and 85 Blocks...while keeping it under a whopping 250 Turnovers.

We can do that.  We have the money.  The players are out there.  If only we had a GM that knows moneyball...

The future isn't as dim as it seems, Thunder Up!


Sources:  
www.teamrankings.com/nba/team-stats/
www.basketball-reference.com




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