Stack’s Stats: New Year Brings New Firsts
Dwight’s rebounding, Kyrie and Rubio’s A/TO mastery and a new section.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
Welcome to Round Three of Stack’s Stats, and thanks for staying with me so far. Tweaks will continue to be made; you’ll find a big one on the second page. A Q+A with Indiana Pacers PR maven David Benner will open what I hope will be a weekly interview with an NBA league or team employee.
On that second page every week (again, hopefully!), I will have an interview with people who work various jobs throughout the league—public relations, marketing, strength and conditioning, scouting. But we’ll tip it off with Benner, who’s been with the Pacers since 1994. Benner and the Pacers’ public relations crew received the 2011 Brian McIntyre Award from the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA), which goes to the PR staff that, in the words of some writers, goes above and beyond to deliver writers what they need on a daily basis.
The Main Dish
Kyrie, Rubio Value Security
Assist-to-turnover ratio is one of those stats that serves as a bridge for the qualitative and quantitative folks. Neither side will dispute the stat outright, which is sometimes as much as you can ask for from groups stubborn in their beliefs of what makes a basketball player valuable.
So, it’s with surprise here at Stack’s Stats that Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio, in their first five games as NBA players, posted A/TO ratios far superior to those of prior rookie playmakers. Now, the following measurement is only in five games and obviously doesn’t take into account the various roles Irving, Rubio and their previous cohorts play(ed) on their respective teams. But it’s interesting to see how Irving and Rubio have adjusted to the NBA when all odds were against them being successful out of the gate.
Irving played all of 11 games at Duke before turning pro. Rubio played for years in Europe’s professional leagues, yet he’s still just a 21-year-old with questionable productivity overseas. Neither guy had much of a training camp to learn his teammates and the NBA style of play before being thrown into the fire.
That Irving posted a 2.55 A/TO ratio, and Rubio not far behind holding a 2.29 mark, each through his first five games, is somewhat remarkable. Consider the following A/TO ratios of past elite rookie playmakers through their first five NBA regular season games: Chris Paul (1.71), Deron Williams (1.67), John Wall (1.66), LeBron James (1.65), Jay Williams (1.60), Devin Harris (1.56), Dwyane Wade (1.54), Tyreke Evans (1.50), Derrick Rose (1.40), Russell Westbrook (1.00), Allen Iverson (0.92).
Mike Conley posted a 5.26 ratio with 21 assists and 4 turnovers in his first five contests. The problem with that stat is he rounded up nine assists in just one of his games, the only one of the first five in which he played more than 20 minutes. And he played less than 10 minutes in two of his first five, providing such a small sample size from minutes played that you have to take the 21-to-4 ratio with a grain of salt. As for the other players mentioned here, all played at least 20 minutes per game to start their careers; most of them were above 25 minutes per game, including Irving (26) and Rubio (27).
Dwight’s Rebounding Prowess
Dwight Howard did something the last weekend of December that he had never done in his career—record at least 24 rebounds in consecutive games. The NBA’s modern Superman cleaned the glass to the tune of 24 boards in victories December 29-30 versus New Jersey and Charlotte.
Howard had accumulated 20-plus ‘boards in at least two straight contests six times previously in his regular season career. None were as impressive as the consecutive 24-rebound efforts. It was such a rare accomplishment that the following players have gone—or went, past tense for the retired guys—their entire careers, regular season and postseason, without getting at least 24 rebounds in back-to-back games: Kevin Love, Marcus Camby, Ben Wallace, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett.
Of course, we can think of one guy who did the 24-24 thing: Dennis Rodman. The Worm had 20-plus rebounds in at least two straight games 37 times during his 14-season career. Rodman recorded three consecutive games of 20-plus rebounds 14 times, four straight games once, five straight games twice and seven straight games twice. Silly as he was, Rodman was a man amongst boys for much of his career. Much like Howard.
Fast Break Points
–After noting Boris Diaw’s near triple-doubles last week, I thought it would be fun to count the amount of such games Jason Kidd has had. Remember, what I consider a near triple-double is when a player has accumulated at least eight of three different categories, such as points, rebounds and assists. (Example: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists.)
For his career, Kidd has 182 near triple-doubles and 119 triple-doubles, including playoffs for each one. Kidd even had a near triple-double in his first NBA game—10 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds November 5, 1994 for Dallas against New Jersey, a franchise he would later take to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.
–Speaking of JKidd, he has made 5,980 field goals in his NBA career, placing him 100th all-time. He needs 15 more to surpass Joe Dumars for 99th all-time and obviously 20 more for 6,000. Downtown Freddy Brown (6,006), Dick Barnett (6,034), Latrell Sprewell (6,076) and Employee No. 8 (6,085) are within Kidd’s striking distance this season.
–And speaking of career field goals made, Tony Parker hit the 5,000 mark Thursday night with his five ‘makes.’ He stands at 5,001 for 179th all-time. Joe Barry Carroll is next on the list on field goals made at 5,021.
–Dirk Nowitzki played in his 1,000th career regular-season game January 4 against Phoenix. He put up 20 points in the contest, which is a number he has cleared in most regular-season games he’s played—624, to be exact.
–Rip Hamilton and Andre Iguodala need one more three-pointer to reach 500 ‘makes’ for their respective careers.
–Kobe Bryant passed the 28,000-point mark January 1 at Denver. While it’s good for sixth-best in NBA history, it’s just eighth if counting NBA/ABA points. On that list, Dr. J (5th, 30,026) and Moses Malone (6th, 29,580) rank ahead of Shaq and Kobe.
–The Bulls play five games from Friday through January 11, which should be enough for Carlos Boozer to reach 10,000 career points. He’s at 9,920 entering Friday.
–Think Al Jefferson and Paul Milsapp lead Utah to victory when they each record a points-rebounds double-double in the same game? Think again. Even though the Jazz beat Milwaukee 85-73 on January 3 with Jefferson (26/10) and Milsapp (13/12) leading the way, Utah is just 3-6 when the big men go double-double—1-1 since the Deron Williams trade.
–Kyle Lowry dished eight or more dimes in each of Houston’s first five games, becoming the first Rockets player since at least 1985 to begin the season with that type of accomplishment. (Box scores on basketball-reference go back only to 1985-86.) The 55 assists he produced during that time frame are the most by a Rockets player since Sleepy Floyd notched 51 at the outset of the 1988-89 campaign.
–Landry Fields shot just 4-of-19 from three-point land through his first six games, which is much worse than his 6-12 shooting from downtown through his first six games of his rookie year. (Yes, sample sizes, clearly.) But Fields is struggling shooting the long ball. He explained after the Knicks’ 118-100 loss to the Bobcats January 4, in which he shot 2-5 from the field, including 1-3 from long-range, that it’s about rhythm.
“Just trying to get up reps, just trying to find that rhythm. It’ll come. It’s tough right now, but it’s just something I got to get over,” said Fields, who’s been working on a quicker shot release in practice.
–In the other locker room after that Knicks/Bobcats game, veteran Corey Maggette was reflective about his message to his younger and less experienced teammates.
“Just to enjoy this game,” Maggette said. “It’s a beautiful game. Our guys on this team are really good guys. Kemba, man, he learns, he listens, he has a great basketball IQ, man. He understands the game, and I think the biggest thing about it is you don’t want this game to get taken away from you because you never know. At any point, you can be down and something happens. Even now, my leg went out on me. Like I said, I respect this game and what it’s done for me. That’s how I look at it.”
That leg issue he alluded to was a left hamstring strain, which he suffered during the Knicks game and which has put him on a day-to-day basis until MRI results are available.
UPDATE: Maggette is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with that hamstring injury.
NBA Schedule Quirk of the Week
(The team arguably most screwed for the next week)
Oklahoma City Thunder – Five games in six days
Young legs can still be tired legs. Take the Thunder’s impending trip throughout the South. They kick off the next week with Friday’s game at home versus the Rockets, whom they also face Saturday in Houston. OKC re-routes back home Sunday for a tilt against San Antonio. A day off and then it’s a back-to-back on the road at Memphis and New Orleans. This season is no joke.
Honorable mention: Charlotte Bobcats. The ‘Cats play back-to-back versus Atlanta and at Indiana Friday and Saturday, go back-to-back again January 9-10 at New York and at home against Houston, then take the road again for a January 12 contest at Atlanta.
Insightful NBA Player Tweets of the Week
(Tweets unedited from how they were originally written)
Tony Allen (@aa000G9)
“I asked rook 2 do 25 push ups , 25 sit ups, and 20 hip lifts!! For the 200 in front of coach!!on the plane He chickened out!!”
Follow-up tweet: “Next flight!! @joshselby2 its a bet”
Terrence Williams (@TheRealTWill)
“Awkward moment when you in the cab and you only have 20bucks an the meter goes to 19.60 at a red light ummmm ‘you could have made that’”
Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed)
“Massage table with 2 therapist at once… #SpoiledNBATweet Trying 2 get ready for this 5 games in 6 nights. With 3 in a row to kick it off”