NBA Preseason Stats Musings

I finally took a look at some League-wide preseason stats, trends, and anomalies. Much of the data looks just like we’d expect. But the preseason always produces a few surprises and some good laughs.

A few of the things that stood out to me are below the fold.

Scoring

The top-25 preseason scorers are listed below. Melo and Kobe tied for the preseason scoring title. Not all that surprising; both are prolific scorers. 

What’s more surprising is that Kobe scored with the most efficiency of anyone among the top-25 in ppg with 1.82 points per field-goal attempt. Did having Nash make all the difference? Or was it just luck, or did Kobe have something special to prove now that he has two new top dogs in his midst?

Other scoring notes:

  • Mike Conley was second in points/minute with 1.81, while putting up a very-solid-for-him 15.6 ppg. Might Conley have a resurgent year in 2012-13? (SAMPLE SIZE ALERT!)
  • Glen Davis’ preseason suggests he may put up bigger numbers than he should on a depleted Magic team. Go grab him off your fantasy league’s waivers.
  • Damian Lillard has played like the real deal, first in Vegas and now during the preseason. There’s no one standing in his way in Portland. He could shine from Day 1.
  • OKC lost Harden and that stinks, but at least the guy who’ll do most of the shoe-filling, Kevin Martin, was a top-7 scorer in the preseason.
  • Who the hell is Chris Copeland? A 28-year old rookie scorer? Interesting. It appears Glen Grunwald and the rest of the Knicks brass made a Kahnscious effort to get older this offseason, bringing Rasheed Wallace out of his assisted living home, signing Jason Kidd, and seeking out the oldest rookie in 40 years to play the point in case Kidd’s arthritis flares up.
  • COREY BREWER AND BYRON MULLENS!

Rebounding

There were also a few interesting trends in the rebounding stats.

  • Omer Asik led the preseason in rebounding with 11.6 per. I heard Asik called Harden after the trade and told him, “You’re gonna love playing with me.”
  • Joakim Noah did his thing, ranking second with 10.6 boards. Have we said on this site before how much we wish we’d taken Noah over Brewer in that ill-fated draft? If not, consider this that.
  • Anthony Davis and Enes Kanter both did work, grabbing nearly 10 boards per. Play like this helps dismiss notions that Davis is all hype and Kanter is all hope. Kanter also led the preseason in double-doubles with 4.
  • Brook Lopez rebounded almost as well as his brother; both were among the top-25.
  • Lavoy Allen?

Assists

Chris Paul was first with 9.5 and Rondo second with 8.5. The big surprise is Greivis Vasquez in third with just under 7.5. Westbrook and Jrue Holiday rounded out the top 5.

Other notables:

  • NYK’s Pablo Prigioni, age 35, is the oldest NBA rookie in the last 40 years. Rumor has it that he led the EuroLeague in assists back in 2005-06, but no one can confirm that because they weren’t recording assists back then. But Prigioni showed this preseason that he can pass that rock, ranking 8th in assists per game with just over 6. When Prigsanity is proclaimed by the New York media on some slow Tuesday, remember:  you heard it hear first.
  • Prigioni averaged more assists than Lin, who came in at 6 even.
  • Undrafted Rockets rookie Scott Machado led the NCAA in assists last season at Iona with 9.9 per game. Machado cracked the top-20 in apg this preseason with 5.3 apg. With Rubio out, I hoped Kahn would take Machado at #58 if he were still there, but Kahn went for Robbie Hummel instead. It looks like Kahn has kicked his point guard habit but replaced it with an addiction to acquiring players with histories of catastrophic knee injuries.

Miscellany

  • That Chris Copeland guy had the League-high scoring game with 34. Kobe had the second highest-single game mark with 31. Mike Beasley tied Paul Pierce for third with a 29-point effort.
  • League Pass All Star Byron Mullens had the highest single-game rebounding total with 19. Pek and Anthony Davis tied for second with 17-board contests.
  • From the Annals of Improbable Statistics: Nate Robinson tied for the single-game assist mark, with 13. I’m not sure I’ve seen Nate pass 13 times his entire career. Tom Thibs must be deep in his head. DJ Augustin, who’s a yawner, had the other 13-assist game.
  • Eric Bledsoe had a 9-steal game. The next highest was AK47’s 6-steal night. Did the Clippers schedule a game against the Washington Generals and not tell me about it??
  • Twolf Dante Cunningham tied Roy Hibbert and Sam Dalembert for the most blocks in a game at 6. Also of note: APBRmetrics hero Jae Crowder had a 5-block game.

Which of these are indicative of players who are likely to have breakout seasons?

The most likely candidates look to be Kanter (f he can get the minutes in a rotation that includes PFs Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors – look for Kanter’s stock to explode if one of those guys is moved) and Crowder (the college stats suggested he’d be good, but he’ll have an opportunity in Dallas and look like the second coming of another Maverick who fell inexplicably far in the Draft, Josh Howard).

I don’t see much potential for Robinson, Bledsoe, Brewer, or Mullens. We pretty much know what they are – flawed, end-of-the-rotation type guys, at least on most teams.

The jury is still out on Copeland, at least until I’m able to confirm that he really exists.

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