Where the Blazers Stand: November 26

We’re a little over fifth of the way through the season, which seems like a good time to stop, smell the roses and see where the Blazers stand, statistically, around the league. We’ll do the same thing every month or so to see how things change. Most of these numbers will be coming from basketball-reference.com, teamrankings.com and other non-ESPN, non-NBA.com websites, so if you see any differences from the mainstream sites its probably due to games played or minutes played requirements. I’ve bolded anything that really sticks out, good or bad.

Date: November 26th.
Record: 12-5
Home Record: 7-2
Road Record: 5-3

Scoring:
Points Per Game: 96.8, 22nd
Points Per 100 Possessions: 109.6, 6th
Fast-break Points Per Game: 8.4, 30th
Points in Paint Per Game: 34.6, 30th

Pace (Possessions): 87.8, 29th
Average Scoring Margin: +8.3, 2nd

The Blazers are always going to be down there in pace, so I recommend almost strictly using the pace adjusted, points per 100 possessions stats, which is a much better representative of efficiency. We can live with Portland being last in fast break points, as its a number that fluctuates given the opponent, but they cannot continue to be dead last in points in the paint at such a slow pace. As I’ve noted before, whenever they have a big lead and start shooting too many jumpers, the opponent makes a run. The balance of the games against Chicago and New Jersey are much closer to where they need to be. The scoring margin is inflated a little by a relative lack of recent competition, but good teams beat bad teams by double digits, so it need not be discounted much.

Shooting:
Field-Goal Percentage: .457, 14th
3-Point Percetange: .361, 10th
Effective Field-Goal Percentage: .501, 11th
Free-Throw Percentage: .794, 5th
Free-Throw Attempts: 446, 3rd
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .275, 2nd

Ironically, free throws have cost the Blazers a couple games, but shooting the 5th best percentage while getting to the line the 2nd most is fantastic, and has helped to mask their relative shortcomings in the paint. Last season the Blazers shot just .234 free throws per field goal attempt, 17th in the NBA. If Portland can maintain their current offensive balance, their field goal percentages should rise into at least Top 10 range.

Defense:
Opponent Points Per Game: 88.5, 1st
Opponent Points Per 100 Possessions: 100.2, 4th
Opponent Field-Goal Percentage: .417, 1st
Opponent 3-Point Percentage: .319, 8th
Opponent Effective Field-Goal Percentage: .447, 1st
Opponent Turnover Percentage (100 Possessions): .125, 27th
Opponent Free-Throws Per Field-Goal: .227, 12th
Opponent Fast Break Points Per Game: 12.7, 14th
Opponent Points in Paint Per Game: 38.6, 8th
Blocks: 99, 2nd
Steals: 96, 20th

Can’t ask for much more here. Since they are taking more risks on offense this year, they are taking less on defense, forcing very few turnovers. They are doing well guarding threes, but haven’t played too many good shooting teams so far. Keeping opponents scoring less than 40 points in the paint per game is a key for the season, and the closer they can get that number to 35 per game, the better. We should note, however, that Portland only allowed 38.1 points in the paint per game last season, so despite Oden’s improvement they haven’t made vast strides, yet. Defensive efficiency is much improved, however, with Portland allowing 107.8, 13th best, points per 100 possessions last season.

Rebounding:
Offensive Rebounding Percentage (Percent of how many available offensive boards Blazers are grabbing): .301, 3rd
Defensive Rebounding Percentage (Percent of how many available defensive boards Blazers are grabbing): .750, 9th

Thank you, Joel, for the former. Thank you, Greg, for the latter. And don’t discount the effect of LaMarcus Aldridge raising his rebounding percentage from 12.5 last year to 14.5 thus far. Last season the Blazers finished 1st and 6th, respectively, in these two categories, and the goal should be to creep into the Top 5 in defensive rebounding.

Misc:
Assists Per FGM: .608, 4th
Turnover Percentage: .145, 22nd
Assist-to-Turnover Ratio: 1.504, 14th

The Blazers are clearly taking risks with their passes, so you can live with a league average in turnovers if its going to produce assists on 60% of their scores. They had a 1.660 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, but had a fifth worst .545 assists per field goals made in 2008-09. Call it the Andre Miller effect.

Notable Individual Acheivments
:
Minutes Played: Brandon Roy, 622, 1st
LaMarcus Aldridge: 547, 15th
Free-Throw Attempts: Brandon Roy, 108, 10th
PER: Greg Oden, 23.6, 9th
Blocks Per Game: Greg Oden, 2.4, 3rd
True Shooting Percentage: Greg Oden, .677, 2nd
Rudy Fernandez, .628, 13th
Fouls: Greg Oden, 69, 1st
LaMarcus Aldridge, 51, 14th
Offensive Rebound Percentage: Joel Przybilla, 17.3, 1st
Greg Oden, 15.0, 3rd
Defensive Rebound Percentage: Greg Oden, 25.2, 11th
Total Rebounding Percentage: Greg Oden, 20.4, 2nd
Assist Percentage: Andre Miller, 30.8, 12th
Steal Percentage: Rudy Fernandez, 4.0, 1st
Block Percentage: Greg Oden, 7.4, 1st
Turnover Percentage: LaMarcus Aldridge, 6.7, 4th
Usage Percentage: Nobody in Top 20
Defensive Rating: Greg Oden, 93.8 1st
Joel Przybilla, 94.4, 3rd
Rudy Fernandez, 97.4, 10th
Martell Webster: 98.5, 16th

Obviously, Greg Oden is making out pretty well on the defensive and rebounding side of things, but leads the league in fouls. Brandon Roy is playing a ton of minutes, but doesn’t make the Top 20 in Usage (Plays Used) so he’s not getting overworked when he’s on the court. Rudy’s appearance on the defensive list is impressive, though the steal percentage probably will not maintain, and for all of Webster’s offensive mucky muck, he’s playing solid D.

The only glaring hole at this stage in the season is points in the paint, and the Blazers have otherwise improved or stayed in the same as last season in most other categories. We’ll use these number for comparison toward the end of December.

Topics: Advanced Statistics, Blazers, Defense, Offense

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  • jcouperm

    Catch this in Bill S ‘Page 2′ today:
    Q: Did your book tour include a stop at the Rose Garden for Pistons-Blazers last week? I hope you checked out the way the Garden treats Greg Oden. Every time he does something basic, the place explodes like he dunked from half court. They are just willing themselves to think he will be good.
    – David G., Portland

    Yes, I did. And the best way to describe the crowd’s support for Oden: It’s like watching 15,000 parents rooting for their kid, only all 15,000 parents fathered the same kid. If he ever explodes for 30 points, 20 rebounds and eight blocks in a game, you’ll have to carry each deliriously passed-out Portland fan out of the Rose Garden individually like they were victims of smoke inhalation in a burning house. (The funny thing is, everyone in Portland is nodding right now. And yes, I know he’s had a couple of inspired games this season. You don’t need to e-mail me the stat lines. No, really. Save us both the time. Let’s not put too much pressure on him. Baby steps.) I also was startled by Portland fans arguably (see, there it is!) liking Rudy Fernandez as much as, and maybe even a smidge more than, the great Brandon Roy.

    Two other things shocked me. First, that’s the whitest NBA experience you can have that doesn’t involve the words “Salt,” “Lake” and City.” They didn’t play hip-hop either before the game or during the game, each team seemed to have more African-Americans than the entire crowd and the pregame video right before the introduction of Portland’s starting lineup was a local grunge band singing “Ballroom Blitz.” And second, during a second-quarter timeout, my buddy House and I ran into the concourse to grab beers and noticed there was NOBODY else in line for anything. We felt like Will Smith in “I Am Legend.” There was no sign of human life other than the workers. Everyone else stays in their seats. At halftime, those same people pour into the concourse like it’s halftime of a football game. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know whether the Blazers have the most loyal, passionate, dutiful fans in the NBA, but at the very least, we can say nobody else tops them.

    Here’s what I took away from my Rose Garden experience: Portland loves the Blazers the same way a single mother would love her only child. The city’s revulsion toward the “Jail Blazers” makes a lot more sense to me now. The team and the city are intertwined, and if one side isn’t holding up that bargain, it’s even more painful than usual. Anyway, I couldn’t be happier that I got a taste of it. Great NBA city.

  • Bowman

    lets take all this with a grain of slat. we have played very very very crappy teams till date

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