Another Way of Looking at NBA Individual Statistics
Since we're headed into the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs, it is a good time to look back at some regular season statistics. I'm not crazy about the way the NBA publishes individual statistics. They generally just show you the totals; I prefer to look at production per-minute, or production per 40 minutes played. This helps me adjust for the significant differences in minutes played -- especially by starters vs bench players. In this post, I'll identify the top 3 Rockets in points, rebounds and assists per 40 minutes played. Yao is the top scorer and rebounder no matter how you look at it; beyond that, you may find a few surprises.
Points per 40 Minutes of Playing Time
The top 3 are: Yao Ming (23.5 points per 40 minutes), Von Wafer (19.7), and Ron Artest (19.2). McGrady was 4th at 18.5; however, if he had been healthy, he would likely have been closer to his 2008 number, 24.1, which would have put him in first place.
The surprise here, of course, is Von Wafer. I liked him a lot in pre-season, but thought it was a toss-up between keeping Von and keeping D.J. Strawberry (maybe because I'm a reformed NY Mets fan??). He seemed like such an unimportant addition to the team that he didn't even get a mention in my season kickoff post. These numbers tell you why the fans have fallen in love with him. Unfortunately, basketball is about more than scoring. However, if he can continue to improve the rest of his game, this will go down as another great move by GM Daryl Morey. Anyway, though Von is around 7th in total points, in my book he's clearly the 2nd most productive scorer. (I say clearly, even though he only has a half-point margin over Artest, because I strongly suspect that his stats for the last couple of months are significantly better than his early season stats. Wish I had the numbers to prove that, but I don't.)
Rebounds per 40 Minutes of Playing Time
The top 4 are: Yao Ming (11.7 rebounds per 40 minutes of playing time), Luis Scola (11.6), and Chuck Hayes & Dikembe Mutombo (tied at 11.4).
Yao, of course, is no surprise. It may be a surprise to some that Scola and Hayes are so close to him in production. Now that Scola is more acclimated to the NBA, his production has increased. His number last year was 9.9; that's a significant change. Chuck Hayes will also be a surprise to some. The "Chuck Wagon" is a very accomplished defensive player -- I just wish we could get a little more offense out of him. In my mind, Deke is clearly the best rebounder on the team. I suspect that, even at his age, had he played more, his results would have been closer to his 2008 number of 12.7 -- which would have put him in first place. Absent injuries, Carl Landry would likely have been in this discussion as well; last year, his 12.0 average was second only to Mutombo's.
Assists per 40 Minutes of Playing Time
The top 3 are: Kyle Lowry (6.6 assists per 40 minutes of playing time), Tracy McGrady (5.9), and Aaron Brooks (4.9). If "Skip" Alston were still with the team, he probably would be in first place, given his 6.7 average last year. And, if McGrady had been healthy, he might have been closer to his 2008 average of 6.3. The surprise, to some, is Kyle Lowry. In my view, Kyle is more of a "pure" point guard than Brooks; these numbers reflect that.
More Houston Rockets "Per-Minute" Statistics discusses blocks, steals and free throw attempts. I think "free throw attempts" are an important, but underappreciated, stat -- for reasons that I explain in that post.
For a little more detail on the above stats, see below.
Houston Rockets 2008-2009 Production Per 40 Minutes Played
The table below shows these key Rockets stats per 40 minutes played (click to enlarge). For example, a player's total points are divided by his minutes played to get points per minute, and that result multiplied by 40 to approximate the results for a full game. These stats are through the end of March. However, the results at the end of the season would be almost exactly the same. One advantage of looking at the stats this way is that they don't change very much from week to week or month to month; in fact, for established players they're quite consistent from year to year. For example, early in Yao Ming's career, when many were still questioning his skills (e.g., Charles Barkley), in my view he was consistently putting up close to 20 "ppg" and 10 "rpg" stats. The problem was he couldn't stay on the floor because of foul trouble and lack of stamina.
I've omitted Brian Cook, Joey Dorsey and James White since the've played so few minutes. On the other hand, I've included Dikembe Mutombo because he's a veteran with a track record, and could conceivable play an important role in the playoffs.
Related Stuff:Houston Rockets: Is it Time Yet?
Houston Rockets' "Total" Production Per Minute
The 10 Best NBA Players Ever looks at this same data for some all-time greats.
The source of my data is NBA.COM
Last modified 3/10/2010