East vs. West Week 24

Updated week-by-week breakdown with an added column: point differential for the West through each week.

The one game left is Detroit taking on Oklahoma City on Wednesday, guaranteed (probably) to be fun for no longer than one half.

With Oklahoma City’s loss at Indiana yesterday, though, the West is out of contention for their highest winning percentage ever. Sad times since I beat that possibility into the ground over the last two months. Regardless, there’s always point differential to look at:

Lastly, updated month-by-month point differential:

I’ll look into posting something far more interesting after the regular season concludes. We’re so close to those amazing first round matchups out West andacoupleoutEastbutwhatever. Three more days!

Adding to the unlikeliness of Corey Brewer’s 51 points

Shortly after Corey Brewer’s 51-point outing against the Houston Rockets, Ryan Feldman at ESPN Stats & Info published a post about if the Timberwolves wing is the most unlikely 50-point scorer ever.

Here are some cool tidbits from that column that I suggest giving a read:

What do Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Rick Barry and Corey Brewer have in common?

They’re the only players in NBA history with at least 50 points and six steals in a game (steals became official in 1973-74).

More:

Brewer is the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 50 points in a game without having previously scored 30 points in a game.

And lastly:

Brewer, in his seventh NBA season, is the most experienced player ever to score 50 points without having previously scored 30.

The only other players to score 50 before ever scoring 30 among players with at least two full seasons of NBA experience were Delk (fifth season in 2000-01) and Willie Burton (1994-95 season with the Philadelphia 76ers was his fifth season).

I’d like to add onto those interesting stats, though, after looking through 50-point scorers dating back to the 1978 season. It seems like that’s the first year Basketball-Reference started adding usage rating, among other statistics to their player pages. Here’s what I found:

For seasons when a player has scored 50 points in one game, Brewer’s usage rating is comfortably in last place. Below are the bottom 10 out of 150:

In the last 10 games prior to his explosion versus Houston, Brewer was using 18 percent of the team’s possessions while on the floor. Adding his career night (32.6 usage) hikes that recent uptick to 20.

Brewer also holds the second-worst PER (bottom 10 here) of the 50-point club, one that increased .5 points overnight. He also squeaks into the bottom 20 percent when it comes to offensive rebound percentage, something that could aid in scoring. He’s also on the list of the 25 worst three-point shooting seasons ever, at least for players taking over 200 attempts, and a below-average free throw shooter at 72 percent. The Timberwolves were also without one-half of their “outlet mall” in Kevin Love while Brewer often makes up the receiving end of the fast break points.

None of these obstacles got in the way of Brewer, who scored 32 points in the restricted area alone while going 2-of-6 from three-point range. As for three throws, he was 73 percent but off 15 attempts, good for 11 points from the stripe.

It’s safe to say he’s one of the more unlikely 50-point scorers and hopefully those stats contribute to the discussion. Just for fun, I wanted to compare his shooting that game to his averages in his first 77 outings so I fiddled around with a variety of graphs I’ve recently used for the highest scorers and teams, among other related posts.

Below are his attempted and made shots per game. The last graph is Brewer’s first 77 games with the same axis used for his 51-point outing:

Brewer attempts together

Click to enlarge.

Lastly, points per location:

brewer points

Click to enlarge.

Edit: Percentage of points by location and shooting percentages can be found in those links. I just couldn’t help myself when it came to including yet another batch of those charts in a post. I should probably turn it down a notch.

As someone in Minnesota, though, this has been quite an entertaining last month or so of the season despite the Timberwolves either basically out of playoff contention or officially eliminated. They travel to Sacramento on Sunday where they’ll play former-teammate Derrick Williams, who always seems to show up to play them, but how Brewer will bounce back from 51 points (I still can’t believe it) will obviously be exciting as well. Given how he plays, it’s possible those were the happiest 51 points ever.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference.com, save for the shooting charts. Those are according to NBA.com’s numbers.

Point distribution charts of the top 10 scorers

After experimenting with point distribution charts for teams and with J.R. Smith’s shooting explosion, I thought it’d be fun to apply the same ones for the top 10 players in points per game this season.

As usual, these graphs visualize points per game across six different locations on the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-RA), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and three throws. This time however, those graphs of the 10 players will also include the exact points per location below them and where that production ranks among the 480 players to log playing time this season. All of that is according to NBA.com.

Also, the axis for the 10 players will vary depending on the player, but at the very end of the post I’ll make a common one to show each of the 10 charts in a single GIF, sorted from the highest scorer to the lowest.

With all that said, here are the point distribution charts of those at or near the top in points per game:

1. Kevin Durant – 32.0 points per game

Kevin  Durant 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 7.71 (14th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.65 (21st)
  • Mid-range: 5.66 (8th)
  • Corner 3: 0.43 (209th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.82 (4th)
  • Free throw: 8.69 (1st)

To get a feel for just how large Kevin Durant’s graph and others on this list really are, we can compare the league’s leading scorer to Kendrick Perkins’ graph because PERK:

durant perk

Click to enlarge.

Perk’s looks minuscule compared to Durant’s, who’s just an offensive shark and in the top 25 in every category except corner threes. It might also be worth noting that just behind Durant in points around the rim per game is none other than Tony Wroten, somehow at 7.62 points per game and good for 17th-best.

As for three-pointers, I’m not sure how common this is and how often it’s been noted before, but Durant shoots better on pull-up attempts (42 percent) than catch and shoot ones (38.7), according to SportVU. Weird, maybe?

Onto number two in points per game:

2. Carmelo Anthony – 27.5 points per game

Carmelo  Anthony 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 5.04 (76th)
  • Paint non-RA:  1.20 (tied-108th)
  • Mid-range:  8.77 (3rd)
  • Corner 3: 0.52 (182nd)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.08 (9th)
  • Free throw: 5.92 (7th)

One of the more unusual charts I’ve looked at, Anthony gets a respectable share of points around the rim but he’s in the middle of the pack when compared with the top 10 in points per game. Ahead of him across the league are the likes of Timofey Mozgod, Alec Burks, and Tobias Harris. Melo also gets very little points from the corner three, but that’s common for high scorers with range.

As for the above the break threes, Anthony’s one of five on this list to crack the top 10 in points from that area of the floor. He also feasts at the line, another common theme with the top scorers.

What makes Anthony’s chart so odd is the mid-range game. This is the first chart where I’ve noticed both a great deal of points in the high-efficiency zones of the floor and the dead zones. Durant’s is like that, but not to the extent of Melo’s.

3. LeBron James – 27.0 points per game

LeBron  James PPL

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 12.00 (1st)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.73 (60th)
  • Mid-range: 3.20 (68th)
  • Corner 3: 0.92 (108th)
  • Above the Break 3: 3.52 (57th)
  • Free throw: 5.64 (8th)

Confirmed: LeBron James feasts around the rim. He made me change the range on his chart to a max of 12 points per location, though a couple other players eventually did the same thing so whatever. His graph is a good example of an efficient one, though, and how it should show quite a few points on the left side. In fact, out of the top 10 scorers, James is the second-most Moreyball-like of the top 10 scorers in that 81.75 percent of his points come around the rim, from three, or from the stripe.

You might be able to guess who’s in first place on that list. Third place in that mentioned stat is…

4. Kevin Love – 25.8 points per game

Kevin  Love PPL 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 6.73 (26th)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.89 (47th)
  • Mid-range:  3.35 (59th)
  • Corner 3: 0.69 (144th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.61 (6th)
  • Free throw: 6.51 (3rd)

Love’s the first player on this list to not lead or be near the top in averages from one of the first three shot locations. In terms of non-point guards in this list (eight players), he averages the least amount of points from those first few spots but still gets a decent amount from around the rim.

Love’s graph is the prototypical efficient kind anyway, confirming how he scores nearly 80 percent of his points either around the rim, from three, or from the stripe. The king of efficiency among this group goes to the league’s fifth-leading scorer, however:

5. James Harden – 25.3 points per game

James  Harden PPL 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 6.17 (37th)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.54 (tied-70th)
  • Mid-range: 2.51 (89th)
  • Corner 3: 0.51 (185th)
  • Above the Break 3: 6.77 (5th)
  • Free throw: 7.76 (2nd)

Nearly 85 percent of Harden’s points come from the spots that generate the most points per attempt, though he’s still in the top 100 in each of the least-efficient locations. He’s also the only player besides Durant to be in the top five in points from both above the break threes and free throws per game, though Kevin Love narrowly misses out on joining that club too.

6. Blake Griffin – 24.1 points per game

Blake  Griffin 12 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 11.46 (2nd)
  • Paint (non-RA): 1.87 (tied-49th)
  • Mid-range: 4.33 (23rd)
  • Corner 3: 0.27 (240th)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.15 (tied-301st)
  • Free throw:  6.00 (6th)

Just how many of Griffin’s points from the non-restricted area part of the paint are from either dunks or near-dunks that turned into double-pump layups? Regardless, we have our first near-triangular chart and the second player to score over 10 points per game from a single shot location. There’s also a smidge of blue crossing over the three-point areas thanks to whatever plays were drawn up to get Griffin a score from there.

7. Stephen Curry – 23.5 points per game

Stephen  Curry 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 3.38 (137th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  1.38 (86th)
  • Mid-range:  5.11 (13th)
  • Corner 3: 1.34 (63rd)
  • Above the Break 3: 8.43 (1st)
  • Free throw: 3.88 (31st)

Arguably the most unusual chart, in my opinion. Curry feasts from outside the paint, one of the stats worth noting being that he averages over one more point per game from the above the break three than third-place Damian LillardRyan Anderson is in second-place at 7.8 but…sigh.

8. LaMarcus Aldridge – 23.3 points per game

LaMarcus  Aldridge 12 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 5.70 (53rd)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.15 (36th)
  • Mid-range:  10.96 (1st)
  • Corner 3: 0.00 (Meh, tied for last)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.13 (308th)
  • Free throw: 4.33 (21st)

Maybe worth noting, maybe not: It took until Aldridge to get to a player who hasn’t made a corner three this season.

And that mid-range game. Aldridge looks like the least-efficient of this bunch as over half of his points come from the dead zones of the floor. In fact, while he scores a whole two more points from mid-range than second-place Dirk Nowitki, he averages nearly six more possible points (25.94 total for LMA) from that area than second-place Carmelo Anthony (20.00) in that stat. Unfortunately, he can’t make every one of those attempts and average nearly 40 points per game. Shucks.

9. DeMar DeRozan – 22.7 points per game.

DeMar  DeRozan 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 4.29 (97th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.13 (tied-37th)
  • Mid-range:  7.42 (4th)
  • Corner 3: 1.46 (51st)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.91 (233rd)
  • Free throw: 6.50 (4th)

Among this list, DeRozan’s chart is my favorite just from the shape his points form.

But, like Aldridge, it’s a bit of a weird one. DeRozan sits comfortably in fourth place in mid-range points, but he only makes a shade under 40 percent of his attempts. He does score the most points per game from the corner three among this group, however, and gets a decent chunk from the free throw line as well, more than the likes of Melo, LeBron, and Paul George, among others.

10. DeMarcus Cousins – 22.4 points per game

DeMarcus  Cousins 10 axis

Points per location:

  • Restricted area: 9.62 (6th)
  • Paint (non-RA):  2.75 (16th)
  • Mid-range:  4.03 (36th)
  • Corner 3: 0.00 (somewhere in last place)
  • Above the Break 3: 0.00 (take more threes, Boogie!)
  • Free throw: 6.01 (5th)

The most triangular chart of the top 10 scorers, Boogie feasts in the paint, at the line and, um, sometimes from mid-range where me makes 41 percent of his attempts.

That triangle, though. It’s pretty neat, so there’s that.

Lastly, below is a GIF comparing each chart at once. It goes in the order of highest-scoring to the lowest:

Top 10 scorers on Make A Gif

All but Aldridge score at least half their points on locations in the center or left side of the graph. Harden’s chart seems to be the most efficient, though LeBron is just too effective around the rim. Regardless, it’s nice to see a variety of charts, especially the triangles. Don’t forget the triangles.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome.

When a prospect slips in the draft, how much salary do they lose?

With top college basketball players declaring for the draft left and right save for Jabari Parker, whose decision seems very much up in the air, I looked at the contracts for first round picks and how much money is really lost when top prospects slide in the draft. There are also cases when a player like Anthony Bennett gets drafted, when a team either reaches for a draftee or takes a player that wasn’t on the radar at that draft slot.

But to start, contracts for first round picks are scaled ahead of time (up to the year 2020 can be found here) with teams having the option to offer as little as 80 percent of the fixed price or as high as 120 percent, according to Larry Coon’s cbafaq.com. Players often have that slight raise with Anthony Davis as just one example, but taking less than the slot scale has happened before thanks to Andre Roberson. Those contracts can last up to four years, but teams have options after the first two seasons to either release their once-first rounders or hold onto them at what’s likely a bargain price.

Below is a table looking at the scaled salaries for first rounders in the 2014 NBA Draft, sorted by draft slots. The first sheet is the combined salary, year after year, of the first four years. That’s assuming they all play through their rookie contracts and take the slight raise that teams can offer. The second sheet is the salary each season with the raise percentage they could get in their fourth.

But the first sheet is most important as it’ll be applied to a second batch of tables comparing how much money could be lost between draft slots. Take a look at the most money each slot could make through their first four seasons:

For a player like Anthony Davis whose combined salary over four years is around that $20 million range, he makes as much over those seasons as Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and LeBron James make this season alone, among others .

But that’s for Davis, who was drafted first overall in 2012. The 10th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft will make just under half of the 1st overall pick’s salary over four years (unless their contract includes incentives). It’s simply a huge get for a franchise to score a first round pick that’s not only productive and can stay in the league, but an overall positive on the court. The sooner they’re a positive contributor the better, obviously, but even if a player hangs on for three years of his contract despite producing very little and then breaks out in Year 4, it still seems worth it given how many contracts around the $10 million/year range end up not so terrific. It seems like fun times all around for teams with those first rounders.

As for the draft prospects projected to go in the first round, slipping in the draft may provide positives such as a chip on their shoulder and a better fit with a better team. However, depending on how far a prospect slides and how high they were slated to go, it can be quite a blow to their bank account. For example, if the first overall pick and eighth of the 2014 Draft each play out all four years of their rookie contract (and take that raise they can be offered), the difference in salary between them is over $10 million. Maybe something comes up with Joel Embiid that hurts his draft stock or Andrew Wiggins wants to play for nobody but the currently eighth-worst Detroit. Crazier things have happened, well, maybe not in that hypothetical case for Wiggins.

Regardless, dropping in the draft means an obvious decline in the salary they can earn and below are tables hopefully showing the difference for each draft pick over the course of two, three, and four seasons under their scaled pay. Again, that includes taking the slight raise they can be offered. Salary lost is in parenthesis while salary gained — if a prospect is drafted ahead of their projected slot or range — is not.

Also, because the sheets were fairly large, I made columns of draft slots on the bottom of them and to the right side in case it becomes hard to tell which draft slot is which. Anyway, take a look if you’d like:

Slippage in the 2014 NBA Draft actually wouldn’t be all that damaging as long as a prospect wasn’t discussed as one of the very best of the 2014 NBA Draft. For example, if the next Darrell Arthur comes along — a late lottery-ish prospect in the green room that for whatever ridiculous reason (or rumor) slides to the mid-20s, it’s a loss of just over $3 million compared to the $10+ million he would’ve lost if he was projected as a top-3 draftee. Obviously that’s still a bummer, but it could be worse.

Jabari Parker could very well be that player who slips in the draft not because of a performance issue but the overall talent that’s at the top. Is it worth it to him to trade being a top-5, maybe top-7 pick in this year’s draft in exchange for being a top-3 pick in 2015 and Duke being a title contender next year?

Some other highly-touted prospect is bound to drop in the draft regardless, but hopefully to a team that he’ll fit right in with. Trey Burke, Gorgui Dieng, and Tim Hardaway Jr. probably weren’t the ninth, 21st, and 24th-best available players in last year’s draft but they all look like they’ll end up as solid gets for the teams that chose them.

Which players will be this season’s Burke, Dieng, or Hardaway? Better yet, will anyone be the next Anthony Bennett in terms of rising in the draft for whatever reason? I guess we’ll have to wait, um, like 76 more days. Ugh, but if some player drops or rises then hopefully the tables posted above can help look at the impact it’ll have in their paychecks.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome.

J.R. Smith’s shooting spree in charts

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J.R. Smith’s shooting chart over his last seven games.

While the Knicks’ season is finally veering off a cliff, J.R. Smith has come out with guns blazing in each of his last seven games, for better or for worse. He’s been one of the league’s leading scorers during that stretch at 23.7 per, much of it thanks to emptying the clip from beyond the arc by attempting 12.7 threes per game (!!!) and doubling his total attempts for the season in just two weeks. This was all capped yesterday afternoon when he set the record for attempted threes in a game with 22, a decent summary of the Knicks’ entire season and something only believable if it happened to, well, J.R. Smith himself. Amazing.

But while some of those attempted threes have been cringe-worthy, Smith’s shooting over the last seven games have averaged out to at least decent efficiency, with nearly 24 points per game on nearly 18 shots and shooting splits of 48.5/46.3/100. Beyond the arc is where Smith’s done most of his damage lately, though, and by fooling around with similar charts I’ve used to visualize point distribution for teams we can see the shift in Smith’s scoring from his first 63 games to his last seven and even last three games where he’s averaging 29.3 points. (If only that kind of scoring were sustainable, for NBA Twitter’s sake.)

The first chart we’ll look at is point per location from the normal six areas of the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-restricted area), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and free throws. As an example, below is Smith’s point distribution per game through his first 63 outings:

jr smith ppl england

Smith’s scoring weighed heavily toward the above the break three, for better or for worse, with nearly six points (5.62 to be exact) coming from that area of the floor through his first 63 games. No other area gets as much as three points per game, with mid-range being the second most frequent scoring area at 2.86 points per.

Now, below features the graph previously mentioned along with his scoring distribution per game over his last seven outings and last three:

Smiff PPL

Click to enlarge. Quite helpful!

The very first chart provided shrinks considerably thanks to the max values provided to fit in Smith’s recent, unreal three-point barrage, and for the most part that’s all where he’s scored from with about three-fifths of his points coming from there over his last seven games and two-thirds over his last three games. The corner three and mid-range areas get some attention as well, but anywhere inside the paint and at the stripe has been mostly neglected.

Lastly, here’s a GIF of the increase:

smiff ppl on Make A Gif

But while Smith’s upped his three-point attempts, the uptick in usage from 20.8 in his first 63 games to 25.9 over his last seven hasn’t hurt his overall efficiency. In fact, during the recent stretch, Smith’s effective field goal percentage is 62.2 compared to a pedestrian 48.6 during his first 63 games.

Below hopefully shows that increase from five spots on the floor, minus free throw shooting. A reminder should be given that Smith’s shots recently have largely come from the perimeter. He’s only taken a combined two shots per game from the two areas inside the paint.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

And like with points per location, below is a GIF of the increase in EFG% across the three stretches of games:

smiff EFG% on Make A Gif

Surely this isn’t sustainable, though there’s only four games left for the Knicks so we might see Smith lock and load until season’s end. New York doesn’t play another game until Friday anyway, giving him plenty of time to rest his shooting hand.

In the future, I’ll probably fiddle around with those charts for other players. Maybe Smith will find his way into another batch of them, but it’ll be quite a task to topple what he’s done over this recent stretch of games.

Edit: Previously, I mentioned that Smith holds the record for games with 10+ 3PA with four, but according to Basketball-Reference there’s actually a tie between multiple players for seven straight games of 10+ attempts. There’s still time for Smith to join that group as his streak is still alive, but for now he has a few games to go.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

East vs. West Week 23: Counting down to the last of the 450 games

Another week, another updated week-by-week breakdown:

The most exciting non-conference game of the week had to go to Minnesota traveling to Miami and winning in double overtime, much of it thanks to Kevin Love’s ridiculous shot making and Ricky Rubio carving up a hyper Heat defense. LeBron James and Chris Bosh weren’t too bad for the Heat, though, among other players. Dwyane Wade didn’t play because of a lingering hamstring injury.

Houston also lost their last two non-conference games, falling to the Nets and Raptors. Aside from all but guaranteeing the Rockets the fourth seed in the West, it also meant that San Antonio clinches the best record against the East at 24-6 while the Lakers and Kings are tied for the worst at 12-18 each. Neither hold a candle to Milwaukee’s 3-27 record in non-conference play, however, and the Bucks, 76ers, Magic, Celtics, and Pistons are collectively 100 games under .500 against the West, a combined record of 24-124 with the 76ers and Pistons finishing up the season with Memphis and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Maybe that’ll lead to an uptick in the West’s point differential, which I also updated from last week’s post. It hardly changed, but probably worth noting where it ranks in non-conference play since 1997 anyway:

Lastly, here’s the 212,749,834,9a8,943,f92th reminder about the West’s possible record-breaking winning percentage: They’d have to finish their last five games 4-1 to tie 2004’s 63.3 winning percentage and win all five to break it.

Below are those final non-conference games this season:

The last three games look very winnable for the West while the first two are something of a toss-up. Maybe they’ll split? Miami and Minnesota will be playing the tail-end of back-to-backs, however, with the first games against Brooklyn and San Antonio, respectively. Not the easiest two consecutive games for either team, especially when Minnesota has been without Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, and about half the roster recently.

Updated point distributions in graphs

About a month ago, I fiddled around with graphs visualizing how many points a team scores from specific shot locations. While it was something I enjoyed working on, there wasn’t a whole lot of space to include both GIFs and pictures while looking at the difference between a squad’s offense and defense. Back then, I went with GIFs but now I’ll include some photos of the graphs with updated percentages.

I also left off effective field goal percentage this time around so I wouldn’t flood a post with a ton of huge pictures. What’s left is a percentage of points a team scores at six areas on the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-RA), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and free throws.

In the future I’ll experiment more with these types of graphs, but for now these are the ones for each team over the entire season, both on offense and defense. They’ll probably appear blurry but clicking on the picture, then zooming in helps a ton.

Also, below the picture are links to team graphs for offense only and defense only. Enjoy, hopefully:

offense-defense

Offense-only graphs.

Defense-only graphs.

Similar to what I mentioned in the first post, the graphs for the best and worst offenses and defenses just aren’t the same as one another. Take the Heat, Clippers, and Mavericks as the top three offenses, for example. Thanks to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Miami scores a ton of their points in the restricted area — 36.5 percent, to be exact and fourth-highest in the league. Meanwhile, the Clippers are near the middle in point distribution from a few locations, but with the help of Blake Griffin they get just under one-fifth of their points from the free throw line. Dallas, with a nightmare of a scorer to gameplan for in Dirk Nowitzki, is weirdly balanced in all locations as they don’t appear too high or low in any of them.

Defenses are more similar as Indiana and Chicago both concede a bunch of points from mid-range. The Spurs and Warriors, in third and fourth place in defensive efficiency, respectively, have similar mid-range portions of the graph but allow more points in the paint (non-RA) region than the top two teams. Overall, it would seem like offenses would want their offenses to shift as far to the left side of the graph as possible and the opposite for defense.

I’ll actually admit these graphs are slightly misleading, one reason being that corner threes don’t jump out in them but are nonetheless important to team success. Attempts per location looked about the same and points per location was slightly different when comparing offense to defense. In the future, though, I’ll sort by the latter stat but I had a really weird time calculating it last night and this morning and ran out of time to put those graphs together.

Lastly, below are two tables of the top and bottom five teams in point distribution for each shot location. One table is for offense and the other for defense, starting with the former:

All stats, including ones used for tables and graphs, are according to NBA.com. 

East vs. West Week 22: Comparing the West’s dominance with point differential

With another week of non-conference play in  the books, it was the same soup just reheated for the West as they went 12-7, a win rate similar to the season overall. Every one of their playoff teams now has 20 wins against the East, however, something I brought up in previous posts about never being done before. Time to celebrate with some cheese and crackers.

Also worth noting is half the league finishing up non-conference play for the season. Gone are the West’s chances to build winning streaks against the middle and bottom of the East, though this also means possible movement in lottery balls. Four teams out West are still in contention for the best non-conference record, but Milwaukee clinched the worst at 3-27. Two of those wins come from a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers. Fun times.

Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown. Since it feels like these posts have become bland, I also included point differential for each week which I’ll then expand on by looking at how it stacks up against every other season since 1997. That’s as far back as NBA.com goes and, as far as I can tell, Basketball-Reference doesn’t yet have those splits to sort through. 1997 is a decent stopping point, though, because of expansion the season prior.

Anyway, week-by-week breakdown:

The West’s margin of victory month-by-month can be found here, for anyone curious.

But besides point differential keeping this post from being 100 percent stale, it’s also nice to include it because winning percentage shouldn’t be the only measuring stick for how dominant the West has been against the East. In fact, 2014 currently tops 2004 – the season with the West’s highest non-conference win rate ever – in average margin of victory:

I actually expected higher point differentials over the years, but that might be influenced by watching the Minnesota Timberwolves blow out hopeless Eastern Conference teams over and over. The Kevin Love outlet mall is never more open than against the likes of Josh Smith. Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce helped Brooklyn hand Minnesota a loss last night, however.

But that record-breaking point differential isn’t going to change much since there are only 11 games left. Neither are the complaints that Minnesota and one of Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, and Golden State will miss the playoffs, among other non-conference-related topics, all while Atlanta is limping as fast as it can to the finish line. Hopefully Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, with their entertainment value, can leapfrog them and make the postseason.

I’ll have another blog post today regarding home/road, east/west splits. It’s actually something I kind of, sort of looked at six weeks ago but this time will be much more simple, hopefully less complicated and hopefully less ridiculous.

Edit: Maybe not, since Google Sheets doesn’t seem to be working for me.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

Casper Ware’s half-court shot sets league record for made heaves in a season

At a time when efficiency is as important as ever, taking a half-court shot is like a fork in the road for NBA players. It’s an opportunity for a team to score a free three points since the opposition is never getting the ball back, and that amount is more than the difference between Miami’s league-leading offensive rating and eighth-place Phoenix’s, according to NBA.com. (The drop-off is about the same anywhere in that statistic, save for one of the worst offenses ever in Philadelphia. More on them in a bit.)

The drawback to the heave is that it also counts in the box score whether or not it goes through the net, and as I’ve used as an example in previous posts about those shots, it affected how Kevin Durant and others of the Oklahoma City Thunder approached those end-of-quarter situations last season.

But to the advantage of teams and the entertainment of fans, this season’s attempts from beyond half-court (currently 331) are on pace to top 2013’s total of 361. It’s a positive sign since heaves rarely ever affect individual stats by a season’s end and never accounted for more than one percent of all attempted threes anyway.

And last night added a little extra to the uptick thanks to none other than, um, Casper Ware?

The 76ers guard, in just the second game of his career, scored the league’s 13th shot from beyond half-court this season, surpassing the record for made heaves previously set in 2010 according to Basketball-Reference.

Below is a season-by-season breakdown of shots from beyond half-court:

Before Ware, no player made a heave since March 1 when Marc Gasol dialed one up from deep, and as you might guess from the total made shots in the table above, that drought for multiple weeks is quite common. The longest came in 2005 when the first of only two made heaves was scored on January 26. 2010 and 2012 are the only seasons when two were made on the same night.

And if those field goals were ever worth more than three points, they should be way higher than the four discussed earlier this season. Very similar to what I’ve included in previous posts about half-court shots, to reach an effective field goal percentage of .500 we’d need either 1,598 of those 4,794 total heaves to go in or the 115 already made to be worth about 42 points each. If the latter were the case, even a casual NBA fan would surpass Wilt Chamberlains 100-point game in no time.

Lastly, below is the company Ware joins this season with his made heave last night:

It’s probably unnecessary given Tony Wroten‘s out with a high ankle sprain, but he’s more accurate near the opposition’s arc than his own.

But at least he has a contract guaranteeing him money next season. The same can’t be said for a few players who’ve suited up for the 76ers, including Casper Ware. If the former guard for Long Beach State never plays a minute after this season, his name will at least have some lasting power with NBA fans.

When reaching for other reasons to remember Ware, though, hopefully sinking a record-breaking half-court shot all while Philadelphia lost a record-tying 26th game will come to mind. He still has a couple games left on his 10-day contract to add to his resume, but that heave currently stands as one of the few bright spots for the post-trade deadline 76ers.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

Edit: According to Basketball-Reference’s shot finder, Ware’s shot was made from 46 feet, a foot across half-court even though his player page lists the attempt from beyond that point. ESPN’s shot chart and NBA.com also marks his shot from behind the line and video confirms that. Going forward, however, maybe I’ll have to dial back the filtered shots to beyond 45 feet, but maybe it’s just an error in the Shot Finder that will be fixed in time.

The Bobcatters and near-Bobcatters over the last 35 years

Bobcats can look cute. Bobcatting? Not quite.

 

It’s about that time of the season where the flack terrible teams get is turned up a notch, but this happens just about every year. Since 1980, 72 teams (plus two this year) have lost at least three-fourths of their games, which equals to an 82-game record of about 21-61. 50 of them are pre-2000 when the league was in the middle of expansion.

But it takes an extra level of ineptitude to finish a season like the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats – not just with the worst winning in percentage in history but also “Bobcatting”, a term for finishing last in offensive and defensive efficiency. While I hope the term changes to the nickname of the next franchise to pull off that dual accomplishment (with maybe a demotion from the league included), we can still look back on teams of the past that also Bobcatted or came close to doing so since 1980.

Altogether, three teams have Bobcatted over the last 35 seasons while 11 (including one this season) came close or are currently close to doing so, less than two points away from last place in efficiency on both sides of the court. I’ll take a quick look at every one of those teams, starting with the Bobcatters, and then see how they all match up among the league’s worst offenses and defenses since 1974, at least when compared to league averages.

All stats are according to Basketball-Reference.

The Bobcatters

1987 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.2 (Tied for 18th-worst ever)
  • Defense: 112.3

Notable players: Michael Cage, Benoit Benjamin, Mike Woodson, Larry Drew, Cedric Maxwell.

Notable downswings

  • 3-3 turned into 5-36.
  • Went 2-26 in March and April, ended on 14-game losing streak. Allowed 121.3 points/100 possessions in the first nine of those losses.
  • Never won consecutive games.

Only the ’87 Clips and the ’05 Hawks (featured later) never had a winning streak of two games or more over an 82-game season. The former tied for the sixth-worst winning percentage in NBA history and allowed the highest effective field goal percentage of any team featured in this post.

This season’s Milwaukee Bucks just might join that list, by the way. The Lakers and Pistons are on their schedule over the next two weeks but each of those games are followed by matchups against the Heat. They also play the Cavs on April 11 but follow it up with a game at Washington the following night.

1993 Dallas Mavericks (11-71)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 99.5 (10th-worst ever)
  • Defense: 114.7 (10th-worst ever)

Notable players: Jim Jackson, Terry Davis, Derek Harper, Sean Rooks, Mike Iuzzolino, Walter Bond.

Notable downswings

  • Went 7-64 through first 71 games.
  • Only team featured in this post to lose by 20 or more points in four consecutive games.
  • Tied (with a team to be named later) for most consecutive losses by 10 or more points with 12.
  • Recorded the worst SRS in league history.

If not for the last fourth of the season, 1993 could’ve been a lot worse for the Mavs. They finished 7-14 with victories on the road over Seattle and Houston. With that said, they may raise suspicion that the 2012 Bobcats could do better than 7-64 over 71 games. Then again, Charlotte had Byron Mullens so nevermind.

Help would be on the way for Dallas, well sort of. Jamal Mashburn would be selected in the ‘93 NBA Draft followed by Jason Kidd in ’94, but we know that trio wasn’t meant to be. Three straight top-5 picks were gone by the 1997-98 season and their 1997 campaign featured 27 different players logging minutes for them. What a mess. Eventually Mark Cuban, with the help of Dirk Nowitzki, would turn the franchise around.

2012 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 95.2 (7th-worst ever)
  • Defense: 110.4 (tied for 19th-worst ever)

Notable players: Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker, Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin, Tyrus Thomas.

Notable downswings

  • Started 0-16. In the first eight games they scored 93.5 points/100 possessions.
  • Games 46 to 54, went 2-7 and allowed 118.8/100 possessions.
  • Games 58 to 66, scored just 89.3 points/100 possessions.
  • Finished season on 23-game losing streak.

Reason #505 why I’m glad I didn’t blog sooner: I thought this squad would be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. For some, the 2014 Bucks might be this season’s version of the 2012 Bobcats.

Instead, Charlotte ended up with the worst winning percentage in history. They also had no player with a PER above the average of 15, which I’m just going to assume is the only time that’s ever happened. The Bobcats also never won two or more consecutive games, but it was a shortened season so I’ll cut them a tiny amount of slack.

At the end of the season, Charlotte didn’t even get Anthony Davis for their efforts, but they made The Onion multiple times, so there’s that. All of those events paved the way for the following season’s sighs, which will be included further down in this post.

Near-Bobcatters

It might seem typical for the worst teams each season to finish within two points of last place in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but it’s really not the case. The 2003 Denver Nuggets, for example, had the league’s worst offense ever but for that season were a top-10 defense. They finished 17-65.

Performance on one side of the court compared to another is rarely that extreme. That Nuggets squad is the only one to have a defensive rating below 102 and lose even a third of their games (seriously, that roster — their defensive rating has to be a typo), but even rebuilding teams can still be average on one side of the court or the other.

With that said, below are the most notable teams that were awful all-around:

1980 Detroit Pistons (16-66)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.2 (22nd out of 22)
  • Defense: 108.8 (19th out of 22, 1.6 points from last place)

Notable players: Bob Lanier, Bob McAdoo, Kent Benson, Terry Tyler, John Long, even a Jackie Robinson.

Notable downswings

  • Went from 14-37 to 16-66.
  • Ended season on a 14-game losing streak. Combined with an 0-7 start to the 1981 season, it made for (at the time) the longest losing streak in NBA history.
  • Went six straight games without a made 3-pointer, the longest drought of any team featured in this post.

Game logs with offensive and defensive efficiency weren’t available for the 1980 season, but going 2-29 over the last 31 games probably says enough.

Also, Dick Vitale coached the first 12 games of the season, the last 12 of his career or so we think. If only the Knicks were interested in hiring him. It’s sad that I’m not totally counting that out.

1995 Los Angeles Clippers (17-65)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.5 (27th out of 27)
  • Defense: 111.1 (23rd out of 27, 1.8 points from last place)

Notable players: Loy Vaught, Lamond Murray, Eric Piatkowski, Pooh Richardson, Terry Dehere, Malik Sealy, Bo Outlaw.

Notable downswings

  • Started 0-16. In the first eight games they scored only 93.5 points/100 possessions.
  • Games 46 to 54, went 2-7 and allowed 118.8/100 possessions.

A typical Clippers season pre-Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the ’95 Clips were one of the worst 25 offenses ever until a team this season (listed further down) kicked/will eventually kick them out. (Yay for moral victories 19 years later!) They would be rewarded with Antonio McDyess in the following draft, though they traded him for Brent Barry and Rodney Rodgers. Hmm. This was also the last season Bill Fitch coached.

Worse than the Clippers in defensive efficiency were the Washington Bullets (111.3 points/100 possessions) in their first season with Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, Golden State (112.2) without Webber, Minnesota (112.4) who eventually landed ex-Bullet and Warrior Tom Gugliotta, and Detroit (112.9) with a rookie Grant Hill. The Pistons got fried in their final 22 games, allowing 119.6 points/100 possessions with the first five of those games giving up 129.4.

1995 Timberwolves (21-61)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 102.6 (26th out of 27, 1.1 points from last place)
  • Defense: 112.4 (26th out of 27. 0.5 points from last place)

Notable players: Christian Laettner, Isaiah Rider, Sean Rooks, Doug West, Tom Gugliotta, Winston Garland.

Notable downswings

  • Started 1-13, including a five-game stretch where they scored only 88.4 points/100 possessions.
  • 41 to 45th games were efficiency splits of 96.5/124.2/-27.7.
  • Tied with the ’93 Mavericks for most consecutive losses by 10 or more points with twelve.

Two important things happened this season, the former more important than the latter:

  1. Gugliotta arrived, marking the birth of “GOOGLY OOGLY WOOGLY BABAY!!!” by then-Timberwolves color commentator Kevin Harlan. Minnesota has had some terrific broadcasting duos over the last 20-plus years.
  2. 1995 was the season I attended my first NBA game, or at least one where I didn’t bawl my eyes out because I thought the mascot was a real wolf (which happened during some Bulls-Wolves game in the early-90s, ugh).

That’s about all that was fun for this season, at least from my six-year-old point of view. I guess it was all worth it, though, because Kevin Garnett arrived the following season while Isaiah Rider and Christian Laettner would be on their way out. Well, eventually.

1997 Vancouver Grizzlies (14-68)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 100.3 (29th out of 29)
  • Defense: 111.8 (28th out of 29, 0.1 points from last place)

Notable players: Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Bryant Reeves, Anthony Peeler, Greg Anthony, George Lynch, Lee Mayberry, Roy Rogers.

Notable downswings

  • Started 0-7. The efficiency splits: 91.4/110.0/-18.6.
  • Games 55 to 79, went 1-24 including the last nine losses allowing 119.8 points/100 possessions.

Poor ‘Reef. Vancouver came within a tenth of a point (per 100 possessions, however) of Bobcatting. Consistently terrible, they lost at nearly the frequency they should’ve with six losing streaks between four and eight games when their winning percentage meant for a win every five or six.

Quite a few teams came within a point of becoming the league’s worst defense that season, like Philadelphia with Jerry Stackhouse and Allen Iverson, and Boston with Antoine Walker. Each team had a defensive rating of 111.4. Golden State allowed 112 points/100 possessions and had a six-game stretch where they allowed 123.8. San Antonio, the league’s worst defense, went 1-7 in a stretch where they allowed 124.5 points/100 possessions (but scored 111.0), and 5-20 over a span where they allowed 120.1. To finish the season, they went 1-8 in their last nine games with a defensive efficiency of 117.3 points.

There’s just no topping all of that from San Antonio. Boston allowed 117.7 points/100 possessions over their final 20 games and Philadelphia had a defensive efficiency of 121.5 over their final 10, yet both were still over one point off from last place. Both of those teams would’ve been interesting landing spots for Tim Duncan, too.

2001 Golden State Warriors (17-65)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 97.8 (28th out of 29, 0.6 points from last place)
  • Defense: 107.4 (28th out of 29, 0.4 points from last place)

Notable players: Antawn Jamison, Chris Mullin, Mookie Blaylock, Larry Hughes, Bob Sura, Adonal Foyle, Marc Jackson.

Notable downswings:

  • Played .333 ball through 42 games (yay?), then went 3-37. Efficiency splits: 95.8/110.2/-14.4.
  • Games 72 to 77: 0-6 with efficiency splits of 92.1/115.1/-23.0.

Antawn Jamison logging 41 minutes per game (aka Jimmy Butlering) says enough about how Golden State would perform, but it’s not the like the Warriors had much depth to begin with. To Jamison’s credit, he was at least a solid piece for an offense, but that didn’t stop the Warriors from being the worst team in this post in regards to effective field goal percentage.

The 2001 NBA Draft ended up as a pretty sick haul for Golden State. They’d select Jason Richardson, Tory Murphy and Gilbert Arenas, which has to be one of the best drafts ever. At the same time, it’s hard to give it that much weight when Arenas signed with Washington two seasons later. Still, imagine if that kind of haul happens today. It would be something like Oklahoma City in 2008 drafting Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka again, but also picking up Goran Dragic in the second round.

Golden State nearly Bobcatted in 2001, but another close call that season was the…

2001 Chicago Bulls (15-67)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.5 (29th out of 29)
  • Defense: 111.1 (29th out of 29, 0.5 points from last place)

Notable players: Elton Brand, Ron Mercer, Metta World Peace, Fred Hoiberg, Brad Miller, Jamal Crawford, Khalid El-Amin.

Notable downswings

  • Started 2-19 with 93.1/108.1/-15.0 efficiency splits.
  • 16-game losing streak from January 8 to February 12.
  • 1-17 from March 9 to April 16.
  • Games 46 to 54, went 2-7 and allowed 118.8/100 possessions.
  • Made less than five free throws in two consecutive games, only one of seven teams to do so.

The players on the Bulls rosters from 1999 to 2004 fascinate me. They featured the last seasons in Chicago from Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper, among others, the early years of Elton Brand, Metta World Peace, Jamal Crawford, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, Tyson Chandler, Jay Williams, and Eddy Curry, and the veterans like Brent Barry and Jalen Rose. Even Charles Oakley played for them.

But it looked like a rough go of things for most of those rebuilding years. Chicago at least finished 2001 on a good note with a two-game winning streak, possibly enough to keep themselves from Bobcatting since Golden State and Washington, the two teams worse in defensive efficiency, allowed a half-dozen more points per 100 possessions over their final two outings. The Wizards actually had a five-game winning streak all while finishing 19-63, which should never happen because math and stuff.

2005 Atlanta Hawks (13-69)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 100.6 (29th out of 30, 0.9 points from last place)
  • Defense: 111.1 (29th out of 30, 0.3 points from last place)

Notable players: Al Harrington, Antoine Walker, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Tyronn Lue, Boris Diaw, Royal Ivey.

Notable downswings

  • Went 1-27 from February 10 to April 8, but beat the dreaded 2005 Timberwolves squad on my birthday. Ugh.

If a team’s leader in PER is Tyronn Lue, chances are the season is going down the drain with zero resistance. Lue led the Hawks at 16.2.

But just how well were they going to do with pre-stretch-four Al Harrington, Antoine Walker and a 19-year-old Josh Smith on either side of the court? The trio shot a combined 105 for 398 from 3, though 2/3 of those attempts came from Walker who was eventually traded back to the Celtics for, among other things, the draft pick that becameRajon Rondo, which then became part of the trade that landed Joe Johnson.

On offense, the Hawks didn’t Bobcat thanks to New Orleans and their 2-29 start to the season. Baron Davis was eventually traded to Golden State, which meant about half their field goal attempts came from Lee Nailon, P.J. Brown, Dan Dickau, and rookie J.R. Smith. Jamaal Magloire, a year after making the All-Star Game, produced a 12.9 PER and say what you want about win shares, but he produced -0.4 offensive ones. He would total -2.7 offensive win shares after his all-star season.

As for defensive efficiency, the Lakers finished dead last, though a stretch of games without Kobe Bryant yielded not-terrible efficiency splits of 106.8/110.6/-3.8 and went 6-8. The real damage came in the final 30 games when they allowed 118 points/100 possessions and went 6-24, including the final 13 where they allowed 120 points/100 possessions. Their offense was fine, though, finishing seventh overall on that end of the floor.

As for the Bobcats’ first season, they were 28th in offensive efficiency and 20th on defense. You can do far worse than that, especially when finishing 18-64.

2006 Portland Trail Blazers (21-61)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.1 (30th out of 30)
  • Defense: 111.9 (28th out of 30, 2.5 points from last place, and tied for 21st-worst ever)

Notable players: Zach Randolph, Juan Dixon, Sebastian Telfair, Jarrett Jack, Darius Miles, Martell Webster, not Brandon Roy or LaMarcus Aldridge.

Notable downswings

  • Finished 4-33 with efficiency splits of 100.6/115.5/-14.9.
  • Zach Randolph, Darius Miles, and Ruben Patterson were on the same team. Yikes.

The guidelines for close calls were supposed to be teams that fell within two points of last place in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Portland met the criteria on offense, but normally wouldn’t on defense.

I gave them a pass, though, because last-place Seattle tied for the worst defense ever relative to league average (see tables at the bottom of this post). In the middle-third of the season, the SuperSonics allowed 118.8 points/100 possessions, which probably happens whenever a team cycles through starting big men like Johan Petro, Robert Swift, Chris Wilcox, Reggie Evans, Vitaly Potapenko, Danny Fortson, and Vladimir Radmanovic. At least Nick Collison was decent, so there’s that.

As for the Trail Blazers, we know now how nicely they rebuilt through the 2006 NBA Draft and that the Jail Blazers era was finally coming to an end, but most importantly they made an appearance in The Onion.

2010 Timberwolves (17-65)

Efficiency

  • • Offense: 101.7 (29th out of 30, 1.1 points from last place)
  • • Defense: 111.6 (27th out of 30, 1.6 points from last place)

Notable players: Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, Jonny Flynn, Ryan Hollins, “The White Hole” Oleksiy Pecherov, Sasha Pavlovic.

Notable downswings

  • David Kahn.
  • Started 1-15.
  • Last third of the season: 1-23.

Who knew Kevin Love and Al Jefferson on the same team would generate only 15 wins? They were the only Timberwolves with PERs over 13, yet Ryan Hollins frequently started over Love. Kurt Rambis, everyone.

Also, in Sasha Pavlovic’s first season out of Cleveland, he had field goal-three point-free throw percentage splits of 36.3/29.7/38.5. That last mark is not a lie, more impressive than Mo Williams’ dropoff post-LeBron James. He nearly Bobcatted in shooting splits.

In the way of the Timberwolves Bobcatting were the Nets and Raptors on offense and defense, respectively. Toronto hadChris Bosh playing alongside Andrea Bargnani and post-Magic Hedo Turkoglu, which was actually one of the worst 25 defenses ever in both 2010 and 2011.

As for New Jersey, they traded Vince Carter the previous summer and started 0-18, scoring 94.5 points/100 possessions during that time. They finished last third of the season well, at least by their standards, by going 6-22 with efficiency splits of 106.1/111.6/-5.5. Brook Lopez played 82 games and was teammates with Chris Douglas-Roberts, who’s now on the Bobcats and looks like a real-life Otto Rocket.

2013 Charlotte Bobcats (21-61)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 101.5 (28th out of 30, 1.3 points from last place)
  • Defense: 111.5 (30th out of 30, tied for 23rd-worst ever)

Notable players: Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon, Byron Mullens.

Notable downswings

  • Lost 18 straight from November 26 to December 29, but won on December 31. Happy New Year.

Charlotte could’ve Bobcatted in back-to-back seasons, but it helped when they scored 112.3 points/100 possessions over their final three games. There’s also the last 19 when they went 8-11 and scored 105.7 points/100 possessions, four or more points higher than 27th-ranked Orlando, 29th-ranked Phoenix, and last place Washington over the same stretch of games.

But at least that helped three players finish with a PER above 15 (Walker, Sessions, and Henderson), something they didn’t accomplish the season before. They also got a first round pick from Joe Dumars before the season even started, one they might net this summer depending on where Detroit’s draft pick winds up this season. It’s top-8 protected, and with Charlotte losing their first round pick to Chicago (though owning Portland’s) it’d be helpful if Detroit got their act together by winning some games.

The Pistons play at Philadelphia on Saturday night, a game the 76ers will likely be coming into tied for the longest losing streak in NBA history at 26. Things could happen. Detroit’s season would be summed up perfectly by losing to a near-Bobcatting team like the…

2014 Philadelphia 76ers (15-56)

Efficiency

  • Offense: 98.2 (30th out of 30, currently 11th-worst ever)
  • Defense: 109.5 (26th out of 30, 1.8 points from last place)

Notable players: Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Tony Wroten, James Anderson.

Notable downswings

  • Currently on a 25-game losing streak dating back to January 31.
  • Games 52 to 57 had efficiency splits of 93.0/118.4/-25.4.
  • Scored at league-average efficiency just once over their last 14 games.
  • SRS and Pythagorean record far worse than Milwaukee’s, yet still two games behind them in the race for lottery balls.

We knew this team would be awful, but that 3-0 start with wins over Miami, Washington, and Chicago nearly broke Twitter. It just might’ve been enough to keep Philadelphia from accumulating the most lottery balls and were likely the three best games of Carter-Williams’ rookie campaign. Those three games also might’ve prolonged the suspicion that Tony Wroten (not Josh Smith) might end up with the worst three-point shooting season in league history. That chance is all but gone, though, because of a sprained right ankle, so all of the bricklaying glory goes to Josh Smith.

But at least Philadelphia became intriguing in fantasy basketball mostly because of their pace which, when comparing to the league average, ranks somewhere among the fastest 25-35 teams in NBA history. They made me nominate Spencer Hawes for Most Improved Fantasy Basketball Player, and led one tweeter (and probably more) to believe Indiana would be unbeatable with Evan Turner. Things happen when pace inflates box score statistics, and for me that ranks up there with the most entertaining things about the Sixers now. Their box scores have the potential to create sick stat lines, though now they come from only the opposition.

As for Bobcatting, four teams are in their way when it comes to last place in defensive efficiency: New Orleans, the Lakers, Utah, and Milwaukee. Maybe Anthony Davis is enough to take the Pelicans out of the hunt, but the other three teams will be a challenge to surpass. The Lakers have allowed nearly 117 points/100 possessions over their last 10 games but have been fine in their last two, Utah let Detroit put 114 on them last night, and Milwaukee is allowing 118.3 points/100 possessions in their last 10 games. So many nets are on fire thanks to them.

Honorable mention: The 1998 Denver Nuggets (11-71) have the 4th-worst SRS in league history and probably Bobcat if not for Latrell Sprewell’s choking incident with P.J. Carlesimo. Denver also has the fifth-worst defense ever while the Warriors have the 8th-worst offense.

Speaking of those rankings, below are the tables of the 25 worst offenses and defenses. Highlighted are teams featured in this post.

The 25 worst offenses

The 25 worst defenses

As mentioned before, it’s really hard to be terrible on both sides of the court to the point a front office has to pitch in (intentionally or not) to make it happen. Even then, that might not be enough.

It’s also worth noting that, despite the lackluster defense exhibited by teams at the bottom of this season’s standings, none are currently on the list of the 25 worst. There’s still time for a new level of ghastly performance, though, and some of the worst defenses are allowing a ridiculous amount points recently. Milwaukee, the worst defense in the league, currently allows five points worse than the league average of 106.3, so even if the 76ers somehow passed them they might have a small cushion preventing them from making a list of dreadful defenses.

But then again, never count out Sam Hinkie. It’s “soreness” and “resting” season, and who knows if it’ll affect Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young. That just might be enough to put the 76ers over the top, relieving the Charlotte Bobcats from that term named after their 2012 campaign.

Will Bobcatting become 76ing? Philadelphering? Hinking? The possibilities are endless.

As a reminder, all stats are according to Basketball-Reference.

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