Over the last several weeks, I’ve started a series about non-conference matchups in a season where the West has had the upper hand by a historic margin. That margin, at least in terms of winning percentage against the East, is slowly shrinking but I thought it’d be fun to dive deeper into non-conference play anyway.
So after fooling around with the stats page at NBA.com, I made some conference splits. Just how well are teams performing against the East compared to the West?
Some net ratings per 100 possessions are pretty staggering. Only the Heat have a higher one against the West while the Jazz are even at zero. Below are the five worst differences against the West and the six best since there was a tie for fifth (you can also view it here):
It’s not all that surprising to see a team like the Kevin Love-led Timberwolves in the bottom five. Their offense is still somewhat there against the West, though their defense falls apart. At the same time, so does quite a few others and Minnesota’s net rating versus the West is slightly above the league average of -1.57. Positivity!
That’s only a small portion of the table I made, though, since I plucked basic, miscellaneous, and advanced stats from NBA.com. It actually killed an hour of boredom by making the massive table below. After posting that, I’ll include a few thoughts.
Scroll around to see the stats you’re curious about. Teams are sorted in alphabetical with net ratings, assist percentages, etc. first, miscellaneous stats like fast break points and points in the paint second, and basic stats third.
The table can also be viewed here, and I’d actually suggest that since the table is huge. It’s my first time using Google Docs links so any issues are encouraged to be brought up.
As a reminder, all stats are pace-adjusted and according to NBA.com.
Defensive efficiency shows a pretty significant difference with teams on average allowing 4.49 points more per 100 possessions against West opponents. In particular, Detroit, Dallas, and Toronto all allow 10 or more. Only the Lakers (+1) and Spurs (+.01) have better defensive ratings against the West than the East, though the Lakers’ one is no accomplishment. More on that in the next paragraph.
The top five defensive ratings against the East are Indiana (91.1), Chicago (94.7), Toronto (96.5), Golden State (97.3), and Houston (97.6). Toronto is a bit refreshing to see. Jonas Valanciunas has a nice career ahead of him, in my opinion, and he mans a team’s defense in similar company as teams led by Joakim Noah, Andrew Bogut, and Dwight Howard. Roy Hibbert and Indiana are on another level though.
The five worst are Los Angeles (106.3), Philadelphia (105.6), Milwaukee (105.6), Utah (104.7), and New York (104.5). Nothing too surprising, though New York’s defensive rating against the East WITH Tyson Chandler returning is 106.1, according to NBA.com.
The top five defenses against the West are Indiana (97.2), Oklahoma City (99.5), San Antonio (100.3), Golden State (100.6), and Charlotte (102.0). The five worst are Detroit (112.3), Dallas (109.4), Utah and Cleveland (108.6 each), and Sacramento (108.4). Again, Indiana is a freak of nature. Detroit, meanwhile, is a punching bag.
Offensive efficiency doesn’t show anywhere as large of a difference as the defensive side. 14 teams score more points per 100 possessions against the West and only one team, San Antonio, has a difference larger than five points in either direction. They score 110.9 per 100 possessions against the East and 105 against West opponents.
The top five against the East are San Antonio (110.9), Oklahoma City (110.1), Portland (109.3), the Los Angeles Clippers (108.4), and Miami (108). The bottom five are Milwaukee (97.1), Utah (97.3), Cleveland (97.4), Philadelphia (97.6), and Memphis (98.9). Seems pretty standard as far as the top five go. On the other side, Cleveland is just embarrassing. For the Grizz, there’s plenty of time to improve on their number, though they need health to be on their side sooner or later.
The top five offenses against the West are Miami (112.1), Dallas (109.6), Los Angeles Clippers (109.2), Portland (108.4), and Houston (107.7) The bottom five are Philadelphia (94.4), Milwaukee (95.4), Chicago (95.6), Boston (97.6), and Orlando (97.8). No surprises all around except for maybe Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki needs more love. So much more love.
To go with the grind that is the East and the quick pace of the West, only five teams play faster against East opponents than West ones. Those five: Detroit, Golden State, Memphis, Orlando, and Sacramento.
Fast break points don’t show too much change, though. 17 teams score more fast break points against Western teams. The 30 teams on average score .38 more fast break points against them.
22 teams take less threes against the West. Those 22 teams take 1.72 less threes on average. 21 shoot a worse three point percentage, and those 21 average out at 2.97 percent worse. When factoring in every team, the average is 1.49 percent worse against the West compared to the East.
On average, teams average 2.54 more points in the paint against the West compared to the East, and only five teams average less. Those five: New Orleans, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, and Orlando. The five highest increases: Dallas (+6.2), Indiana (+6.0), Miami (+5.5), Memphis (+5.4), and Detroit (+4.9).
Also, 21 teams foul less against the West while 18 average less blocked shots.
19 teams take more free throws against the West, though overall teams take only .12 more attempts. Only nine teams foul more against West opponents.
21 teams rebound less per 100 possessions against the West and 22 rebound a lesser percentage. At the same time, 20 teams grab more offensive rebounds though 17 grab a higher percentage. 12 teams record more second chance points against the West opponents than East ones.
Six teams assist a higher percentage against the West: New York, Atlanta, Sacramento, Boston, Cleveland, and Utah. Overall, teams assist 2.28 percent less. Oklahoma City is in last place at a decrease of 8.3 percent.
14 teams have a lesser assist/turnover ratio, though, and only four teams turn it over more against the West: the Lakers, Minnesota, New York, and Chicago.
There’s a bunch of other stuff to look at. I just thought I’d share the table and some thoughts. Brighter people will draw better conclusions from it than I could. Basically, though, the West is obviously more strong, but also a different beast than the lesser conference. The difference in pace is what I find most surprising, at least so far.
Any other thoughts are welcome.
Though I made a formula to find the differences in stats between each conference, I’m not guaranteeing everything to be 100 percent correct, especially since opponent stats were confusing at first. There might be a team with, for example, an average of 1.2 rebounds less against the West instead of -1.2. Things like that.
Make with it whatever you’d like, though, and again any comments or corrections are welcome.