10 Eye-Popping Statistics from Early Portion of 2013-14 NBA Season
Although we're only a few games into the 2013-14 NBA season, stars across the league are already lighting up the stat sheet and generating some mind-boggling numbers.
One standout enjoyed a start rivaled only by Oscar Robertson, while another worked his way into the league's PER upper echelon. Some teams are sharing the ball at a record rate, and others couldn't find the hoop even if they had a map.
In our examination of staggering early-season statistics, we focus on record-breaking versatility, polar extremes of shooting efficiency and stunning team achievements. We cover everything from advanced metrics to simple points and rebounds.
Who made our list of eye-popping stats?
Markieff Morris' Seismic PER
Stat: Morris' Player Efficiency Rating is 26.1 (10th in NBA)
A big part of the Phoenix Suns' surprising start is the superb play of third-year forward Markieff Morris.
He's doing a little bit of everything, and doing it efficiently. The result is a top-10 PER and recognition as the Western Conference Player of the Week for Nov. 4-10.
We're only seven games into the season, but it's still impressive that he's shooting 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from distance to compile 15.9 points per game.
In addition, Morris is notching 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals while maintaining clean defense.
If he can remain in the ballpark of this kind of production throughout the year, and the rest of the Suns continue to outperform expectations, Phoenix will be dangerous every night.
A Big Man Leads the League in Usage Percentage
Stat: DeMarcus Cousins leads NBA in usage percentage (35.7); everyone else in top 10 is a guard or swingman.
In general, the most-utilized players in the NBA are guards and small forwards—skilled playmakers that coaches can trust with the ball for much of the game.
It's rare for a big man to post a usage percentage that rivals or exceeds that of the top guards and swingmen, so DeMarcus Cousins' league-leading 35.7 percent is remarkable.
The next post player on the leaderboard is LaMarcus Aldridge at No. 15, so that gives you an idea of how the stat is dominated by smaller players.
Cousins' usage is partly due to the Kings' lack of substantial options in the post, but let's not diminish what a richly talented player he is. The 23-year-old star is putting up 22.3 points and 9.6 boards per night.
If other lower-tier teams had a big man that good, they would use him a lot too.
(Almost) Everyone Is Pushing the "Pace"
Stat: Rockets had highest pace factor in NBA in last year with 96.1. Through the first few weeks of 2013-14, 12 teams are ahead of that pace.
Pace factor (the number of possessions per 48 minutes) is a pretty good indicator of how fast teams play, and the numbers show that many teams are increasing the tempo significantly.
The Houston Rockets' run-and-gun squad led the league with a pace of 96.1 in 2012-13, but that mark is being outdone by 12 different 2013-14 clubs.
Without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers haven't hesitated to move the ball up the floor and quickly find shots. They lead the league in pace factor with 100.0. Sometimes it works to their detriment, but we all know Mike D'Antoni loves to get the rock flying toward the rim early in the shot clock.
Other teams registering rapid pace factors include young groups like the Golden State Warriors (99.2) and Philadelphia 76ers (99.1), along with the high-powered Minnesota Timberwolves (99.1) and Los Angeles Clippers (98.1).
Not all teams want to run at breakneck speed (see: Indiana Pacers), but there's definitely an ongoing shift towards uptempo play across the league.
Brooklyn Nets Shooting Horribly on the Road
Stat: Nets shooting 41 percent from field, 28 percent from three-point range on road.
It's too early in the year to draw concrete conclusions about the Brooklyn Nets' fate, but their woeful shooting away from the Barclays Center is something that needs to be remedied.
Jason Kidd's crew has not found an optimal offensive rhythm and is still trying to find the right possession-by-possession approach.
However, that doesn't excuse a bunch of perennial All-Stars from shooting like a D-League team. You would think a group of veteran playmakers with elite shot-making abilities wouldn't produce such volatile results on the road.
The good news for Nets fans is that their marquee stars will jell better as the season progresses, and their shooting numbers are guaranteed to rise. For now, Brooklyn must ride out the storm and aggressively attack the basket.
Derrick Rose Is Ice Cold, Too
Stat: D-Rose shooting 33 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three-point range.
Speaking of ugly shooting, Derrick Rose's long-awaited return has been brick-filled.
The Chicago Bulls former MVP is converting a measly 33 percent of his field goals, including an anemic 25 percent from beyond the arc. Rose's forays to the rim have ended in errant shots all too often, and his perimeter game hasn't clicked yet.
Rose has struggled to generate points in pick-and-roll scenarios, and he hasn't been able to connect from distance unless it's a spot-up opportunity. Although he might not be playing at full strength, it's still strange to see such poor results from an elite performer.
For Chicago to acquire championship form, its point guard must begin to score efficiently without sacrificing the chemistry and involvement of the rest of the club. It's a tricky balance to strike, but that's what Tom Thibodeau needs from his thoroughbred.
Rose hopes his catastrophic shooting stretch will be a distant memory later this season, when he's completely healthy and leading the Bulls through the postseason.
Michael Carter-Williams Rubs Shoulders with Big O
Stat: "Michael Carter-Williams and Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history with 130-plus points & 50-plus assists in first seven career games" (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info and Elias Sports Bureau).
Talk about making a good first impression.
Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams was a dark horse to win Rookie of the Year before the season began, but he's now the front-runner thanks to a torrid start.
After his near-quadruple double debut against the Miami Heat, MCW proceeded to score in double figures the next six games, in addition to dealing a bevy of dimes.
It's too early to declare him a star, or even Rookie of the Year, but achieving something only Oscar Robertson has done is special.
Carter-Williams' versatility is readily apparent, as his outside jumper has improved considerably since he left Syracuse last spring. The young, lanky rookie looks comfortable in NBA competition, using his tools to drive, attack the rim, facilitate and play blanketing defense.
The majority of the 2013 rookie class may be underwhelming, but not this guy.
Miami Heat Know How to Share
Stat: 28.1 assists per game (most in NBA)
Erik Spoelstra's Miami Heat have been far from perfect so far in 2013-14, with some defensive lapses and lackluster play on the road.
The one thing they've done exceptionally well is distribute the ball and collaborate to find open shots.
With LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers all facilitating smoothly, the Heat have three different high-caliber point guards to create and set things up for each other. With key reserves Norris Cole and Ray Allen also dishing effectively, Miami has five different players averaging at least three assists per contest.
Without much of a low-post presence from big men, the defending champs rely on constant movement and well-timed passes in order to get high-percentage shots near the basket. When they are all in sync, it's a small-ball clinic.
In 2012-13, the Heat averaged 23 dimes per night, one of the best marks in the league. So far, it looks like the 2013-14 squad will put that number to shame.
CP3 Is in Rare Company
Stat: "Paul has recorded nine straight games with at least 10 points and 10 assists to start season. Only longer streak to start season is Magic Johnson: 11, 1990-91" (Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info and Elias Sports Bureau).
We included Chris Paul's accomplishment in our list of eye-popping stats because it illustrates his consistent, outstanding dual-threat output.
He's not just barely scoring 10 each night. In fact, he's averaging a stellar 20.4 points per game as he simultaneously leads the Association in assists.
Those astronomical numbers reflect his command of the game and value to the Los Angeles Clippers. It looks like Paul is destined to be a major part of the MVP discussion once again.
CP3 is proving night in and night out that he's much more than a lob-tosser and elite ball-handler. He's a master at manipulating defenses to create open looks for teammates, and he's also a crafty mid-range shooter.
Paul's mid-range game has been the ingredient that fuels his robust scoring totals. The well-timed 12-to-18 foot jumpers have helped compensate for his poor three-point shooting.
Roy Hibbert Blowing Away the Field in Blocked Shots
Stat: Hibbert averaging 4.4 blocks per game (5.4 per 36 minutes).
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert has taken his shot-blocking skills to a whole new level in 2013-14.
He may not finish the season with an average of 4.4 blocks per game, but for now, he's in Hakeem Olajuwon-Dikembe Mutombo territory.
Keep in mind that Hibbert is swatting 4.4 shots in just 29.4 minutes. With a little more playing time, he could be flirting with five rejections. The next-best shot-blocker so far this season is Anthony Davis at 3.1, and then the rest of the field is below three per contest.
He possesses excellent length, footwork and timing, but the trait that makes him such a formidable rim protector is his ability to stuff attempts easily with either hand. No matter what angle the attacker is coming from, Indy's tower can turn it back.
Watch Hibbert's seven blocks against the Orlando Magic to enjoy his ambidextrous skills.
Kevin Love Stuffing the Stat Sheet
Stat: (Do we have to pick one?) Kevin Love is the first player in NBA history with at least four three-pointers, 19 rebounds and seven assists in a single game. (Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau).
We could use a number of striking statistics to demonstrate Kevin Love's supremacy for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This one just happens to crystallize his one-of-a-kind versatility.
Love's splendid performance against the Los Angeles Clippers (23 points, 4-of-8 from deep, 19 rebounds and seven assists) shows how dominant he can be in every aspect of Minnesota's offensive attack.
He's been a basketball natural his whole life, and his sharp instincts and feel for the game certainly translated well to the NBA. Love has great chemistry with his Wolves teammates, and that gives him an edge in so many areas: anticipating shots to rebound, finding cutters to pass to easily, sliding into catch-and-shoot opportunities and much more.
The gem against L.A. wasn't a one-hit-wonder, of course. Love is second in the NBA in points per game, rebounds per game and free throws, and he's leading the league in field goals and PER.
He'll be a handful for whoever encounters him in the playoffs.
For more NBA analysis, follow Dan O'Brien on Twitter: @DanielO_BR
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