The numbers have been crunched, take a look after the jump and we'll talk a bit about pace, offensive efficiency and a few anecdotal points as well.
If you're paying close attention, you'll notice a slight difference in this edition of the advanced stats chart. I replaced Possessions with Pace. Pace is simply possessions per 48 minutes, this keeps everything on an even scale when we have overtime games. For example, last night's game featured 106 possessions, but the pace was only 96.2. Here's a brief primer on all of the advanced stats I'm tracking.
- eFG: effective field goal %, this is essentially how well your team shot from the field. It takes three-point makes into account so this number will almost always be significantly higher (and more meaningful) than pure field goal percentage.
- TO%: Percentage of possessions which end in turnovers.
- ORB%: Percent of available offensive rebounds the team grabs.
- FTF: Made free throws per field goal attempt. A measure of not only how frequently a team gets to the line, but how well they convert those free throw opportunities.
- DRB%: Percent of available defensive rebounds the team grabs (75% is the benchmark here).
- OFR: Points scored per 100 possessions
- DFR: Points allowed per 100 possessions
- Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes
One more thing before we get into Sixers-related analysis, I've uploaded this spreadsheet to my server and anyone who's interested can download it to play with the stats however you like. Whenever I update it, the new version will be available here. These posts will focus on segments of the season, for the most part. For the full picture, check out the entire spreadsheet.
Alright, now, what can we glean from the latest stats? Well, first of all some perspective. The Sixers only topped their offensive rating from last night's game (132.16) one time all of last season (135.27 against Sacramento, in the 4th game of the season). Oddly, the pace of the Knicks' game wasn't as quick as that of the game the night before, the Sixers were just much, much more efficient. The Milwuakee game was actually the worst offensive performance of the early season. Too many turnovers, too many quick shots, too much bad offense.
The Sixers pace is way up from last season, this could be the result of better offensive sets (less dribbling the entire shot clock down, more ball movement for better shots earlier in the shot clock). The fast break points haven't been outrageous thus far (21 vs. New York, 19 vs. MIL, 13 vs. ORL). I'd actually expect more when the Sixers get things ironed out on the defensive end. As I've said in the comments section a couple of times already, this type of offensive efficiency is not sustainable from this roster, and this type of defense simply won't cut it against the better teams in the league. It's early, the Sixers have a winning record, but the advanced stats tell us the same things our eyes do. The defense must improve.
A couple notes from the season thus far:
- My favorite offensive set so far this season: 57 seconds left against the Knicks. After NY pulled to within 5 points the Sixers desperately needed a hoop to stem the tide. They called a simple play, Brand set a screen for Iguodala at the elbow, Iguodala brushed his man off the screen and drove into the lane, sucking his defender and Brand's defender back down into the paint. Brand squared up after setting the pick, Iguodala hit him in the chest with a pass, Brand drained the 17-footer. A simple, effective, flexible and repeatable play run by your two smartest players. Have the Sixers had anything like that in the past 3 years?
- Pleasant Surprise: I have to say, Marreese Speights has definitely impressed me through the first three games of the season. His defense is still lagging behind his offense, but I believe that's always going to be the case. The important thing is the effort. He isn't quitting on plays, he's hustling, he's trying to be in the right place and move his feet. The effort alone makes a ton of difference. If he can just hustle himself into an average defender/rebounder and maybe block a shot or two every once in a while, he's going to be a huge positive. His offensive game is really that good and to me, he seems like a perfect fit for this team, in this offense. His plus/minus is even up to a +8.
- All Star for AI9: I think it'll take between five and ten 30+ point games before the All Star break for Iguodala to have a legit shot. An arbitrary number, and a stupid barometer, but points scored is the only stat people seem to care about. If it's going to happen, these are the matchups I like:
- @ Detroit - Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon guarding Iguodala.
- vs. Detroit - Ditto
- vs. Golden State - Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry
- @ Sacramento - Kevin Martin or Tyreke Evans
- vs. Toronto - DeRozan and a bunch of other stiffs
- @ Detroit - See above
- vs. NYK - See Saturday's game.
- vs. Sacramento - See above
- @ Minnesota - Possible back court of Flynn and Sessions.
- @ Indiana - Dunleavy?
- vs. Indiana - Ditto.
- @ Milwaukee - Redd really has no chance.
My point being, as a two guard, Iguodala is going to have quite a few disgusting matchups, and teams who chose to play their three on him are going to be leaving a much smaller player to cover Thad, which should be immediately punished on the blocks. If he can keep his jumper going like it has been through the first three games, he's going to have ample opportunity to score in the thirties, thus raising his national awareness. Whether or not that's an ideal situation for the team is another matter, but there you have it.