Posted Nov 26 2009 10:35AM
The Numbers Game is a weekly notebook of the most compelling numbers that can be found in and beyond the boxscore.
Who ever thought we'd see the day when a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Oklahoma City Thunder is the national TV highlight of a 12-game Friday night in the Association?
Who ever thought that the Bucks and Thunder would have a combined 16-12 record at this point in the season? They're two of the feel-good surprises of the first month, and they're led by two of the brightest young stars in the league.
Brandon Jennings was taken with the 10th pick in the Draft, but he became the most buzz-worthy star of the rookie class after just one regular-season game, when he missed a triple-double by just one rebound and one assist. Two weeks later, he dropped a double-nickel on the Warriors -- yeah, 55 points -- and made the Bucks more newsworthy than they've been since Sam Cassell was running point.
|Highest Scoring Games, Rookie|
Kevin Durant knows what it's like to be a rookie who can light it up. When he dropped 42 in April of 2008, he became the youngest player in NBA history to score that many points in a game. Averaging 20.3 points in his rookie season, Durant was just the seventh rookie in the last 15 years to average 20-plus.
|Highest Scoring Average, Rookie|
Jennings' 55 was no fluke, of course. In just 13 games this season, he's scored 25 points or more six times, as many times as Dwyane Wade did as a rookie. At this pace, Jennings will score 25-plus 38 times this season, which would tie David Robinson for the most 25-point games as a rookie since the 1986-87 season.
|Most Games, 25+ Points, Rookie|
As electric as Jennings and Durant are offensively, the biggest reason the Bucks and Thunder are where they are in the standings is because of defense. They are both among the most improved defensive teams in the league.
|Most Improved Defenses|
|Points allowed per 100 possessions|
If you've been paying attention, the most improved offensive team shouldn't be a surprise. Thanks to their embarrassing game in Charlotte on Wednesday, the Raptors are no longer the most efficient offense in the league this season (Phoenix took over the top spot), but they're easily the most improved. And Atlanta's improvement offensively has clearly been the biggest factor in the Hawks' strong start.
|Most Improved Offenses|
|Points scored per 100 possessions|
• In Wednesday's win in Houston, Jason Kidd passed Mark Jackson and now ranks second all-time with 10,337 career assists. At his career average of 9.2 assists per game, Kidd needs to play 594 more games to pass John Stockton's mark of 15,806. If he doesn't miss another game, Kidd can get there in January of 2017, when he's 43 years old.
• In their first 13 games, the Bobcats had scored 30 or more points in a quarter just four times. On Wednesday against the Raptors, Charlotte scored 30-plus in three of the four periods.
• Last season, the Kings lost their first 28 games against the Eastern Conference before beating the Knicks (in New York) on March 20. This season, it took only three games against the East to pick up a win, and the Knicks were their victim once again, Wednesday in Sacramento.
• The Knicks' David Lee led the league with 65 double-doubles last season, recording one every 1.2 games he played. This season, Lee is tied for 16th in the league with just five double-doubles in 15 games played.
• Jason Williams may not be able to hit a pair of free throws to put a game away in the closing seconds, but he leads the league with an assist-turnover ratio of 5.08. Since turnovers were first compiled in 1977-78, a player has had an assist-turnover ratio of 5.0 or better only 11 times. Muggsy Bogues pulled it off five times, and the last to do it was Jose Calderon in 2007-08.
• Three of the Heat's nine wins this season, including each of the last two, have come by one point. Last season, just one of Miami's 43 wins came by a single point.
• When they were rookies in 1987-88, the Warriors' Winston Garland (3) had two more games of 25 or more points than the Pacers' Reggie Miller (1). After their rookie season, Miller (286) had 282 more games of 25 or more points than Garland (4).
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