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A.P. Hoops: The Story Behind the Story

All season long, D-League.com will be looking at its top prospects and teams through the lens of advanced stats. Today, we break down the advanced stats behind the man that's been the talk of the NBA D-League world for the past two weeks.

Now in his fifth season in the NBA D-League, Blake Ahearn's turned into a full-blown star for the Reno Bighorns.
Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty Images

After making a staggering 106 consecutive free throws Ė shattering the previous NBA D-League record (79 Ė his own) and surpassing the NBA mark of 97 Ė and becoming the leagueís all-time leading scorer while he was at it, Blake Ahearnís attracted some attention over the past two weeks.

And with all eyes on Ahearn, we figured itís a good time to put him under the microscope, too.

Ahearnís not a particularly imposing figure, with a slender build set on a 6-foot, 3-inch frame. However, what he lacks in physical size, he makes up for with basketball IQ and an uncanny ability to finish and set his teammates up on the offensive end. Over the course of his four-plus-year NBA D-League career, Ahearn's put up numbers that speak for themselves Ė and never more than this year.

Blake Ahearn Season Stats: 2011-12

MINPTSFG%3PM3PT%FT%REBASTTOSTL
Blake Ahearn38.224.245.1%2.938.9%96.9%2.56.03.41.2

But what are they saying, exactly? The numbers are impressive, especially the 24 ppg average, six assists per game and the 97-percent clip from the foul line. But by now, weíve learned that basic stats can only teach us so much. So letís get out our statistical shovel and dig a bit deeper.

We know Ahearn can score. But how efficiently? Turns out his true shooting percentage (TS%), a measurement that accounts for 3-pointers, 2-pointers and free throws (adding depth where field goal percentage falls flat), stands at an extremely impressive 63.6 percent. Not only does this value place him fourth in the entire NBA D-League among players who have played in at least 10 games, but itís well above the league average of 54 percent.

Furthermore, Ahearnís free throw made rate (FTM) Ė the ratio of free throws made per field goal attempt Ė is .448, which places him ninth in the league. And those stats are made even more impressive when you realize that Ahearnís one of only three players in the entire NBA D-League who play more than 38 minutes per game. Many of the players who have higher rate statistics than him log fewer than half the minutes he does.

Now that we have seen some of his individual stats, letís take a look at his effect on Renoís potent offense, which has been churning out the second-most points per game in the league (107.8), with the third-highest offensive rating (108). Out of all of Renoís offensive possessions, Blake Ahearn either shoots a field goal, free throw, assists on a bucket or turns the ball over nearly a quarter of the time (Usage Rate).

Furthermore, Ahearnís not just a scorer Ė in the 2011-12 season, heís assisted on an incredible 24.4 percent of his teamís mad baskets (Ast%). If we explore his on/off court values, we see the following:

Reno Bighorns Stats, With/Without Ahearn on Court
On/Off CourtTS%OffRtgFTM RateFGM (%AST)
Reno Bighorns57.1%108.0.27558.3%
Off54.9%105.7.26953.9%
On58.0%108.9.27860.1%

When Ahearn is on the floor, the Bighorns have a higher shooting efficiency, score more points per 100 possessions and make more free throws per field goal attempt. Furthermore, Ahearnís presence on the floor leads to assists on a touch more than 60 percent of FGM, which indicates that he facilitates better ball movement and sets his teammates up to succeed offensively.

As both a scorer and facilitator, Blake Ahearn possesses the offensive prowess catch the attention of NBA D-League fans everywhere and hopefully a few NBA scouts along the way.