The RGV Vipers' 17-Game Winning Streak, By the Numbers
The NBA D-League, and any minor league that feeds a major league for that matter, is more about players than it is about teams. From fans to NBA general managers, everyone in the basketball world is in search of the next Jeremy Lin or Danny Green or Glen Rice Jr. But the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have been so dominant, playing with such a unique style, that their system -- rather than their players -- has become the star.
We’ve already covered that system extensively (see our breakdowns of their run-and-gun and small-ball philosophies), but we have yet to acknowledge the most basic of statistics: They have won 17 regular season games in a row dating back to last season, and would tie the NBA D-League record for longest winning streak with a victory over the Reno Bighorns tonight. That streak includes 10 wins to end the 2012-13 regular season, plus seven wins to open this season, and would balloon to 23 straight wins if you included last year’s championship run. And most impressively, it spans two almost entirely different rosters: Second-year wing Chris Johnson is the only holdover from last year’s 10-game winning streak, and Nevada Smith took over for Nick Nurse as head coach before this season.
(The current winning streak record is held by the 2007-08 Idaho Stampede, who by the way have been nearly as dominant as RGV on a per-possession basis in winning their first five games this year.)
Here’s a deeper look at the streak by the numbers:
--The Vipers have used 26 players over the 17 games, including 11 players with NBA experience and five on assignment.
--They’ve won the games by an average of 14.2 points, scoring 125.8 points per game and shooting 49.6% from the field and 40.3% from three.
--While RGV featured a similar run-and-gun attack last season, it’s taken the style to the extreme this season: The Vipers are averaging 113.97 possessions per 48 minutes in their seven wins this season compared to 102.55 in their 10 season-ending wins a year ago. But they’ve been almost robotic in their effectiveness, with a 117.7 offensive rating over this year’s stretch and a 117.6 offensive rating over last year’s.
--RGV’s allergy to mid-range shots also spans the two seasons. Over the 17 games, the Vipers have attempted 6.8% of their shots from mid-range – outside the paint and inside the three-point arc – while launching 41.7% of their shots from three. (See their 10-game 2012-13 shot chart and seven-game 2013-14 shot chart below.)
--Point guard play has been RGV’s linchpin. NBA D-League MVP Andrew Goudelock averaged 25.8 points per game (52.2% FG, 50.7% 3PFG), including 3.6 threes per game, and 6.1 assists over the 10 games last year, while Houston assignee Isaiah Canaan is averaging 21.7 ppg (49% FG, 45.6% 3PFG), including 3.7 threes per game, and 9.9 assists this year.