By the numbers: League leaders edition (4/10/14)

by Jim Eichenhofer

Pelicans forward Anthony Davis blocks Chicago's Taj Gibson during a February game

The New Orleans Pelicans announced Thursday that All-Star forward Anthony Davis will miss the rest of the 2013-14 season, as a result of back spasms that hampered him recently. Although it would’ve likely happened regardless of his status, Davis is now almost assured of finishing his second pro season as the NBA’s No. 1 shot-blocker.

With just seven days remaining in the regular season, the only player within hailing distance of Davis’ average of 2.82 blocks per game is Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka, who is at 2.61. As a result, Ibaka would have to block a total of 28 shots in the Thunder’s final four games to surpass Davis, an average of seven swats per remaining contest.

Although it’s not mathematically impossible to catch Davis, Ibaka only has one seven-block game in the entire 2013-14 regular season – he swatted seven Lakers shots on March 13 – among his 77 appearances. Of Oklahoma City’s four remaining contests, two are against New Orleans. It’s not even a given that Ibaka will play each game, because the Thunder are on the verge of locking up the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed.

Roberts needs five more made free throws
Brian Roberts’ pursuit of the NBA’s free-throw percentage championship suffered a minor setback Wednesday when he did not attempt any foul shots against Phoenix. Roberts is 120-for-127 at the charity stripe this season, which means he still needs to sink five more free throws to reach the 125-make minimum to officially qualify for the crown.

Given that Roberts is averaging 1.8 attempts over his 70 appearances so far this season, this could be a close call, but working in his favor is that he obviously shoots every Pelicans technical free throw while he’s in the game.

Roberts is shooting 94.5 percent this season, which is well ahead of second-place Dirk Nowitzki (90.1). In fact, Roberts is leading the field by such a wide margin that he could miss his next six consecutive foul shots and would still have a higher season percentage than Nowitzki.

Morrow still has shot at three-point percentage crown
Atlanta’s Kyle Korver took another big step toward winning the league’s three-point percentage title by going 4-for-6 Wednesday in a key victory over Boston. Korver’s lead isn’t necessarily insurmountable, however. He’s shooting 47.8 percent, while New York’s Pablo Prigioni is second at 46.3, followed by Anthony Morrow’s 46.1 percent.

Morrow has moved back near the top of the league behind an outstanding April, shooting 57.1 percent from three-point range this month. For the sake of argument, if Korver remains static at 47.8 percent and Morrow attempts, say, three treys per game over the Pelicans’ final four contests, he’d have to go 9-for-12 to beat out Korver.

Pelicans up 22 blocks on Thunder for NBA lead
Garnering less attention but still noteworthy is the fact that New Orleans is leading the NBA as a team in blocks. It obviously may be more difficult to maintain the No. 1 spot with Davis sidelined the rest of the way, but the Pelicans have swatted 496 shots, 22 more than the Thunder’s 474 (both teams have played 78 games). In other words, Oklahoma City would have to block 5.5 more shots per game than New Orleans in the final week to make up that difference.