The second half of the season is underway, and it's a good time to see where the league is trending.
League-wide pace is up again. At an average of 99.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes, the league is playing at its fastest pace since the 1990-91 season. Twenty of the 30 teams have played at a faster pace than they did last season, when 21 of the 30 teams played faster than they did the season before. The 2005-06, "Seven seconds or less" Phoenix Suns played at a pace that would rank 20th this season.
At 106.2 points scored per 100 possessions, 2016-17 was the most efficient scoring season in NBA history, and this season, teams have been slightly more efficient through Game 41 (105.6 points per 100 possessions) than they were last season (105.5). So it's possible that the league will eventually top that mark of 106.2.
At 52.0 percent, effective field goal percentage is already higher than its ever been in any full season. The percentage of shots that have come from 3-point range has seen another big jump, from 32 percent to 34 percent.
But we're also seeing the all-time lowest marks in both offensive rebounding percentage (only 22 percent of available rebounds have been grabbed by the offensive team) and free throw rate (the league is averaging just 26 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field).
Furthermore, after dropping each of the last three seasons (from 15.1 to 14.0 per 100 possessions), league-wide turnover percentage is up to 14.7. That's still the third lowest rate in the 41 seasons since the league started counting turnovers, though.
Pace and space has made it harder to defend the league's best offenses than it was in years prior. But some teams have done it well. The Minnesota Timberwolves weren't one of those teams early in the season, but they've improved defensively over the last several weeks and have picked up some quality wins along the way. A 12-3 mark since Dec. 18 has them back in the top five for the first time since Week 2.
- Last week: Warriors lead steady top 10 at season's midway point
- This time last year: Warriors and Cavs face off again at midway point -- The Clippers (6-0) were the only undefeated team and the Nets (0-8) were the only winless team in 2017. The Nuggets clobbered the Pacers in London with a Nikola Jokic pass being the highlight, Derrick Rose went AWOL, T.J. McConnell beat the Knicks at the buzzer, and Isaiah Thomas hit a step-back game-winner in Atlanta.
- Plus-minus stud: Karl-Anthony Tows (MIN) was a plus-85 in four games last week.
- Plus-minus dud: De'Aaron Fox (SAC) was a minus-71 in four games last week.
- Hero team of the week: Miami (3-0) -- The Heat's perfect week included an impressive back-to-back in Toronto and Indiana.
- Zero team of the week: Cleveland (0-3) -- The Cavs lost to the Wolves and Raptors by a total of 62 points before blowing an 22-point lead in Indiana.
- East vs. West: The West is 128-126 (.504) against the East in interconference games after going 12-3 last week.
- Toughest schedules so far: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Utah, 3. Chicago
- Easiest schedules so far: 1. Houston, 2. Washington, 3. Boston
- Schedule strength is based on cumulative opponent record, and adjusted for home vs. away and days of rest before a game.
- High jumps of the week: Miami (+9), Indiana (+5), L.A. Lakers (+5)
- Free falls of the week: Denver (-5), Charlotte (-4), Four teams (-3)
- Team to watch in Week 14: Philadelphia -- The Sixers are a game and a half (tied in the loss column) behind the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the East. They'll visit the Bucks on Saturday after hosting the Raptors on Monday and playing their last game against the Celtics on Thursday in Boston.
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Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)
The league has averaged 99.4 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes and 105.6 points scored per 100 possessions this season.
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NBA.com's Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, are just one man's opinion. If you have an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for John Schuhmann, send him an e-mail or contact him via Twitter.
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