There have been 69 games played over the first 10 days of the season, with nearly every team playing either four games (11 teams) or five games (17 teams), with the two exceptions of Milwaukee (the last unbeaten team with only three games played) and Miami (the busiest team with six games played).
Even though we’re working with a small sample size, here are 10 stats that stand out after the first 10 days of the 2022-23 season.
1. Paolo’s elite company
While the Orlando Magic are still searching for their first win, they can stop looking for a franchise player to build around. No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero has looked ready to take that spot since the first day he suited up in The City Beautiful.
Through his first five games, Banchero is averaging 24 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks in 34.6 minutes per game. He is just the sixth rookie in NBA history to score 20 or more points in each of his first five career games, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Elvin Hayes, Dominique Wilkins and Grant Hill.
Paolo Banchero is the first player in their first five career games to total 120+ points, 35+ rebounds, and 15+ assists, since:
Dominique Wilkins in 1982-83 (124 pts, 40 reb, 16 ast) pic.twitter.com/foEl0p84RP
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) October 27, 2022
2. Top Draft picks shining early
Banchero isn’t the only rookie who has gotten off to a sensational start in the NBA. The numbers put up by the top six selections in the 2022 Draft (keep in mind that No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren is out for the year) are dazzling, too. The top five picks that have stepped on the court are also the NBA’s top five rookie scorers, all averaging at least 14 points per game.
- No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero: 24.0 ppg (1st among rookies), 7.6 rpg (2nd)
- No. 6 pick Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers): 20.8 ppg (2nd), 5.0 rpg (6th)
- No. 4 pick Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings): 17.7 ppg (3rd), 51.3 FG% (4th)
- No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons): 16.0 ppg (4th), 42.9 3-point% (4th)
- No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston Rockets): 14.2 ppg (5th), 7.4 rpg (3rd)
If you value first impressions, this class has made a good one. The key for the rest of the season is for these players to continue to develop and, hopefully, turn the fortunes of the lottery teams that selected them. Through the first 10 days, the five teams these players play for gone a combined 3-21, with Banchero and Murray still seeking career win No. 1.
3. Doncic, Antetokounmpo lead nine 30-point scorers
To date, teams are averaging 113.4 points per game, which would be on pace as the highest league scoring average in over 50 years. By comparison, the league average last season was 110.6 ppg, so it’s likely that offenses around the league will regress toward the mean a bit over the course of the season. As that happens, the number of players averaging 30 ppg or more will likely regress, too. As of Friday, nine players are averaging 30 ppg or more.
- Luka Doncic (Mavericks): 36.3 ppg over four games
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): 36 ppg over three games
- Kevin Durant (Nets): 33.2 ppg over five games
- Ja Morant (Grizzlies): 32.6 ppg over five games
- Devin Booker (Suns): 32.5 ppg over four games
- Jayson Tatum (Celtics): 32.5 ppg over four games
- Damian Lillard (Blazers): 31 ppg over five games
- Stephen Curry (Warriors): 30.8 ppg over five games
- De’Aaron Fox (Kings): 30.5 ppg over four games
Doncic is coming off a 40-point triple-double in Dallas’ overtime win over Brooklyn on Sunday. Doncic finished with 41 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists in the 129-125 win, while Durant finished with 37 in the loss.
The only thing that has been able to slow down Antetokounmpo on offense is the schedule as the Bucks have played a league-low three games so far. After opening the season with 21 points in a win against Philadelphia, Antetokounmpo has posted back-to-back games of 44 and 43 points, respectively, while shooting 71.7% from the field.
4. Clarkson, Jazz delivering in clutch
Utah (4-1) has been one of the surprise stories to open 2022-23 with it tied for the top record in the Western Conference after an offseason that saw them trade two All-Stars, two starters and replace its coach.
A key to the Jazz’s early success has been their ability to deliver in clutch situations, as four of their first five games have featured clutch time (when the score within five points in the final five minutes of regulation or overtime). Utah has scored a league-high 55 clutch points, outscoring their opponents by a total of 10 points in 25 clutch minutes.
Twenty of those 55 clutch points have come from Jordan Clarkson, who leads all players in clutch scoring and is shooting 7-of-15 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3-point range in clutch situations. Can Clarkson and the Jazz keep up this level of play in close games throughout the season?
5. Philly’s ‘Houston’ offense
This offseason was dubbed as a Rockets reunion in Philadelphia as Daryl Morey — the current GM of the Sixers and former GM of the Rockets — added former Houston players P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and Montrezl Harrell to the Sixers roster while also re-signing James Harden, who posted the best seasons of his career in Houston. Through the first 10 days, the numbers show that it’s not only the personnel, but also the style of play, that is reminiscent of Harden’s run in Houston.
Last season, the Sixers ranked 10th in both points per game (7.8) and frequency (7.8%) of offensive plays coming on isolations. Through the first five games of this season, the Sixers rank first in points per game (19.8) and second in frequency (12.8%) on isolations. Only Dallas runs more isolations than the Sixers so far this season. With that being said, the Sixers have been very efficient on those isolation plays, scoring a league-best 1.52 points per possession. However, the Sixers are just 1-4 through their first five games.
6. Percentage of 3-point shots dips
With the exception of a slight plateau from 2009-12, the percentage of total field goal attempts coming from 3-point range has steadily risen over the past 25 seasons — from 15.9% in 1997-98 to 39.9% last season. The percentage has skyrocketed over the past decade — from 22.6% in 2011-12 to 39.9% in 2021-22.
Following the trend, 3-point attempts were on pace to account for more than 40% of all shots this season. But through the first 10 days, that hasn’t been the case as 38.2% of all shots have come from beyond the arc.
Given the small sample size, these numbers could easily climb back up and surpass the 40% mark for the first time in league history. But consider this: last season the difference between the first 10 days (39.98% of all field goal attempts came from 3-point range) and the entire season (39.92%) was miniscule.
7. Lakers anemic offense
The two teams from Los Angeles have the two lowest offensive efficiency ratings after the first 10 days of the season. The Clippers are 29th (102.2 points per 100 possessions), well below the league average of 111.4 so far this season. The Lakers have been 5.3 points per 100 possessions worse than the Clippers, with an offensive rating of 96.9.
To put that number in perspective, the league-low a season ago was 103.8 (by the Oklahoma City Thunder). The last sub-100 offensive rating was posted in 2015-16 by the Philadelphia 76ers, who went 10-72. Again, this is a small sample size and the Lakers have time to get things back on track … but they have dug themselves quite a hole to open 2022-23.
While the Lakers have been dreadful on offense so far this season, they do have the NBA’s fourth-ranked defense (allowing 104.0 points per 100 possessions). If they can somehow couple an average offense with their elite defense, they will be fine.
But to do that they will have to shoot the ball better from all over the court. Not only are the Lakers the worst 3-point shooting team (22.3%) in the league by a wide margin (the Magic rank 29th at 29.9%), their shooting woes aren’t limited to shots coming from beyond 22 feet. While the Lakers lead the league in scoring (46.6 ppg) and rank third in shooting (71.0%) inside the restricted area, they are shooting 31.5% (29-of-92) on two-point shots outside the restricted area.
8. Leaders by zone through 10 days
When looking at the early scoring data from around the court, we see some very familiar faces in their favorite places … as well as a couple new faces on the leaderboard. Unsurprisingly, Antetokounmpo leads the way in scoring inside the restricted area, DeMar DeRozan is once again dominant from mid-range and Stephen Curry sets the standard on 3-pointers.
But it is interesting to see De’Aaron Fox topping the list of scorers inside the paint but outside the restricted area. We also get a couple of young shooters leading the way from the corners in Cam Johnson and Michael Porter Jr.
Restricted Area: Giannis Antetokounmpo: 10.7 fgm/game on 86.5% shooting (1.7 more fgm than any other player)
Paint Non-RA: De’Aaron Fox: 4.5 fgm/game on 69.2% shooting (1.1 more fgm than any other player)
Mid-Range: DeMar DeRozan: 5.4 fgm/game on 54% shooting (1.4 more fgm than any other player
Corner 3s: Cam Johnson 1.8 3pm/game on 70% shooting; Michael Porter Jr. 1.8 3pm/game on 63.6% shooting
Above Break 3s: Stephen Curry: 5.0 3pm/game on 49.0% shooting (1.2 more 3s than any other player)
9. Mavs’ offense, Bucks’ defense shine bright
In 2019-20, the Dallas Mavericks posted the top offensive rating in NBA history with 115.9 points per 100 possessions. Their reign in the record books did not last long as it was topped by multiple teams in 2020-21, with Brooklyn taking the title at 117.3. That mark was not topped last season, but could it be threatened in 2022-23?
Below are the top five offenses in the league through the first 10 days of the season, and once again we find the Mavericks at the top of the list with an offensive rating of 122.3 through their first four games.
- Dallas 122.3 (2-2)
- New Orleans 118.7 (3-1)
- Boston 118.3 (3-1)
- Memphis 117.9 (4-1)
- Charlotte 117.7 (2-2)
If the Mavs do hope to be the top offensive team in the league, they’ll have to contend with much stingier defenses this season. Dallas has faced only one top-five ranked defense: the Suns, who held Dallas to 105 points in the season-opener (a season-low for the Mavs).
- Milwaukee 98.3 (3-0)
- Cleveland 102 (3-1)
- Phoenix 103.5 (3-1)
- LA Lakers 104 (0-4)
- Washington 105 (3-1)
10. Time for some more Kawhi?
Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has appeared in only two of L.A.’s five games to date, coming off the bench both times. His numbers are solid for those limited minutes (12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2 apg and 1.5 spg in 21 mpg).
However, prior to the Clippers’ game Tuesday in Oklahoma City, Leonard felt stiffness in his surgically repaired right knee during the pregame shootaround. He was ruled out of the two-game set vs. the Thunder as he returned to Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The Clippers lost both games in OKC, dropping them to 2-3 after an undefeated start. The Clippers have said that Leonard has not suffered a setback, but this serves as a reminder of how tenuous this situation is.