One Team, One Stat: Pacers falter when Oladipo rests
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2018-19 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Indiana Pacers, who weren’t very good when their best player wasn’t on the floor.
The Pacers outscored their opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions with Oladipo on the floor, and were outscored by 7.3 with him off the floor.
That (13.7 points per 100 possessions) was the second biggest on-off NetRtg differential among 266 players who played at least 1,000 minutes for a single team.
With Oladipo on the floor, the Pacers had the point differential of a 60-22 team. With Oladipo off the floor, they had the point differential of a 19-63 team. There’s obviously some drop-off when a team’s best player steps off the floor, but in general, when he’s off the floor, so are the opponents’ best players.
When it’s bench vs. bench, offensive numbers are usually down. But when Oladipo sat, the Pacers’ defensive numbers suffered more. They allowed 102.9 points per 100 possessions (a rate which would have ranked fifth in the league) with Oladipo on the floor and 110.6 (a rate which would have ranked 30th) with him off the floor.
On-off numbers require context, like who’s on the floor with the player and who’s on the floor when he isn’t. Oladipo played most of his minutes with the Pacers’ other starters, but he was clearly the biggest difference-maker. The team’s next best on-off differential (8.2 points per 100 possessions) belonged to Thaddeus Young, who, not coincidentally, was the teammate that Oladipo shared the floor with most.
On the other end of the spectrum was Lance Stephenson, the guy who was on the floor for 86 percent of the minutes that Oladipo was off the floor. In 1,198 minutes with Stephenson on the floor without Oladipo, the Pacers were outscored by 7.5 points per 100 possessions (allowing 111.5).
In the playoffs, the Pacers outscored the Cleveland Cavaliers by 40 points over seven games. It was the best point differential for a team that lost a series in the 16 years of the current (best-of-seven first round) playoff format. Indiana’s three wins were by a total of 54 points, while Cleveland’s four wins were by a total of 14.
But in those four Cleveland wins, the Pacers were a plus-10 in 150 minutes with Oladipo on the floor and a minus-24 in 42 minutes with Oladipo on the bench. Essentially, they lost the series when in those minutes that Oladipo sat.
Stephenson is now in L.A., replaced by Tyreke Evans. As noted in the table above, Evans had the league’s eighth biggest on-off-court NetRtg differential. The Memphis Grizzlies were 11.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-0.2) than they were with him off the floor (minus-11.2). They were a 22-60 team and somehow a plus-27 in Evans’ 1,607 minutes.
Indiana also added Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn to the bench, clearly looking to avoid such a big drop-off when their best player steps off the floor.
Note: The above table is based on true possession counts. Other efficiency stats here are based on possession estimates (typically higher than true possession counts).
PACERS NOTES – GENERAL
- Have been to the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons. Only two other Eastern Conference teams — Atlanta and Boston — can say the same.
- Were 37-5 after leading by double-digits last season. Only Houston (53-5) and Cleveland (41-5) had better records in games they led by 10 or more points.
- Eight wins after trailing by 15 points or more were second most in the league. One of two teams (Charlotte was the other) that won three games after trailing by at least 20 points.
- Saw the league’s biggest drop in pace from the regular season (98.2 possessions per 48 minutes – 24th in the league) to the playoffs (92.8 – slowest-paced series in the first round).
PACERS NOTES – OFFENSE
- Last season was just the second time in the last 14 years that they’ve been better than the league average in offensive efficiency.
- Ranked ninth in 3-point percentage, but 26th in the percentage of their shots that were 3-pointers. This was the second straight season in which they ranked in the top 10 in the former and in the bottom 10 in the latter.
- 11.5 percent of possessions, the highest rate in the league, were pick-and-roll roll-man possessions. The 0.99 points per possession they scored on those possessions ranked 26th.
- Assisted on just 32 percent of their field goals with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. That was the league’s lowest clutch assist percentage. They ranked 28th in assist percentage (assisting on 54 percent of their total buckets) overall.
- Only team that scored more efficiently in the playoffs (107.4 points per 100 possessions — seventh best in the first round) than it did in the regular season (107.2 — 12th in the league). Saw the biggest increase in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range from the regular season (28 percent — 26th) to the playoffs (34 percent — seventh).
PACERS NOTES – DEFENSE
- Have been better than the league average in defensive efficiency in 22 of the last 25 seasons.
- Only team that ranked in the top five in opponent 3-point percentage (34.9 percent — fifth) and in the bottom five in opponent 2-point percentage (53.0 percent — 27th). Allowed their opponents to shoot 58 percent in the paint, the second-worst mark in the league.
- Have ranked in the top seven in opponent turnover percentage in each of the last three seasons, ranking second last season.
- Saw the league’s second biggest drop in opponent free throw rate, from 28.6 attempts per 100 shots from the field (eighth-highest mark in the league) in ’16-17 to 23.0 (seventh lowest) last season.
- Ranked No. 1 in clutch defense, allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime.
- Had the league’s third most improved defense from Games 1-41 (107.0 points allowed per 100 possessions, 21st) to Games 42-82 (104.1, ninth).
PACERS NOTES – LINEUPS
- Players still on the roster accounted for 81 percent of last season’s minutes. That’s the league’s fifth-highest rate in regard to continuity.
- Only team that had three lineups that played at least 300 minutes together last season.
- Most-used lineup — Collison, Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Young and Turner — allowed opponents to grab 26.5 percent of available offensive rebounds, the highest opponent rate among 48 lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.
- Lineup of Joseph, Oladipo, Bogdanovic, Young and Turner was one of just two lineups to play 200 minutes or more and record assists on less than half of its field goals.
- Highest on-court OffRtg among returning two-man combinations (minimum 500 minutes together): Collison and Oladipo. The Nuggets scored 110.7 points per 100 possessions in 1,482 minutes with the pair on the floor together.
- Lowest on-court DefRtg among returning two-man combinations (minimum 500 minutes together): Oladipo and Sabonis. The Pacers allowed just 99.6 points per 100 possessions in 999 minutes with the pair on the floor together.
PACERS NOTES – INDIVIDUAL
- Bojan Bogdanovic had an effective field goal percentage of 52 percent in the first half of games and 62 percent in the second half. That was the fourth-biggest effective field goal percentage jump from half to half among players with at least 200 field goal attempts in each half. His effective field goal percentage of 65.2 percent in the fourth quarter was the fourth best mark among 200 players (and the best among non-bigs) with at least 100 fourth-quarter field goal attempts.
- Darren Collison was the league leader in both 3-point percentage (46.8 percent) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.28). He was one of three players who shot better than 50 percent on at least 100 wide-open 3-point attempts and one of three players who shot better than 50 percent on at least 50 first-quarter 3-point attempts.
- Tyreke Evans averaged 19.4 ppg last season, up from 10.3 in 2016-17. That was the second biggest jump (behind that of Kris Dunn) among 260 players who played in at least 40 games each of the last two seasons.
- Evans shot 40.8 percent on pull-up 3-pointers, the best mark among 56 players who attempted at least 100.
- Evans had an effective field goal percentage of 57.9 percent on shots in the last four seconds of the shot clock, the best mark among 45 players who attempted at least 75. Collison had the third best mark (52.7 percent).
- Cory Joseph committed a turnover just 3.2 percent of the time on drives, the lowest rate among 102 players who averaged at least five drives per game.
- Doug McDermott was one of four players who made 200 or more shots and was assisted on at least 90 percent of his buckets.
- Victor Oladipo saw an increase in usage rate (percentage of team’s possessions used while he’s on the floor) from 21.3 percent in 2016-17 to 30 percent last season. That was the second-biggest jump among players who played at least 1,000 minutes in both seasons. Domantas Sabonis saw the seventh-biggest jump (from 15.8 percent to 22.0 percent) among that same group.
- Along with the career-high usage rate, Oladipo registered career-high marks in effective field goal percentage (53.7 percent) and true shooting percentage (57.7 percent).
- Oladipo led the league with 16 clutch 3-pointers.
- Kyle O’Quinn was one of six players with an assist ratio of at least 20 (assists per 100 possessions used) and a rebounding percentage of at least 15 percent in at least 15 minutes per game.
- Sabonis took only six percent of his shots from 3-point range, down from 33 percent as a rookie. That was the biggest drop among 206 players with at least 300 total field goal attempts both seasons.
- Sabonis grabbed 18.2 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor, up from 9.8 percent in ’16-17. That was the biggest increase in rebounding percentage among 208 players who played at least 1,000 minutes both seasons. He saw the biggest increase in offensive rebounding percentage and the second biggest increase in defensive rebounding percentage.
- Myles Turner defended 6.7 shots at the rim per game, tied for second most in the league.
- Turner shot 48.1 percent from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line), the seventh best mark among 57 players with at least 200 mid-range attempts.
- Only six of the 127 players who attempted at least 200 catch-and-shoot jumpers took more than half of those jumpers inside the 3-point line. Turner (58 percent) was one of the six. Sabonis (81 percent) took an even greater percentage of his 185 catch-and-shoot jumpers from 2-point range. The league average was just 19 percent.
- Thaddeus Young shot 6-for-26 (23 percent) with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. That was the second worst mark among 116 players who attempted at least 25 shots in the clutch.
- Young (0.86) and Sabonis (0.98) were two of six players who scored less than a point per possession on at least two roll-man possessions per game.
NBA TV’s Pacers preview premieres at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 5.
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