Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Stat check: Transition year
By Chris Forsberg
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesJeff Green finishes at the rim during the exhibition season.
There's a danger in putting too much stock in preseason statistics, but given Celtics coach Doc Rivers' desire to push the tempo this year, it seems prudent to point out Boston's impressive transition numbers during the exhibition slate.
Of the 11 play types tracked by Synergy Sports, transition accounted for a team-high 16.8 percent of Boston's preseason plays. Boston averaged 1.216 points per play (169 points on 139 plays), which ranked second in the NBA (other squads are wrapping up their exhibition slates), and the Celtics shot 58.2 percent overall in transition while turning the ball over just 12.9 percent of the time.
To put those numbers in perspective, only 13.4 percent of Boston's plays last season came out of transition (still second highest on the team, but well behind spot-up attempts at 20.6 percent). Boston averaged 1.128 points per play in transition a year ago (20th in the NBA), while shooting the exact same 58.2 percent, but turning the ball over 14.5 percent of the time.
Here's maybe the most encouraging number: Last season, Boston only got to the charity stripe 12.4 percent of transition opportunities. During the preseason, that number jumped up to 18 percent.
The key contributors to the transition attack? Maybe it should be no surprise that Jeff Green tops the list. Green averaged 1.667 points per play -- ranking in the 99th percentile among all NBA players -- while shooting 83.3 percent (5 of 6 overall) and getting fouled 54.2 percent of transition opportunities. Green finished with 20 points in 12 transition plays.
Paul Pierce (1.538 ppp) and Courtney Lee (1.385 ppp) were other top contributors, aided by their 3-point shooting in transition.
Here's more good news for Boston: The team's top two transition players from last season were Avery Bradley and Chris Wilcox. Both sat out the entire exhibition slate while working their way back from injuries, but will provide two ready-to-run presences once healthy enough to get back on the floor.
One area to watch this season: Rajon Rondo struggled to finish (7 of 19 shooting; only fouled on 10.7 percent of transition opportunities). Clearly it is Rondo's passing abilities that allow Boston to thrive in transition, but if he can become a more consistent weapon attacking the hoop on the move (or at least increase the trips to the charity stripe) then Boston can really fuel its offense in transition.