TrueHoop: ESPN Stats & Info

Celtics and Sixers exceeding expectations

November, 10, 2013
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information
Remember all of that talk before the season about tanking? How the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were expected to lose a lot of games in order to position themselves for a top pick in the 2014 NBA draft?

Well, apparently the players and coaches didn’t get the memo.

Boston buzzer-beater
The Celtics went to Miami and upset the Heat on a Jeff Green buzzer-beater.

That’s not normal -– at least with LeBron James in the lineup.

The Heat had won 24 consecutive regular-season home games with James in the lineup entering Saturday. They hadn’t lost a home game with him since Jan. 4.

The Celtics somehow overcame 58 percent shooting by the Heat, making 10 3-pointers to notch their third straight win after starting 0-4. Perhaps first-year head coach Brad Stevens is already figuring this NBA thing out.

Green’s game-winner was his seventh career game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 5 seconds of a game. His 64 percent shooting on those shots (7-for-11) is the highest percentage for any player with at least 10 attempts since he entered the league in 2007-08.

Philly facts
The Sixers are another team with a first-year head coach, Brett Brown. After opening 3-0, including an upset win over the Heat to start the season, they lost two straight and looked like they were coming back to earth.

But their performances the past two nights against the Cleveland Cavaliers suggest the Sixers are going to compete night in and night out.

After a 94-79 victory versus the Cavs on Friday, the Sixers went for the home-and-home sweep Saturday in Cleveland. The Sixers extended the game to double overtime and almost earned another period but for a Kyrie Irving game-winning shot in the final second.

At multiple points down the stretch, the Sixers could’ve handed it to the Cavs. But a Thaddeus Young game-tying shot with 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, an Evan Turner layup with 8 seconds left in the first overtime and a Michael Carter-Williams game-tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in double overtime kept the Sixers alive time and time again.

Turner set a career high with 31 points, Young was three points shy of his career high with 29 points, and Carter-Williams had a career-high 13 assists.

MCW for ROY?
Carter-Williams has distinguished himself as the early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. He is the first player with at least 21 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds within his first seven career games since Jay Williams for the Chicago Bulls in 2002.

Carter-Williams joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with at least 130 points and 50 assists in their first seven career games.

With college stars like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker potentially up for grabs in the 2014 NBA draft, teams like the Celtics and Sixers were expected to be in position to acquire as many pingpong ball combinations as possible. But seven games into the season, the Sixers sit in first place in the Atlantic Division with the Celtics just one game back.

Anthony Davis on pace for history

November, 9, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis had a career game for the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, setting a career high with 32 points, tying a career high with six blocks, and grabbing 12 rebounds to boot in a 96-85 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, improving the Pelicans to 3-3 on the season.

In Pelicans (formerly known as the Hornets) franchise history, only two players have had games with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Alonzo Mourning, who did so seven times when the team was based in Charlotte, and now Davis.

Davis, who has four double-doubles in six games this season and is averaging a double-double for the season, is doing this all before his 21st birthday.

In fact, Friday night, he became the youngest player in NBA history to have a game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, at 20 years, 242 days old, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He broke the record shared by Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Webber, both of whom were exactly 20 years, 309 days old when they pulled it off in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

The season is young, but Davis is averaging over 23 PPG, 11 RPG and four blocks per game this season. Since blocks became an official stat in the 1973-74 season, only three different players have averaged those numbers over an entire season: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon (twice) and David Robinson.

The Pelicans have improved to a modest 3-3 this season, but it's impressive when you consider they went a combined 48-100 over the last two seasons.

Davis has been arguably as valuable to his team as any player in the league this season. With Davis on the court, the Pelicans are outscoring opponents by six points per 100 possessions this season. But with Davis off the court, opponents are outscoring them by 11 points per 100 possessions.

He has been especially valuable in the rebounding department. With Davis on the court, the Pelicans are outrebounding opponents by seven rebounds per 48 minutes. But with Davis off the court, opponents are outrebounding them by 12 boards per 48 minutes.

Davis' effect has been considerable on the club dating to last season as well. In 2012-13, New Orleans went 23-41 (.359 win pct) with Davis in the lineup, and just 4-14 (.222) without him.

Shooting star: Klay Thompson locked in

November, 7, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson was at it again on Wednesday, making 11-of-21 shots, including 6-for-9 from 3-point range in a 106-93 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He had 19 of his points in the fourth quarter, matching the most points he's had in any quarter in his career.

Thompson has had three great games and two average shooting games.

The sum of those numbers is pretty impressive: He's averaging 24 points on 58 percent shooting from the field and 56 percent shooting from 3-point range.

Only two other Warriors players have hit all three of those benchmarks in the first five games of the season -- Sleepy Floyd in the 1985-86 season and Mitch Richmond in the 1990-91 season.

Richmond had three 3-pointers. Floyd had nine. Thompson has 19.

Thompson is 13-for-20 from in the paint, 12-for-22 on his mid-range shots and 19-for-34 on his 3-point attempts.

What's most impressive has been his ability to score from all over the floor.

You can see that in the shooting charts from Thompson's three top games this season.

Opening night vs. Lakers

November 2 vs. Kings

Wednesday vs. Timberwolves

George, defense key Indy's unbeaten start

November, 5, 2013
By Alvin Anol, ESPN Stats & Info

ESPN Stats & InformationPaul George has connected on 14 of his 31 3-point attempts this season.
Led by Paul George and their trademark stingy defense, the Indiana Pacers held off a late Detroit Pistons rally to remain the NBA's lone unbeaten team.

George scored a game-high 31 points with 10 rebounds, becoming the first Pacers player with a 30-point, 10-rebound game since David West did it at the beginning of last season.

It was George's second 30-point effort of the season, after scoring 32 in the Pacers second game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He's already one 30-point game away from matching his number of such games last season just four games into the 2013-14 campaign.

One reason for his scoring boost has been greater efficiency from 3-point range.

So far, he's connected on 14 of his 31 attempts -- a 45 percent clip. He's attempting almost eight 3-pointers per game so far, almost two full attempts more than he averaged a season ago.

While George has the led the way for Indiana offensively, the team's defense has picked up right where it left off a season ago.

Indiana led the NBA last season by holding opponents to 38 percent shooting from the field. The Pacers have held three of its four opponents this season to worse than 40 percent shooting, with the Pelicans shooting exactly 40 percent.

Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert, who had seven blocks Tuesday, has been a major part of the defense's success.

Hibbert has averaged five blocks this season, and there’s been a marked difference in Indiana’s defense when he’s been on the floor versus off it.

According to, the Pacers have a 75.3 defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) when Hibbert is on the floor. But when he’s been off the floor, Indiana’s defensive efficiency spikes to 101.3.

Teams have shot just 48 percent inside the restricted area against Indiana so far, second-best in the league. The Pacers led the league in that category last season, holding teams to 54 percent in the restricted area.

Hibbert’s presence has essentially made a good defense an elite one.

The Pistons found rare success in the paint against Indiana (scoring 46 points), but Indiana had held its opponents to a league-best 30 points in the paint per game entering Tuesday.

Through four games, Indiana has a defensive efficiency of 86.1, best in the NBA.

This is the third 4-0 start in Pacers franchise history, with the team also starting the 1989-90 and 2004-05 seasons in such fashion. If the Pacers can get a win Wednesday, when they play the Chicago Bulls on ESPN (7 p.m. ET), it'd be their first 5-0 start as an NBA franchise.

Top stats to know: Heat vs. Nets

November, 1, 2013
By Justin Page, ESPN Stats & Info

Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Paul Pierce and the Nets look to end a 13-game losing streak to LeBron and the Heat.
Tonight on ESPN (8 ET), the Miami Heat visit the Brooklyn Nets. The Heat are coming off a loss, but have a couple trends in their favor.

Miami has won 13 straight following a loss dating back to last season (including playoffs), and have also won 13 straight against the Nets, tied for the third-longest active win streak for one team over another.

What are some of the other topics our broadcast crew will be talking about?

Pursuit of a 3-Peat
The Heat will try to become the first team to win three straight NBA titles since the Lakers did so from 2000 to 2002.

There have been five three-peats in NBA history. The others are by the Lakers (1952-1954), the Celtics (1959 to 1966) and the Bulls (1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998).

Potential LeBron James accomplishments
LeBron James is seeking to join Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only players in NBA history to win three straight MVPs.

He’s trying to join Kareem-Abdul-Jabaar (6), Michael Jordan (5) and Russell (5) as the only players to win three MVPs.

He’s also seeking to become the first player in NBA history to win five MVP awards in a six-season span.

And he can become only the second player in NBA history to win both the regular-season MVP and an NBA championship in three straight seasons, joining Russell.

Heat own the old Nets
The Heat have won 13 straight games vs the Nets. The Nets last win in the series came on March 20, 2009.

Miami is 9-0 against the Nets in the Big 3 era (since 2010-11), winning those games by an average margin of 17.3 points and outscoring them in the paint, 44.9 to 35.1. However, those Nets teams did not have Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.

What do Pierce and Garnett have left?
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to Brooklyn after spending six seasons together in Boston. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they are the first duo in NBA history to play on two different teams together while having each been selected to at least 10 All-Star games in their career.

Heat guards contain Rose in his return

October, 30, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN Stats & InformationDerrick Rose played in a regular-season game for the first time since April 25, 2012.
There was no “championship hangover” for the Miami Heat in their opening game against the Chicago Bulls.

The Heat cruised to a 21-point halftime and held on for a 107-95 victory.

Dating back to last season, the Heat have won 38 of their last 40 regular-season games. The Heat and the 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks are the only teams in NBA history to win at least 38 games in a 40-game stretch (across seasons), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The return of Derrick Rose
Rose scored 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting (1-of-7 on 3-pointers) in his first regular-season game in more than 18 months.

Rose struggled against guards who defended him:

• Against Mario Chalmers, Rose shot 2-of-5 with four turnovers.
• Against Norris Cole, he missed each of his three field-goal attempts.
• With Dwyane Wade defending him, Rose was 0-for-1.

What did the Heat do well?
The Heat shot 6-of-8 on corner 3-pointers, their most makes in a game against the Bulls over the last four seasons (since LeBron James joined the Heat and Tom Thibodeau took over as Bulls head coach).

The Heat shooting well on corner 3-pointers isn’t a surprise: Last season, they led the NBA in corner 3-pointers made and attempted.

But it is a surprise against the Bulls: Since Thibodeau took over, the Bulls have allowed the fewest makes and attempts on corner 3-pointers in the NBA.

Role players come up big for Heat
The numbers show that the Heat's role players should be the ones credited with the win over the Bulls -- not the "Big 3."

James, Wade and Chris Bosh were outscored by four points in 25 minutes on the court together. But when at least one of them was on the bench, the Heat outscored the Bulls by 16.

With the “Big 3” on the court together, the Heat shot 2-of-7 on 3-pointers and were outrebounded by seven. But with at least one of them on the bench, the Heat shot 9-of-13 on 3-point attempts and had six more boards than the Bulls.

No. 25? Is Kobe Bryant underrated?

October, 16, 2013
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information
David Sherman/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant is entering his 18th NBA season.
Kobe Bryant was revealed as the 25th-best player in the NBA this season, according to’s #NBArank.

Are we really predicting that 24 players will be better than Kobe this season?

Even as he returns from a torn Achilles tendon, it’s difficult to fathom that Kobe will drop off that much.

Kobe is not the same as any other 35-year-old entering his 18th NBA season.

He’s coming off a season in which he had:

• His highest field goal percentage since 2008-09
• His highest 3-point percentage since 2009-10
• His most 3-pointers made since 2007-08
• His most rebounds per game since 2007-08
• The most assists per game and highest assist percentage of his career
• The highest effective field goal percentage of his career
• His highest true shooting percentage since 2007-08
• His most win shares since 2008-09

Kobe averaged 27.3 points per game last season, the second-highest scoring average by any player in NBA history who started the season at least 34 years old (Michael Jordan averaged 28.7 PPG in 1997-98).

Only twice in NBA history has a player averaged at least 24 points per game in a season in his 16th season or later: Kobe in 2011-12 (27.9 PPG) and Kobe again last season.

As you can see, we’re not dealing with a normal aging superstar. According to the numbers, age hasn't been a factor for Kobe.

He ranked third in the league in points per game last season. He has ranked in the top five in scoring average in each of the past 11 seasons.

It appears that Kobe hasn’t regressed as a scorer. Just look at the numbers to the right, and you can see that his numbers last season compare well to the previous four seasons.

Is it possible that Kobe is even better now than he was a few years ago? His scoring is comparable, and other aspects of his game have improved.

Kobe posted career highs in assists per game and assist percentage last season. Even if his scoring deteriorates, he has improved his ability to get his teammates involved.

Sure, nobody in his 18th season or later has averaged 21 points per game in a season, and only one player in his 18th season or later (Karl Malone) has even averaged 18 points per game in a season.

Sure, only two players in their age-35 season or older (Alex English and Karl Malone) have averaged 25 points per game in a season.

Sure, Kobe is coming off a torn Achilles tendon.

But we’re talking about a player who has done things that no other player has done at his age or with his mileage.

Kobe’s PER (player efficiency rating) last season was the highest by any player in NBA history in his 17th season or later.

Kobe has consistently remained one of the elite scorers in the NBA, and he did so even more efficiently last season than he had done in the previous few seasons.

Once Kobe returns after recovering from his Achilles injury, there’s little reason to think he won’t rank among the NBA’s elite again this season.

More post-ups = more success for LeBron

October, 15, 2013
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesLeBron James has posted up much more often over the last two seasons.
In ESPN the Magazine's NBA preview issue, which will be released on Friday, LeBron James commented on how he has plenty of room for improvement in his post-up game.

"I know I still have room for improvement. I feel I can improve on my shooting, on my ballhandling, on my low-post game. Since I started playing ball, I've only been in the low post for two years now, playing with my back to the basket. So that still needs a lot of improvement to catch up with the rest of my game."

LeBron has changed his game drastically over the last two seasons, becoming much more of a low-post threat.

Over the last two seasons -- the time in which LeBron said he has been playing in the low post -- 13 percent of his plays have been post-up plays and 11 percent of his points have come from the post.

In the previous five seasons, only six percent of his plays and six percent of his points came from post-up plays.

His post-up plays per game and post-up points per game have increased by more than 80 percent over the last two seasons compared to his previous five seasons.

Posting up more often has led to higher percentage shot attempts by LeBron. His average shot distance in his first eight seasons was 12.5 feet from the basket. In the last two seasons, it's 11.4 feet.

With an improved post-up game, LeBron hasn't had to rely on jump shots quite as much. After shooting 10.1 jump shots per game in his first eight seasons, he has attempted 7.5 jumpers per game over the last two seasons. That includes just 2.9 3-point attempts per game over the last two seasons compared to 4.2 3-point attempts per game in his first eight seasons.

With an average shot attempt distance of more than a foot closer to the basket, naturally LeBron's field goal percentage has improved. After shooting 47 percent during his first eight seasons, he has shot 55 percent over his last two seasons, including a career-high 57 percent last season.

LeBron relied on his post-up game even more in the 2013 postseason. He averaged more than four post-up plays per game, accounting for 16 percent of his total plays en route to the Heat's second straight NBA title.

Whether or not finding a post-up game was the key aspect that led to LeBron finally breaking through and winning back-to-back championships is up for debate. But the stats don't lie. LeBron has posted up more often, has settled for jump shots less often, and on average has attempted closer shots to the basket.

All of that has resulted in a more efficient, more successful LeBron James.

Thunder could suffer from Westbrook injury

October, 1, 2013
By Jose De Leon, ESPN Stats & Info

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesKnee surgery will cause Russell Westbrook to miss the first 4-6 weeks of this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday that will force him to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the NBA season.

Westbrook had surgery in May to repair cartilage in the same knee after he was hurt in Game 2 of the Thunder’s first round playoff series with the Houston Rockets. Prior to this, Westbrook had never missed a game in his five NBA seasons.

Westbrook's durability allowed him to put up some very impressive statistics in his first five NBA seasons.

He's one of just six players to put up at least 7,500 points and 2,500 assists in his first five seasons.

His injury could also have a negative effect on the Thunder early in the season. Only four players had more Win Shares than Westbrook’s 11.6 last season – LeBron James (19.3), Kevin Durant (18.9), Chris Paul (13.9) and James Harden (12.8).

Using advanced offensive and defensive stats, Win Shares estimates the number of wins a player had for his team.

When Westbrook went down in the playoffs, both sides of the ball took a hit. The Thunder averaged 18 fewer points per game largely in part to a much slower pace (they averaged eight more possessions per game with him in the lineup).

With Westbrook out, Durant was featured much more in the nine postseason games, particularly in the second half.

Durant’s usage percentage after halftime in the first two games against Houston was 27 percent (Westbrook was at 37 percent). Usage percentage is the percentage of team plays used by a player when he is on the floor.

In the Thunder’s nine postseason games without Westbrook (beginning on April 27), Durant’s usage percentage jumped to 34 percent, second highest among all players who played at least five games in the postseason (Carmelo Anthony was first at 37 percent).

Top stats to know: Tracy McGrady

August, 26, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
Bill Baptist/NBAE, Getty ImagesTracy McGrady can look back on his career knowing his numbers look pretty good.

With Tracy McGrady retiring on Monday, we offer up a statistical tip of the cap and look at his most impressive numbers and historical comparisons.

• McGrady was one of the NBA’s best players between the 2000-01 season and the 2007-08 season as a member of the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets.

McGrady is one of seven players in NBA history to have eight straight seasons of 20 points per game, five rebounds per game and four assists per game. The others are Kobe Bryant (14), LeBron James (10), Michael Jordan (10), Oscar Robertson (10), Kevin Garnett (9) and Larry Bird (9).

• There are 15 other retired players in NBA history with at least 18,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in their careers. All 15 of those players are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

• McGrady, Bird and James are the only players in NBA history with at least 15,000 points, 4,500 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 500 3-pointers in their first 11 seasons.

• McGrady is one of three players in the last 20 seasons to average at least 32 points per game in a season. He did so in 2002-03, and became the last player to average at least 32 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists in a season. Only three other NBA players have done that in a season—Michael Jordan three times, Wilt Chamberlain twice, and Elgin Baylor once.

• The Elias Sports Bureau notes that there have been 60 players who have scored at least 18,000 points in their NBA careers. Of those 60, eight have played at least one game in a winning series in three playoff series or fewer. McGrady is on that list, along with Dave Bing (1), Reggie Theus (1), Walt Bellamy (2), Antawn Jamison (2), Bernard King (2), George Gervin (3) and Dominique Wilkins (3).

KG, Pierce look to make immediate impact

July, 19, 2013
By Sunny Saini, ESPN Stats & Info

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will look to upgrade the Nets pick-and-roll offense next season.
The NBA is a pick-and-roll league. In the last five seasons, nine of the 10 teams to make the Finals have featured the pick-and-roll (including passes) offense on at least 20 percent of their total plays. The only exception was the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009-10.

The Brooklyn Nets were one of the most inefficient teams in the pick-and-roll (including passes) last season, running it only 13.9 percent of the time, the lowest percentage in the league.

In addition, the Nets had a 0.88 points per play (PPP) average, which ranked 23rd. Brooklyn also had the third-worst turnover percentage in the NBA, turning it over 13.4 percent of the time on pick-and-roll plays.

Even with Deron Williams running the point, the Nets had the worst pick-and-roll ball handler offense.

Last season, Williams averaged 0.77 PPP while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor as the pick-and-roll ball handler. Among the 103 players with at least 100 such plays, Williams ranked 67th.

In addition, Williams turned the ball over 23 percent of the time on such plays, ninth-worst in the league.

The Nets roll men on the pick-and-roll were also in the bottom half of the NBA, averaging 0.95 PPP and shooting 47 percent on the pick-and-roll, below the league average in both categories (0.99 PPP and 49.5 percent shooting).

Kevin Garnett gives Williams another great pick-and-roll option

Both Garnett and Brook Lopez can hit the midrange shot and take it to the basket on any given play. However, in the pick-and-roll as the roll man, Lopez usually prefers to roll to the basket. Garnett likes to pop out for the midrange jump shot.

Lopez made 82 field goals as the roll man in the pick-and-roll, with 60 of those made field goals coming in the paint (49 were drives and finishes at the basket).

Garnett made 62 of his 103 field goals from the midrange and outside as the pop man on the pick-and-roll. In fact almost 39 percent of Garnett’s total makes were from 15 feet and outside last season.

Paul Pierce takes pressure off of Williams

Pierce gives the Nets an efficient option in the pick-and-roll to take the load off of Williams. Pierce averaged 0.97 PPP in pick-and-rolls (including passes), which ranked 26th in the NBA. That total was also slightly higher than Williams, who averaged 0.96 PPP.

As the ball handler in the pick-and-roll, Pierce had a better effective field goal percentage than Williams (49.3 percent to 45.6 percent) and turned the ball over at a lower rate (18.4 percent to 23 percent).

Pierce assisted on 24.5 percent of his teammates field goals last season, second only to LeBron James amongst forwards (min. 1,000 minutes played).

Lotto teams making splash in free agency

July, 12, 2013
By John McTigue
ESPN Stats & Information
As the Houston Rockets and other playoff teams look to improve this offseason, there are teams just looking to get back into the playoff fold.

Below is a statistical look at some of the biggest moves made by those teams.

Key Addition: Josh Smith
Last Playoff Appearance: 2008-09

Smith has been a known commodity on defense in his career, but the success of his offensive game has depended on shot selection.

Win shares estimates the number of wins a player contributed to a team based off statistical performance, and can be divided into offensive and defensive win shares.

Since 2006-07, he ranks fifth in defensive win shares, trailing three MVPs and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard.

But which Smith will the Pistons get offensively?

In the 2009-10 season, Smith set career highs in field goal percentage (50.5) and offensive win shares (4.2). Smith attempted only seven 3-pointers that season, and as a result his average shot was a career-low 6.8 feet from the basket.

Since what was arguably his best offensive season, Smith has shot 46.7 percent from the field, averaging 2.1 3-pointers per game. His average shot has come 11.7 feet from the basket, and he has a combined 3.5 offensive win shares, including a minus-0.3 rating last season.

The Pistons averaged the second-most points in the paint last season (46.5 PPG) and could be a force inside with Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Key Addition: Al Jefferson
Last Playoff Appearance: 2009-10 (only appearance in franchise history)

With the acquisition of Jefferson, the Bobcats will have a major low post scorer for the first time in franchise history.

In 2008-09, Boris Diaw averaged 15.1 points per game while starting 55 games for the Bobcats at power forward. That’s the highest scoring average for a Bobcats power forward or center in franchise history.

Since leaving the Celtics in 2007, Al Jefferson has averaged 19.3 points per game, never dipping below 17.1 for a full season.

Jefferson does most of his damage inside as he was one of 13 NBA players last season to average at least 10 points in the paint per game.

The Bobcats averaged 38.6 points in the paint per game last season (24th in the NBA), with 6-foot-1 point guard Kemba Walker leading the team (6.6 paint PPG).

Key Addition: Tyreke Evans
Last Playoff Appearance: 2010-11

Evans lost favor in Sacramento after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2009-10, but he shot a career-high 47.8 percent last season and has the ability to score inside.

Since entering the NBA, Dwyane Wade is the only guard to average more points per game inside the paint than Evans, whose 9.8 points per game in the paint ranks 13th among all NBA players over that time.

If the Pelicans choose to hang onto Eric Gordon and bring Evans off the bench, he’ll help boost a bench unit that averaged only 10.7 points inside the paint last season (23rd) despite logging the eighth-most minutes.

Notable offseason moves by contenders

July, 10, 2013
By John McTigue, ESPN Stats & Info

Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty ImagesAndre Iguodala had the second-highest FG percentage among all players inside of five feet last season (min. 200 attempts).
The Houston Rockets have made the biggest splash this offseason, but they aren’t the only playoff team from last season making moves.

Below is a statistical look at some of the other moves made by 2013 playoff teams looking to improve.

Golden State Warriors/Andre Iguodala

The 6-6 Iguodala has a skillset that should complement the Warriors' hot-shooting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Iguodala’s strength on offense is his ability to finish around the basket.

Of the 135 players with at least 200 field goal attempts inside five feet last season, only LeBron James (75 percent) finished with a better field goal percentage than Iguodala (73.4 percent).

Iguodala made more field goals (212) inside five feet than Curry and Thompson combined last season (206).

Defensively, Iguodala can also take the tougher defensive assignments off the hands of Curry and Thompson.

Iguodala was the fourth-best defender in isolation last season, allowing 0.63 points per play. Thompson ranked 44th and Curry ranked 65th as isolation defenders (min. 100 plays).

New York Knicks/Andrea Bargnani

The Knicks traded Steve Novak and several other pieces to acquire Bargnani. Despite shooting 45 percent from 3-point range with the Knicks, Novak fell out of the rotation in postseason play due to concerns over his defense.

However, if the Knicks expect Bargnani to replace Novak’s offense while providing better defense, they may be mistaken.

Win shares estimates the number of wins a player contributed to a team based off statistical performance, and can be divided into offensive and defensive win shares.

Novak was slightly better defensively according to the win shares but was more than five wins better on offense than Bargnani. This is due in part to Bargnani shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent on 3-pointers during that time.

Furthermore, the Knicks were nearly the same defensively with or without Novak on the court the last two seasons, allowing 101.4 points per 100 possessions with Novak and 101.1 points without him. The Raptors were 2.8 points per 100 possessions worse with Bargnani on the court the last two seasons.

Los Angeles Clippers/J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley

The Clippers shot 36 percent from 3-point range last season, 15th in the NBA. During the postseason, however, the Clippers struggled from deep, shooting just 30 percent, third-worst among the 16 playoff teams.

Both Redick and Dudley should be able to help the Clippers from beyond the arc as they are two of the 18 active players who have attempted at least 1,000 3-pointers and hit at least 39 percent of those shots since 2006-07.

That was the year Redick entered the NBA and one year before Dudley began his career.

Howard's potential statistical fit: Rockets

July, 5, 2013
By Steven Martinez & John McTigue
ESPN Stats & Information

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesDwight Howard and James Harden could be teammates this upcoming season.

Earlier this week, the Stats & Information Group took a look at how Dwight Howard would fit with the Rockets. We've updated that post to reflect the current news.

Rockets Offense
The Rockets didn’t have much of an interior presence on offense last season. The Rockets posted up on a league-low 4 percent of their plays and averaged a league-worst 3.5 points per game on those plays, less than half the league average.

Even in a down season, Howard averaged 2.4 points per game more on post-ups last season than the Rockets did as a team.

In his last season with the Magic, Howard averaged 10.8 points per game on those plays, three times the offensive output of the Rockets last season.

Howard provides an offensive upgrade over Omer Asik, who started all 82 games at center for the Rockets last season.

Asik averaged 10.1 points per game for the Rockets, but did his best work off the ball, as over half his points scored were on cuts to the basket or pick-and-roll plays. Asik averaged less than a point per game (0.73) on post-ups last season.

Rockets Defense
The Rockets allowed opponents to shoot 61.6 percent inside five feet last season, the sixth-worst rate in the NBA.

Howard’s impact as an interior defender last season was diminished, with opponents shooting 59.5 percent inside five feet with him on court and 61.8 percent with him off court (57.6 percent on court, 63.9 percent off court two seasons ago).

However, Howard’s presence does deter opponents from trying to shoot from in close. Opponents averaged nearly five more attempts per 48 minutes inside five feet with Howard off the court last season.

A Winning Formula?
In the 2008-09 season, the Magic made the NBA Finals with Howard in the middle and a strong group of 3-point shooters. That season the Magic attempted the second-most 3-pointers per game (26.2) while posting the sixth-best shooting percentage from beyond the arc (38.1 percent).

That season the Magic shot 39.0 percent from 3-point range with Howard on court and 35.7 percent with him off court.

The Rockets already have put together the shooters. All that's missing is Howard.

Last season the Rockets attempted the second-most 3-pointers per game (28.9) while posting the eighth-best shooting percentage on those shots (36.6 percent).

Howard’s presence could free up Rockets shooters even more, something that could pay big dividends.

Of the top 10 3-point shooting teams last season, eight made the playoffs. The Heat had the second-best 3-point shooting percentage last season en route to the NBA title, defeating the Spurs, who had the fourth-best 3-point field goal percentage.

Houston's big-man lineage
Howard, who has averaged 18.1 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, would have a lot to live up to, following in a line of prominent Rockets big men.

Elvin Hayes
Hayes came with the Rockets when they moved from San Diego to Houston, then spent a second stint with them from 1981 to 1984.

Hayes was a four-time All-Star who ranked fourth in franchise history in total points.

Moses Malone
Malone averaged 24 points and 15 rebounds on 51 percent shooting in 464 games with the Rockets from 1976 to 1982. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in points per game and rebounds per game, and made five All-Star teams. Malone won two MVP Awards (1979 and 1982) and led the team to the 1981 NBA Finals.

Ralph Sampson
Sampson was the first overall pick by the Rockets in 1983 and was hindered by knee issues throughout his career. He averaged 19.7 points and 10.5 rebounds and made four All-Star teams.

Hakeem Olajuwon
“The Dream” spent 17 seasons with the Rockets after being selected No. 1 in the 1984 NBA draft and won titles and Finals MVP Awards with the team in 1994 and 1995. Olajuwon was selected to 12 All-Star teams and won the 1994 NBA MVP award.

He is the team’s all-time leader in games, points, rebounds, steals and blocked shots.

Yao Ming
Ming’s career, like Sampson’s, was also shortened by injury. He still managed to make eight All-Star teams in his Rockets career, which spanned from 2002 to 2010, and averaged 19.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

Howard's potential statistical fits: Hawks

July, 5, 2013
By Gregg Found
ESPN Stats & Information
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsDwight Howard (right) was one of the best post-up defenders in the NBA last season.
The fifth in a five-part series of posts looking at Dwight Howard's statistical fit on the teams he’s most likely to sign with.

The Atlanta Hawks know just what they’re getting in their pursuit of Dwight Howard.

He’s played 1,206 regular-season minutes in his career against the Hawks, the equivalent of more than 25 full games if he played every single minute of each game.

Only one team – the Miami Heat at 1,260 – has seen more minutes against Howard.

But the Hawks only saw the Los Angeles Lakers version of Dwight Howard twice this season, both in an 11-day span in March.

Here’s the effect Howard could have on the Hawks if he chooses them to be his free agent destination.

Hawks Offense
The Hawks were one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the NBA last season. They grabbed 22.2 percent of available offensive rebounds, ranking 27th out of 30 teams.

For his career, Howard grabs 11.9 percent of available offensive rebounds while he’s on the floor. Pairing Howard with Zaza Pachulia, whose offensive rebounding rate was 13.9 last season, would be tough on opposing rebounders.

The Hawks were middle-of-the-pack overall on offense last season with 102.7 points per 100 possessions, ranking 15th in the NBA. But they did rank in the top six in the league in effective field goal percentage.

Hawks Defense
Howard was an excellent post-up defender last season as he has been for much of his career. He allowed a 31.2 FG pct and 0.56 points per play as the post-up defender last season, the best mark of any player that defended at least 50 such plays.

That figures to jump the Hawks from a decent team in post-up defense last season (0.82 points per play ranked 12th in the NBA) to an elite one.

Hawks haven't seen 18-and-12 lately
For his career Howard holds averages of more than 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. Even last season he wasn’t far off that mark when he finished with 17.1 PPG and 12.4 RPG.

But a guy who averages 18-and-12 for the Hawks would be a rarity.

Only three players – and none in the last 18 seasons – have averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks since they moved to Atlanta.

Kevin Willis was the last to do it in 1994-95. Truck Robinson (1976-77) and Walt Bellamy (1971-72) are the only other Atlanta Hawks to do so.

For more on Howard fits with other teams:
Lakers, Warriors, Mavericks, Rockets